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The Honey Smuggler

Auckland, New Zealand

Our journey to Auckland was to actually take 2 flights - the first would take us to Sydney, where we were to have about an hour wait until the next flight took off to Auckland itself. Unfortunately, our first flight departed about ¾ hour late, and was then held up above Sydney for a while before landing. While waiting for the shuttle bus between the domestic and international terminals to arrive, we saw our flight to Auckland change from ‘boarding’ to ‘last call’. And we still had yet to go through the international flight security checks. So this led to the sight of me sprinting from there to our gate while trying to re-dress myself (belt, jacket, shoes and wallet had to be removed; laptop had to come out of its case etc…)

Our time in Auckland airport didn’t go any more smoothly. Our flight apparently was the last of 4 or 5 arrivals in the last few minutes, meaning a queue of over and hour to get through passports checks. After this, we headed over to the baggage belt to collect our backpacks. We picked Angela’s up and waited for mine to come around. And waited. And waited. And waited. I went to check the other belts in case it was on one of those for some reason, but it wasn’t. So, we went over to the lost baggage counter and reported it. Apparently some of the bags hadn’t made the transfer in Sydney, but mine wasn’t on the list; they had no idea where mine was, but not to worry, hopefully it should turn up soon, and in the meantime, here’s a washbag with mini toothpaste and toothbrush, shampoo, shower gel, and most importantly, a Qantas t-shirt and shorts.

There was one more hurdle before we could get out; handing in the landing card declaration and bag screening. We handed in our forms, and one backpack lighter than usual we loaded up our stuff onto the x-ray belt. As we waited for the bags on the other side, the lady scanning the bags asked what the jar in the bottom of Angela’s bag was. Completely confused as to why there was a jar in the bottom of her bag, she had to think for a second before remembering that she’d bought a jar of honey as a gift for someone. She had failed to note this on the landing card. Another chap was called over upon this admission, who inspected the jar and confirmed that yes, it was indeed honey, before sending us over to the naughty corner to have a word with a another man called Vijay, who had a very obvious-looking toupee. Vijay inspected the jar of honey very closely, passing it from hand to hand, and then read the script on the side carefully. He sighed. Something was clearly bothering Vijay. He looked like a man attempting to piece together a very complicated puzzle. With a furrowed brow, he placed the honey loosely in one palm, then lowered and lifted it slowly. He repeated the trick with the other hand. Finally he decided to make eye contact, and fixed Angela with a firm glare. “This is a very heavy item Angela…(dramatic pause) You claim that you did not remember that you had this jar of honey in your bag….. I’m wondering how you could possibly fail to notice such a heavy item in a bag?” After further questioning, a few mentions about the possible 5 year jail term for smugglers, and successfully managing to make Angela cry, he decided that the $200 fine was the most appropriate measure, and sent us on our way. Never have I been so happy to be out of an airport.

Once in the city, despite all our experiences up to that point (and all we‘d heard about it), we found ourselves really liking Auckland. A city with 2 bays and surrounded by various mountains and volcanoes, it is unsurprisingly very easy on the eye; but it also has a real vibrancy, with lots of cool bars, shops and cafes, and a decent arts scene. And to cheer me up even more, the morning after we arrived my backpack caught a taxi from the airport to our hostel. And just in time too. A few minutes later we had our own taxi to pick up our campervan (which we’ve rented for the duration of our time here in NZ.) After a ridiculously short tour of how everything worked, the van was all ours. It’s pretty cool - a converted Ford Transit with a stove, microwave, fridge, sink, massive bed, bathroom and loads of storage space. Before we made our way north, we decided to spend another night in Auckland to see more of the sights, including going up an extinct volcano; Mount Eden, to get the best views of the city.

Unfortunately, our journey up into Northland coincided with the second worst storms in 100 years in the region (the worst being in March this year.) 24 hours of constant rainfall marooned us for a day in a small town on the way up to Cape Reinga, but when we did finally get there, we were pleased we’d made the effort. It’s at the very northern tip of the North Island, and from the lighthouse stationed amongst a rocky outcrop there you can see the point at which the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean - which is more than just an imaginary line in the sea, as massive waves are churned up in the spot where the different currents from the two clash. On our way back down, we stopped at an ancient Kauri forest to see a 2,000 year-old tree. This wasn’t quite as spectacular as Cape Reinga, but we had to respect the tree’s longevity. As we made our way back down past Auckland, my excitement about our next destination was palpable. We were off to Hobbiton.

permalink written by  olliejohnson on July 7, 2007 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: A Brit and a Canuck Down Under
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Wow, what a day of skiing it looks like you had. Val and I are envious! It sounded like a rough start to the New Zealand leg of your trip, but the rest of your trip must be helping you forget it. I hope Rick and Sue don't have any further complications!

Dad (Canada)

permalink written by  David Nyhout on July 24, 2007

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