Mini Tour of NZ

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by Kiwi Flyer, Mar 18, 2006.

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  1. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     

  2. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     
  3. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     
  4. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     
  5. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    Well K/F. these Koro Clubs seem interesting. Next time I have an opportunity for some spare time in KiwiLand I'll be in touch. ;) (of couse I'll check BA97 first :D)
     
  6. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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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.
     
  7. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
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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.
     
  8. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    732
    13
    Great link & cool update. Thanks Kiwi Flyer :D .
     
  9. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     
  10. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    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.
     
  11. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #11 Kiwi Flyer, Jun 17, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2006
    Auckland to Hamilton (AKL-HLZ) on NZ Beech 1900D

    We check in using the quick check machines bypassing the large main queue. Even though the flight has a light load we don't have much choice of seats due to the need for balance control.

    Quickly through security to the domestic Koru Club. Once again the staff show they don't like the new maitre'd entry station by instead manning the desk just inside the second set of doors.

    Breakfast food is out and I notice one of the 2 coffee machines is again (still?) broken meaning a queue for the serviceable one at this busy time of day. No one is taking up the pots of coffee sitting on the elements.

    While we wait we grab window seats to see a bank of several puddlejumpers land in succession, followed shortly by the first of the day's asian flights.

    The breakfast food is soon replaced by mid-morning fare - muffins, scones, 2 different types of danish pastry and some cheese. Oh year beer count has dropped a little to 15.

    Boarding is called a little late and we head back out to the main part of the terminal and down to the far prop gates. A short chilly walk across the tarmac and up the steps into the aircraft, minding the head on the low doorway. The pilot shuts the door and we soon pushback while the safety briefing is played. The area around is a hive of activity with about 8 a/c being turned around for departure having just arrived minutes before.

    The Beech is so small that the cockpit is open and you get a great view of the pilots working and also a view out the forward windows - mostly sky and cloud except in the steeper part of the descent.

    Our taxi is short but we wait for a couple more intercontinental flights to land before a rapid and short takeoff roll and a leap skywards. Almost immediately we bank hard to head south on this short flight to Hamilton, passing low over the Bombay Hills and rural north Waikato. Ahead we see the recent snows capping the central mountains. Barely do we stop climbing and we begin a descent with the city of Hamilton spread out before us. We pass over the city and into the small airport.

    The flight was short and smooth at barely 20 minutes including taxiing time at each end. We land all to soon.
     
  12. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #12 Kiwi Flyer, Jun 17, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2006
    Auckland to Christchurch (AKL-CHC) on QF 737

    Another day, another flight. I won't comment on all my flights but thought there may be some interest in a comparison with QF domestic flights and lounges.

    The construction of yet more shops - these ones between the domestic Qantas/Origin Pacific terminal and domestic Air NZ terminal means the forecourt is a mess of barriers and rerouted traffic. The footpath between terminals is, instead of a few metres across the short distance, a meander past 2 separate car parks and crossing the airport road 3 times.

    Check in is at the counter (no quick check machines here) but fairly quick at about 2 minutes. There are 3 QF counters, one of which is signed for Qantas Club members. Up the escalator and through security to the Qantas Club lounge.

    Unlike the Air NZ lounge, a quick wave of the card and I'm past the bouncer (due to the different lounge entry rules). The lounge is much smaller than NZ (naturally with much less flights), but has separate zones and a couple of tvs, 2 computers opposite the entry desk and 2 more around the back by the toilets. 2 showers.

    The spread of food includes mini rolls, sweets (chocolate slice, meringue slice etc), salad food, soup. There are 2 different red wines and 2 white wines, plus 4 types of beers.

    There are nice views across the tarmac - either towards the international terminal and runway take off point (when wind is from the right direction) from the computers opposite the desk, or across to the runway elsewhere.

    With only a couple of flights every 90 minutes or so this lounge never gets full, apart from early morning and early evening weekday services.

    First boarding call is made with a comment that final boarding call will be made in 2 minutes. Boarding of the full flight is quick and efficient and soon we push back on schedule despite the boarding call being made only 7 minutes before scheduled departure. The turnaround on this aircraft was a scant 30 minutes.

    Most of the domestic aircraft are one-class 737s. The bulkhead row has the tray built into the arm rest and hence is narrower than the other seats. The bulkhead has a cutout section at the base enabling storage of carry-ons (not that it is needed given the overhead bins are rarely full) and room to stretch out the legs.

    The day was one of those pristine flying days which was perfect for the stunning scenery. Yes - I had my nose glued to the window all the way.

    From take off over the tranquil harbour, banking to fly low over rolling farmland and then out past rugged surf beaches and over the wind whipped sea. Then we fly almost directly over the top of the classic volcanic cone that has featured in some movies as stand-in for a more famous volcano. Again across a body of water and peaceful sinuous tongues of land reaching for the sea. Over mountains with a light dusting of snow on the tops and a view across the rift valley and long fault escarpments and across the strait to the other main island. More rolling hills, these barren and bare, and valleys with forest plantations, which give way to the wide open plains. The flat expanse covered by a patchwork of fields and windbreaks and crossed by many meandering braided rivers which contrast against the arrow straight roads and rail tracks. As we circle the airport to land we get views across the city and estuary to the broad flanks of the twin extinct volcanoes jutting into the sea and the large circle of the coastal lake beyond.

    Inflight service consists of a tv show (standard US fare I'm afraid), tea coffee or water and a choice of 2 different flavours of muffin.
    We land from the south at have a short taxi to our gate.
     
  13. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Christchurch to Queenstown (CHC-ZQN) on QF 737

    The Christchurch Qantas Club doesnt have a view but has plenty of comforts. A couple of tvs, 5 different beers on hand and a couple of wines. A nice spread of food (similar to AKL but a wider selection), and a couple of computers. Today the lounge was very quiet so had a short chat with the bouncer before catching up on emails and FT.

    Boarding was called and I left the lounge a little earlier. I was looking forward to this flight as the route is one of my favourites anywhere (perhaps only topped in my experience by the scenic flights between Queenstown and Milford Sound).

    Woohoo I got lucky with one of the few domestic a/c to be fitted with business seats - only shorthaul ones but luxury compared with the rest of the cabin.

    A large mountain range dominates the horizon on one side, and on the other is the gentle open sweeps of a huge bay where plain meets ocean. At first we are flying along the great plain but soon we reach the first of the fold hills, the barreness apparent even through the light snow cover. As we steadily head inland the ranges grow on either side of the aircraft - low at first but steadily becoming higher and higher. We pass canals and dammed lakes, the water shining an irridescent turquoise thanks to the glaciated water running off the peaks. Big river valleys reach deep into the mountains. As we begin our descent the land shines brightly, the schist and mica outcrops reflecting the strong sunlight, as does the snow on the tops. Now the mountains appear close on either side of the aircraft and the pilots' hard work becomes apparent. We pass close over ridges as we descend towards the bowl containing the airport. Skifields break the emptiness of the mountains underneath while deep canyons are scarred by tortuous ribbons of roads cutting into the heartland. Today the flight path is different from the usual approach and we burst into the confined basin above the airport, below the peaks towering on each side but far too high for landing. The pilots expertly spin the aircraft in a pirouette around the sides of the bowl as we sharply descend to final approach over a small hill and across the swift deep river and all too soon we touch down.

    Inflight service consists of tv programming (music videos today), tea coffee or water and a choice between cookie and muffin.
     
  14. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Queenstown to Christchurch (ZQN-CHC) on QF 737

    No Qantas Club at Queenstown but there is no real need (for me at least) here as check in can be quite late and, as long as the weather is not inclement, I'd rather spend the time admiring the amazing scenery from the Remarkables which reach for the sky seemingly alongside the airport, to the rugged ranges on 3 other sides.

    We have a small delay in departing as we wait for another aircraft to take off, there being no taxiway and only one tug to push back, and also wait for a landing aircraft. As we wait we admire the view and say farewell to the lovely town. The taxi down the runway is short and we spin around at the end before immediately rolling for takeoff. We lift off very quickly and steeply climb above the lake, banking as we go around a modest hill and thankfully avoiding the mountain a short distance away on the other side of the lake. We keep climbing to clear a rugged mountain range that appears to leap out from the lake beside the airport. The snow is still high on the range but soon the slopes will be packed with skiers. The great mountain range appears to the side and stretching out in the distance ahead of us. The cloud is banked up far on the windward side but our side is clear, protected by the great range. The highest peak, fittingly, pierces the clouds with its distinctive shape. As we retrace our path across the mountains, hills and plains, the sun sinks lower in the sky. The mountains casting shadows for hundreds of kilometers until eventually the sun sets. The silhouette of the alps is both striking and familiar as we descend to land. The city lights cast a glow before us, while in the distance are pin pricks of light from smaller townships.
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Christchurch to Auckland (CHC-AKL) on QF 737

    Apart from being in the dark the whole way this was the same as the flight down. The CHC Qantas Club was again very quiet and together with some of the lounge staff and other guests we watched part of a rugby test. I'd also split the return flight on separate flight numbers instead of the through flight with transit at CHC, to reduce the fare and also get an extra 1000 points + 10 status credits :)

    On arrival at Auckland I noted the rugby test was about to end so I briefly searched the almost fully closed domestic terminal for a tv before high tailing to the international terminal. Sure enough the arrivals welcome giant screen was showing the rugby - another win yay!
     
  16. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #16 Kiwi Flyer, Jun 17, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2006
    Auckland to Gisborne (AKL-GIS) on NZ Beech 1900D

    Same drill as last time - quick check machine (no choice of seats), security, and in to the lounge. Breakfast foods still out but soon replaced with mid-morning food. No muffins or scones this time. 2 different danish pastries, 2 different cookies, cheese, bread rolls, fruit loaf. Again only 1 coffee machine working!

    Beer count 14. Flight was slightly late in boarding - a very busy time for the props with 9 arrivals and 9 departures in under 20 minutes. The weather was shocking with thunderstorms all around but thankfully dry for the walk across the tarmac.

    The flight was totally full - hope they loaded enough fuel as Gisborne is getting towards the range limit of this a/c type.

    With a full load the takeoff roll is long for the small aircraft although still less than a 737 for example. The flight time is shortened by the strong tailwinds (once we've made the sharp turn shortly after takeoff that is). While the flight is hardly smooth the turbulence isnt too bad as the pilots do a good job steering us around the worst of the storms. There is no view other than the towering cloud around us until we pass over the Poverty Bay plains. We head briefly out to sea before banking and back in to land - the city of Gisborne out to the right.

    We touch down smoothly with just a slight judder crossing the railway lines (yup train tracks cross the runway complete with special warning lights for the aircraft!) before a short taxi into the small terminal.

    A helicopter passes in front of us as we taxi, just a couple of metres off the ground.
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Gisborne to Auckland (GIS-AKL) on NZ Beech 1900D

    No Koru Club here either. On this windy day the cafe is doing a roaring trade - there really isnt anywhere else to go in the terminal or airport (the aviation museum next door is resolutely shut).

    This flight is fairly full with just a few empty seats. Board and settle in. Taxi across the railway line, turn around and soon we're in the air.

    I guess I'm starting to show my age as the pilots of these puddlejumpers all look very young (naturally as they are yet to progress onto jets).

    As we fly across the vineyards, crops and fields I think of the many nice local wines before being awoken with a start by the first of many bumps. There are strong headwinds (flight is more than 20 minutes longer than the opposite direction) and we duck and dive to dodge thunderstorms most of the way.

    As we approach AKL we descend steeply between dark towering clouds for a straight in landing. The fields around Clevedon appear then the vast suburbs of south auckland. We land rather quickly and taxi at a fair clip in a race against the approach storm, which we win and so a dry walk across the tarmac to the covered walkway into the terminal. Minutes later the skies open for a brief intense shower.
     
  18. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #18 Kiwi Flyer, Jun 17, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
    Auckland to Wellington (AKL-WLG) on QF 737

    After negotiating the ongoing works in front of the terminal (the carpark across the road looks almost complete even with ground floor shops :rolleyes: but the shops between QF and NZ terminals still have a lot of work to go).

    Check in is quick. I unfortunately mistimed my arrival and so not able to change to the earlier flight that I'd hoped to make.

    Afternoon fare is laid out. As the day is stormy and cold (very cold for Auckland and laced with thunderstorms and odd heavy bursts of rain) I opt for some nice soup, savouries and red wine. The shiraz is pretty good and I find myself having more of it than intended. Beer count is 7 - an improvement on last time.

    The flight is delayed - first 10 minutes then another 10. We're told in the lounge its because of late inbound a/c but that is rubbish since I saw the a/c arrive right on schedule. There appeared to be no mechanical activity during the turnaround.

    Once onboard and seated we are delayed a further 20 minutes with the airbridge still connected but no one boarded late. We take off into the murk and have a few bumps climbing to cruise altitude. The pilot repeats the QF li(n)e that the delay was caused by late inbound aircraft - you might get away with it in SYD/MEL/BNE but AKL domestic when there is only 0, 1 or at most 2 QF a/c around at any time is not so easy!

    The music videos were shown while we were on the ground and in the air we only had sound channel. No biscuit - this time it was a piping hot mini pie. We arrive to a cold and clear skies over Wellington.
     
  19. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    #19 Kiwi Flyer, Jun 18, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
    Wellington to Auckland (WLG-AKL) on QF 737

    The Qantas Club is modest size - similar to Christchurch and Auckland. There are views over the tarmac, but only through 2 sets of windows since the QP windows face the large atrium in the middle of the terminal, but the huge terminal windows enables the views.

    Beer count is 7 with 3 red wines and 3 white wines also. Food is hot savouries, no soup, some salad items, cookies, cheese. The usual tea & coffee, juice (3 types) and water and soft drinks.

    There is one tv and a few computers in a room out the back. Sorry I forgot to check if there are showers.

    Boarding is called late and I dont even reach the security checkpoint along the QF pier when they do a hurry up call (this time not naming names). As I walk up to the gate it appears I am the last to enter the airbridge as I'm greeted "Kiwi Flyer I presume" and the agent walks alongside me through the airbridge. No I didn't hold up the flight - there was still a queue when I got close to the aircraft.

    We push back rather late and safety briefing is done while taxiing to the northern end of the runway. It barely finishes when we turn onto the runway and take off into the night.

    IFE was showing the US version of The Office - together with the introductory QF promos this takes the entire flight, which gives an indication that the promos are about 20 minutes long!

    The snack on offer this time is a sickly looking slice and I notice very few pax taking it. The flight is smooth and we manage to miss the worst of the fowl Auckland weather on arrival, although it too is rather brisk. We brake hard on landing and have a taxi of just a few metres to the gate - clearly the pilot was aiming to make that particular runway exit but perhaps touched down a little later than planned or the slippery runway slowed braking?

    Other than a handful of regional koru clubs that covers all the domestic lounges in NZ.
     
  20. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    5,453
    4
    Oamaru to Christchurch (OAM-CHC) on NZ Jetstream32 (J32) (operated by Air National)

    Air NZ has only recently returned to Oamaru after an absence of many years so I had a chance to visit a new destination (by air, I've been many times by car) and a new aircraft type for me at the same time.

    The airport is tiny, with the terminal smaller than my rather small apartment. Naturally no quick check machines here, and even the boarding passes are the old fashioned kind printed by dot matrix printer, last seen in the main cities for several years at least - no tiny stubs with barcodes here! Running late? Don't worry, boarding is just 5 minutes before departure. And there is no such thing as parking charges, shops or other things to loosen the wallet.

    It is a blustery, unseasonably warm day with a classic nor'wester complete with the Northwest Arch cloud formation across the alps. Fortunately the wind isnt as strong as forecasted but strong enough to cause more than a few bumps.

    Boarding is called and we walk the few paces across the tarmac and up the rear stairs. It is a fairly full flight - good to see that a new service is being patronised. There is a delay before we can close the doors - a youngster on the previous flight lost his or her egg so everyone goes through seat pockets and checks the floor.

    The seats are well cushioned but very tight pitch (maybe 28 or 29") - thankfully the flight time is so short (35 minutes) that it is bearable. It looks like row 4 (emergency exit row) has an extra inch or so compared to the other rows. It is strictly carry on under the seat - and the space is much less than on larger a/c, even a small day-use backpack is a tight squeeze. Bags are loaded with some jiggling around to get them all in - no one's bag is left behind this time but close thing.

    Once the door is closed, a pilot asks one pax to switch seats to improve the balance. Then we have a further short delay as one engine fails to start properly. They manage to start it off battery on the second attempt and so we are off, some 15 minutes late. Taxi is short, as is the take off roll into the darkening skies.

    The sun is already well below the southern alps, giving them a dramatic sillouhette with the NW arch and dark pink sky in between. As we head north across the plains we are buffeted by the winds gusting off the mountains. Pinpicks of light identify towns and villages 12,000 feet below us. All too soon the bright lights of Christchurch appear before us. As we descend we reach calmer air, the strong winds having not yet dropped to ground level this far north. The approach is straight in and a short taxi to the terminal.

    Other than the much tighter seat the experience is much the same as the Beech 1900D. For all intents it is an Air NZ flight.
     
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