Puddle Jumping

25 August 2019


We got up at 7.30, got washed and dressed and went down to the “restaurant” for breakfast.

Now, one of the reasons why we always like staying at the EconoLodge is the quality of the breakfasts. Fresh melon slices, pineapple, grapes, cheese, fruit juices, freshly made pikelets, maple syrup, Weetbix, toast, yoghurt, kiwifruit, orange slices. It was always very fresh and yummy. They’ve gone to the pack, the last couple of times that we’ve stayed there. No melon, no Weetbix, the picklets were overcooked and soggy, the price had gone up (but there was the option for sausages, cooked tomatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.) It wasn’t nearly as tasty nor appetising as in the past.

We finished that, went up to clean our teeth and finish packing our bags. I’d just finished zipping up my suitcase when I realised that I couldn’t find my V2 lock. This lock is pink and has been halfway around the world twice. It’s also got an easy to remember combination. I had other pink locks in my bag, so locking my suitcase wasn’t an issue, but I didn’t really want to lose the original. Oh, well. I’ll use one of the other locks and ask the cleaners to keep an eye out for the missing one. I reached into my camera bag to get a spare lock…


Guess I hadn’t lost it after all.

The Skybus left every ten minutes, halfway down the block from the EconoLodge, so – having paid up (I’m paying for food and travel, D.C.’s paying for accommodation) – we went to wait for the bus.

Now, if you know Wellesley Street in Auckland, it’s quite a steep street. I was waiting facing up the hill and looking into the window of a neighbouring shop, appeared to have a lean of about 5°. D.C., with her daypack on her back, kept on overbalancing.

The bus arrived and I tried to pay by credit card (so I can keep track). They can only accept cash or pre-booked tickets. I tried to buy one adult and one senior ticket – you can only buy senior at a kiosk or on-line. I asked for two return, (I had the cash) and looking at my $38 ticket now, I think he’s only charged us for one way. But at least we each had a ticket.

While I was undergoing this high-finance transaction, D.C. was trying to get our cases into the luggage racks. A nice young man picked them up and put them away for her.

For some reason – probably to aid manoeuvrability through a tight space and around a corner, the front seat on the passenger side is a ¾ sized seat. Easily big enough for one person, not so good for two. As I’d held them up with the payment, I left D.C. to it and claimed the front seat on the drivers side, which is behind a lot of luggage racks and with a high wall meaning it’s hard to see out the window. Especially if you’re only 5’1”. So when we got to the next bus stop, I went back to the front (only luggage racks and disability/wheelchair/emergency seats behind D.C.’s seat.) and squeezed in next to her.

Squeezed being the operative word. First corner that we went around to the left, I disappeared off the seat. The driver goes: “I think that’s only made for one person.”

“I think you’re right. I’ll go back at the next stop.”

But there were no further stops, aside from intersections, so we spent most of the 45 minutes with D.C. with her arm looped through mine, hanging on to me, and me sitting kind of side-saddle.

But we made it to the airport with no hiccups. Even though the wind and rain picked up as soon as we hit the motorway and caused the warped door to rattle and flex. Slightly disconcerting, more so because I was concerned what would happen to any vehicles following if it flew loose.

We were deposited at the domestic terminal and had a wander through, working out how and where we offloaded our suitcases. It’s not a totally logical layout at the moment, but there were people to help.

By this stage it was only about 10am and our plane wasn’t due to leave until 2.40, so we went for a wandering through the domestic terminal. We also weighed our cabin bags. According to the rules, they couldn’t be more than 7kg. My camera & laptop bag recorded 7.1kg… 7kg… 6.9kg.

Close enough.

Having completed that, we decided to check out the international terminal. There is a helpful green line painted between the two and it was easy to follow this (stopping off to photograph a Moa and a Kiwi) to the international airport.

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Moa hiding in the Pohutukawa

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Kiwi – having just been visited by a young boy, who’s mum called him back so I could get my photo.

We had a look around and decided to have lunch. Each having a Pita Pit pita. Which was quite yummy – I had falafel. D.C. only wanted a sandwich, but couldn’t find a place that sold plane, sorry, plain old simple sandwiches.

While we were eating, there was a family behind us of mum, dad, grandma, and two kids. Dad was trying to get photos of them all, so I offered to get some with him in. He was very pleased to let me – once he’d switched it over so it wasn’t the camera on the screen side taking the photo. Unfortunately, it was a tablet and not a proper camera. But I managed to get a couple. And then a couple more when they decided that the light behind was too annoying.

We wished them a good flight, and they reciprocated, before we started heading back to the domestic airport. We decided to make this journey a competition. D.C. would take the free bus that travels on a loop between the two terminals and I’d walk. Loser to buy dinner tonight.

The bus pulled up, D.C. got on board, and the driver looked at me. I said: “I’m walking. We’re going to have a race.”

As soon as the bus started moving, so did I.

And I would have done better if my shoelace hadn’t come undone. As it was, I was heading towards the final corner before the stretch of footpath where the buses park when a bus came towards me. The driver saw me and did a double take and smiled. I did a “Bother, I’m last” gesture and she laughed. It only took me 8 minutes to walk, which was probably only about minute slower than the bus. Unfortunately, my fitness tracker (a cheapy) doesn’t let you go back and see your results again, so I can’t remember much more than it was about .73 of a kilometre. I don’t know how many steps I took – but it was around about now that it vibrated to tell me that I’d done my 10,000 steps for the day.

But I was quite hot and thirsty after that walk, (I was wearing my 3-in-one “ski” jacket, my camera backpack, and Kally), so I bought us each a “Mango Zest” TANK drink, remembering – belatedly – to ask to have it without a straw.

“And without a lid?” they checked.

“Yes, please.”

The “paper” cup was probably plastic lined, but at least we didn’t put more plastic than necessary into the landfill.

We found a seat away from the main conglomeration of people waiting for their flight and sat, relaxed, and typed up this blog. 1.00pm we moved down to the more crowded seats, and I did more typing until it was time to board at 13:55 from gate 48 on flight NZ8041.

We sat on the tarmac for quite some time. (We’re now at the hotel and I’ve just found an email from Air New Zealand apologising because the flight was going to be twenty minutes late.) The captain came on the radio an apologised for the delay, saying that it was due to an administration issue. About ten minutes after that the flight attendant spoke to the passenger in the row before us, on the other side of the aisle, then then he had to collect his two(!) bags and leave the plane – leaving his phone behind. D.C. and the people behind us had to tell the flight attendant and she got someone to take it to the ex-passenger.

What I think happened, and this is what I overheard from a conversation between the flight attendant and a man two rows behind us – is that the plane was only allowed to carry fifty. The ex-passenger was allowed on, on the understanding that he’d have to get off and take the next flight, if passengers who had booked before him boarded. They did. So he caught the next flight, which landed almost instantly after we did in New Plymouth anyway.

The flight down was good, the weather relatively clear, an easy take off (not a “point up at the sky and go”), not too many bumps going into the cloud layer, and an easy landing.

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But still no view of the mythical mountain.

Our plane was a turbo-prop(? A name I learned when writing a Thunderbirds story. Also known as a puddle-jumper. But I could be totally wrong about this. I just know it was small and had two propellers.) and we had to walk across the tarmac to board it. And to leave it. And then we had to wait for the baggage train to bring all the bags into a “baggage claim” room, shut the door behind it, and then let us all in to grab our bags. No luggage carousels here!

We found the shuttle service and D.C. scored the front seat and I got the one behind but in the middle so I could see forward too. It was a good drive into town and we were the second drop off of the three stops.

Last time we were in New Plymouth we stayed at the Bella Vista Motel, and having no better ideas this time, we did the same. This time we were given room two, which we think might be directly below the one we had last time, which could have been room eleven.


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Having offloaded and decanted everything, we went on our obligatory hunt for a Warehouse. You can guarantee that every time we go somewhere, we have to find a Warehouse. This time D.C. wanted some warmer PJs. I think she’s ended up with a pair of men’s tracksuit pants and a woman’s skivvy. I had seen it at the top of the hill and was heading in that direction, when D.C. stopped and asked someone where it was. I was a trifle snappy when I informed her that it was there!

The Bella Vista recommended two eating establishments, so we went hunting for the one on Molesworth Street. I knew when we found this as I found the Bunnings’ hardware store that’s on that street. Having reached Bunnings we walked back in the direction of the motel, hoping to stumble across the restaurant.

The only thing we saw was a beautiful sunset highlighting Paritutu Rock and the smoke stack, but which had all but gone by the time I got over the road and to a good vantage point with my camera.

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We got back to the Bella Vista still not having found the restaurant. I’ve just checked and it was two blocks the other way past Bunnings.

So, we went over the road to Monica’s Eatery. We both had macaroni cheese, which D.C. found to be too much of a good thing. They gave us some delicious, freshly cooked bread (focaccia?) as well – which was lovely aside from the buttery fingerprints we left on everything. I was planning on having dessert, but didn’t bother when they didn’t come back with the menu having given D.C. her leftovers doggie bag. Our drinks were carrot. apple. turmeric. & ginger (D.C. – very orange) and spinach, something, something, Egmont honey, and mint. (Me – very green)

After that we came “home” and got into bed.

We’d (I’d!) done 12.457 steps today!

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