19th July to 22nd July 2011
Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, this trip had gone relatively smoothly except for the running around to print things and the possible delay for a day of my flight. If you don’t count these issues then it was a very smooth trip. But as you know all things come in threes and the third one was waiting for me at immigration.
The flight had been super easy, a whole row, great food, excellent entertainment system, I think I will be flying LAN air again. I was feeling fantastic as I got off the plane and rather relieved to finally be in NZ. Making my way to immigration I had a short wait and then it was my turn. The officer was very friendly and we joked a bit as he looked through my passport.
JUST A NOTE: they NEVER asked me for a printed proving an exit ticket from NZ.
With a smile he asked me to come round to the back of his cubicle and then pointed to a chair and asked me to wait there. Then he walked off and handed my passport to another officer. I was nervous, but assumed it was because I had marked “handled animals other than cat and dog”. As I sat there for 5, 10, 15minutes I started becoming a bit more concerned and imagining being deported to some other location. Just then, a lady walked up and introduced herself as “Jane from Immigration”. She explained that I had “similar information to a person of interest that they would like to talk with“.
Is it wrong that I thought this was kind of cool, however very relieved that it was not! She also told me to expect the same thing when I returned from Tonga at the end of August.
Now I must make it clear that in all the years going through US immigration and the hard times I have been given before I became a citizen, their customer service came no where near NZ’s. As everyone told me in Australia, Kiwi’s are just nice! And I agree, even their immigration officers are just plain NICE!
After collecting my bag and joking with the guy checking my declaration form that, as a vet nurse, I was carrying anything that had been down or up an animal, I exited the airport to be met by an my fabulous mate, Kirsten.
On Thursday we went for a walk through the native forest that sits behind their house. The ecosystem is truly amazing with numerous evergreens and giant ferns that make it look and feel like any minute a brontosaurus is going to stick its head out to greet you. The preserve also links to the botanical gardens so we just continued our walk all the way to the cafe for coffee.
Harvey, Kirsten’s 10wk old son, was very patient with us the whole time and pushing his pram around you build up muscles as it acts as a wind break. He also has impeccable timing as he started to fuss right as we finished our coffee. On our way out we stopped at the African section of the botanical gardens and marveled at the array of protea flowers.
Friday was a nice relaxing day. Kirsten and family were heading down to Christchurch that evening and I had a talk to go to in Auckland. I was meeting Karen from SPAW was meeting at the talk hosted by SAFE, an organisation fighting for animal rights. It was a very interesting talk and very enlightening to the plight of food animals. For the most part I felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothing as I am a carnivore amongst the vegans. But luckily it appeared as if they were not going to shove veggies down my throat. I enjoyed the talk by the guy who spent a month in a cage in protest to battery hens, the talk by the dutch guy who converted the celebrity spokesman of the pork industry into a SAFE spokesman… but then we got to the lady who feels we should evolve to being veggie eaters. Oh well it was good well it lasted and I did learn a lot, even the vegan cupcakes were quite yummy.
With the family away I was official housesitter and loving having the place to myself. Slept in late, worked on my blog, went for a walk in the forest, took a nap, worked on my blog! A great day and tomorrow I would be leaving for Rotorua and chance for a geothermal mud bath.