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Welcome to Zew Nealand.....

Well the flight to Sydney itself wasn't too bad, once we got underway 25 minutes late.

We had aisle and middle seats in the middle section which is Karen's preferred option when the configuration is 3-4-3 as it enables us to get up and down without disturbing anyone or anyone disturbing us.

If only we could afford to go one class up. The truth is that we probably could but choose to spend our money on more holidays than having luxury on fewer.

I can't say we got much sleep though but thats normal. Finished the last of series 3 of Line of Duty and then dozed.

The problems today arose in that Emirates had only given us 1 hr 15 minutes connection time in Sydney. They assured us again at check in that this was absolutely no problem.

The 25 delay in take off didn't help, although we made up 10 minutes on the journey (I wonder if the pilots likes to beat the Sat Nav in the same way I do in the car?), it was the fact the previous plane was still at our gate having to offload a passenger that really knocked us. This caused another 15 minute delay. We were up and out of seats literally as the plane stopped, bags out of locker, up the aisle and waiting by the doors for them to open. There was an announcement on board telling everyone who had the Sydney connection to move quickly and to speak to ground staff for directions.

We did this and walked quickly for International Transfers. Despite not leaving any secure area we had to go through Security again and then found our gate was the furthest away. After a good 15 minutes walk we joined the queue only to be denied boarding and told to see one of the gate agents at the desk. We did to be told that everyone from the Bangkok flight had been offloaded as they didn't think we would make it. They rechecked us all in again and as we got on board I heard one of the staff saying why were they all booked onto this flight? and there was no chance their luggage will make it.

This was a Qantas flight and the plane not as good as Emirates. By now we hadn't eaten properly for what seemed like days. We both had a Red Wine from the trolley. Whether it was the relief from making the connection or alcohol at 30000ft on a very empty stomach but it made us both very giggly and went straight to our heads. Karen watched an episode of Trollied and was laughing so loudly people at the very front of the cabin were turning round.

Our fun ended when we landed. We were impressed by the e-Gates at Passport Control and were soon 'in' New Zealand or so we thought. We then went to collect our bags. 30 minutes later we were still at the carousel waiting along with everyone else who had connecting flights. I left Karen to find Baggage Services to get ahead of everyone else. After a 20 minute wait I was describing our bags and was told they would be on the next flight from Sydney and we would receive them early the next day. Disappointing but understandable considering the connection.

We then joined the mother of all queues to go through Bio Security. This was quite ironic as we had no luggage! It took forever. We did have a really nice security man who had a good chat with us. I tried to 'declare or dispose' some Ritz crackers I had been carrying for Karen, but he said I should keep them as they were too nice to waste.

So 2 ½ hours after touch down we made it to the exit.

We found the super shuttle I had booked to the Hotel and soon made friends with Greg the ex Service Director for Air New Zealand who was the driver. He was really good fun as was the passenger who had to sit in the front with him. She was quite talkative. She let slip that she was an actress turned writer. It turned out she was/is quite famous both in the UK and NZ (I found her on Google afterwards). Her name is Barbara Ewing and has starred in lots of things and her books have been short-listed for many awards.

We were soon at our Hotel (Ramada) and with no bags to unpack we went for a wander through the streets to explore and find some food.

Our first impressions of Auckland were favourable. The weather was beautiful and warm. The city is quite hilly that we weren't expecting, and it felt safe. We found a supermarket (Countdown) to get some fruit and porridge for breakfast for the following morning.

We then stumbled across Elliots Stable to eat, which was a marvellous place. It is literally an old stable with a covered courtyard. Each stable was being run as an independent restaurant with a communal seating area in the middle. We both choose Italian, but could have chosen from Japanese, Indian, Fish, French, Latin etc. The concept really worked and there was a real buzz about the place. The food wasn't cheap but the quality was high. We would both highly recommend it.

After this and our lack of sleep we were back in our rooms by 9pm ready to hit the land of nod.

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