We left Chicago on April 13, in the evening, we have never left tax season early. We had an uneventful flight to Los Angeles. We had a long layover in LA , and because we used our points to fly business class we can use the Air New Zealand Koru lounge. These fully equipped lounges are very comfortable and make a layover enjoyable. You can take a shower, check your email, enjoy their complimentary food & bar, and/or just chat with other travelers.

Air New Zealand does not have first class, it has business premier. And its amazing. In additional to fabulous New Zealand cuisine, we have our own little TV with multiple movie options, we have those new pods, where you have your own space, and the chair actually converts to a full flat bed when you want to sleep. They bring you a down comforter and pillow when you are ready to nap. We cross the international date line, so April 14 does not exist for us this year. April 15, we arrive in Auckland refreshed. Another layover, another enjoyable visit to the Koru Club.

We ask for seats to photograph the Southern Alps on the flight down to Queenstown. Our friend Dave had researched the carry-on rules, and the girl who checked us in was so impressed that we knew the carryon rules, she upgraded us to first class for this little short flight. Thanks Rainman!

Saturday April 15, 2006

We arrive in Queenstown.

First we check into our room at Queenstown Lakeside International Youth Hostel. Then we walk into town and check in with the Ultimate Hikes. We happen to get there right before an orientation, so we decide to go through orientation a few days early. When we get back to the youth hostel, there is a huge group kitchen, with a lake view, and it is extremely active, with all the kids making their dinners. Harold thinks this looks like great fun.