Long trip to NZ

We’ve arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand!

I had forgotten how long the trip is – about 33 hours in all. We got to the airport around 2pm on Tuesday, Nov 8th. We have some big baggage, because we’re bringing some of our science equipment with us that wasn’t ready to ship in time to make it to the Pole when we get there. The airline and TSA baggage screening folks at the airport were not happy with us because they didn’t like our big cases. They were heavier and larger than they’re used to dealing with – but we didn’t have to pay extra because the US Antarctic program arranged for that. One of them didn’t fit through the bag screener, and the TSA folks had to check it by hand, which made their day. Luckily they didn’t try to disassemble any of our delicate parts in there… I was very relieved once they closed it up and sent it on its way.

After flying from Cleveland to Chicago (1 hour flight, 2 hour layover), then Chicago to Los Angeles (4.5 hour flight, 2 hour layover), we finally boarded the plane for the looooonnnnng (13 hour) flight to Auckland, New Zealand.

Here’s the requisite “waiting in the airport” picture, in Los Angeles. I’m on the left, and JT Sayre (a graduate student at Case) is on the right. At this point it’s about 11pm Los Angeles time, or 2am Cleveland time. So we’re only somewhat tired by now. :)

13 hours is a long plane ride. Dinner, movie, sleep, movie, read, doze, breakfast, movie, read, arrive. Loved those movies – the international flights these days have the player in the seat in front of you, and you get to pick what movies you watch, when. :)

We arrived at the International terminal in Auckland, and then had to pick up all our bags, go through customs, and walk everything over to the domestic terminal, a 15 minute walk away. Here I am with my luggage cart (JT took the picture, so his is on the left)… it’s a big hard to see but each of us has a huge black 70lb equipment case, in addition to our regular luggage. I also have a smaller 40lb piece of luggage that just has nuts, bolts, tools/etc in it. Very dense!

Once we’d checked in again, we waited another hour for our flight south to Christchurch, where we were greeted by two Kiwis (ie, people from New Zealand) with the US Antarctic Program. They got us oriented, and loaded onto the supershuttles that took us to our hotels. Here’s the two USAP Kiwi’s who met us – Leighton on the left, Kat on the right.

And finally, here’s the super shuttle – they pull trailers behind them that carry the bags – that’s JT back by the trailer. It’s a good system, because we have a lot of bags!

All told it was about 33 hours of travel from my house to the hotel here in Christchurch. A shower and a quick dinner later, time for sleep.