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Old Mar 17, 06, 6:56 pm   #1
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Mini Tour of NZ

Index to my trip reports

If you like this report, you may be interested in some of my other trip reports.
  1. AKL-YYZ with NZ/AC in F & C - my first trip report
  2. Europe to Iceland & return on Icelandair (FI) - somewhere different
  3. Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 - 2 long flights back to back
  4. 7 Crazy Days - includes an almost inaugural flight
  5. Champagne and figure eights on ice - Antarctica flightseeing
  6. a Lit.tle sPRinG.Ly JoUrney (BUDding KiwiS Can zig-ZAG around Europe) - mostly central and eastern Europe
  7. Big DO DOs - or a Kiwi Flyer's Month of Madness - lots of flights
  8. Another Manic Month for Kiwi - again lots of flights
  9. Mini Tour of NZ - over 100 domestic flights in New Zealand covering all domestic routes (ongoing)
  10. Across the Globe in 5 Continents - criss-crossing the globe
  11. Auckland to National Park by Train - train in New Zealand's North Island
  12. Across the Globe in 5 Continents Again - criss-crossing the globe, but this time mainly on One World
  13. A Warm Embrace of the Tropics - short trips to the tropical South Pacific
  14. Singapore (SQ) new first and business class, plus a medley of 12 F & C SQ flights - name says it all really
  15. Across the Globe in 4 Continents - around the world on star alliance, including some unusual flights
  16. Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Sampler - a sampling of Qantas flights, domestic and international, in economy and business (ongoing)
  17. Around the World in Under 60 Hours - around the world in a weekend
  18. The Heat is On - another longhaul economy trip in under 60 hours - what a contrast, Asia and Qantas' new first class lounges
  19. Fast on the ground and in the air - it must be Shanghai – a flying visit to Shanghai + Maglev
  20. It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure & Pain: 4 wacky weeks 2 RTW C, inaugural longhaul Y – mostly One World
  21. Back and forth across the Pacific on a variety of airlines in a selection of classes - 16 crossings of the Pacific plus some other related flights
  22. It isn't every day that you witness a hijacking attempt + NZ's forgotten 4th island - a visit to Chatham Islands coincides with New Zealand's first hijacking attempt
  23. There and back - first day Air NZ flies to Coolangatta (Gold Coast)
  24. A Run Around (part of) The Axis of Evil: A Perfect *A RTW in C? - Axis of Evil 0 US Immigration 1
  25. Wellington to Auckland by train - self-explanatory title
  26. A mad couple of days flying, including domestic international flights - a double longhaul inaugural, domestic international shuttle and domestic leg of an international flight
  27. Regional C *A RTW & (hopefully) finishing flying every route (100+) for an airline - featuring new QF First on A380 special flight, "you have to get off now", and 105th different current route with NZ
  28. One World Revolutions - Around Mostly the Southern Hemisphere - mostly Southern Hemisphere and mostly on One World on a mix of products
  29. Cris-cros the Med & the Globe on Emirates, Qantas & Star Alliance in mix of F/C/Y+/Y – starting with EK First on A380 and ending with Qantas economy, with a lot of travel mostly on *A in between
  30. An FTer flies to a Do (or Why take the nonstop when you can fly 10 flights instead?) - combining an FT Do with an aerial tour of northern Queensland
  31. The Ultimate Qantas Flight - short report on the ultimate flight
  32. Premium Flying Across the Ditch (Between New Zealand and Australia) - experiencing the forward cabins on Trans-Tasman flights (ongoing)
  33. 5 Boeings Straight to the Airbus Do - FTer feasts in first, business & economy - my journey to & from the *A / Airbus Mega Do
  34. NZ route oddities & One World turns by night (redeye special) - an odd collection of flight routes & schedules around the world
  35. From my first low cost redeye to a first class trifecta - an insane fortnight - some firsts of all types
  36. G'day, kia orana - it's another inaugural flight in Air New Zealand business class - a day & night tripping around the South Pacific on Air NZ
  37. A Feast of First Class Flying on British Airways, Qantas and Emirates - long distance in style
  38. A Weekend of Old and New - Lufthansa first & business, Air New Zealand business - a quick longhaul trip featuring some old and new products
  39. Star Alliance tres primo, and tres biz - a trio of first and business on Star Alliance
  40. A few flights to end 2011 - a quick trip around the world + more
  41. Five Continents in 3 Days and Some Other Mad Trips in 2012 - a selection of my 2012 travels

_______________________________________

Index added so those interested in a particular part can jump straight there without scrolling through all the pages. Note there are lots more domestic flights within NZ not written up, so if you want info on something that isn't already here just ask - I may be able to help.

INDEX

Index (sorted geographically)

Qantas / Jetconnect unreliability
The highs and lows of domestic service
Queenstown winter flights
Some tips about A320 business class seats on NZ domestic
OLCI and PYOBP at time of booking on NZ domestic (NB for QF it is from 24 hours prior to departure)


End INDEX updated to post #253




I had a number of trips around NZ within a short period, so thought it may be worthwhile updating ntddevsys's great The Summer Series - AKL WLG CHC DUD with NZ.

Auckland to Christchurch (AKL-CHC) on NZ 737-300

First up an early start from Auckland (AKL). Terminal fairly quiet. I used the quick check in and surprised it coped with multiple bookings to spit out a fistful of boarding passes. Wander off to the Koru Club for a coffee and find security is just opening at 6am. Quickly through and grab a coffee and newspaper in the short wait until flight is called for boarding.

Breakfast foods are out (naturally given the time) and 3 different fruit juices. I check the alchohol fridge and servery - 16 different beers, but only 3 wines (all white - the red not yet out on the bench).

At the quick check machine I noticed my row was full despite the a/c load looking fairly light, so I substituted my seat for another further back in an empty row (so less likely adjacent seats will fill). Those originally pre-selected in my original row must have changed seats or no-show, as that row was empty while my new row was full. So of course I swapped back again after clearing it with the FA.

Service is standard for NZ domestic one-class. Tea, coffee or water; a small cookie; and that's all. They do 2 runs with the hot drinks before collecting the paper cups and other rubbish.

The weather is partly cloudy, especially in the North Island; so not too many views of the mountains we fly past and over. As we land in Christchurch I see the NZ 747 there on its transit en route between Tokyo and Auckland.
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Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jan 18, 14 at 9:47 pm. Reason: Update index
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Old Mar 17, 06, 7:11 pm   #2
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Christchurch to Dunedin (CHC-DUD) on NZ ATR72-500

The Christchurch Koru Club is rather small and crowded with 8 flights departing to all corners of the country within 15 minutes.

Breakfast foods are out (yes it is still early). The beer and wine check reveals 16 different beers and 9 different wines (including both red and white).

Short delay at the gate so as to avoid being blasted on the walk across the tarmac by the 3 departing aircraft at adjacent gates. As I walk across I see a hive of activity - in fact I have never seen Christchurch busier. Lots of aircraft both arriving and departing, plus the usual assortment of baggage trolleys, golf carts, refuelers, etc zooming around the tarmac. I can only imagine ground control and air traffic control flat out coordinating all this movement in such a small airport.

Board by stairs of course. Being a shorter flight, only one run through with hot drinks.
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Old Mar 17, 06, 7:20 pm   #3
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Dunedin to Wellington (DUD-WLG) on NZ 737-300

This is my first visit to the refurbished Koru Club at DUD. It is very good. While smaller than AKL or WLG it is at least as good, with lots of touches that make it better in some ways. Eg the minties, Speights on tap. It doesnt however, have a view which is a shame.

Mid-morning foods are out - a huge spread of cakes, cookies and sandwiches. With only a few flights I would guess there is ample left overs to feed all the workers in the airport if desired.

Beer and wine check - 19 different beers and 7 different wines.

Catch up on some messages on the computer terminals (the other Koru Clubs also have them) before its time to board. Security is at the gate. I recognise an american in the security queue even before he speaks - he is the only one removing shoes and belt (as well as emptying pockets). When he speaks to the screener the accent confirms my suspicions of his nationality.

The airport is undergoing some redevelopment so down some temporary stairs below the airbridges and then across the tarmac to board.

This flight is fuller than the other 2 flights above - perhaps 90% full instead of about 75%. Again my status and careful selection of seats when checking in provides an empty middle seat for more space.

The weather has clear enough to get great views of the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges, the Wairau Valley and Lake Grassmere and the edge of Marlborough Sounds.

While taxiing on arrival at Wellington I see the NZ Air Force's 757 preparing to depart.
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Old Mar 17, 06, 7:28 pm   #4
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Wellington to Auckland (WLG-AKL) on 737-300

The Wellington domestic Koru Club is one of my favourite lounges. Unfortunately I would only have time for an extremely brief visit. Still, this was long enough to do a beer and wine check - an astonishing 22 different beers and 7 different wines. Food consists of a wide selection of fruit, cheeses, bread rolls, 3 different salads, spreads (hummus, pesto etc), 3 different types of sushi, wraps and other assorted goodies. I think I've mentioned before that the NZ domestic setup works rather well for frequent flyers (with lounge access) - extremely limited inflight service is more than made up for by great lounges and more food and drink than you can shake a stick at.

Some of the artwork has been changed since my last visit less than a couple of weeks ago!

This flight is almost totally full - yet one of the few empty seats is in my row. Status really does make a difference

Cloud obscures both Mount Taranaki and the central volcanoes (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro), but mostly clears when closer to Auckland.
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Old Mar 17, 06, 10:22 pm   #5
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KiwiFlyer, thanks for the updates. Love the wine/beer count-down!

BTW - small as Christchurch is, that lounge will ALWAYS hold a warm spot in my heart. When I was there in Jan '04 I stopped in to check email after flying down from Auckland. After snarfing down the food (pasta, salad, etc - much nicer vittles than UA RCC!) & the white wine whilst checking email on the free i-net, off I went to hotel blithely unaware I had left my paper F ticket (etc) back to America in packet sitting next to terminal.

The next day upon checking out at hotel I discover missing packet & in a panic call ANZ - please tell me it's electronic (nope). Me (thinking to self - OMG, how am I going to pay for a return F flight). Them - oh, your ticket etc was found at lounge & it's waiting there. When you fly out today to Queenstown you can pick it up. Saved!

But what particularly impressed me was that my domestic NZ flights & my int'l flights were on separate PNRs, so either the lounge guys or the cust svc staff figured out the 2 & knew I was coming back. That wouldn't happen in America! (or not often). When I checked in for my flight to Queenstown, the check-in agent also told me that my stuff had been found & 'don't forget to pick it up' at the lounge. And when I got to the lounge the same staff was working & when I walked in, before I had a chance to say anything, they said - oh here's your stuff!

So - free i-net, lots of booze (as mentioned by KiwiFlyer), good food (real food not snackies) - ANZ Clubs get 2 thumbs up from me!

On sep note - Queenstown lounge no big deal - a big room w/ oj, water, coffee, tea. But it's a small airport so that's not unexpected. Reminded me of Aspen airport.

The thing that amazed me on all my travels w/in NZ was how little time a) check-in; b) security, took.

Cheers.

PS - Alas, all my various internal NZ flights were 737s but totally full so no empty seats next to me. But - I did have a picture of Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in Lord of the Rings) on the cup of tea they gave me
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Old Mar 19, 06, 9:38 am   #6
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Auckland to New Plymouth (AKL-NPL) on NZ Q300

The AKL koru club hasnt changed, except now 2 red wines out. Very poor that the busiest koru club has the least beer & wine options. Food in the middle of the day starts out similar to WLG koru club (see post #4) and then changed to scones, biscuits, cheese & crackers, and fruit.

Back through security to the props pier of the terminal. Its been slightly reconfigured since my previous prop NZ flight. A/c is just finishing refueling as we board. The best seats on the brand new Q300 are 1B then 1C - much more legroom. The worst seats are 1A and 1D - awkward angle for legs (tray table between seats forces forward but curvature of fuselage forces sideways). Load is light enough to get the best seat.

Very short flight so only water service. The cloud has cleared enough to see the volcanoes of Ruapehu and Taranaki, and also the oil rigs on approach to New Plymouth.
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Old Mar 19, 06, 9:45 am   #7
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New Plymouth to Auckland (NPL-AKL) on NZ Saab 340

New Plymouth has a regional koru club (apart from being small the main difference to main koru clubs is no *Gold guests). As with the others there is keypad entry (get the daily code at check in). The terminal is small and basic, and reminds me of Kerikeri airport.

Beer and wine check - 2 wines, 5 different beers. No computer terminals (as with all the regional koru clubs), although there are ports to plug in your laptop and a printer. The magazine selection is okay, which means it is so much better than the main koru clubs.

While waiting for flight 2 private planes fly in wingtip to wingtip formation over the runway at a few feet off the ground before banking and landing on the grass runway at right angles to the sealed runway.

The flight is called early - one of the benefits of leaving from a small airport, if everyone has checked in and the a/c is ready then they can leave early. Flight is full, but I had managed to get a window and aisle seat (ie "A" seat). We have a fast taxi down the runway to the turn point. I see the reason for the fast taxi out the window - an approaching aircraft on final approach. So we spin around and quickly take off.

Again a water service, but this time also a hot drink.
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Old Mar 19, 06, 3:25 pm   #8
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Thanks SkiAdcock for your comments. The food changes quite frequently. One of my favourites, especially in winter, is the soup. Ginger and kumara flavour is nice.

Australia is also generally very quick with check in and security checks.

The current cups on domestic flights are athletes. I seem to get either Sarah Ulmer (cyclist) or Hamish Carter (triathlete) - not sure if there are others.
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Old Mar 19, 06, 6:35 pm   #9
 
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22 beers and 7 wines - and people kept asking me if it wasn't too inconvenient that I had to fly AKL-WLG return every two weeks, for two years in a row ;-)
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Old Mar 19, 06, 6:55 pm   #10
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Try doing it weekly or twice weekly Thankfully not any more.
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Old Mar 19, 06, 9:53 pm   #11
 
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As domestic airline lounges go, Air New Zealand's Koru Clubs are some of, if not the nicest domestic lounges I've ever been to. I have fond memories of the well stocked fridge and the great buffet in the CHC Club. Sadly, my recent visit to your fair country did not include Business Class travel on NZ.
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Old Mar 19, 06, 9:58 pm   #12
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It would be a bit hard to do business class within NZ seeing as no one offers it any more

You want *G status to get into Koru Club, or have a travel partner who is *G.
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Old Mar 22, 06, 7:24 pm   #13
 
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Queenstown beer/wine count!

Well, I happened to be passing through ZQN a couple of days ago, so I thought it would be rude not to keep everyone updated on the beer/wine count there!

6 beers and 3 wines. Now, don't ask me whether they were white or red, because I can't remember! They were all in the fridge though.

Didn't spend much time in the lounge, as initially I hadn't been given the pin code, so had to go right back to check-in to get it (security, if done at all, is done right at the gate before you board the aircraft, so practically the whole airport is "landside"), and once I got in there, I didn't really want anything and the view was much better from the airport cafe downstairs!

We took off to the West, right back over Queenstown and the captain reduced power after take-off in order for us to get a better and longer last look at the beautiful town and its surroundings, before we powered up and away over the mountains.
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Old Apr 30, 06, 4:27 pm   #14
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Auckland to Palmerston North (AKL-PMR) on NZ ATR72-500

The Auckland Koru Club is much the same as usual, but I notice a couple of changes to the beers (current count 15 different types) and the wines seem to have changed winery. One of the 2 coffee machines is out and so big queue for the working one.

Flights to everywhere are delayed by 10-20 minutes due to the inclement weather. The varying delays are causing confusion at the boarding pass check for the prop gates - they can't hear all the announcements and if haven't been phoned to advise they hold up the queue briefly while ring to check which flights are boarding.

Fortunately heavy rain earlier has eased to light drizzle so dont get wet walking across the tarmac to the aircraft. Flight is almost full with just a couple of empty seats.

Service is the usual water and once through with hot drinks. Sitting at the back and wanting coffee it wasn't until we'd started descent that I got a hot drink.

Cloud all the way but not too bumpy. We see through the gloom only when we are close to the airport, fly past and turn back into the wind to land. Fortunately not raining in Palmerston North either.
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Old Apr 30, 06, 4:39 pm   #15
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Palmerston North to Auckland (PMR-AKL) on NZ ATR-72-500

Check in. Forget to ask about paying the domestic $5 departure tax at check in so have to use the machines. Only coins allowed, so if don't have enough you'll need to change some money at the cafe or the small shop.

Get the code for the lounge. Its the standard regional lounge. Fairly basic with small drinks fridge, tea, coffee, water cooler, juices, biscuits, cheese and fruit.

Back downstairs to the gate. They check the BPs have the sticker for departure tax. Another full flight with only 1 empty seat. The low cloud is scudding past so we taxi down the runway slightly early, turn at the end and quickly take off into the murk. We get a few bumps along the way, but water tea and coffee served throughout. I get a sense we are flying higher than usual for a prop, perhaps to avoid the many building thunderstorms in our path?

We approach AKL across the Manukau Harbour and a fast short taxi to our stand. Dodge the raindrops to the terminal walkway and landside within 2 minutes walking.
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