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Journals from Waikato-New Zealand Fall 09

2009-09-08 Travel In New Zealand

26th August 2009 Travel in New Zealand Upon coming to New Zealand I had really only ever flown on small planes from state to state in the Northwest, usually on Southwest to go home from Portland to Boise, Idaho for holiday. So when I got onto the huge 747 aircraft for the first time, it was quite an experience. It was really no different from any other flight or plane, except three things: the length, the size of the plane and the hospitality of the crew. At first I thought it might be just because it was an overseas flight which was very long and passengers were bound to get cranky, but after more traveling, I dont know if I believe that to be true. Here in Hamilton, New Zealand transportation is not a big deal. I mean, people have cars and such, but Hamilton is not a big city and does not have a train system. It is not by the water, and so does not need a ferry system. We have a great bus system, and a lot of taxis. I have really only ridden in taxis and on buses. I dont know if I could tell you how many because that is how students without cars get around, and not only in Hamilton, around the whole island as well. I have only one memory of a rude taxi or bus driver. In fact, today I had to take the Nakedbus to Auckland to catch a flight to Australia for holiday. The Nakedbus is just a charter bus that goes around the island from town to town for the cheapest fairs. They call it the Nakedbus for advertising purposes; catchy isnt it? The driver for the Nakedbus has to check each passengers reference number to make sure everyone has paid his or her fare. We then made a quick stop at the Hamilton transit center, where the passengers were allowed to take a five-minute break and a few people got off the bus. When it came time to leave, the bus driver walked to the very back of the bus and counted. Noticing one person missing, he stepped off the bus to look around the platform to find that one person. I was so in awe and couldnt think of any time in the States I had seen a bus driver go off and look for a specific person before we left the city. Once we got the airport one thing was instantly clear to me. While the kiwis are worried about security in airports and planes, it is nowhere near as big of a deal as it is in the States. I have only flown internationally from Auckland so far, but I have heard that domestic flights dont even really have a security checkpoint. Its amazing to think about that, no security. I breezed through security and passport control in the international terminal with the blink of an eye, realizing how strict we are in the States. They say that lots of countries make it hard on Americans to get visas just because it is such a pain for most people to get a visa to America, and going through such a simple process made me think about the possibilities of all the things America brings on itself. Then once I got on the plane, I began to notice that the experience of flying here was so much nicer. The planes themselves were not necessarily nicer by any means; a plane is, after all, still a plane no matter where you put it in the world. But the crew and the flight attendants were so nice and helpful all the time. They seemed to me to be making an extra effort to make sure that everyone on the flight was comfortable, not just those in business class or just those in first class. I never once had to ask for a drink; they always seemed to be offering me extra, whether it is coffee or tea or a soda or juice. I just have felt so comfortable flying and traveling here by myself. And it has been quite lovely because traveling alone was what worried me the most about coming to New Zealand.

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