Today was my travel day from Auckland to Christchurch, which sounded pretty simple and easy. Get up early to finish packing, catch the bus into the city centre and the Airbus from there, board a plane, land and call Charlotte to be picked up – simples!
The first part worked out ok, but then… First of all, one hiccup from yesterday: I bought a Vodafone SIM card from the tourist office to be able to a) surf when I’m on the bus and b) call Charlotte today. After putting it in my phone, I realised pretty soon that the surf speed was reeeeaaaallllly slow. All my phone told me that 3G didn’t work (even though it had done that fine with the Swedish SIM before). The friendly nerd in the nearest Vodafone store knew the problem and changed a few settings somewhere I’d never seen before and ta-daah! It was fast 🙂
So today I got to the airport alright and after a rather lengthy search for my confirmation number from Air New Zealand, was able to use the automatic check-in – because I did not see a counter where a person could have done that with my name. One boarding pass and bag tag later, my backpack went onto the belt and I to the gate. An hour before the scheduled boarding time. So far, so good.
Then I received a text message telling me we had 25 minutes delay. A second text message a little later said it was only 20 minutes. When we were finally done boarding, it was more like 35 minutes… 😉
The flight itself was quite nice until we started our descent into Christchurch and had to go through the clouds. It got really bumpy, I even held on to the seat in front of me at some point – and the 10 Unaccompanied Minors (for those not speaking airliner: children travelling without parents in the care of the airline) in the back were screaming and screeching. We did touch down very smoothly though 🙂
Upon restarting my phone, I saw I had gotten a voicemail while we were on the way, so I called the number the text told me to call – only to hear: You do not have enough credit to do so. Ermm? So instead, I tried calling the number I had from Charlotte – as she was the only person on this planet to even know said number and we were 35 minutes late, it was quite obvious it must have been her. What did I hear then? The number you are trying to call is invalid or not available.
At this point, I started to doubt my abilities to use a phone… 😉 Found my backpack on the belt and then double-checked the number Charlotte had emailed me – it was the same I was trying to call, so I tried again, in different variations: country code and no 0, then just a 0, nothing helped. I had to listen to the voicemail, maybe she had given a different number there.
Thankfully, there was a Vodafone counter in the arrivals hall and the friendly guy there explained that I would have to top up before I could listen to my voicemail – but the top up would have to be 20$. Did I have a choice? No, so he did it for me and I went to a quiet corner to finally listen to my message. Could I? You guessed it: NO! Because first I needed to set up said voicemail with a password and greeting and whatnot. Cancelling in the middle of it btw doesn’t work – it makes you do it all over again until it says you are finished…
Many many curses and minutes later I finally heard Charlotte’s voice, asking me to ring her when I landed – on the number I had tried before. Another trip to the counter with the friendly guy who then explained to me that I had to add an area code in front of my number. Grrr! That did the trick and we finally arranged to meet in the pickup area of the airport about 10 minutes later.
Said pickup area is not signposted… and if you come out the wrong door, it will also not be visible for you. Another friendly guy then pointed me in the right direction and I positioned myself there – at this point realising that I had no idea what car I was looking for (should’ve asked…) or if I would recognise Charlotte at all. We met for a very lovely dinner at her house one evening when I was last in NZ about 8 years ago…
Long story short: It worked fine, I recognised her immediately and we spent a very enjoyable rest of the day together. The next two days are already planned and I might even come back here in December after finishing my tour. Could do full circle – come to Christchurch, fly to Auckland from here to stay with my other nice hostess and then fly on. We’ll see!
Those of you who were with me back then or have met Charlotte on other occasions (Britta!): She says hi to all of you and has promised to pose for some pictures 😉
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Vodafone 😛