Jan 22 - Off for another adventure!January 22 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C
It's time for Doug and myself to set off on another adventure. We leave Jan 22 and return Feb 24. First stop - New Zealand. After a 3-week coach tour (see photo), we will go to Tahiti for a few days. Then we will explore Tahiti and the Society Islands on a one-week cruise. Glad to have you along for the trip!!
If you are interested, there are four other trips on this site that we have taken - Australia 2016, Middle East 2018, Italy 2019 and Europe/River Cruise 2019. They are public and can be read by anyone. Click "Maureen's Travels" and then click the icon that has a squiggle with 5 trips underneath it. Maybe one of them will spawn travel plans for you!!
And so the adventure has begun. Up at 6:30 a.m. Out the door at 7:30 a.m. We were like a well-oiled machine - we should be. We’ve done this many times before. Left the car at the Skypark Valet parking lot. I got a great deal on parking for 34 days with my Winter Special coupon. It’s worth the short van ride to the airport for those great prices. Easy check in - Air Canada agent Derek helped us with printing the baggage tags. Flashed our NEXUS cards (which classify us as trusted travellers in Canada and the U.S. - worth every penny of the $100 we each spent for a 10-year card) to go to the short security line and then we did the customs check in. Ooooops - got to go and visit the Agricultural Products Officer. We had packed our own lunch to bypass paying the exorbitant airport food costs. We intended to eat before getting on the plane - peanut butter sandwiches, carrots and apples. Discovered that the U.S. part of the airport is considered to be the U.S. where the import of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, meats, etc. is prohibited - like on the TV show Border Patrol. The carrots passed the test because the bag showed they were a product of Canada. I always take the stickers off fruit so we couldn’t prove their origin to be Canada or the U.S., so our two lovely Honey Crisp apples hit the garbage bin. Lesson learned. Hope that’s the biggest speed bump we hit on this trip.
We had lots of time to sit. First of all, I got the "selfie of the day" out of the way. You'll be seeing our smiling mugs a LOT. Then I binge-watched “Blue Murder” on BritBox. Great police drama series. Doug read the morning papers. Our flight for Chicago left at 12:25 p.m. on the button. The flight was smooth on this calm, sunny day. With no internet, I watched “Silent Witness” from Hoopla (free downloadable movies with my library card) - another excellent British series. We got into Chicago right on time and then we took the shuttle to the International Terminal. We are now hunkered down for about five hours until our flight at 7:15 p.m. to Auckland. Colette, our experienced travel agent, had advised us to build extra time in between the flight from Toronto and the flight to Auckland just in case there was a delay with the Toronto flight (snow/rain/ice/wind). Our flight to Auckland is 16 hours long - eat, sleep, watch movies, repeat. This will be the longest flight we have ever done. Sprang the extra $$ for Premium Economy seats that are wider and have a lot more leg room. I'm going back to binge-watching crime dramas. There won't be a post for Jan 23 because we will lose the day when we cross the international date line during the flight.
Here's some information about New Zealand to prime the pump. I will continue (shamelessly) to draw heavily from Wikipedia.
New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country has two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions.
Sometime between 1250 and 1300, Polynesians settled in the islands and developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947 and the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.9 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being very dominant.
The largest city is Auckland at about 1.6 million. Wellington, the capital, has a population of about 425,000 - it is located on the southern tip of the North Island.
New Zealand is heavily dependent on international trade, particularly in agricultural products. Major exports are food products and wood. Major trading partners are China, Australia, the European Union, the United States and Japan. Major market sectors are services, manufacturing and construction, farming and raw material extraction. Tourism comprises over 5% of the GDP. Wool used to be a major export but plummeting world prices have made it unprofitable. Dairy farming has increased dramatically with dairy products now accounting for almost 20% of total exports. The wine industry has doubled its number of vineyards in the last decade.Read more