If you skipped Part I of the Journey, here are the highlights to get you up to speed: we did not get upgraded, I got barfed on two hours in, baby puke smells gross, and I enjoyed a golf cart ride around the Toronto airport.
We arrived in Vancouver at around 6pm local time and the flight to Auckland was set to depart at 8pm. Thankfully, not too long since we were already getting tired and weary and the vomit smell emanating from my soiled bra was putting me in a foul mood. We were escorted by golf cart from our Toronto-Vancouver arrival gate to our Vancouver-Auckland departure gate. This was necessary given the sheer mass of carry-on luggage we had, not to mention the 3 kids we had in tow. We checked the stroller so we didn’t have the convenience of that to help us along. Gate to gate must be at least a kilometre so it’s a good thing we got a lift or we’d have had to stop every 20 metres or so.
We got to the gate: pretty straightforward. We got our tickets re-issued (a necessary step though I’m not sure why) and was told by a Canadian Air Canada staff member (assisting Air New Zealand) that our kids didn’t have the completed paperwork to enter New Zealand but that, once admitted, we had 3 weeks to submit it. What. What?! WHAT?!!! No, the truth is I didn’t care. I was too tired to care. I have nearly 5 month old twins and a nearly 21 month old toddler that has just entered the terrible twos, so I don’t have the energy to care. I knew we had the certificates of Citizenship by Descent for all three kids which gives them a right to entry and I figured that anything else can be figured out later.
Leah charmed a few strangers at the gate as we changed her into her long haul gear (ie. footsie pajamas). James and I got dressed into our sweatpants/loungewear and we boarded the plane as quickly as possible. I asked how much it cost to upgrade to First Class. Answer: $2500 per seat. Not bad but too rich for our blood so we joined the plebs in economy class.
The flight was good, all things considered. James and I got a bit of sleep and, thankfully, the kids all slept quite a bit. Leah, when awake, was kept entertained by walking up and down the aisles with us but mainly we all dutifully sat in our seats. Every minute that passed was a godsend; it meant one less minute in a sardine can with three teething children.
A few words on the food…I’m always impressed with the food on Air New Zealand flights and this one was no different: dinner was a thai beef curry with spiced rice, a bean salad, fresh bun with NZ butter, a cheesecake for dessert and red and white wines being offered, gratis, repeatedly; breakfast was a yogurt, fruit salad, sausage (good quality), omelette and hash browns.
We landed in Auckland. There were no golf carts readily available so a lovely man called “Titi” pushed the luggage on a wheelchair while James and I split the kid carrying tasks to the other side of the airport. We lined up (ed: queued up, for our Kiwi readers) and spoke to Immigration. Due to the kids not having some sort of visa in the passports, we were asked to wait for someone to speak to us. If I wasn’t so fatigued, I may have been worried. Not worried that I’d be kicked out of New Zealand, but worried that I’d have to go right back on the plane for another 14 hour flight! A lovely lady called Liza assured us that it wasn’t a problem, we could enter to NZ with the children possessing Citizenship by Descent but, to avoid this hassle in future, we ought to submit forms at our leisure. It seems the strict 3 week period the aforementioned Air Canada staff member told us about was inaccurate by, ummmm, a lot. After an hour or so at Immigration, we happily moved along to baggage claim. Luckily, since we’d been stuck at Immigration for so long, all our bags were sitting by the carousel waiting for us. It was like returning from the washroom at a restaurant and your meal is ready and waiting! It was wonderful!
We then made our way to Customs. NZ Customs in renowned for being very strict. The only unusual things we brought with us were some sweetgrass braids which, if you aren’t familiar with them, are braids of dried grass that are used for religious/ceremonial purposes. We declared them but were initially accused of not declaring them since the Newbie Customs worker didn’t ask us about them. As a side note, other Customs workers referred to the Newbie as being “rude” and having “an attitude”. They said all this in front of me. Somehow I don’t think this would happen in Canada. In any event, It took an hour with a Customs worker before he was convinced to let me take it. It seems the fact that it was still green had made him nervous. I assured him that it was very dry, nothing could be grown from it and that I certainly did not possess the green thumb skills required to bring it back to life. All told, between Immigration and Customs, we walked through the exit nearly three hours after we landed.
We were happily greeted by my in-laws who are, without exaggeration, two of the nicest people I know. Nice as in kind not as in bland. They didn’t seem to mind that they’d been waiting for three hours. They looked beautifully dressed (despite the early hour) and they hugged me even though I smelt like now-stale baby vomit.
Leah, James’ mum and I went in her car; James, his dad and Lev and Philippa went in our new car — the Nissan Elgrand!, a car not even available in Canada. I’ll save the Elgrand for another post but I will say this: I effing LOVE this car.
We stopped en route at James’ sister’s place for breakfast which was, in short, a feast. After spending the last 30 hours in air-conditioned spaces, it was great to be getting some fresh country air. We said our goodbyes and then headed to our new home in Matamata. We are staying in a cottage that is nearby my in-laws on their farm property. The views are beautiful and I am surrounded by citrus trees. I could get used to this.
Stay tuned — PART III of The Journey will feature what I’ve been up to since I arrived six days ago!
For now, enjoy the photos below…
Leah at the Vancouver airport, attempting to enter a secured zone…[NB: HSBC clearly spends a ton on advertising!]
One kid is missing in this photo…
From left: Philippa, Lev and Leah enjoying a brief moment on the plane…
See you next time!
Until then, you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CanadianMumAbroad