As promised, this begins a series of posts describing my recent holiday in New Zealand.

The excitement really started the night before I left to go to New Zealand.  I’d packed my backpack and suitcase, and driven to Sydney.  Mother suggested I weigh my suitcase on the bathroom scales to make sure it wasn’t too heavy.  Aghast, I discovered it was 4kg over the allowed weight, and I wasn’t too interested in paying $18/kg for the privilege.  I took out a shirt or two, put a small quantity of shampoo in a little bottle rather than take the whole thing, and moved some of the cherry ripes to my backpack.

About those cherry ripes – my sister quite likes them, and apparently theyr’e quite difficult to come by in New Zealand, so she’d asked me to bring some over.  I figured it would be a while before there’d be another opportunity for such a delivery, so I bought just over 1 kg of them for her.  That, plus the two bottles of Tokay, and some other presents, along with my sleeping bag, shoes, and camera tripod, left little room or weight for clothes.

In the end, according to the bathroom scales, the bag was still a couple of kilos overweight.  Fortunately, due to either the scales at the baggage check-in counter, or the woman processing my check-in, I wasn’t charged any excess baggage fees.  I enjoyed a leisurely coffee before buying a bottle of water to drink on the plane, and eventually boarded the 737-300.

To my great delight, there was an empty seat in between my aisle seat, and the woman sitting in the window seat.  Apparently we had similar ideas regarding how one could occupy oneself on such a flight – we both had bottles of water and novels to read.  Although, I suspect her book was more intellectual than mine, at least judging from the serious-looking cover on her book.  I’d bought Daniel Silva’s latest book, The Defector, to read.

All was well when I got to the Wellington Airport.  I withdrew some cash (all in $20’s, apparently fairly common with NZ ATMs) and headed outside to find the bus to the railway station.  There was one just outside the door, a shuttle bus.  The journey took around 15-20 minutes, and I took the opportunity to send my brother in law, Jonners, a text saying I was on the way.  We’d arranged the day before for me to do this, and he’d extricate himself from his client meeting, and come and meet me.  Unfortunately the vagaries of international roaming and text messages meant this message wasn’t delivered.  In fact, I don’t think he ever got the message.  I rung him when I got to the station to find out how far away he was, only to discover that he’d not received the text.  No matter – I’d spend the time walking up the street to find a place to buy a vodafone pre-paid SIM card.

Further international roaming related issues meant Jonner’s number didn’t show up on my phone when he rang – in fact the number was completely unrecognisable as a normal phone number.  Luckily, we spotted each other back at the train station, and after having a brief lunch, we left for his office.  There I left my suitcase in the boot of his car, and set out for an afternoon of solo exploration.  I had about 3.5 hours to kill before he would be finished work, so I took my time, venturing up to the Botanical garderns, into the classical music store I’d visited last time I was in Wellington, to the waterfront, and around various streets of Wellington city.  Finally, I ended up in the cafe at Borders, sipping on a Caramel Latte, and continuing the adventures of Gabriel Allon, the main character in The Defector.

I can’t recall too much more of that evening, other than the joy of catching up with Sharon and Jonners.  The Cherry Ripes and Tokay were well received, and after helping to clear out the packing boxes from the spare room, I had a nice futon to sleep on for the night.  Thus concluded my first night in Wellington.