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(Feb 10, 2003) We got up at 6:00am, took the dog to jail, got the luggage organized and waited for the airport taxi to pick us up at 1:50pm so that we could check in at 2:00pm for our flight with United Airlines at 4:00pm. When we arrived at the check in gate we were informed that the flight was canceled due to high winds in Chicago. When we asked the clerk, “How will be meet out flight in Los Angeles at 7:30?” he replied, “There is flight out of here tomorrow.” It became obvious that he was new and didn’t have a clue toward how to resolve the problem.

After a few missed heartbeats, another young man resolved the problem by switching us to the Northwest flight that left at 3:20 to Detroit. Northwest then flew us, 7:30pm, to Los Angeles to meet our plane to fly to Auckland. The flight started with a bit of anxiety at the plane returned to the gate to let a passenger off who reported himself to be ill. It took an hour for the crew to search the restrooms and adjoining seats to ascertain that he hadn’t left something behind plus for the baggage crew to remove his luggage from the plane.

We had hoped to catch a nap on our flight to Los Angeles but two Vietnamese ladies who sat in the seats behind us and chatted incessantly in Vietnamese for the whole flight ruined that option. They sounded like Alvin and the chipmunks. About an hour before we landed in Los Angeles Lynn turned around, looked at them briefly and said to Crystal, “Nope, there are only two of them.” They got the hint and stopped the chatter.

Our wait at Los Angeles was short--3 hours--and we left at 11:00pm. The flight from Los Angeles to Auckland takes 12 1/2 hours. We had hoped to catch a cat nap but that wasn't to be in the card either. On this particular night the turbulence was rampant. At one point the plane hit an air pocket. It felt like the bottom of the plane had disappeared as the sudden feeling of falling really jolts one to attention. Crystal had her dinner plate on the drop down tray ahead of her. She said it was really strange to see the plate rise above the tray about 16" and then set itself back down. Nope, there wouldn't be any chance of sleeping on the plane this night.

As we approached our destination the clouds glowed with a faint pink color from the sun rising in the North-East as if to say "Welcome to down under." We landed around 8:00am (Auckland Time--5 hour time change from California). Because we had crossed the international date line we came to realize that today was really tomorrow.

It didn't take long to get through immigration. The Princess Cruises staff was there to greet us and take our luggage to the hotel as well as ourselves. We were looking forward to jumping right into bed but were informed that our rooms wouldn't be available until 4:00pm. There had been a big event in town the night before and all of the rooms had been filled. The guests had until 2:30pm to check out and the room would have to then be cleaned. We would have to find something to do for eight hours. 

At this time we had been awake 33 hours. Although we knew we were tired somehow the mind tells the body, "Hey, it's morning. The day is just starting. Go to bed later." Thus we spent our time walking around the town and took a tour of the harbor.

There was a bit of excitement in the air as the next day would be the first day of the America's Cup sailboat races. On the tour we saw a number of the racing boats. Because Crystal and Lynn had participated in a cup race while in the Caribbean last year, they had a feeling of what was involved.

New Zealand is a country about the same size as Maine with a population of 3.8 million. Of this population 1.2 million reside in Auckland. The average summer temperature is 70-75 degrees falling to 55-60 degrees in the winter. The warmest months are December to March as this is their summer. While it receives an average of 245 days of sunshine per year it also receives about 48 inches of rainfall. Sheep are abundant in New Zealand as there are 2 1/2 sheep per person.

While in New Zealand we visited the cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. We trust you will enjoy your photo visit of these cities as much as we do. 

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