Saturday 28th / Friday 27th November 2015
06.12.2015 25 °C
We have had a bit of a strange and confusing day today having got up early Saturday morning in Christchurch and then gone to bed on Friday in Rarotonga. Having pretty much got packed and sorted last night it didn't take us that long to get up, showered and dressed this morning at a rather painful 4am. We were down in reception by about 4:45am and quickly checked out and then in the shuttle bus to Christchurch Airport. Fortunately we were able to check our bags in all the way through to Rarotonga so we knew we wouldn't need to worry about them when we stopped off in Auckland.
Once we boarded the plane we had a bit of a view for the first half of the flight as well as some signs of smoke from the fire that has been burning in the Marlborough area for a few days. As we started to pass over the North Island it became a little cloudier and there was very little to see
until we were very close to Auckland Airport. What I didn't remember from when we flew in from Cairns was quite how low we came in over the sea, perhaps we had been in central seats, I can't remember now. Anyway we landed safely but it was a little confusing as to where we had to go, until I checked with a member of staff and found out that we needed to get a transfer bus to the International Terminal. I had a slight panic at one point when it looked from the departure board that our flight was going to Rarotonga via Sydney. I was far from thrilled at the thought of another take off and landing and was feeling a bit annoyed that we hadn't been warned of this. The woman on the information desk wasn't helpful at all, in effect confirming that was where the flight was going (so basically tough luck). Fortunately we later found out that the plane was going to Sydney via Rarotonga not the other way round although I couldn't imagine that anyone would take that route unless they were stopping off for a few days in the Cook Islands.
Once we had gone through security again and had a coffee it wasn't long before it was time to board again. We had seen quite a lot of people checking in who looked as though they were returning to the Cook Islands after some sort of sporting trip to NZ. Once we were seated a lot of these people were sitting near to each other and although they were pretty noisy they were clearly having fun together, and were quite exuberant throughout the flight. I'm not sure whether it was reassuring or not when they gave out a little cheer after a successful take off and landing. The flight to Rarotonga is only about three and a half hours and it was pretty comfortable and uneventful. Nigel sat next to the window but there wasn't much for him to see as pretty much the whole flight was over the ocean. Slightly disappointingly we crossed the international dateline without so much as a mention.
There was a bit of queuing at passport control but not much and the landing cards we had completed whilst we were on the plane were handed over with much less ceremony and fuss than when we had landed the first time in Auckland. As we were waiting to retrieve our bags we were greeted by 74-year-old ukulele player Jake Numanga, who has welcomed travellers to the Cook Islands at the Rarotonga airport for 34 years. Once we got through all the checks someone directed us to Nancy who presented us with a floral garlands before putting our bags in the Magic Reef minibus and driving us the short distance to our accommodation, pointing out local restaurants and beaches as we went. Angela the owner then showed us around our accommodation
and gave us other key pieces of information about the island she also offered to book us into a local restaurant called Waterline which was just a couple of minutes walk along the beach from where we were staying. We had a bit of time to explore the nearby beach and see the sun setting behind the clouds, before we went to eat.
We had a great meal and a bonus was the short walk back, although we had the tread carefully in order to avoid treading on the numerous sand and hermit crabs that were scuttling around in the dark.