First there was the anxiety of sorting out which visas to apply for. Then, it was getting all the required materials together: reams of forms, chest x-rays, blood work, urine analysis, criminal record checks (evidently I don't have readable fingerprints. Who knew?!), passport photos (about eight each!), evidence of our "stable relationship", photos, etc. In the end, the package we sent off weighed 2.5 lbs!
Oh, and did I mention that just days before we were set to send the whole thing off - with ORIGINALS of everything from our passports, to marriage certificate and PhD credentials, the NZ High Commission office in Ottawa closed its visa office. We had to scramble to sort out the requirements for filing through Washington DC and then send off our package overnight, only for it to take five days for delivery. Five days, people. Five whole days of tracking the most important package of my life as it took its sweet time crossing the continental US of A.
The delay and stress sucked, but boy, did it make for an exciting day when the USP guy knocked on our door to deliver our freshly minted visas along with the safe return of all of our original documents.
All this wordiness is simply to highlight how relieved we were that the actual voyage to New Zealand was not at all stressful. We got to the airport nice and early and kicked around the airport for a while.
Abner was THRILLED to check out the giant fish tank in the international terminal. We've been card carrying members of the Vancouver Aquarium for quite a while, so it was nice to have a reminder of one of our favourite places on our last day.
Our last meal in Canada? Tim Hortons. Of course.
Abner's big plan for the plane was to get into her PJs straight away, watch a few shows, eat some food and go to sleep. That's exactly what she did. We dubbed her "zombie Abner" during the flight...see what I mean?
Getting through passport control and customs in Auckland took longer than expected and we actually had to run the 10 minutes between terminals with our luggage loaded onto trolleys. Normally, you'd be able to claim your bags after clearing passport control, get through customs, check your bags at the international terminal and take a shuttle bus over to the domestic terminal. I can't complain though. The run was refreshing.
On the flight from Auckland to Dunedin, the flight attendants invited Abner to hand out lollies to all the passengers. Apparently it's just something they do. Abner was so happy to oblige and did a great job.
And, well, now we've been in Dunedin almost two days. The weather has been amazing. The city is gorgeous. And everyone is incredibly friendly. Here are a few pics from our first few days...
|Checking out a playground not far from the beach.|
|Our first walk through the University of Otago campus.|
|Another part of campus...still not pretty enough to perk up a grumpy Abner.|
|The view from Signal Hill looking back over the city.|