My first trip to New Zealand
Strange, how sometimes things happen to you you never thought this could happen. That is what happen to me with my first trip to New Zealand. The contact to Dunedin stood under the premisse - he is far away, just right for chatting - that was all I wanted. But it always comes the other way as expected. In October 2007 the faith did its work and I got a major tax refund. Exactly the amount I needed for a ticket. After some time of thinking and a chat to my friend the time had come. I bought a flight ticket to Dunedin fot the 1st of December 2007. I had the whole December of (holodays/long hours). Planned was a visit of 2 weeks but it should come different. A taxi took me to the airport on the 1st of December at 7 am. I was quite exciting, the flight should start at 8 am towards London and from there around 2:30 pm via Los Angelos to Auckland. It were only 5 hours layover in London - somehow I would manage. It funny, what sometimes happens. While I waited I watched a couple with, as I thought, their daughter. By accident I overheard that they were on the way to New Zealand too. But the young lady was not their daughter; she too was on the way to New Zealand to see her boy friend. The couple came from Ellerau, a small town close to Hamburg; by the way, we still are in contact. So the remaining hours went by very quickly, we were a real funny troupe. Unfortunately we sat very far apart from each other on board of the aircraft. I had a seat at the window row (not in the middle row) but got the seat in the middle. At the gear sat an English Lady and on the other site a man from Canada. And his wide did not match with the seat, he definitely was over weight! But he was quite kind. After 4 hours my back hurt that much, I thought I would not made it to LA. But after 6 hour any pain was gone and it seemed that I had made some roots into the seat, I did not want to get up anymore. Then, finally after 12 hours we arrived in Los Angeles, I could see the giant "Hollywood" letters. And then the fun began. Even though it was just a short stop over we had to leave the plane and that meant - immigration into the USA. Real nice, ca. 400 people wanted to enter the US in 1 1/2 hours and only one passport control. Our group found each other again and we stood fairly at the end of the queue. It was warm and stuffy so Bernd had the idea to open a door at the opposite wall towards the airfield. Real good idea, immediately the alarm went on and annoyed us for more then half an hour until someone appeared to stop the noise. So far to the security in Los Angeles, every terrorist would have been out of sight.
For the continuation the Canadian was not there anymore, he wanted to go home to Canada. So the lady and I had a free seat in the middle because I changed to the window, and we needed the space for blankets, cushions and cardigans were piled up there. The whole flight to Auckland it was cold, then warm and then cold again so we constantly put the blankets over us just to take it off again. And even though I did not expected it I fall asleep. Well, I had been awake since Hamburg to LA and at some stage sleep will keep up with you. Very, very early in the morning we arrived in Auckland. After spending more then 24 hours in an aircraft and on airports it was real hard to get up and move again. A little story by the way. On the second part of the flight (from LA to Auckland) I nearly could have had everything from the flight attendant. When we entered the aircraft again it turned out that a couple from Germany had left their luggage on board. This had been taken when the cleaner came on board to do their job - it might be a bomb - we are in the United States! The couple did not speak a word English and the flight attendant no word German. So the steward was looking for someone who was able to speak both languages. Angelika sent him to me and I translated and also smooth the high running tempers (is it written on my front head that I often have to deal with difficult persons?). Therewith I had freedom to do whatever I wanted, but I did not use it, I was far too tired and slept most of the time. After the landing in Auckland I had to collect my luggage and then go through the custom what means in New Zealand to see the Bio-Security. The import from fruits and vegetable (also meat of course) is forbidden and a camping equipment you better buy in New Zealand, they really have no mercy. Then next, check in the luggage for the fight to Dunedin, that's possible in the international terminal and then a walk to the domestic terminal. There is a bus also but after the long flight I rather wanted to take a walk. At 11 o'clock am I landed at Dunedin airport in Allanton. John picked me up and we drove to his house in Waverley/Dunedin. At first I have been very disappointed. It looked like home here, plan grassland with black-and-white cows. Where was the New Zealand I knew from the Television and other reports? But it change on the way into the town. When we came over the summit of the last hill before Dunedin I had a first look over town and my later home. Wow! But a closer look showed substantial deficiency in paradise. The quality of the homes were far below what we are use to in Northern and Western Europe. Anyway, the sun was shining but it was not really warm. A cold wind blew direct from the South Pole. Then we reached Johns house and I could have a shower and a bit sleep. After two hours of sleep I was partly able to understand English at last.
View from the lounge/office window
The next days were quite exciting and step by step I saw parts of the South Island, for example: I went with John on the courier run up to Queenstown. We made a trip to Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand and on the way back we visited Eddie in Tarras, Central Otago, a Swiss, who unfortunately already was heavy marked by his illness (he suffered from pancreas cancer). Strangely I have forgotten most of the places we visited or what we did. But I remember, we made a trip with the Taieri Gorge Train. It is a museum train which go from Dunedin up to Middlemarch in Central Otago (http://www.taieri.co.nz).
Central Otaga - Dunstan Trail - between Middlemarch and Alexandra
Already on the second day John bought me a friendship ring. Actually a nice ring but after all those events that caused my return to Germany I don't want to wear it anymore.
After approximate one week, John had been on the courier run that day, he fell on his knees in front of me when he came back in the evening and asked me, if I want to marry him. What else could I do in that situation then say "yes"? First it means an extension to my holiday in New Zealand. Actually I wanted to fly back at the 27th December 2007 but there was no free place that day so I booked a return flight for the 29th December 2007. So we had the chance to see Eddie again. For the visit I bake Christmas cookies, a stollen and a "Knusperhaus"; that's a house made from gingerbread decorated with candies. The necessary materials I bought together with Graeme, a friend of John, or Greg, John's son. John had gone back on the courier runs, if you are self employed you connot stay away from work for eternity.
On Christmas Eve John was a bit sad when he came home. He told me that he had med Eddie at Clyde Hospital and Eddie was back as inpatient (what not really surprised me, when we saw him the last time he looked real bad). Nevertheless we went to church in the evening and I had my first Christmas in New Zealand.
At the 29th December 2007 I started my return with the knowledge that I would come back to New Zealand, then I would stay for good (I believed).