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A funny happened today on the way to manicure…

Well at the manicure parlour…


Part 12/Final J


Well that just did not happen—(getting my booked flight back to Auckland and having a whole day to kill at the airport.) What ensued next is every traveler’s nightmare but to begin at the beginning…

I was in good time for my flight and so settled down with a coffee to wait and chill out. After a time I noticed people getting up and moving around. I spoke with a girl next to me and she said – I think your flight has been cancelled…WHAT!!! No that couldn’t be, I checked the board and yes it was. I simply could not take this in. Sure there was some mist and it was drissling but flights were coming and going- just not Jest star. ‘My’ airline. I saw lots of people on their devices once again either phoning or contacting airlines…I began to panic and rushed to the check in place where there was a lineup of people trying to get on the next flight…I had been sleeping… oh no I am not going to make my flight back am I? I’m trying not to think it’s happening all over again the same as when I was leaving Vancouver only that time it was partly my fault…I rush to the front of the line and tearfully ask the people if I can push in as I have to make my flight out to Canada tonight and desperately need to be on this flight. It leaves at 3.15 and if I can get on it I have chance of making my international flight home. They graciously allow me to go next and no-one is nasty thank goodness. ‘God what is going on? What are you trying to teach me in all this?…not to panic?…oh well…not much joy there’! As I tearfully explain to the woman behind the desk concerning my predicament another airline lady is saying to her ‘remember you have to save me 30 seats to which she is nodding- I’m thinking THIRTY SEATS! That’s an awful lot and will I get one…well she did get me booked on and I profusely thanked the kind guys who let me in. At least I’m booked on the next flight out but would it be time enough to get my international flight – If it leaves on time I think I should be ok.

As I leave to go back to my seat and wait it out I notice the New Zealand airline line up as well with people trying to book on their next flight out. I hang around the line to see what I can find out thinking that if they have lots of seating I might just book with them and hang it all pay through the nose to get home tonight. But as I’m waiting an official comes up and say’ s look you people it’s no use hanging around as this flight is just about fully booked..what I was learning was what most Kiwi’s know that the New Zealand Airlines are able to come and go whatever the weather because their equipment is more sophisticated, whereas Jest Star does not have that equipment, and is much less reliable. Great!

Oh well I find my way to a computer $4 for 30 mins. I must get on fb and let folk know to pray for me that my flight will make it out and that I will get my international flight home…

The system is lousy and I am getting very frustrated as its taking forever to load up and get me on-line. I go to the desk and complain that I didn’t even get half of the time I was supposed to. She gives me another round thankfully. None of this is helping to keep me calm.

I go back to sit and look out of window at the runway and watch the mist settle in with no sign of it lifting. Its mountainous territory and could be dangerous..

After a while I go to the small food section and grab a hot pie and some salad to eat. There is no way I’m going to spend my N.Z. dollars at a big airport now! The latte’ is good though.

I sit and pray and try to stay in peace. Eventually I go back to the New Zealand Airline check in and ask the nice man there if by any chance I had booked a flight today with them out of Queenstown today when I was in Christchurch and nothing had come into my mail box? He looked me up and said no but you did book a flight out of Christchurch to Auckland today…..Well what could I say at least I knew now what had happened. I asked if there was anything they could do for me. All he said was that they had me on file and would give me a discount if I wanted to use it but it would have to be within a year… Oh well this is life I guess. I was working to a budget and made it work – it would have been nice if I hadn’t overspent on that, but it s not the end of the world. Just means I have to go back within a year to use it up…

I went back to my window seat and noticed my 3.15 flight was being delayed…This was a bit much to handle…I stared out of the window and prayed. As I looked up, I noticed a bird hovering in the air over the mist and wind. Then I noticed two more. ‘Ok Lord what does that mean?…I feel a small stirring inside of me. Dare I hope that I will make my flight?

I make my way back to the computer and spend another $4. I Tag my fb book friends and request more prayer for peace and that I will get a flight out today and make my international flight home. I need peace as much as anything. I check the flight board. My flight is still delayed. At this rate I may not make it. Am trying to think of the worst possible scenario. (Like the counseling course I took) What is the worst thing that could happen? What would that mean?

Eventually we get called to the flight desk.. It is now past 4. We are all lining up to get on. I know it’s going to be touch and go for me. Then the woman at the flight desk gets on the blower to the Captain. ‘Where would he like the cello put? It had been allotted this seat but believe it should be ‘that’ seat. This is taking a lot of time. After about 10 minutes I am screaming ‘put the bloody cello anywhere you like just get me on this plane’….in my head. Not out loud…This is madness, here we are, and extremely late for this flight to be leaving and she is fiddling about worrying about where a stupid cello should be put. Well finally after a looong time we are allowed to board the plane I am looking or trying not to look at the time. 4.45 when we finally take off. As we are taxiing along the runway the sun comes out. I burst into tears. The steward looks at me sympathetically and comes up to chat. People are staring but I am past caring. We will see if we can contact your flight but being a different airline it’s difficult to communicate but I will speak with the captain. I nod and thank him. I am sitting right near the front and close to the door. I am on the end of the row. Two young women are sitting in the other two seats and the plane is to capacity. I realise I don’t want to take my neck cushion back with me and offer it to the girl next to me. She is amazed and thrilled do I really not want it? No really you have it. (I had noticed that my $3 neck cushion from the dollar store here cost $16 in N.Z. for the same thing.

We are finally coming in to land. The steward says he will have me out of the door first with his assistant showing me the way. He is kind. I have my pack on and am ready to run for it. I have 20 minutes to get my flight – this is mad. I need a miracle. No-one gets an international flight with 20 minutes to spare. At Vancouver the Air Canada people were nasty to me and I had almost an hour to spare, they berated me all the way to my flight desk.

Well they opened the door and I ran – follow the green line around the car park and into the international flight area. I am thankful I packed light. I run and follow the green line. I am puffing and blowing it’s a long time since I ran like this. People are staring at me my eyes must be bulging. I finally make it to a N.Z air desk and quickly tell my story. A nice man at a window checks on my flight. He calls an assistant and she helps me to check in through the computer. (I could not do this if you paid me right now)… He says ‘they will keep the flight open for me’.. I’m not sure I believe him. The assistant takes me up stairs and down escalators we walk very fast I can hear them calling my name I walk faster if that’s possible. She says to me-‘it ok they are keeping the flight open for you don’t worry.’ I’m not sure I believe her… We finally get to the check in and they rush me onto the plane. I get on – the flight attendant kindly say’s you have free seats next to you, so get settled as we want to take off. I quickly ask if I can use the loo. ‘If you’re quick.’ I am. I then settle into a three seats just for me. This is luxury and I’ve made my flight. I still can’t quite take it in. He also informed me that my seat is equipped with a seat belt that allows me to lie down and strap in without being disturbed if there is turbulence. I sit down and we take off. It’s that quick. I am amazed and can’t quite take this in just yet. I’m going home. The flight is wonderful and only half full plane. Everyone is kind and helpful and the food is great and we don’t have to pay for any of it not drinks or anything. This is the best airline I’ve ever travelled with and would def. recommend it. What a totally different attitude from Air Canada.

All my connections work well and I am so very thankful. I did get my miracle after allJ The End.


ImageHostelling/Backpacking/Part 11.


Marie from Scotland said it was her anniversary o f a year being in N.Z. She really wanted to go out and celebrate so we went to a very noisy pub- who say’s I can’t party!!  I was pretty tired after the trip but felt as I’d been asked didn’t want to let the girl down, so off we go. German lad came along as well. They felt like my kids for a night. We yelled at each other for most of the night, but it was nice to out socializing for a change.  We eventually walked back to the hostel together yakking most of the way. I learnt that Tom is working his passage doing whatever but he didn’t seem terribly keen to move on or find work. I got the impression that his mother was shelling out to keep him there. He was a nice kid though and we had some good talks about Germany and the war and such deep things! Apparently they get taught all about the war and the atrocities’ that were done, the camps and so on. I asked him how he felt about this. He said it was ok but that he felt that it was all a bit much and doesn’t know why they have to learn all that when there is a lot more to history than that.

In the morning I’m not sure what to do the weather is iffy – some sun some drissle- can’t quite seem to make up its mind. I found a nice coffee shop and had my lovely latte’ overlooking the Harbour.  This is my last full day in Queenstown. It’s not a big town but is very pretty. I find a ‘Million Dollar Cruise. On a very nice boat for later on at 10.30 for $25 wow can’t beat that me thinks. So while I’m waiting, decided to walk around the town a bit. I forgot it was Sunday and happened upon a small church. What time was their service? – 10.30 – darn- what about later any prayer meetings? no- but they did let me go in and peep around and gave me some information on the church. I am thinking I will probably ditch it later as obviously don’t want to carry stuff around. I find a place where you can hire kayaks and bicycles and think I will do that later on after the boat trip.

The boat trip was great on Wakatipu Lake. Again a running commentary from the ‘captain’ I met and hung out with ‘Mark’ from Wales. He seemed nice and chatty – quite young and was keen to go out in the evening – as it was my final night in N.Z. I decided to go. I would ask my roommates to accompany us. Mark seemed keen to do this.

After the boat trip I hired a bicycle and did the town. I found the supermarket- it was quite a way off so glad I had a bike. I purchased some food for supper. I cycled around the harbour trail declined the kayak as it was drissling again.

Got back to the hostel showered, packed my stuff carefully and got dressed ready for my final night. I wore the nice outfit that Suzanne had given me for my birthday.

For some reason Marie didn’t seem keen to go out (although she seemed keen earlier on)and was a bit ‘off’ – oh well I could have pointed out, but didn’t, that I had made the effort to go out with her for her anniversary but on my last night…oh well it would just be me and Mark I guessed. I figured he would be disappointed as it was going to be only me and he is quite young- early 40’s I would say. I figured it might be a good match meeting Marie whose boyfriend had got fed up with their prolonged year plus stay and had decided to go back home to England thinking she would follow but she had made a plan and decided to stick to it. So end of relationship.

Mark was gracious and found me a seat and we chatted for about an hour when the others did finally show up. We found a table for the four of us and we found out that Mark’s wife had MS. She ‘let’s’ him go away from time to time. I was a bit taken aback as I had no idea he was married. He had not let on before this. Not that I was interested for myself I have to addJ

Around 9.30 I decided to go back and get an early night as I would have a big travelling day tomorrow. I made my farewells and walked back to the Hostel.

They got back around 2.30 am and slept in.

In the morning around 8.00am I showered and got ready to leave. Tom was awake and as usual was on his device. We whispered our goodbyes but Marie was out of it. I’m catching my bus to the airport at 9.30 and so there is time for a nice latte’ in town first.

Goodbye Queenstown I’m heading back for Canada now. I will be in Auckland airport for most of the day as my flight out doesn’t leave until 6.50. Still that will give me chance to spend my last few dollars and chill out before my long flight back.



Backpacking /Hostelling pt/10


Friday morning we walked the dog and left around 10.30 for the Wildlife Park. We walk the park backwards as I ‘know’ the Kiwi’s are going to be last- they were, and I wanted to make sure I saw them- this was fine. They were in an enclosure which was dark- they are night birds so they had to ensure the birds think it is night time. Only problem was the nice man who took the flash off my camera forgot to show me how to do it and so with no flash everything turned out black. Still I was able to see them and see their large beaks’ digging into the mud to extract goodness only knows what. They are an endangered species now and I have no idea if there are any left in the wild but anyone can check this out on Google since Mr. Google knows everything. I was thrilled to be able to see them at any rate.  We stayed in the park for a few hours and had lunch and saw wallabies (or were they Kangaroo’s) with Joey’s hanging out of pockets – but far away and so pictures didn’t show the babies.  After the previous day’s shenanigans I was determined to enjoy my time at the park. And I did.

After the park we travelled around to a friend of Kath’s for a visit on the outskirts of Christchurch.– all the way there were signs of damage to the houses roads and Cliffside’s with many houses hanging over the edges of cliffs.  It was quite something to see. The friend’s house was ok but across the road most of her neighbours houses were unlivable.

Back at Kath’s after supper/ except they call it tea just like the British – (in many ways it was like being back in Britain as many of the terms were British,) We then went to visit Kath’s cousin Diane who lived on a small holding which she managed by herself and went out to work..I do not know how she does it all. Anyway after a cup of tea we walked out in the dark and climbed fences to feed the sheep. That was fun, especially as I was wearing my ‘nice’ shoes and not the walkers I wore most of the time. It wasn’t raining or too mucky and so we managed ok.  I am always introduced as the author from Canada- this is nice and makes me feel a tad special- however the Lord just knows how to bring me right back downJ

When we got back to Kath’s I finished packing my stuff and went to bed fairly early. Kath is more of a late night person.


Goodbye Christchurch what I saw of you…


In the morning I got my bus early at 8.00am and am excited to be on the final stage of my trip, just two nights to go and I’m set – no more figuring out where to stay or how to get from A to B.

 It’s a very nice bus with not too many travelers and its going to take all day – I’m ready for a rest.

When I began this trip I had no idea if I would manage to work my rough thought out plan which was to do exactly what I had done and I was glad that I had. At any stage I could have given up and just stayed where I was but then would have defeated the object to see as much of N.Z. as possible in the two weeks I had. It seemed that at each stage there was something pushing me on keeping me going. But I have to say I had my eyes opened as to how stressful traveling can be and having to make all those  connections. It seemed like everyman and his dog had devices they could connect on to and book the next stage of their trip where as I had to rely on libraries and hostels and pay through the nose to use computers. This was all very time consuming. I made mental notes to get more technologically savvy.-So far I haven’t!


The bus driver had a running commentary most of the day but you could tune out. Most of it was interesting though. We learned all about the milking cows of which there are millions to be exact…there are 6.4 million milking cows, I wondered if they had miscounted and maybe there were really 6.5 and a half million now!  We passed the 44th parallel hmmm interesting as I live by the 50th parallel in Canada.

We went through the McKenzie Basin – it was all quite beautiful. It was called the McKenzie Basin because of James McKenzie who was a sheep stealer who along with his dog stole hundreds of sheep in his lifetime. He was quite a character, a legendary figure and much has been written about him. He was eventually caught and his dog shot because they thought the dog had a demon or some such thing – poor dog-he was just doing his job.  Well McKenzie had a huge land mass named after him at any rate.- this all took place in the 1850’s.

We went through Dobson Mountain pass, Burkas pass and the Southern Alps- all very beautiful – this trip was one of the best I did scenery wise.

We stopped at the fruit bowl of N.Z. and purchased some fruit of course. Past the gold mining area hmm would’ve liked to stop off there and do a bit of mining…

My silent comments were ‘Lord this just beautiful.’ Lord must have got fed up with my singular comment!

We bypassed Arrow town another special gold mining town made a mental note – next time if there is one I would like to visit that town. There was the Shot over River where Gold was first discovered.

Finally after an impressive trip –( would def recommend this one) we reached Queenstown my final leg of the journey whoohoo. I was told that my backpacking hostel was quite a hike out of town. This was fine by me as I wanted to walk and stretch my legs. It was a good hostel not a partying hostel ( I had been informed that Queenstown was a party town – like Wellington) – oh no…’My’ hostel was just out of the town so not as popular which suited me just fine. I was in a 4 bed mix with one guy Tom from Germany and Marie form Scotland. Both are very young and working their passage and staying at this hostel for a break.

 ImagePart 10

Part 9!

Backpacking/Hostelling/Part 9


Did I say looking forward to seeing Christchurch…it did not turn out to be a good experience? Delays trying to book flights, busses and hostel for my last two nights..But here are the encounters…


First because we had to pick up Zackie (Kath’s dog) and then was chatting and sightseeing, I was dropped off later than expected. The drive into Christchurch was dotted with explanations of the churches that are now just shells, the roads that are wonky and lurching and the boarded up houses that people no longer live in. It was quite a sight. When I am in town I make my way first to a bank and change the last Canadian dollars I have- I am pleasantly surprised, the lady serving me is really nice and the exchange rate seems a lot better than the one in Canada. I had decided before I left that I would budget and that I would use the visa to buy trips and hostels and the cash (which I placed in a few spots)  to purchase food and anything else I might need. So far I was doing quite well in this.


 As the town is wrecked due to the earthquake- (most of the shops and banks are pulled in large boxes – like box cars from trains to keep the place going,) It’s not so easy to find places. My main interest is to see the town and take pictures. There were certainly large cranes and bulldozers everywhere. I go secondly to the library and after a fruitless search to book a flight (you get only half an hour and your time is up. Not only that each time you try to reconnect the prices are escalating) I decide to have something to eat and try later but not too much later hopefully. After what seemed like an age I find the information centre and book my bus for Saturday to Queenstown, plus a hostel for my final two nights.  The lady seems to know what she is doing and is helpful. I am beginning to feel stressed as by now it is way past lunch time and I’ve yet to book my flight. This is crucial and the library is a long walk back. Buses are not an option. I find another couple who are lost and also trying to find their way about.. Everywhere is a long way from everywhere else and walking just takes a lot of time. I am snapping pictures as I travel speedily along. Kath is going to cook supper and  seeing that my time for sightseeing is disappearing fast. Trying not to panic I get to the library once again and get on-line. As my time is running out I believe I have booked my flight but it is not coming into my in box via web mail. Now I am panicking. Finally I log out and go to talk to the librarian where I burst into tears and sobbing she talks me into her office. I explain that I’m pretty sure I’ve booked my flight but can find no reference to it. Can I call my visa number and see what has happened. No joy here.  I decided to go back to the bank and the nice lady where I burst into tears once again. She recognises me and takes me into her office…( people are so nice)Can’t get hold of visa but she gets on line and finds a flight ( for a bit more money ) something like$175) for my flight back on Monday morning to Auckland, with Jetstar.  I just said book it. I have to leave and get my flight home on the Monday evening so booking an early flight seems like the best thing to do. I don’t want to be scrambling like I was when I arrived…By now it’s getting late and I have to find my bus to go back to Kath’s – I’m not quite sure where it all is and don’t want to be late home for dinner. However I see that I do have time if I hurry a bit to scurry around for a quick visit to the Cathedral –or what’s left of it- and snap a few pictures. I notice some bike trips around town – no time and really expensive so no go. I find a great little souvenir shop and quickly buy a toque for my self- (this proved to be a good thing as the weather was chilling somewhat.)And a nice pack of N.Z. cards with pictures on.

I then head for the bus stop and find a bus going to where I want to go and head back to Kath’s feeling quite disappointed that here I am in this amazing town with no time to visit it properly. (Tomorrow we are going to a Wildlife park to see a real live Kiwi and on Saturday I’m heading further South to my final destination of Queenstown.)

Back at Kath’s she asks me how it went and I promptly burst into tears again. It is then I notice that the pearl on my silver ring is missing. Oh great, what a nice way to top off the day. It was my own fault when in Rotorua I just ha to put my hands in the ld bath place–it was on a beach. My rings I noticed were turning black and now I’d lost my pearl…I just can’t keep my fingers out of things that I should…Just like those corroded pipes at the bath house…Kath had cooked a nice supper of beef casserole, lots of nice veggies and found a polishing cloth for my rings which worked nicely. I shower and get ready for bed first. I am dead tired and just want to go to bed. But we eat and chat some more. I refuse to think about the possibility I double booked a flight to Auckland.

Tomorrow I see my first real live KiwiJ.





Backpacking /Hostelling/Part 8


So I woke fairly early and made my porridge in the nice kitchen (the best one I’ve encountered so far.)

A new lady was in there sitting down at her breakfast too. As we get chatting it becomes obvious that she is a Christian. She did however have a few problems and so we chatted for a while. Eventually we moved to the sitting area and had a time of prayer together; we then both left the hostel to go our separate ways. As the train wasn’t leaving until mid day I walked around the small town area once more. Noticing some lemons growing on a tree I snuck one –OK I stole one. If you’ve never eaten a lemon off a tree you don’t know what you’re missing. You can eat them straight like an orange- they don’t taste as sweet as an orange but still good and as the food I’d been eating wasn’t exactly fresh, green and healthy.  I felt the lemon made up a tad for that not so good diet. I finally got to the station only to be told the train was going to be an hour late. I think it had something to do with the Inter-Islander ferry – due to bad weather it was going to be an hour late and so the train had to wait for the connection. I got my ticket and made my way across the road to the info centre to check it out. I found a very cute kiwi in a rolled up zipper baggie which when squeezed made a Kiwi sound. I bought it for Jasmine of course. I wasn’t into buying much because of carrying it but this was just too cute, besides I had yet to see a real live Kiwi and I imagined this would give me a boost in that direction. Finally, finally the train rolled up. As we all had set seats there was no point in a mad scramble to get on. Still good to get on and sit for a bit. And then we were off. The train trip was another one of those ‘must do’s’ if ya travel N.Z.

Blenheim was the second stop where I saw Kath and Tracy and the grandson looking to see if I‘d got on. So we met up once again and sat together and chatted once more about anything and everything. There was also a commentary going on if you decided to listen, concerning where we were and what was what. We listened to some but mostly just talked. It was a pretty journey and was better when the man in the seat opposite managed to turn the flash off on my camera as I was trying to take pics out of the window. Much of the scenery on the trip was like Canada with mountains and tall cedar trees. Weather was getting colder the further South we went. Kath and I had our dinner on the train and sat in the dining car for a lot of the trip. It was comfortable and the young waiter was full of knowledge and interest concerning the various places we were travelling through plus he was good lookingJ He informed us it was going to be minus 1 that night. He pointed out some snow on the low mountains and said that they had never seen snow that low down before…we passed some salt lakes as well where they extract the salt for markets.-interesting, I took some pics.

We also had to stop for a short while and wait as there was some spillage around the tracks, of gravel from the sides of the hills

We finally reached Christchurch and Kath had a lift already arranged for her and so, me too.  We arrived at her house around 7.30. I was bushed, but she wanted to go for a walk. I figured I could manage it if she could, so we walked about a half klm around a lake. – Very pretty and close to her housing estate. 

She showed me my room –nice- I was able to shower and crash. Tomorrow we would pick up the dog and I would be dropped off in Christchurch where I will see the town and devastation from the earthquake, make reservations for the bus to Queenstown (final destination) and flight back to Auckland from Queenstown. I’m on countdown now. Looking forward to visiting Christchurch.