Turkey to Go
So we saw a great fare, booked it, and discovered after the fact that we would be departing for New Zealand on Thanksgiving night. We were catching the last Hawaiian Airlines flight of the day from Kona to Honolulu and then departing from Honolulu just after midnight. So the great news is that we got to enjoy lots of Thanksgiving Day food. We spent a couple of hours visiting with family just up the road and a few more hours visiting with family further along the way, where we packed up a substantial feast for our Honolulu layover.
Passing Through Customs and Cultures
Our flight from Honolulu on Fiji Airlines was more interesting because we would be stopping in Apia, Samoa and Nadi, Fiji on our way to Auckland in Aotearoa. In Honolulu, we discovered our flight out to Apia was delayed two hours and departing passengers could not enter the gate area until arriving passengers had moved on to customs. So all the outgoing passengers to Apia and Nadi gathered patiently in the airport through-way. Sitting on the floor, sleeping on a bench, leaning against a wall, etc. Consequently, a wonderful collection of people gathered in the airport corridor to wait for the doors to open including an arch of wheelchair assisted kupuna. How lovely- a plane that would begin in one culture, pass through two more, and land in a fourth. What a diverse bunch we were!
So what about this NZ
We opted to make our first impression of Aotearoa about the flora and fauna. So we resisted the temptation to gauge our experience until the next morning. That would have been easy if we hadn’t run into Troy, the absolutely amazing owner and operator of Whangaparaoa Lodge. He set the bar rather high for his countrymen and his gracious hospitality is the sort of thing we appreciate beyond most all.
So with our impression of the people cemented in the really amazing category, it was left to Tiritiri Matangi to secure it’s reputation for caring environmentalists. Tiritiri Matangi is an island accessible by ferry about an hour north of Auckland. We managed to snag a private tour with Robin and after seeing our sixth endemic bird perched on a native tree, we were convinced. Here was an island, once deforested by farming, restored with native populations protected from the invasive plants and aggressive rodents that had previously crippled their ranks. It would be hard to imagine a more wonderful introduction to Aotearoa.