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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: AJK on December 14, 2014, 05:55:54 PM

Title: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 14, 2014, 05:55:54 PM
(https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8592/15837427947_de3e94101c_c.jpg)
A Waterfall on the way back from Milford Sound

Introduction:

The catalyst of this trip to New Zealand was that during a brief stint earlier this year, upon US Airways’ (US) entry into the OneWorld alliance, US neglected to impose and collect fuel surcharges on British Airways (BA) redemptions, which normally amount to hundreds of dollars per passenger per way.  Knowing full well that I’d likely never fork over this “ransom for loyalty” (at least not as long as I am able redeem miles on other airlines and avoid these pesky evil charges), the odds of my experiencing BA First Class were slim.

Armed with the knowledge of this “glitch” I set out planning. And down the rabbit hole I went.  Considering US’ lax routing rules and their quite attractive pricing from USA to North Asia (where business class is 110,000 miles/person round trip, and for a nominal 10,000 miles more—120,000 p/p—I could do the whole thing in First Class), I booked the following beauty:

JFK-LHR (BA F)-DXB (QF F)-HKG (CX J) // HKG-DXB (CX J)-LHR (QF F)-JFK (BA F)

(http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=jfk-lhr-dxb-hkg-dxb-lhr-jfk&MS=bm&MR=1200&MX=720x360&PM=*)

With two segments in BA F, two segments in very-hard-to-snag Qantas’ (QF) First Class (the only 5th Freedom QF F flight), and two segments in Cathay Pacific’s business class, a sure contender for the best business class in the market, I was quite content.

At the time, however, I didn’t know where our ultimate destination would be. I figured I could work that out later.

[Skip the following if easily bored when regaled with passionate tales of the birth pangs of a masterpiece award booking]

Two months after booking (but several months before departure), I got notified of a schedule change (from Award Wallet actually, and not US or BA), that not only one of my BA flights had been cancelled, but both had been.  While we wouldn’t lose our opportunity to fly BA F, we were automatically moved onto the BA flights that immediately followed our originally scheduled flights.  Ordinarily this would not have presented a problem, but the fact that we were moved onto a later departing flight meant that our already short connection in LHR would become “an illegal connection,” and we wouldn’t be able to make our flight to DXB in QF F. That part I was less content with.

Upon trying to fix this issue, I learned that unlike other airlines, US will almost never accommodate a schedule change on an award by booking you into a revenue fare class, especially so in a case where, as here, the schedule change was not the fault of US, but of another airline, BA. You’re restricted to award availability only, and there was none, so I waited.

A couple days later, I noticed that BA had apparently fixed the illegal connection issue on their own: I was now booked JFK-LHR-DXB all in BA F, with everything else remaining the same. As above, however, I didn’t want to replace the superior QF F segment for an inferior BA F segment, even sans YQ, but I knew I’d have an excuse to call back when/if something opened up that suited me better. If worst had come to worst, I’d simply cancel the award, and go back to the rabbit hole (which I’ve become quite fond of).

Sure enough, in August, while in Singapore, I got notified that the two seats on the non-stop flight from JFK-HKG in Cathay Pacific First Class had opened, something that very rarely happens three months before departure, considering two seats account for 1/3rd of their first class cabin.  Because I had only flown CX F on a “short-haul” of five hours JFK-YVR, and this afforded us with an additional 36 hours of vacation time, I popped out of bed and rang US.

Initially, I was given some push back. “Oh, we see you’ve already been accommodated, and there is no longer an illegal connection, sir.” When I firmly explained that I had no part in choosing that particular fix, and then explained once and twice again, the US rep made the change after speaking to a supervisor, stating “this is an absolute exception, sir, and we will not make any more changes to this booking without imposing a change fee of $150 per/person.”

Success!

Now I was booked: JFK-HKG (CX F) // HKG-DXB (CX J)-LHR (QF F)-JFK (BA F)

(http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=jfk-hkg-dxb-lhr-jfk&MS=bm&MP=rect&MR=1800&MX=720x360&PM=*)

So I had us booked to Hong Kong, but knew that I didn’t want that to be our final destination, so when Singapore Airlines (SQ) upgraded one of their daily flights from Singapore (SIN) to New Zealand (AKL) to an A380 with Suites Class, and correspondingly made available two seats on nearly all of those flights (something that is akin to a miracle), I jumped on it.

Despite the miracle, however, someone seemingly beat me to the punch and the flight I needed from SIN-AKL was unavailable, so I booked the first part of our return, AKL-SIN, in SQ Suites instead.

We were going to New Zealand!

We had wanted to visit for a while, but especially since our return from Cape Town, South Africa, when we told the Lufthansa crew how jaw-droppingly beautiful Cape Town was and their unanimous response was “wait till you see New Zealand, my friend!”

Now, for all you paying attention at home, you’ll realize I still needed flights from HKG to AKL, as well as a flight from SIN to HKG to hook up to my original award. On the to-do list it went.

Sometime later, I was smiled upon when SIN-AKL opened up in Suites Class, which I booked.  The award was beginning to take shape.

Unfortunately, the HKG-SIN segment, which SQ also operates with an A380, was not available, and I had to waitlist the segment, but doing so I made a rookie mistake (which I’ll explain later). To be safe, thought, I booked the HKG-SIN segment with CX in economy as a placeholder. So I was fully booked on my outbound:

JFK-HKG in CX F; HKG-SIN in CX Y; SIN-AKL in SQ R.

(http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=jfk-hkg,+color:yellow,+hkg-sin,+color:green,+sin-akl&MS=bm&MR=1800&MX=720x360&PM=*)

Now to finish the return:

For reasons that aren’t worth explaining (having to do with the scheduling of the SIN-HKG on the return), I realized I needed to substitute the AKL-SIN segment in SQ Suites with something else.  After some research I decided to take advantage of what is perhaps the best redemption on the United Airlines award chart: Oceania <> North Asia in First Class for 40K per person and $25.00.

I found availability for AKL-SYD-BKK-HKG in Air New Zealand (NZ) Economy, Thai (TG) First, and TG First and put it on hold.

The only problem was that the BKK-HKG leg arrived after my HKG-DXB was scheduled to depart, so I had try and move the HKG-DXB flight from the first of the day, at 1:30AM, to the second and final flight of the day, at 4:50 PM. So back on the phone with US I went, expecting that I’d definitely need to pay the change fee this time.   

Of course, the US rep saw the note that the previous rep put on my reservation: “Absolutely no further changes to award without collection of change fee” and would only change it for $150/pax. I light bulb went off in my head and I pushed back and said “Well, if you’ll notice, I had two flight cancellations, one on the outbound, and one on the inbound. The note you’re seeing refers only to the outbound, which I had a say in fixing, but the flight I want to change is on the inbound which I have not yet had a say in fixing.” Nothing doing.

Escalate to supervisor.

Back and forth.

Back and forth some more.

Finally, with the call nearing 60 mins, the supervisor relents and changes me to the later flight without a fee!

I login to check the changes (as you should always do), and am horrified to discover that she did in fact change us, but put us in coach! If the flight was only a couple hours, I wouldn’t have cared, but this HKG-DXB leg was nearly 9 hours and a lie flat bed on a flight of that length definitely makes a difference, so even though I dreaded the thought of having to call US again, I decided to pick up the phone.

I explained the situation and the first US rep I got said “Oh, I see this clearly was a mistake, let me fix that right up for you.” And with that, it was complete. <sigh of relief>

Booked this way, I saved myself about 100,000 miles + $600 in taxes and fees. 

A week or two before departure, I got an email informing me that my SQ waitlist on the HKG-SIN had cleared.  I had gone from a 12.2 to a 9.36 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=33867.msg937053#msg937053)!

Except I hadn’t. 

As I alluded to above, I made a rookie mistake: I had waitlisted the HKG-SIN segment on a separate PNR. Even though I suspected the
answer, I called to see if SQ could merge the PNRs, or, at the very least, add the waitlist to my main PNR and insta-confirm me since I had already gone through the process. No dice.

A couple days later, I noticed that SQ R was available outright in Saver for the HKG-SIN segment, so I called and asked them to confirm me because it was clearly available. Though it wasn’t explained well by the SQ agents, it was clear I was rebuffed again for reasons of “married segments.” The only thing I could do at the time, they said, was to book it separately outright. Ha, no thanks, considering it’d cost me an additional 75K SQ, whereas if I added it onto my original booking, it’d cost me 0 additional miles. So I waited.

Alas, all is well that ends well, and about 24 hours later, my HKG-SIN leg was confirmed in Suites! Now I was officially at a 9.36 :)

[Those bored folks can continue here]

After much tinkering, then, my main award(s) getting me to New Zealand and back were set:

(http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=jfk-hkg-dxb-lhr-jfk,+color:green,+hkg-sin-akl,+color:orange,+akl-syd-bkk-hkg&MS=bm&MR=1800&MX=720x360&PM=*)

Red = US Award of 120,000 per passenger + $150 taxes/fees
Green = SQ Award of 63,750 per passenger + $200 taxes/fees
Orange = UA Award 40,000 per passenger + $25 taxes/fees

Outbound: JFK-HKG in CX F; HKG-SIN-AKL in SQ R; AKL-SYD in NZ Y.

Inbound: SYD-BKK-HKG in TG F; HKG-DXB in CX J; DXB-LHR in QF F; LHR-JFK in BA F.

Next up:

Intra-New Zealand Flights & Hotels
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Marco Polo on December 14, 2014, 06:09:04 PM
I know who i am talking to for booking ideas and help :)

Great stuff as always.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Dan on December 14, 2014, 06:15:37 PM
Awesome man.  All I can think about is how long it will be before I can do a trip like this again...
At least we got in a good number beforehand.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Marco Polo on December 14, 2014, 06:18:11 PM
Awesome man.  All I can think about is how long it will be before I can do a trip like this again...
At least we got in a good number beforehand.
I'm going to attempt a slightly scaled down version this summer. Not set on location yet, but want to do some different plane testing.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: ilherman on December 14, 2014, 07:11:46 PM
As always, awesome! Waiting for the rest. It seems that you left just on time...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2873855/Gunman-takes-hostages-cafe-Sydney.html
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: smart brit on December 14, 2014, 07:13:27 PM
I'm Speechless!
Just when I thought he can't do this again, here he comes!
# Unbelievable # jealous
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: srap on December 14, 2014, 07:26:54 PM
WOW!  I love your talking aloud to allow us to hear your step by step thinking. 
(It just feels like an overwhelming amount for me to learn.)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: MeirS on December 14, 2014, 08:04:10 PM
Nice! The part I found most interesting is the part you thought we would find boring!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on December 14, 2014, 09:46:08 PM
I'm Speechless!
Just when I thought he can't do this again, here he comes!
# Unbelievable # jealous

Nothing original to say, so I'll just +1 :) - Can't wait for next part!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Hershelsdeals on December 14, 2014, 09:49:49 PM
Wow! #Jealous
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: TimT on December 14, 2014, 10:04:22 PM
Just love that waterfall pic.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Devorah on December 14, 2014, 10:19:04 PM
when did this trip take place?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: DMYD on December 14, 2014, 11:01:32 PM
Just love that waterfall pic.
Yeah Looks like a picture that hangs in the Succah
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: morgs on December 15, 2014, 02:55:50 AM
WOOHOO!! another tr from the AJK's-cant wait for more!!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Chapshnell on December 15, 2014, 07:38:17 PM
Thanks for the detailed booking process breakdown. I wouldve gone crazy not knowing which flights Im confirmed in.. I wonder how far in advance you made the bookings from the actual flight date
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Mocha on December 15, 2014, 07:50:09 PM
This is gonna be updated TR like his Maldives TR  :P
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: chff on December 16, 2014, 08:32:46 AM
You should write a book, it would be a best seller...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: JoeCha on December 17, 2014, 03:10:27 PM
“Absolutely no further changes to award without collection of change fee” and would only change it for $150/pax. I light bulb went off in my head and I pushed back and said “Well, if you’ll notice, I had two flight cancellations, one on the outbound, and one on the inbound. The note you’re seeing refers only to the outbound, which I had a say in fixing, but the flight I want to change is on the inbound which I have not yet had a say in fixing.” Nothing doing.

Escalate to supervisor.

Back and forth.

Back and forth some more.

Finally, with the call nearing 60 mins, the supervisor relents and changes me to the later flight without a fee!


So you earn less than $150 per hour that it was worth wasting a hour for this.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Hershelsdeals on December 17, 2014, 03:16:46 PM
So you earn less than $150 per hour that it was worth wasting a hour for this.
Oh come on AJK is multitask capable, why would being on hold take up your time? I would usually keep the phone in my pocket on speaker when someone picks up I'd continue being on the phone.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 17, 2014, 03:27:04 PM
I know who i am talking to for booking ideas and help :)

Great stuff as always.

You know how to reach me :)

Awesome man.  All I can think about is how long it will be before I can do a trip like this again...
At least we got in a good number beforehand.

Indeed. IYH ba dir.

As always, awesome! Waiting for the rest. It seems that you left just on time...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2873855/Gunman-takes-hostages-cafe-Sydney.html

Yep, that and: http://www.newsweek.com/london-airspace-closes-291382

I'm Speechless!
Just when I thought he can't do this again, here he comes!
# Unbelievable # jealous

Thanks, I hope you enjoy reading!

WOW!  I love your talking aloud to allow us to hear your step by step thinking. 
(It just feels like an overwhelming amount for me to learn.)

I had hoped people would find value in that portion!

Nice! The part I found most interesting is the part you thought we would find boring!

Nope! I didn't think people would find it boring... I love reading about this stuff, and I know some others do, too. But to those dull types of people who find it boring, I put in a bit of a warning.

Nothing original to say, so I'll just +1 :) - Can't wait for next part!

:)

<img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/tapatalk-emoji/emoji50.png" /> Wow! #Jealous


Don't get jealous. Get even :)

Just love that waterfall pic.

Thanks. One of my favorites from the trip.
when did this trip take place?

End of November-Beginning of December.

WOOHOO!! another tr from the AJK's-cant wait for more!!

Enjoy!

Thanks for the detailed booking process breakdown. I wouldve gone crazy not knowing which flights Im confirmed in.. I wonder how far in advance you made the bookings from the actual flight date

You're welcome. The original booking was made 6 or so months before, maybe a bit prior, but then I tinkered and played all the way up to the week or so before. I always had a backup, so I was just working on making it better, not worried about not being able to go.

This is gonna be updated TR like his Maldives TR  :P

@mods, anyway I can block Mocha from viewing the remainder of the TR for being kafui tov? :)

You should write a book, it would be a best seller...

Aww, thanks!

So you earn less than $150 per hour that it was worth wasting a hour for this.

How many people you know earn >$150 an hour?

I certainly don't.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Hershelsdeals on December 17, 2014, 04:16:02 PM




Don't get jealous. Get even :)





I'll will definitely try.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: JoeCha on December 17, 2014, 06:10:51 PM


How many people you know earn >$150 an hour?

I certainly don't.
I was just kidding.

I am about to pull off next week an 'around the world' trip in 42 hours.
Outbound is CX F over the Pacific, but I'm still looking for an inbound over the Atlantic.

I have a backup CX J ticket for the return, but pilot is taking the Pacific Ocean  :)  that's not fun.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Zkpncs48 on December 18, 2014, 01:26:56 AM
Sure enough, in August, while in Singapore, I got notified that the two seats on the non-stop flight from JFK-HKG in Cathay Pacific First Class had opened, something that very rarely happens three months before departure, considering two seats account for 1/3rd of their first class cabin.
     Excellent job on your report as always.
One question:  how do you get notification when award tickets open up? Is it through the airline or a paid tool like kvs
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 18, 2014, 01:28:31 AM
     Excellent job on your report as always.
One question:  how do you get notification when award tickets open up? Is it through the airline or a paid tool like kvs

Thanks.

In this instance I was using Wandering Aramean's Travel Tools.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 18, 2014, 01:29:19 AM
I was just kidding.

I am about to pull off next week an 'around the world' trip in 42 hours.
Outbound is CX F over the Pacific, but I'm still looking for an inbound over the Atlantic.

I have a backup CX J ticket for the return, but pilot is taking the Pacific Ocean  :)  that's not fun.

Safe travels!

Let me know if you ever find a CX pilot flying a CX plane over the Atlantic :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: JoeCha on December 18, 2014, 09:14:35 AM
Safe travels!

Thanks



Let me know if you ever find a CX pilot flying a CX plane over the Atlantic :)
I'm now trying to find award availability HKG-EUR, and continue on BA LON-NYC.

But let me not hijack your thread. Thanks for the report, it is inspiring.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: mochada on December 18, 2014, 03:33:28 PM
Thanks

I'm now trying to find award availability HKG-EUR, and continue on BA LON-NYC.

Well...there seem to be many options that fit the bill.

But let me not hijack your thread. Thanks for the report, it is inspiring.

N00b hijacking the board!
Title: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: 3yummyboys on December 23, 2014, 10:04:54 AM
It's already been said, but it was really helpful to see the booking process broken down. Thanks!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Moishebatchy on January 03, 2015, 08:29:41 PM
I have one word to express my feelings on this, which may seem familiar to you:

Excellente. ;)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: bubble347 on January 03, 2015, 09:19:01 PM
Can't wait for the rest especially the pics. I need to convince my wife to bump it up on our never ending bucket list.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 03, 2015, 09:50:07 PM
Hope to have the next installment this week.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: chff on January 03, 2015, 11:18:37 PM
Hope to have the next installment this week.
Can't sleep
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: ilherman on January 03, 2015, 11:34:54 PM
Can't sleep
So read the first part again.  :P
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Fan of Dan on January 04, 2015, 12:08:53 AM
Nicely done AJK and great write up!!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: voldemort on January 08, 2015, 11:07:35 PM

Hope to have the next installment this week.
Sitting on tenterhooks waiting for the week to end.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 08, 2015, 11:29:26 PM
I have a flight tomorrow on which I hope to continue drafting.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: voldemort on January 08, 2015, 11:33:58 PM
Awesome.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 13, 2015, 12:30:12 AM
(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7522/16268410182_5b6ffb8c60_c.jpg)
A Small Brook at the Foot of Fox Glacier


Intra-New Zealand Flights & Hotels

With our international airline itineraries nailed down, I began the process of booking intra-New Zealand flights and hotels. 

However, I soon came to realize that New Zealand and chain hotels is akin to Qantas and first class award availability: rarer than unicorns. Not a single Hyatt, SPG, or Marriott in the entire country. There was a single Hilton in Auckland and a single Hilton in Queenstown (more on the latter later).

So faced with the likelihood of having to stay in a dozen or so bed and breakfasts (not something Mrs. AJK would love) and the attendant research that would entail (not something I would love), I chose instead to refer back to my bucket list and cross off another item:

Rent, drive, live, eat, and sleep in a recreational vehicle (or “campervans” as the Kiwis call them).   

And so began research into the many and varied RV companies.  Ultimately, after reviewing https://www.rankers.co.nz/ (https://www.rankers.co.nz/tags/motorhomes-campervans-rv), essentially the tripadvisor for RV rentals, we settled on Wilderness Rentals (http://wilderness.co.nz/) for a couple of reasons.

One, they offered a line of RVs that looked to be the Ferraris of the campervan world, truly stunning, modern, and efficient:

Click HERE  (http://bit.ly/14TiQ2q)for a 360 degree internal view.

(http://wilderness.co.nz/images/home-box/wilderness-885.jpg)

(http://wilderness.co.nz/sf-images/default-source/vehicles-images/e4-hage.jpg?sfvrsn=4)

(http://wilderness.co.nz/sf-images/default-source/vehicles-images/escape-2/escape-2-images/imgp6504_1.jpg?sfvrsn=2)

(http://wilderness.co.nz/sf-images/default-source/vehicles-images/escape-2/escape-2-images/kitchen.jpg?sfvrsn=4)

(http://wilderness.co.nz/sf-images/default-source/vehicles-images/escape-2/escape-2-images/e2_master-bedroom-with-island-bed.jpg?sfvrsn=0)

Two, the price was right. All told, considering we would no longer need to rent or pay for a car or worry about researching, booking and paying for B&Bs, I don’t believe we paid much more--if at all--than it would have cost us had we went what we was the traditional route. 

Little did I know at the time that RV’ing through NZ is a national pastime and a favorite of tourists.  The only thing you see more of than RVs are sheep. (And on my gawwwwd was there a lot of sheep. Like millions. Multi-millions. Like, everywhere.)

If you have the chance to visit and tour NZ, I cannot recommend highly enough to do so in an RV.  The convenience it afforded, the experience it provided, and the novelty it offered were too hard to pass up.

Once we settled on Wilderness, we had to begin planning our proposed route. With locations in Auckland (AKL), Chistchurch (CHC), and Queenstown (ZQN) (which is only a drop-off location in high season, which is apparently not when we went), we initially toyed with a one-way rental from AKL to down to ZQN and back up to CHC. 

As follows:

(http://i.gyazo.com/3d8dabedf0f93bdb6104d6a9341eda1f.png)

However, the more I researched, the more I realized it’d be foolish to try to do both the North Island and South Island given our time constraints.

Instead, we decided to just focus on the South Island (apparently the “better” of the two) and pick up and return the RV in CHC.

(http://i.gyazo.com/1a3b9c7bf0063880542269e73fb22a12.png)

Once we confirmed the CHC RV pickup, I then turned to booking our flights AKL-CHC-AKL.  There were two options: Air New Zealand and Jetstar.  I preferred the former because they’re a Star Alliance member, and I am Star Alliance Gold, which would get me a larger baggage allowance, which mattered because these domestic tickets were to be booked separately from our international first class itineraries, which would have otherwise given us as much baggage as we needed.

When I first looked, probably a month or two before departure, flights on Air New Zealand were reasonable.  If I recall correctly, they were about $150/pp for the “Seat+Bag” tickets. 

(Oddly, and contrary to published Star Alliance rules, if a Star Alliance Gold member purchases only a cheaper “Seat” fare, he or she is not entitled to ANY luggage.  In order to get the “extra bag” provided by the Star Gold benefits, NZ requires you to purchase a “Seat+Bag” fare, which would then entitle the traveler to two bags, instead of one.  Star Alliance was less than helpful when I pointed out that NZ was deviating from the published rules. (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2288.msg997827#msg997827))

Anyway, after I confirmed the RV and went back a few days later to book the Air New Zealand tickets, the flights that we needed had doubled! (We needed certain flights because Wilderness had informed us that we must arrive in CHC no later than 4PM on the day of pickup, or else we’d be forced to get a hotel for the night and they’d pick us up the next morning, something I really wanted to avoid, considering our already short time frame on the ground and that Wilderness wouldn’t be refunding that portion of the RV rental.)

So I did some research into Air New Zealand flights. Like I mentioned, they have a “Seat” fare, a “Seat+Bag” fare, and a couple of others, one of which is a “Flexi-time” fare, which includes everything the Seat+Bag fare includes in addition to a number of other perks, including the most important: free changes.

(http://i.gyazo.com/5ea2de19aca4007b0667178dd4bb7404.png)

Essentially, as soon as the clock strikes 12:00AM NZ time on the day of the flight, Air New Zealand will allow you to change your flight as many times as you want to ANY flight that day which has revenue availability, whether before or after your originally scheduled departure, and without upcharging for fare difference, if any. 

Armed with this knowledge, I scoured Air New Zealand’s website and ended up booking the cheapest Flexi-time fare available for the day we needed, which turned out to be the same price as our original flights would have been, saving us $300! All we needed now was a couple empty seats on our preferred flight on the day of departure, and we’d be home free.  A calculated risk, sure, but one with which I was comfortable.

Now to finally conclude our pre-trip preparation, we needed to book three hotel nights: two nights over Shabbas in Auckland on our way back home after we returned the RV, and one night in Bangkok for an overnight layover. I booked a cash+points stay at the Hilton Auckland as a backup, but shortly before we left, a deal went up on DDMS:

http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/56813

Using this, I booked a Superior room at the St Martins Waldorf Apts Hotel (http://www.st-martins-waldorf.co.nz/) (no relation to Waldorf Astoria), for two nights at $50 per night instead of $135, which is highly recommended and was a 10 minute walk to the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, and was the size of a very large suite with kitchenette and washer/dryer, and I booked the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g293916-d2318761-Reviews-Eastin_Grand_Hotel_Sathorn-Bangkok.html), ranked 8th out of 767 hotels in Bangkok by Trip Advisor, for one night at $28 instead of $110. At those prices, it’s a no-brainer to keep the points and use cash.

With that we were all set to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: TimT on January 13, 2015, 01:04:05 AM
How much fuel does that eat ?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on January 13, 2015, 02:14:39 AM
Nice. Ur missing the hour ticker on the second map to show how long the driving distance was. That's a lot of driving.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AharonInIsrael on January 13, 2015, 03:58:54 AM
Cool! Really enjoying the planning!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Emkay on January 13, 2015, 06:00:28 AM
How much was the RV?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: voldemort on January 13, 2015, 02:13:47 PM
Keeps getting better and better!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: efflpetzel on January 13, 2015, 09:58:35 PM
I really enjoyed the detail of the flex fare,
A real Yiddish kup!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 13, 2015, 10:00:00 PM
I really enjoyed the detail of the flex fare,
A real Yiddish kup!

One of my favorite parts of the trip, ironically :P
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Nitantnel on January 13, 2015, 10:34:06 PM
Very nice report!

But why the MMS style? Can't you give us more than a bite at a time!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: TimT on January 13, 2015, 10:35:38 PM
But why the MMS style?
Ouch
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 13, 2015, 10:35:44 PM
Very nice report!

But why the MMS style? Can't you give us more than a bite at a time!

Ever written one of these things? They take forever.

And while I play hard, I also work hard, and when I finish playing, it's time to work. TR comes second to work.

And, FTR, it's not just MMS. Basically every mainstream blogger, aside from DD, has multiple parts, see, e.g. OMAAT, VFTW, HMT, etc. And it's at least partially because it takes so long to write these things. 
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: TimT on January 13, 2015, 10:37:25 PM
Ever written one of these things? They take forever.

And while I play hard, I also work hard, and when I finish playing, it's time to work. TR comes second to work.
Maybe MP could help you. Not sure if it happens first or he writes it up first.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Nitantnel on January 13, 2015, 10:45:49 PM
Ever written one of these things? They take forever.

And while I play hard, I also work hard, and when I finish playing, it's time to work. TR comes second to work.

And, FTR, it's not just MMS. Basically every mainstream blogger, aside from DD, has multiple parts, see, e.g. OMAAT, VFTW, HMT, etc. And it's at least partially because it takes so long to write these things. 

I understand completely. But it can feel like hell watching your paradise this way.

Ouch

This I don't understand. My comment was not meant to harm.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 13, 2015, 10:48:12 PM
I understand completely. But it can feel like hell watching your paradise this way.

This I don't understand. My comment was not meant to harm.

I'll endeavor to make the next installment larger. May take me a bit longer.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: TimT on January 13, 2015, 10:51:43 PM
But it can feel like hell watching your paradise this way.
Start planning your own paradise.
This I don't understand. My comment was not meant to harm.
Don't compare your worst enemy to mms  :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Something Fishy on February 07, 2015, 09:26:19 PM
(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Fhu9MIC3Nww/Ux31oPJdC3I/AAAAAAAAajw/hPmCg4x3lOk/s1600/crickets.gif)

 ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: A3 on February 07, 2015, 10:15:40 PM
(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Fhu9MIC3Nww/Ux31oPJdC3I/AAAAAAAAajw/hPmCg4x3lOk/s1600/crickets.gif)

 ;D ;D ;D
Is that in your apartment?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Emkay on February 08, 2015, 04:09:43 AM
(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Fhu9MIC3Nww/Ux31oPJdC3I/AAAAAAAAajw/hPmCg4x3lOk/s1600/crickets.gif)

 ;D ;D ;D


May take me a month longer.

Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: morgs on February 08, 2015, 07:02:14 AM
(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Fhu9MIC3Nww/Ux31oPJdC3I/AAAAAAAAajw/hPmCg4x3lOk/s1600/crickets.gif)

 ;D ;D ;D
Not sure that's loud enough..... This may be more like it!! ;D ;D
(http://i42.tinypic.com/6f85ev.jpg)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: avadah on May 12, 2015, 04:42:07 PM
Did AJK ever make it back?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Marco Polo on May 12, 2015, 04:50:15 PM
Did AJK ever make it back?
I'm still wondering if he made it back from Bali.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: avadah on May 12, 2015, 05:13:00 PM
Link please?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2015, 05:32:20 PM
Link please?

I think he meant Pacific Hopper/Palau.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on July 12, 2015, 05:25:53 PM
Tuesday:

Cathay Pacific First Class, JFK to HKG

We took Uber to JFK and arrived at 7:00 AM for our 9:00 AM flight to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class. 



(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3794/19017765323_e2d9140b14_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYx24z)First Class Checkin (https://flic.kr/p/uYx24z) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/516/19638722435_0892141820_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzYF)First Class Checkin (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzYF) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3823/19638722085_8e003eb8b2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzSD)First Class Checkin (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzSD) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/324/19452108429_64fa0ab949_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCV98P)First Class Checkin (https://flic.kr/p/vCV98P) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



First order of business, convince the reps to through check my bags all the way to Auckland, despite being on two separate tickets on two separate airlines in two separate alliances. 

As a reminder, I was flying JFK-HKG in CX F on one ticket, connecting to HKG-SIN-AKL in SQ R on another ticket.  To make matters a bit more stressful, the connection time in HKG was a mere 75 minutes, which is not enough time to exit customs, collect baggage, recheck, and then go back through security.  So, if they refused to through-check our bags, we’d be toast, as we’d miss out HKG-SIN segment, and if we missed that, we’d also miss our SIN-AKL segment because it was an even shorter connection.

After a bit of back and forth, some confusion, and a bunch of phone calls, the agents successfully checked our bags through to AKL.
Woohoo!

Once checked in, we headed to the BA First Class Galleries Lounge, which was a fine way to pass the time, though nothing to write home about. 

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/395/19452108059_5c8e227523_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCV92r)DSC00125 (https://flic.kr/p/vCV92r) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3779/19017764883_18eed7153b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYx1VZ)DSC00126 (https://flic.kr/p/uYx1VZ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/536/19638720495_1ede389d56_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzpe)DSC00127 (https://flic.kr/p/vVpzpe) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/332/19450715160_0a5a7fae07_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCMZXW)DSC00128 (https://flic.kr/p/vCMZXW) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/381/19643153141_d73f7a10bc_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVNi5a)DSC00130 (https://flic.kr/p/vVNi5a) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/393/19631665912_e8aa58f58f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vUMqju)DSC00131 (https://flic.kr/p/vUMqju) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3745/19643151871_ca8ea24a97_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVNhGg)DSC00132 (https://flic.kr/p/vVNhGg) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/465/19016115974_b1ff77312e_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYoyLw)DSC00133 (https://flic.kr/p/uYoyLw) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We made some last minute phone calls—including some reconsideration calls (a favorite of mine to do while in lounges)—and then we headed towards the gate.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/281/19631664012_3056d33a1f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vUMpKJ)DSC00136 (https://flic.kr/p/vUMpKJ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We boarded and turned left—that never gets old—and ensconced ourselves in what felt like an old friend: Cathay Pacific First Class. For the journey to Hong Kong, we followed popular consensus and chose seats 1A and 2A on the left side of the plane, which has its own aisle, as seats 1 D/K and 2 D/K share the other aisle.



(http://i.gyazo.com/d721bb9c993a1da356119691da114c95.png)


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/520/19017765653_4d53bdefab_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYx2ag)DSC00138 (https://flic.kr/p/uYx2ag) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/336/19450675288_8836377d2d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCMN7u)DSC00139 (https://flic.kr/p/vCMN7u) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/305/19633268472_62189ed8b9_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vUVCGQ)DSC00152 (https://flic.kr/p/vUVCGQ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Gosh those seats are wide. Really, really comfortable and wide seats.  And we’d have them all to ourselves for this 15 hour jaunt to North Asia, a true long haul, and the longest flight we’ve done to date by over 1200 miles, a record previously held by JFK to Abu Dhabi on Etihad First.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/477/19019372343_35e9784074_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYFfLP)DSC00157 (https://flic.kr/p/uYFfLP) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Once in our seats, I noticed a Chabad Rabbi board shortly after us.  Later in the flight, I introduced myself, and he reciprocated, introducing himself as “Nechemia.” We schmoozed a bit, and I asked him if he lived in HKG. No, he said, he lived in BKK. I wondered out loud if he had any connection with the Chabad houses there, and recounted our wonderful time with R’ Kantor.

He said, “Well, yes, I do have a connection… I have one.” And by having one, he meant a Chabad House.  It was then I felt like an idiot, because I was talking to none other than R’ Nechemia Wilhelm, of the backpackers BKK Chabad House fame. Boy, was I taken aback.

Suffice it to say, I stopped referring to him by his first name after I made the connection  :o

He was coming from Kinnus, and one of his supporters had used miles to bump him from J to F at the last minute. Nice way to travel, indeed!

Anyway, amenity kits and drinks were handed out, and before long we were in the air.

We had a beautiful climb-out over JFK and Long Island:


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/301/19452312510_4de7446082_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCWbNs)DSC00166 (https://flic.kr/p/vCWbNs) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/430/19453702909_8804828c65_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD4j7R)DSC00169 (https://flic.kr/p/vD4j7R) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/541/19019369683_44b7b63bb2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYFeYX)DSC00173 (https://flic.kr/p/uYFeYX) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


[That's JFK in the upper portion of the above picture.]


I perused the drink menu, just to ensure they still had a premium scotch on board. I wasn't disappointed with the typical CX Johnnie Blue on board.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/296/19452311880_6942592056_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCWbBA)DSC00184 (https://flic.kr/p/vCWbBA) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



I then turned on the IFE and was shocked to find out that it seemed like our 15 hour flight had just gotten even longer, because the IFE changed and showed us heading to HKG over the Atlantic! Cry, I did not  ;D



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/346/19018371894_17b012abaa_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYA8nG)DSC00212 (https://flic.kr/p/uYA8nG) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Because we woke up at like 5 am to catch the flight, I was tired so I immediately changed into PJs, had my bad made and promptly took a five hour nap.



(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3764/19452925468_d1ce289295_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vCZk1G)DSC00190 (https://flic.kr/p/vCZk1G) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/266/19453404708_daedf57a67_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD2Mts)DSC00206-001 (https://flic.kr/p/vD2Mts) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Upon waking up with about 8 hours to go, I was hungry.



(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3785/19641711745_b0381866fa_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVEUAv)DSC00219 (https://flic.kr/p/vVEUAv) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Now, before traveling, I had heard that Cathay doesn’t allow BYOK (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=46852.0), but I figured with my charm, I’d be able to pull it off, so we risked bringing a couple of POM meals on board, some mac and cheese.  Sure enough, when I asked for them to heat up our BYOK, the conversation went like this:

"Well, it's against our policies."

"You know how bad that KSML looks? Yeah, it tastes even worse."

"[Giggle] OK, let me check with my supervisor."

She checked and came back to inform me: "It's your lucky day!"

I offered my regular KSML to R’ Wilhelm, who decided against it :) so we had her bring us both the KSML and the BYOK.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/313/19634659752_b476df5182_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vV3Lhq)DSC00224 (https://flic.kr/p/vV3Lhq) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3802/19453708410_369eb96b77_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD4kKG)DSC00220 (https://flic.kr/p/vD4kKG) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/531/19646154661_5be9cb8f6b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vW4Fjv)DSC00223 (https://flic.kr/p/vW4Fjv) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/367/19615527986_293e8dceec_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vTmH5o)DSC00225 (https://flic.kr/p/vTmH5o) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Suffice it to say, the BYOK and dessert tasted much better :)



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/558/19455100019_49a9054fca_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDbtqX)DSC00226 (https://flic.kr/p/vDbtqX) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/378/19634659482_a44dd7fe58_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vV3LcL)DSC00230 (https://flic.kr/p/vV3LcL) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


After Mrs. AJK had lunch at her seat, I came back to my seat to find that the FA had remade my bed. Nice touch.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/301/19021103713_3d676640a0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYQ8s2)DSC00237 (https://flic.kr/p/uYQ8s2) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



I took a look at the amenity kit, but it was... underwhelming, at least as compared to SQ R (coming up).


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3764/19019121574_4a6a0a3fb5_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYDYed)DSC00229 (https://flic.kr/p/uYDYed) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



15 hours on a flight is just the right amount of time for us. Enough time to sleep, eat, schmooze, watch, and rinse, repeat. After not too much longer, though, we were descending into HKG about 25 minutes early.



(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3666/19019472064_103fc16c81_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYFLq9)DSC00245 (https://flic.kr/p/uYFLq9) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/317/19454053670_057e611cd1_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD67os)DSC00246 (https://flic.kr/p/vD67os) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3772/19646501361_40258e8feb_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vW6so6)DSC00249 (https://flic.kr/p/vW6so6) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Upon landing and taxiing to our gate, we saw a slew of A330s... the first of which we flew last year, from Hong Kong to Chaing Mai (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=30766.msg555386#msg555386), and the last of which we'd end up flying 7 months later from MEL-PEK-ICN (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=33867.msg1150170#msg1150170).



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/475/19454054710_fcc036e95b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD67Go)DSC00252 (https://flic.kr/p/vD67Go) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/533/19454024358_65a4225cd6_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD5XF5)DSC00254 (https://flic.kr/p/vD5XF5) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/441/19455448389_27ac36f6c2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDdfZk)DSC00256 (https://flic.kr/p/vDdfZk) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr




We took a quick pic with the Captain, and thus concluded a wonderful flight.  Off we went to the SQ F lounge in HKG!



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/487/19019469974_40f30a309f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYFKN7)DSC00260 (https://flic.kr/p/uYFKN7) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on July 12, 2015, 05:26:32 PM
Wednesday:

Singapore First Class Lounge, HKG

After disembarking, we passed the "Temperature Check" and caught a glimpse of our chariot to Singapore, looking as though it was trying to hide from us, and my heart started racing with anticipation.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/360/19642658045_aea5046ff9_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vVKKU2)DSC00262 (https://flic.kr/p/vVKKU2) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/295/19021707203_89859323f2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/uYTdR2)DSC00261 (https://flic.kr/p/uYTdR2) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


We made our way over to the Singapore transit desk to get our boarding passes for our Suites class flight to Singapore.  Much to my dismay, the agent at the transit desk printed out our boarding passes on vanilla “First Class” stock.  When I asked about the Suites stock, he said they didn’t have any more and were waiting for a refill from HQ. Bummer.


We took our boarding passes and headed to the SQ lounge for a quick drink and to check my email. 


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3762/19456048469_90cf07f025_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDgknx)DSC00263 (https://flic.kr/p/vDgknx) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Upon entering, business class passengers stay to the right, to the business class  side of the lounge, and first and suites class passengers have access to the first class portion of the lounge, which is to the left and behind a tinted sliding glass door.


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3760/19647101771_357a7d6b24_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vW9wRZ)DSC00275 (https://flic.kr/p/vW9wRZ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3755/19456048099_85c19bd1aa_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDgkga)DSC00266 (https://flic.kr/p/vDgkga) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/477/19456046569_39e0064e49_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDgjNM)DSC00267 (https://flic.kr/p/vDgjNM) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/379/19456047519_79d86df9d5_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vDgk6a)DSC00272 (https://flic.kr/p/vDgk6a) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/468/19454625138_1e73a0d268_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vD93gm)DSC00273 (https://flic.kr/p/vD93gm) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

No sooner than we had sat down, an SQ server was upon us, asking what we’d like to eat and drink.  I ordered a beer and my wife a water. 

And then I got my first real taste of SQ service.

Not two minutes later, an SQ agent came up to us and asked to see our boarding passes, which I gladly showed her. Much to my delight, she said, “oh, no, this won’t do, you’re a suites passenger, and you should have boarding passes which show suites!”

Now, she wasn’t at the transit desk when we got out passes, so how the heck she knew we didn’t get Suites boarding passes, and how she knew which of the several people in the lounge were us, I’m not sure, but I was very, very impressed.  She took our low-class first-class boarding passes, and a few moments later returned with Suites boarding passes!

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/273/19635608512_4f05eb675e_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/vV8Cjm)DSC00271 (https://flic.kr/p/vV8Cjm) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Remarkable.


We finished our drinks and then we were invited to head for boarding our SQ A380 to SIN.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: sam28 on July 12, 2015, 05:58:16 PM
keep it coming .
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Chapshnell on July 12, 2015, 06:13:18 PM
CX F & SQ R in one trip is a pretty good way to fly :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on July 12, 2015, 06:14:52 PM
CX F & SQ R in one trip is a pretty good way to fly :)

I agree.

What would you say if a trip included CX F, SQ R (x2), TG F (x2), CX J, QF F, and BA F?  ;)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: lunatic on July 12, 2015, 06:17:57 PM
I agree.

What would you say if a trip included CX F, SQ R (x2), TG F (x2), CX J, QF F, and BA F?  ;)
Sounds like paradise even before you reach your destination
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on July 12, 2015, 06:20:54 PM
To be fair, it is only CX F and SQ R (x2) beforehand :P
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on July 12, 2015, 06:21:43 PM
Sounds like paradise even before you reach without ever reaching your destination

FTFY  :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: DMYD on July 12, 2015, 07:02:52 PM
To be fair, it is only CX F and SQ R (x2) beforehand :P
How terrible ::)! But sounds great cant wait for the rest.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: damaxer91 on July 12, 2015, 07:52:10 PM
Of course R' Wilhelm didnt want your KSML. Ever taste the ones they sell to the airlines?

He knows good and well to avoid them at all costs :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: rileywiles23 on July 12, 2015, 11:57:52 PM
Great Job. It's TR like these that make me never want to stop playing this game. Now if only I could find the time, to make all these trips happen.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: morgs on July 13, 2015, 08:29:44 AM
Yay!! We're finally getting started! Please keep it coming!! :'( :'( :'(
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on July 16, 2015, 10:19:16 PM
Of course R' Wilhelm didnt want your KSML. Ever taste the ones they sell to the airlines?

He knows good and well to avoid them at all costs :)

Ha, honestly, I don't remember if the BKK KSML's are that bad... I'll have to find my pics from previous trips.

Great Job. It's TR like these that make me never want to stop playing this game. Now if only I could find the time, to make all these trips happen.

Thanks. Word hard, play hard(er) <------ Motto to live by ;)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 04:21:45 PM
Wednesday:

Singapore Suites Class, HKG to SIN

The moment had arrived. We finally headed to board the SQ A380 in Suites.

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5648/20576966561_1008598734_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xmjkgx)DSC00277 (https://flic.kr/p/xmjkgx) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Suites had its own jetway and we took a left and were greeted by what seemed like the entire Suites crew.


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5672/20382442570_a8ae4e6b46_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x48m4C)DSC00279 (https://flic.kr/p/x48m4C) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5802/19947848594_aa31bb6365_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/woHWq3)DSC00285 (https://flic.kr/p/woHWq3) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


I immediately noticed that we were on a non-refreshed bird, but nothing could take way from the elegance of this cabin.


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5779/20382470810_101d817f59_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x48usw)DSC00299 (https://flic.kr/p/x48usw) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5705/20576962461_b860bccaa1_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xmjj3R)DSC00289 (https://flic.kr/p/xmjj3R) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5827/20576963351_b7c266e617_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xmjjjc)DSC00287 (https://flic.kr/p/xmjjjc) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5692/19949546143_567d3f9341_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/woSD38)DSC00302 (https://flic.kr/p/woSD38) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5681/20544195916_4f3342a99f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xiqnGq)DSC00309 (https://flic.kr/p/xiqnGq) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5659/20570425015_4609cbf887_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xkJNGg)DSC00314 (https://flic.kr/p/xkJNGg) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


The load in Suites was only 5/10 and we were quickly offered magazines and pre-departure drinks--a beer for me, and a water for Mrs. AJK.


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5755/20387088659_f4027eda9d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4xabB)DSC00296 (https://flic.kr/p/x4xabB) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Annoyingly, SQ IFE is unavailable on the ground... but this being HKG, the plane traffic/spotting en route to take off was incredible.

CX A330 on take-off:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5731/20580479611_2f1bbf3989_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xmCkzn)DSC00319 (https://flic.kr/p/xmCkzn) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


CX 777 on taxi:


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5815/20386273570_788f13bfe0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4sYTm)DSC00322 (https://flic.kr/p/x4sYTm) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Jet A330 and NZ 777 parked:


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5759/20580802071_8bb01b412a_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xmDZr2)DSC00323 (https://flic.kr/p/xmDZr2) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


CX 747 being serviced:


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5817/20574265395_359a8d7bc0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xm5uiH)DSC00326 (https://flic.kr/p/xm5uiH) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


Shortly thereafter, engines were coaxed to full throttle, though the A380 is so quiet you barely hear it, and we were off to SIN on this short sub 4 hour hop.

After we reached about 10,000 feet, the FAs sprang into action and offered us post-departure drinks and warm nuts.  When I initially declined the latter, the FA said "Well, perhaps he would like some," and produced a SQ bear along with my Johnny Blue.

Can't argue with that...


(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5657/19953369713_cc9415b590_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/wpdeDK)DSC00329 (https://flic.kr/p/wpdeDK) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



At about three hours left, I took a gander at the air show:



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/765/21015988171_42894c1845_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y27r6D)DSC00331 (https://flic.kr/p/y27r6D) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



As I was browsing the drinks menu, I was then approached by my FA and asked if I wanted to eat, and if I would like to personally open up my KSML.  About 20 minutes later, lunch was served along with another Johnny Blue. And it was one of the best KSMLs I've had. Hermolis, obviously.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5760/20998551392_e3bf774ee0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZz4Kw)DSC00336 (https://flic.kr/p/xZz4Kw) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/707/21008432025_350d1085d9_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rGVg)DSC00337 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rGVg) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5714/21015994541_a50341756d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y27sZt)DSC00338 (https://flic.kr/p/y27sZt) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/641/20982204106_7820b9d804_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xY8hgL)DSC00339 (https://flic.kr/p/xY8hgL) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/711/21008433295_9b3b7dedc8_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rHia)DSC00340 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rHia) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



After a hearty lunch, I began shmoozing with the couple in the two seats in front of us (an older gentleman along with a much younger female companion) who were specifically flying from HKG to Europe via SIN to experience SQuites.  Apparently he was on business with another guy in the cabin, and decided to bring along his latest paramour. What a life!

Despite it being a relatively short flight, we asked if the FA would showcase SQuites' noteworthy talent... the double-bed! And they were only too happy to oblige.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/782/20385814104_6eb535ee69_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4qCiw)DSC00351 (https://flic.kr/p/x4qCiw) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



After relaxing for what felt like only a few moments, we were beginning our descent into SIN and we were soon on the ground heading to the inner sanctum of SQ lounges... the Private Room, which is a lounge, within a lounge, within a lounge. Seriously.

Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 04:25:28 PM
Singapore Private Room

We exited the A380 and first, headed up an escalator to the SilverKris Lounge, which can be used by *A business passengers.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5777/20821640609_51c3f26626_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xHWmkB)DSC00352 (https://flic.kr/p/xHWmkB) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5708/20998553672_aca606dd8a_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZz5qQ)DSC00353 (https://flic.kr/p/xZz5qQ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr


You show your boarding pass to the agent manning the check-in desk, who hands you off to her colleague to escort you to the First Class Lounge, which can be used by *A first class passengers.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/653/20821641409_b0892f103c_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xHWmzp)DSC00354 (https://flic.kr/p/xHWmzp) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5624/20982206066_b89bfbfc38_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xY8hRy)DSC00357 (https://flic.kr/p/xY8hRy) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/598/20385822304_4b74ce5a9d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4qEJU)DSC00358 (https://flic.kr/p/x4qEJU) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5728/20385822854_0827889750_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4qEUo)DSC00359 (https://flic.kr/p/x4qEUo) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



She then hands your boarding pass to the agent manning the First Class Lounge check-in who, in turn, passes you off to another colleague who escorts you to the Private Room, which can only be used by SQ First Class pax. 



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5693/20387382713_7e361e05ee_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4yEAv)DSC00360 (https://flic.kr/p/x4yEAv) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



By this point, given the service we got on the way over from HKG, the security, and various escorts, I was thinking the lounge would include agents fanning me, people feeding me grapes, and a carried escort to our departing gate.

...none of which happened.

Instead (and I was particularly disappointed about the no grapes part), I was met by Gary from VFTW, who was headed to Sydney with his wife. 



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5716/208214453
08_928deaeec5_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xHVmhm)DSC00363-001 (https://flic.kr/p/xHVmhm) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We chatted for a few minutes, but I was on a very short connection and I wanted a chance to check out the rest of the lounge.  Pics of the Private Room:



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5762/20387384463_3d24c393e5_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4yF7F)DSC00370 (https://flic.kr/p/x4yF7F) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/637/20820373520_a347920681_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xHPRFf)DSC00365 (https://flic.kr/p/xHPRFf) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5783/21008426715_3fdfcfefc7_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFkH)DSC00366 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFkH) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr




All in all, the Private Room was underwhelming given all the hoops you had to jump through to get in, though Mrs. AJK says the shower facilities were very pretty and functional, which she got to use while I was tending to some more important business.  As I mentioned in an earlier segment, I had purchased some Flexi Fare NZ tickets which needed to be changed. For reference:




Once we confirmed the CHC RV pickup, I then turned to booking our flights AKL-CHC-AKL.  There were two options: Air New Zealand and Jetstar.  I preferred the former because they’re a Star Alliance member, and I am Star Alliance Gold, which would get me a larger baggage allowance, which mattered because these domestic tickets were to be booked separately from our international first class itineraries, which would have otherwise given us as much baggage as we needed.

When I first looked, probably a month or two before departure, flights on Air New Zealand were reasonable.  If I recall correctly, they were about $150/pp for the “Seat+Bag” tickets. 

(Oddly, and contrary to published Star Alliance rules, if a Star Alliance Gold member purchases only a cheaper “Seat” fare, he or she is not entitled to ANY luggage.  In order to get the “extra bag” provided by the Star Gold benefits, NZ requires you to purchase a “Seat+Bag” fare, which would then entitle the traveler to two bags, instead of one.  Star Alliance was less than helpful when I pointed out that NZ was deviating from the published rules. (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2288.msg997827#msg997827))

Anyway, after I confirmed the RV and went back a few days later to book the Air New Zealand tickets, the flights that we needed had doubled! (We needed certain flights because Wilderness had informed us that we must arrive in CHC no later than 4PM on the day of pickup, or else we’d be forced to get a hotel for the night and they’d pick us up the next morning, something I really wanted to avoid, considering our already short time frame on the ground and that Wilderness wouldn’t be refunding that portion of the RV rental.)

So I did some research into Air New Zealand flights. Like I mentioned, they have a “Seat” fare, a “Seat+Bag” fare, and a couple of others, one of which is a “Flexi-time” fare, which includes everything the Seat+Bag fare includes in addition to a number of other perks, including the most important: free changes.

(http://i.gyazo.com/5ea2de19aca4007b0667178dd4bb7404.png)

Essentially, as soon as the clock strikes 12:00AM NZ time on the day of the flight, Air New Zealand will allow you to change your flight as many times as you want to ANY flight that day which has revenue availability, whether before or after your originally scheduled departure, and without upcharging for fare difference, if any. 

Armed with this knowledge, I scoured Air New Zealand’s website and ended up booking the cheapest Flexi-time fare available for the day we needed, which turned out to be the same price as our original flights would have been, saving us $300! All we needed now was a couple empty seats on our preferred flight on the day of departure, and we’d be home free.  A calculated risk, sure, but one with which I was comfortable.


Our landing in SIN coincided almost perfectly with midnight in AKL giving me the ability to *hopefully* change to the exact flight we needed.  I booted up the computer, clicked manage reservations, found the flight we needed, clicked change and boom!

Success! 

Changed the to exact flight that would have cost me $200+ more per person and changed it without a fee or fare difference collection. Definitely something to keep in mind for any travels to AKL.


My office for this arduous task:



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/576/20821445638_4a5ddfe3d1_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xHVmo3)DSC00367-001 (https://flic.kr/p/xHVmo3) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Our 90 minute connection felt like it was over before it began, and I only had chance to get a diet Coke in the Private Room and didn't have an opportunity to check out the world-famous Changi Airport, though it was beautiful. Oh well.  We packed up our stuff, bid farewell to Gary and headed to off to our chariot to New Zealand. Alas, there was no litter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litter_(vehicle)) waiting for us, another disappointment :P
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 04:29:21 PM
Singapore Suites Class, SIN to AKL

We were headed to a SQuites flight that was more than twice the length of our first one at 9 hours.  If I recall correctly, they had security at each gate in SIN, so we went through security again.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5732/21017694571_64795d32b2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y2gbmk)DSC00375-001 (https://flic.kr/p/y2gbmk) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

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After handing our BPs to the gate agent, we were escorted on board and I instantly knew that the service on the second SQuites leg was going to surpass even the fantastic service we got on the first flight, not to mention the fact that the load was on 3/10.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/643/21016001421_f0c4684716_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y27v36)DSC00381 (https://flic.kr/p/y27v36) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Once on board, I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had the opportunity to compare the old to the new, as we were flying on one of the refreshed birds for our trip to AKL.  In fact, I pointed this out to Mrs. AJK, and the purser on the flight, Kevin, overheard me and responded without missing a beat: "It may be a new plane, Mr. AJK, but it's still the same great signature Singapore service." [Addressing me by name before I uttered a word + witty response = Service star #1 and #2!]

And, boy, did he turn out to be right.

Personally, I loved the new look, and we headed to the exact same seats as we had on the first flight.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/612/21008427725_f08002c86f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFD8)DSC00487 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFD8) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

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After taking a few photos and getting a pre-departure drink, we were handed our amenity kits and pajamas.  The amenity kits were some of the nicest I've ever gotten, which included a full bottle of Ferragamo cologne for men, and a full bottle of Ferragamo perfume for women.



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The pajamas and linens were also very nice: custom-made from Givenchy.


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/734/21000989212_15bc6e0d23_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZMyqU)DSC00432 (https://flic.kr/p/xZMyqU) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Before giving handing us our pajamas, though, the FA took the slippers out of the pajamas bag, took the slippers out of their own bag, bent down, and neatly placed them on the floor so that when I was ready to take off my shoes, I could slip right into the slippers.  [Service star #3!]

After getting medium-sized pajamas, Mrs. AJK said to me nonchalantly, "You know, I'm thinking it may have been better if I got a 'small' instead of a medium, because I think it would fit better."  I suggested she simply ask for a smaller size the next time the FA came around.

Now, mind you, this was a conversation that took place between us alone, and we were sitting next to each other.  This was not her yelling across the cabin so that anyone in coach could also hear. And, no, there was no FA around that we could see.

No sooner did I finish my suggestion--and certainly neither of us pressed the call button--did an FA swing by and say "I heard you were in the market for small-sized pajamas? Perhaps these will do" and presented Mrs. AJK with a smaller set of pajamas. Wow. [Anticipating our needs before opening our mouths = Service Star #4!]

Nearly every interaction with this crew not involving the serving of food or drinks happened with the crew bending down so that they spoke to us face-to-face on our level as opposed to us looking up.  [Service star #5!]

After I changed into my pajamas, I headed back to my seat and the FA was waiting there with a hangar and said, "Please, allow me to hang up your clothes, Mr. AJK." And so she did. [Service star #6!]



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/747/21008427975_f95beda076_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFHr)DSC00481 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rFHr) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Because the amenity kits were so nice, my wife wondered if she could have one for her sister.  This time she asked the FA, who immediately said, "Let me see what I can do for you." Now, we both expected and were prepared for a "no" considering this was far from what we were entitled to, but not three mins later the FA came back with a second female amenity kit.  [Service star #7!]

Shortly after take off, we were served the same Hermolis meals that we had gotten on the way in, which, as far as we were concerned, was fine by us, given how good they were. 

And we were delighted to see that we'd have a bit more time to enjoy this flight.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/685/20985348896_668ab18bd4_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xYpp7h)DSC00420 (https://flic.kr/p/xYpp7h) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

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Once we finished our meals, the FA came up to us and asked, instead of displacing us while we were finishing eating, "if it would be OK if we just made your beds in the two seats in front of you." Why, yes, that would be perfectly fine. [Service star #8!]


(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/706/21008428955_e8154d0dba_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1rG1k)DSC00433 (https://flic.kr/p/y1rG1k) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We slept for about 5-6 hours, until we were about midway over the Tasman Sea (or about 90 mins out of AKL), and were offered breakfast which we gladly accepted.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5812/20824068379_4f8221760b_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xJ9N2H)DSC00457 (https://flic.kr/p/xJ9N2H) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

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Then I just had to take some more photos of the double-bed, which was truly insane considering we were FL380 somewhere between Australia and New Zealand:



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5827/20822960028_934b35909d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xJ47yd)DSC00461 (https://flic.kr/p/xJ47yd) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5617/21019235071_d342db6655_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y2p5hF)DSC00478 (https://flic.kr/p/y2p5hF) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5827/21012055585_f72a015b55_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1Lh5r)DSC00472 (https://flic.kr/p/y1Lh5r) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/581/21002187892_c9e793a5a0_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZTGKN)DSC00479 (https://flic.kr/p/xZTGKN) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

[Anyone recognize the photo references above? :)  (Hint: Derek Low)]



After the captain announced our descent into AKL, we regretfully changed out of our pajamas, sad that this amazing flight had come to an end.  We were soon on the ground and deplaned off this monster bird.



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/660/20387373403_18fa389d81_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/x4yBPZ)DSC00498 (https://flic.kr/p/x4yBPZ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

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Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 04:31:19 PM
Thursday:

Air New Zealand Economy Class, AKL to CHC

We headed to customs, which after extensive research (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2849.msg954887#msg954887), we were able to sail through.  We picked up our bags, which we technically could have through checked all the way to CHC if it weren't for the last minute switch in SIN, and headed over to the domestic terminal, a 5-10 min walk.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5713/21012707205_c1ca2f167f_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/y1PBMg)DSC00505 (https://flic.kr/p/y1PBMg) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We used the NZ domestic premium check-in, and after I inputted my creds and mentioned I was *A Gold, they allowed us each 2 bags, despite the fact that it the kiosk wanted to charge us like $150-200.  (This was an absolute breeze compared to the difficulty NZ gave us with baggage allowance on the way back, as will be explained later.)



(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/718/21002811952_59811e66c2_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZWUgs)DSC00504 (https://flic.kr/p/xZWUgs) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



We walked to our gate, and at about 1:45 PM we boarded, flew the 60-min uneventful flight to CHC and was off the plane at about 3:00 PM.



(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5699/21002810522_1a8ac3196e_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/xZWTQN)DSC00506 (https://flic.kr/p/xZWTQN) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



After grabbing a local SIM at a kiosk very close to baggage claim, I contacted the RV company with plenty of time to spare before the 4:00 PM cutoff and they let us know they'd be there to pick us up in about 20 mins.

Finally, we had arrived in CHC and were anxious to finally start the land-portion of our journey :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on August 30, 2015, 04:34:05 PM
Keep it coming AJK, well done.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on August 30, 2015, 05:43:45 PM
Very nice!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Moshe123 on August 30, 2015, 05:59:31 PM
Awesome!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Chapshnell on August 30, 2015, 06:04:36 PM
good stuff, thanks for the writeup & pics
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Marco Polo on August 30, 2015, 07:49:18 PM
Great stuff as usual. Will we need to wait months before the next part of the TR?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 08:06:04 PM
You guys are relentless!  I do a bit each Sunday, and these things take forever to do. Much harder to do on the back end than live ;)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Marco Polo on August 30, 2015, 08:19:16 PM
You guys are relentless!  I do a bit each Sunday, and these things take forever to do. Much harder to do on the back end than live ;)
Maybe this will be your push to go live.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on August 30, 2015, 08:28:26 PM
Was NZ cheaper for you that Jetstar intra New Zealand flights? AFAIK you can redeem 4,500 Avios for any intra New Zealand flight, as long as it has a QF codeshare.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: ilherman on August 30, 2015, 09:24:02 PM
Thanks! Makes me wanna do SQ R again. And on a longer route that JFK-FRA, which is SUCH a tease.

Others here should learn a lesson....

I don't expect everyone to be so professional  :P  but at least to write up something!

Did Gary ever mention in his TR that he met a mileage nerd in the private room?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 11:12:05 PM
Maybe this will be your push to go live.

If I wanted to weasel out of a full-blown TR, perhaps :P

Was NZ cheaper for you that Jetstar intra New Zealand flights? AFAIK you can redeem 4,500 Avios for any intra New Zealand flight, as long as it has a QF codeshare.

Pretty sure that's not possible. You sure that still works?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 11:14:46 PM
Thanks! Makes me wanna do SQ R again. And on a longer route that JFK-FRA, which is SUCH a tease.

Others here should learn a lesson....

I don't expect everyone to be so professional  :P  but at least to write up something!

Did Gary ever mention in his TR that he met a mileage nerd in the private room?

He did, though he didn't use that terminology, and he just assumed Mrs. AJK was a blog reader :P

Quote
Just before heading out of the lounge I ran into some blog readers and we chatted for a bit.
Source (http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2015/01/05/inside-exclusive-singapore-airline-private-room-first-class-lounge/).
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: srf60 on August 30, 2015, 11:23:14 PM
Just read the entire thread( yeh reread the older parts), awesome TR! Thanks for taking the time, hope will be able to follow if I would just have the time...........
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on August 30, 2015, 11:36:59 PM
Pretty sure that's not possible. You sure that still works?

Guess not anymore, I stand corrected.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 30, 2015, 11:39:27 PM
Guess not anymore, I stand corrected.

You sure it was ever possible?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on August 30, 2015, 11:41:51 PM
You sure it was ever possible?

Quote from Mile Value.

Quote
Jetstar is a low-cost subsidiary of Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier. Qantas is a member of oneworld, but you can only redeem American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios on Jetstar flights with a Qantas flight number starting in QF. This excludes many domestic New Zealand flights, which only have a flight number starting in JQ. Jetstar charges for snacks and all drinks.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 31, 2015, 12:50:37 AM
Interesting (assuming he's right).

Even so, with all my baggage, I came out ahead not booking JQ.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Emkay on August 31, 2015, 03:33:01 AM
Of course R' Wilhelm didnt want your KSML. Ever taste the ones they sell to the airlines?

He knows good and well to avoid them at all costs :)
Those were actually from the better ones I ever had
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on August 31, 2015, 08:19:42 AM
He did, though he didn't use that terminology, and he just assumed Mrs. AJK was a blog reader :P
 Source (http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2015/01/05/inside-exclusive-singapore-airline-private-room-first-class-lounge/).

Quote from: Gary Leff
Just before heading out of the lounge I ran into some blog readers and we chatted for a bit.

Lol. Couldn't make this sound more mundane.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: lunatic on August 31, 2015, 09:48:52 AM
He seem to agree with you " I find the Private Room to be not all that impressive, actually"
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 31, 2015, 10:41:28 AM
He seem to agree with you " I find the Private Room to be not all that impressive, actually"

Definitely not on the level of LH FCT or TG F in BKK or EK F in DXB or EY F in AUH.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: shoobi on August 31, 2015, 06:14:56 PM
Beautiful TR
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on August 31, 2015, 06:34:13 PM
Keep it coming AJK, well done.
Very nice!
Awesome!
good stuff, thanks for the writeup & pics
Great stuff as usual.
Thanks! Makes me wanna do SQ R again. And on a longer route that JFK-FRA, which is SUCH a tease.

Others here should learn a lesson....
Beautiful TR

Thanks! This is the encouragement that keeps me writing this behemoth.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: shoobi on August 31, 2015, 06:35:55 PM
I honestly enjoy your TRs more than any others, because of the witty writing and good balance of pics to words (and not a million pics)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: PlatinumGuy on September 03, 2015, 04:46:21 PM
Of course R' Wilhelm didnt want your KSML. Ever taste the ones they sell to the airlines?

He knows good and well to avoid them at all costs :)
Lmao... they did improve a little over the past year though
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on September 04, 2015, 07:39:53 PM
Wow, AJK! I just spent a good hour reading the TR in its current entirety. Great stuff. NZ is definitely on our radar of places to visit, but since we're in LA routing is more limited. Either way, I can't wait for the next parts on the ground in NZ!! Really looking forward.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on September 09, 2015, 07:41:50 PM
Wow, AJK! I just spent a good hour reading the TR in its current entirety. Great stuff. NZ is definitely on our radar of places to visit, but since we're in LA routing is more limited. Either way, I can't wait for the next parts on the ground in NZ!! Really looking forward.

For someone in LA like you, I wouldn't say routings are limited, I'd say they were easier!

Off the top of my head you have some non-stop and one-stop options:

LAX-AKL on NZ
LAX-SYD/MEL-AKL on QF/AA
LAX-PEK-AKL on CA
LAX-PVG-AKL on MU
LAX-CAN-AKL on CZ
LAX-HKG-AKL on CX

Myriad of ways for someone one the west coast to get paradise.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on September 09, 2015, 07:46:01 PM
For someone in LA like you, I wouldn't say routings are limited, I'd say they were easier!

Off the top of my head you have some non-stop and one-stop options:

LAX-AKL on NZ
LAX-SYD/MEL-AKL on QF/AA
LAX-PEK-AKL on CA
LAX-PVG-AKL on MU
LAX-CAN-AKL on CZ
LAX-HKG-AKL on CX

Myriad of ways for someone one the west coast to get paradise.
Correct, on the one hand it's easier with a nonstop flight to AKL and multiple nonstop flights on SYD/MEL/BNE, and the ability to route through Asia as you  mentioned, however the east cost has these options plus the ability to route through Europe no?

Oh, and you're  just noting actual routes not routes with availability in F or J.  If you were NZ would be out as well as QF most of the time.  :D
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on September 09, 2015, 07:52:54 PM
Correct, on the one hand it's easier with a nonstop flight to AKL and multiple nonstop flights on SYD/MEL/BNE, and the ability to route through Asia as you  mentioned, however the east cost has these options plus the ability to route through Europe no?

Routing through Europe to go to NZ? AA wouldn't allow that, SQ should.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on September 09, 2015, 07:53:43 PM
This is probably blasphemous, especially from me, but having toured the south island of NZ, if I lived in LAX, I'd seriously consider flying NZ Y nonstop to maximize my time there. There is just so. much. to. do.

It's about the same distance is flying coach from NYC to Israel, and I've done that a few times in the past couple years.

If you didn't want to fly Y to AKL, the next best option is probably Plan B LAX-SYD/MEL-AKL.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on September 09, 2015, 08:15:27 PM
This is probably blasphemous, especially from me, but having toured the south island of NZ, if I lived in LAX, I'd seriously consider flying NZ Y nonstop to maximize my time there. There is just so. much. to. do.

It's about the same distance is flying coach from NYC to Israel, and I've done that a few times in the past couple years.

If you didn't want to fly Y to AKL, the next best option is probably Plan B LAX-SYD/MEL-AKL.
Wow, Y for a 13.5 hour flight could be bad. Although OTOH I did fly Y LAX-SYD a couple of years ago, and if the flight's empty it may not be that bad. But given the choice I'd chose J on VA over Y on NZ, especially once VA gets their new J.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on September 09, 2015, 08:22:37 PM
Wow, Y for a 13.5 hour flight could be bad. Although OTOH I did fly Y LAX-SYD a couple of years ago, and if the flight's empty it may not be that bad. But given the choice I'd chose J on VA over Y on NZ, especially once VA gets their new J.

Yeah, I once did EWR-HKG in CO in Y and didn't get up once the whole flight. (This was probably a decade ago, wayyyy before miles, but I survived.)

VA is a great option, but until they upgrade their 777s (which I hope remains on schedule as I'm booked SYD-LAX later this year), they're 2-3-2 vs UA's 787 2-2-2.

Though there's a great hidden option on the VA 777 in J... an enclosed suite for the select few who know about it  ;)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on September 09, 2015, 08:31:45 PM
Yeah, I once did EWR-HKG in CO in Y and didn't get up once the whole flight. (This was probably a decade ago, wayyyy before miles, but I survived.)

VA is a great option, but until they upgrade their 777s (which I hope remains on schedule as I'm booked SYD-LAX later this year), they're 2-3-2 vs UA's 787 2-2-2.

Though there's a great hidden option on the VA 777 in J... an enclosed suite for the select few who know about it  ;)

Too easy to figure that one out.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on September 09, 2015, 08:32:54 PM
Too easy to figure that one out.

Sure, once you google it, it ain't hard; but knowing to google in the first place? 'nother thing altogether.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on September 09, 2015, 08:35:25 PM
Yeah, I once did EWR-HKG in CO in Y and didn't get up once the whole flight. (This was probably a decade ago, wayyyy before miles, but I survived.)

VA is a great option, but until they upgrade their 777s (which I hope remains on schedule as I'm booked SYD-LAX later this year), they're 2-3-2 vs UA's 787 2-2-2.

Though there's a great hidden option on the VA 777 in J... an enclosed suite for the select few who know about it  ;)
Oh, I know about it alright. That's exactly where I'd sit if I went that way.  :D
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: MosheD on September 10, 2015, 04:02:41 AM
Just read through Tr from beginning. Amazing job AJK!
To echo previous comments, this trip report makes me want to push up the date on next AOR and just plunge into this game.
Reading the plethora of recent trip reports leaves me itching for my first legit intl trip.
Off to the DDF adventure board...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Emkay on November 19, 2015, 03:50:28 AM
(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Fhu9MIC3Nww/Ux31oPJdC3I/AAAAAAAAajw/hPmCg4x3lOk/s1600/crickets.gif)

 ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 05:08:31 PM
Last update here was August 30th. This thread needs some serious BUMP'age!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 25, 2016, 05:09:48 PM
Last update here was August 30th. This thread needs some serious BUMP'age!

Not sure if you've followed, but a commercial break was taken to post a different TR (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=58730.msg1340256#msg1340256).

AJK and Co. hope you enjoy.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 05:11:11 PM
Not sure if you've followed, but a commercial break was taken to post a different TR (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=58730.msg1340256#msg1340256).

AJK and Co. hope you enjoy.

We very much do enjoy but I thought that was Mrs. AJK's TR and this one is yours. Nothing written up since August 30th worth posting about? I need this for personal use :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 25, 2016, 05:13:33 PM
Mrs. AJK and I are one in the same.

Both fly, both post TRs, and both have jobs outside of DDF. What, priorities outside of DDF? Yeah, I know, blasphemous.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 05:17:34 PM
Mrs. AJK and I are one in the same.

Both fly, both post TRs, and both have jobs outside of DDF. What, priorities outside of DDF? Yeah, I know, blasphemous.

See if you'd decide to join the Board of  'DansDeals incorporated' as a Partner [unless the CEO speaks out against that] you'd be able to combine work and pleasure! :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 09:43:06 PM
Nowadays, would you still do SIN-AKL for the A380 even though it means another $$ flight and less time on the roads or would you do SIN-CHC direct? More time on the ground but obv a much lesser flight experience. 
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 25, 2016, 09:59:02 PM
Nowadays, would you still do SIN-AKL for the A380 even though it means another $$ flight and less time on the roads or would you do SIN-CHC direct? More time on the ground but obv a much lesser flight experience.

I would still do SQuites.  I may consider the non-stop if the SIN-CHC route was operated by a 77W, but it's operated by a 772 or 77L without F at all.

For a 3-4 hour difference (a time which one can almost guarantee with “Flexi-time” fares), I'd prefer the A380.  At this point, if it was operated by a 77W, I'd probably skip the extra leg and go non-stop.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 10:04:03 PM
I would still do SQuites.  I may consider the non-stop if the SIN-CHC route was operated by a 77W, but it's operated by a 772 or 77L without F at all.

For a 3-4 hour difference (a time which one can almost guarantee with “Flexi-time” fares), I'd prefer the A380.  At this point, if it was operated by a 77W, I'd probably skip the extra leg and go non-stop.

Right - I did see it only having J. I guess if it is indeed only an easy 3-4 hours extra, 10 hours in R versus J is a big difference.

On a side note, was there a reason you did SQ HKG-SIN-AKL instead of adding SIN to the JFK-HKG leg on CX?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 25, 2016, 10:12:01 PM
On a side note, was there a reason you did SQ HKG-SIN-AKL instead of adding SIN to the JFK-HKG leg on CX?

Simple.

The main award, via US Air, was:

JFK-HKG (CX F) // HKG-DXB (CX J)-LHR (QF F)-JFK (BA F)

(http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=jfk-hkg-dxb-lhr-jfk&MS=bm&MP=rect&MR=1800&MX=720x360&PM=*)

As booked, the award only cost me 120K per person. (US Air, oiy, may it rest in peace.)

Had I added HKG-SIN (Y, J, or F), it would have cost me 160K per person. By adding HKG-SIN onto the SQ award (which I did) it cost me precisely 0 extra.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 10:19:10 PM
Simple.

The main award, via US Air, was:

As booked, the award only cost me 120K per person. (US Air, oiy, may it rest in peace.)

Had I added HKG-SIN (Y, J, or F), it would have cost me 160K per person. By adding HKG-SIN onto the SQ award (which I did) it cost me precisely 0 extra.

Got it. I knew I must have missed something as in the regular CX vs SQ scenario adding HKG <> SIN onto either leg would also

cost me precisely 0 extra.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on January 25, 2016, 10:24:44 PM
I just looked up the RV's you posted, are they really pricing out around the same as the equivalent of B+Bs and a car rental for the stay?

Those RV's I looked at all looked quite pricey (well over $3000 for 8 days) and if a B+B is around ~$150 a night and a car rental is around ~$550 for 8 days how does it price out in favor of the RV?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: IsraelGuy on February 09, 2016, 10:32:26 AM
More more!

Planning a NZ trip now, also mostly south Island,  and can't wait to see hear about the rv experience and the trip :)

Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: shoobi on February 09, 2016, 10:37:44 AM
With a new baby now? Chances are similar to finding LAX-SYD in QF F
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: IsraelGuy on February 11, 2016, 04:20:37 PM
With a new baby now? Chances are similar to finding LAX-SYD in QF F

We can always dream can't we?  ;D
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: IsraelGuy on May 04, 2016, 11:54:50 AM
How did electricity work in the motorhome-did certain things only work when the motorhome was plugged into overnight?

Was the shower usable at all?

Any other motorhome tips?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Something Fishy on May 04, 2016, 12:39:16 PM
How did electricity work in the motorhome-did certain things only work when the motorhome was plugged into overnight?

Was the shower usable at all?

Any other motorhome tips?

The electrics (lights, power outlets, TV, etc.) run off a battery that's charged by the engine. The battery is generally enough for a full overnight with the engine off.

A/C and the microwave need to either be plugged in or run off the generator (which could be also used in lieu of the battery if needed). Some A/C units may need to be plugged into a high-voltage line, which not all campsites have (if they do, it'll be clearly stated).

The heating (water and air), stove, and fridge are run off the propane tank.

The showers are great, with plenty of water for at least two consecutive ones.

(All this is for a typical motorhome, there will obviously be exceptions.)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on May 04, 2016, 01:52:08 PM
SF has it down basically.

In my RV, there was no generator, so we needed ground power to run microwave. I don't recall if my RV had A/C, but it was a non-issue because at night we needed heat, which we used by turning on gas and warming it up, nice and toasty.

Shower worked well, all things considered, but it's a far cry from showing in the Splash Suite at the Andaz 5th avenue...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: avadah on October 06, 2016, 08:51:47 AM
{Looking around, twiddling  thumbs} 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles  of  beer...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Something Fishy on October 06, 2016, 09:10:34 AM
{Looking around, twiddling  thumbs} 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles  of  beer...

...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Super Speed on October 06, 2016, 09:56:34 AM


...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer...
...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

97 bottles of beer on the wall, 97 bottles of beer...

Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: IsraelGuy on November 28, 2016, 11:23:24 PM
...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

97 bottles of beer on the wall, 97 bottles of beer...

...If one of those bottles should happen to fall, what a waste of alcohol.

96 bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer...
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on November 28, 2016, 11:36:12 PM
I'm about halfway through a decent length segment. Will try to find time in the coming days to finalize and publish.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Luvtotravel on November 29, 2016, 09:55:24 AM
We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.
love the WE! is this a mrs. ajk special?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on November 29, 2016, 10:10:51 AM
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Luvtotravel on November 29, 2016, 10:34:18 AM
Not specifically, but she's always a contributing editor.
well, you (plural connotation) have my patronage. looking forward.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: 12HRS on November 29, 2016, 09:01:49 PM
I'm about halfway through a decent length segment. Will try to find time in the coming days to finalize and publish.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to your future patronage.

Goes to show that a well timed teaser doesn't need a photo to whet the appetite. Don't tell something fishy
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 23, 2016, 01:10:41 AM
Thursday: Picking up the RV

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, one of the employees from Wilderness, the RV company, rolls up in one of the smaller RVs. He asks how our flight was and how long we intend to tour. We respond, "a bit under two weeks." And he says, "Well, you may as well book tickets to return because, gosh, that isn't nearly enough time."

Awesome.

We quickly loaded our luggage and off we went to the company headquarters to pick up our RV.  After going back and forth, we decided to splurge and purchase the highest level insurance (read: not cheap) after he told me (i) how expensive the RVs were. and (ii) that I could drive it off a cliff and be covered. Sold!  [It was a couple years later that I found out (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=66826.msg1576329#msg1576329) that Citi covers RVs!]

I then told him my grand plan:  Head north to see some seals, do some whale watching, head to Abel Tasman for Shabbas, head down the west coast for some unbelievable scenery, hikes, glaciers, Milford sound, then off to Te Anau for the glow worms, then to Queenstown for some action, then up to the beautiful lakes, then back to CHC.

(https://api.monosnap.com/rpc/file/download?id=2pIhP2R0Ll32t7LT8XJl52BvtKQIdq)




...and I was met with this (from him and the rest of the office):


(https://media.giphy.com/media/O5NyCibf93upy/giphy.gif)





Awesome.  Weeks of planning gone. Poof.

When he recovered, he said: "First, you'd need a chopper to do all of that in 12 days. Second, the weather is supposed to be rainy in the north, so allow me to suggest you start going south, where the weather is sunnier now. Something like this:

(https://api.monosnap.com/rpc/file/download?id=rvBOoUsriRwLxi8AIaSQIo4fz2xj5N)


He was persuasive. And he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Fine. We'll just have to come back and do the rest.  With that, we walked outside and he showed us how the RV worked--how to drive, how to add water, how to clean waste, etc.  We then packed up our beautiful RV with food, candy, snacks, and clothes (we left the suitcases and cooler in their office) and we were off.

First stop, grocery shopping.  First problem, "how the heck do we park this thing in the parking lot?"

Seriously, we went to a grocery store and glaringly stuck out of every parking spot we tried to fit in by a good eight feet. And it's not like we could just take two spots--the lot was *packed.* We wondered what other tourists do. We debated on what we should do. We wondered if we needed groceries at all. And then we decided to just park with our back end sticking out and hope for the best.

Mrs. AJK ran and began grocery shopping while I went to next door for... a haircut. What... I needed one. And besides, our RV was only sticking out eight feet blocking one lane of parking lot traffic, not both.

Anyway, wow are groceries in AKL expensive. I think eight eggs were like $11 USD or something ridiculous like that. After spending part of my yerushah, we were grateful to find that our RV was neither ticketed nor towed, thanked God, loaded up and off we went, with Mrs. AJK as navigator.  It was about 7:30-8:00 PM.

First stop: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park, about a three hour drive.

(https://api.monosnap.com/rpc/file/download?id=JZh7hStY9nxiLOMJeRPqiz9rHbJdAr)



A relatively short drive, one I could ordinarily do in my sleep, er, perhaps that's a bad way of putting it.  Let's just say neither of us were prepared for the upcoming and overbearing onslaught of fatigue.  Flying from JFK to HKG to SIN to AKL to CHC without sleep in a bed, even in First, took its toll like Katrina "took its toll" on New Orleans.  We battled hard. We sang. We did the "freeze out" where one opens all windows at 65+ mph and is met with a blast of cool air. We did interpretive dance to blaring music. Alas, Mrs. AJK could not prevail.

I kid you not. It got to a point where we were so ungodly exhausted that Mrs. AJK would turn to me, and ask: "Are you OK to drive? Should we pull over?" and would fall asleep after EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. Literally it was, "Are..." head down... "you..." head succumbed... "OK..." down again... "to..." snoring for 3 minutes... "drive?" You get the point. Finally, she realized she didn't have that much time between what seemed like brief glimpses of consciousness that she blurted it out really quickly "AreyouOKtodriveShouldwepullover!" and then fell back asleep. God bless her, she tried.

As for me, well, I don't recall a point in my life being as tired. Can't really explain it. And, looking back, I should have just pulled over. I mean, we were already in an RV with two beds!

Finally, after what seemed like a yovel, the GPS indicated we were five minutes away.  I began praising the Lord effusively. We pulled up to the office at about 11:30PM, and it had long since closed. But RV parks leave directions for entry outside the office and you're expected to pay in the morning. So, we took the directions and followed the highlighted paper to our RV spot.  Once we parked, I hopped out and connected us to 220 volt power (to be able to use the microwave) and we ate a sumptuous dinner of swedish meatballs. Satiated, we buttoned down the hatches, turned on the heat and instantly fell into a much-needed sleep.

Friday: Lake Tekapo, St. John Observatory, Lake Pukaki, Tasman Glacier, Hilton Queenstown

A snapshot of Friday’s drive:

(https://api.monosnap.com/rpc/file/download?id=F9cPWoRsyCZJIHlNI8EjGijKfWoxJc)


After a warm, restful, and comfortable night of sleep, we woke up early Friday morning to a breakfast of American cereal which we had brought with us.  Incidentally, when I mentioned to Wilderness RV that they could take out all of the silverware, pots, and pans that were included with the RV on account us keeping Kosher, they graciously offered to stock the RV with brand new silverware, pots, and pans, etc. A very nice gesture.

When we finished eating, I hopped out, disconnected us from "shore" power and took a couple snaps of our beauty.

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/736/31779430446_078c79bd77_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QqeTuA)DSC00511 (https://flic.kr/p/QqeTuA) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/512/31007100063_391606e801_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZuzv)DSC00512 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZuzv) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Before I forget, allow me to take this opportunity to highly recommend the Kauai Revealed-level-bible for New Zealand: NZ Frenzy (http://www.nzfrenzy.com/). If you don’t have 3 months to plan every facet of your trip to AKL--and even if you do--get this book.  It has every sight you’d want to see, and some you don't (which the author tells you to skip), in easy to read, digestible chunks, with ratings of hikes, GPS coordinates, and great descriptions. In fact, the descriptions are so evocative and compelling, I’ll include some here for your reading pleasure, set off in quotes, to make sure everyone is clear such portions come from that book.

Anyway, we packed up the RV and headed down to Lake Tekapo, the first of the stunning lakes we saw in AKL.  Just by way of background, the reason why New Zealand lakes are that distinctive gorgeous blue/aqua is due to glacial flour, which is fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion.  When the flour enters the river, it stains the color of the water, and when that river flows into a glacial lake (formed by a melting glacier), then the water turns turquoise.

Quote
Lake Tekapo’s aquamarine blue color is simply beyond description. On a sunny day it’s jaw-drop, eye-boggling beautiful. You NEED to see it! On a grey day the beauty dims, but the blue opacity of the lake water still impresses. Lake Tekapo is the postcard-perfect fabled beauty of New Zealand. There’s not much for travelers to do at Lake Tekapo other than just stare at the lake and take yet another photo, but there are a few options. The lake is glacier-cold year-round, so don’t plan on swimming. Mostly just plan for a laid-back day of relaxing eye-candy.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5577/31779431736_62c5c55fe9_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QqeTSQ)DSC00513 (https://flic.kr/p/QqeTSQ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/725/31007102233_bed46d978d_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZvdV)DSC00519 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZvdV) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



After a few shots from ground-level, we headed to up to Mount John Observatory to view Lake Tekapo from “on high,” a 15 min drive up a rather steep hill. And, boy, if we thought Lake Tekapo was beautiful from below, this was a real treat.

Quote
This celestial observatory, some 300m above the town atop 1,031m Mt John, is a MUST-SEE! The 360° view from the Mt John’s Astro Café is beyond fabulous! Of course the view over Lake
Tekapo to the distant snow-capped peaks steals the show, but on a sunny day look for the peak of Mt. Cook/Aoraki poking over the western ridgeline.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/579/31817035055_89052958f6_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QtyC2V)DSC00558 (https://flic.kr/p/QtyC2V) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/692/31007104633_ea09c70038_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZvWi)DSC00560 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZvWi) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/310/31700571041_23386255a8_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QigHkF)DSC00573 (https://flic.kr/p/QigHkF) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



It was a bit chilly up there, so we headed into Astro Cafe to grab a warm cup of joe.

(https://c6.staticflickr.com/1/331/31700564101_ff8ce4d488_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QigFh2)DSC00576 (https://flic.kr/p/QigFh2) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/611/31007105863_e9cb198d18_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZwiv)DSC00575 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZwiv) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



From Mount John Observatory we drove 90 minutes to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in New Zealand at more than 17 miles. 

Here's a quick shot from the way down from the observatory:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/435/31779429216_fed44207e7_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QqeT8o)DSC00579 (https://flic.kr/p/QqeT8o) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



But, before arriving, we stopped off at Lake Pukaki, another one of the gorgeous New Zealand lakes. [In the first picture, you can see Mt. Cook in the background, the tallest mountain in NZ.]

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/308/31700561891_da5357041f_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QigEBV)DSC00609 (https://flic.kr/p/QigEBV) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/514/31669717432_ed7752c8d0_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxzCU)DSC00614 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxzCU) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Fortuitously, we stumbled upon the Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon Shop, which had some of the freshest looking salmon we’ve ever seen. 

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/522/31007107243_156a2d257c_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZwHi)DSC00623 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZwHi) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/255/31669720402_4bad162f38_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxAw7)DSC00625 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxAw7) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



It was far from cheap (I think it was like $30 for two of the pieces below), but given the reviews of the other people there, we just had to try, so we picked up some smoked salmon to go, for a snack during our ascent up to Mt. Cook.  It was incredible.  For the record, though we’re not sashimi people, the sashimi looked very good as well.

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/733/31007109233_ad7ad7feef_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZxiB)DSC00629 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZxiB) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Finally, it was time to head up towards the Tasman Glacier, “on the way to which we got some pretty good pictures”--which to be honest, is the common refrain in New Zealand.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5594/31669723602_f721bfd46c_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxBth)DSC00634 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxBth) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/486/31007111753_4e843d49d3_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZy44)DSC00636 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZy44) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/511/31669726672_884b6ccc28_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxCod)DSC00640 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxCod) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/568/31444323510_8d4dcd6d7e_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCnSN)DSC00641 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCnSN) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Once we arrived at the Tasman Glacier Car Park, we took the Tasman Glacier View Track up to see the view.

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/338/31007115683_18a76481f7_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZzdP)DSC00646 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZzdP) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Quote
The 15-minute steep stepped-track to the top of the Tasman Glacier’s moraine ridge is amazing. The track is steep, but the payoff is worth it! The view sweeps over the entire glacial lake and its scattered flotilla of icebergs. This birds-eye view down onto the glacial toe and lake is quite unlike any on the Hooker Valley/Lake track. The Tasman Glacier itself hardly looks like a glacier, given that it’s covered with a heap of black rubble with only small slices of white showing up through its rubble covering.

Once at the top, we were treated with this view.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5608/31444325290_58b5248afe_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCopu)DSC00665 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCopu) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Just to give you an idea as to how large those two icebergs are, here’s a photo of just them.


(https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/389/30976477604_3972e8d3c7_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PchxA5)DSC00658 (https://flic.kr/p/PchxA5) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

See that speck off to the left of the icebergs? Yeah, that’s a zodiac:

(https://api.monosnap.com/rpc/file/download?id=ZoHn57IqK4zYZIs0cpANxQG0969cHL)

And, then, turning back toward to car park, we were treated to this wondrous view:

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/587/31007117793_8462dc33e0_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZzRc)DSC00674 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZzRc) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/414/31444327290_540e3100fd_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCoZY)DSC00682 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCoZY) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Our trusty steed:

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/591/31007469403_29343a81ba_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/Pf2onr)DSC00687 (https://flic.kr/p/Pf2onr) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Once back in the RV, we settled in for what was undoubtedly going to be a beautiful drive to Queenstown.  Except what they don’t tell you is that it’s nearly impossible to just do the drive without stopping every 500 feet for another beautiful picture.  And so it was.

Glacier water floweth towards the mountains...

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/644/31007120993_f8652a6c62_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZANn)DSC00688 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZANn) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



The Ahuriri Bridge.  Midway through the bridge, we looked over the side and saw a gorgeous array of interesting looking flowers.  Of course, we stopped, took some pics, and picked a few flowers (for shabbas!).

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/311/31444332610_f4af0f200d_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCqzG)DSC00708 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCqzG) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/765/31444330010_0ed1c98986_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCpNS)DSC00699 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCpNS) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/710/31007124803_c03362ef65_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZBW4)DSC00704 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZBW4) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Lake Dunstan:

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/1/604/31007127723_219ee4748c_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZCNp)DSC00713 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZCNp) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Roaring Meg, a turbulent stream that drives a hydro-electric power station and merges with the Kawarau River, which runs between the towns of Cromwell and Queenstown:

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/710/31700584601_8b2dbbf773_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QigMnt)DSC00718 (https://flic.kr/p/QigMnt) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Famous South Island Vineyards:

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/721/30976565734_674809d1f3_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PchZMy)DSC00729 (https://flic.kr/p/PchZMy) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



At about 4:00 PM, we arrived at the Hilton Queenstown, which was definitely one of the nicest Hilton’s at which we’ve stayed:

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/1/728/31007130913_965ddf86a3_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PeZDKp)DSC00731 (https://flic.kr/p/PeZDKp) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Fortunately, we were upgraded to a suite, which was lovely. 

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/765/31444337540_ef7aec9806_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/PUCs3G)DSC00735 (https://flic.kr/p/PUCs3G) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/1/548/31700588391_766fc0cfb2_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QigNuP)DSC00745 (https://flic.kr/p/QigNuP) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/1/607/31669735012_8161e3efd8_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxES1)DSC00737 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxES1) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5599/31817057035_0726255987_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QtyJyT)DSC00740 (https://flic.kr/p/QtyJyT) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/1/674/31669736282_058516d7da_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxFeU)DSC00739 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxFeU) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/1/604/31669737142_f4999ad18c_h.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/QfxFuJ)DSC00741 (https://flic.kr/p/QfxFuJ) by AJK DDF (https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797381@N04/), on Flickr



Once we unpacked, we went for a quick swim in their pool, heated up two POM meals (steak and stuffed cabbage), brought in shabbas, ate, and slept in the most comfortable beds I think we’ve ever slept in.  I'd say we started off the trip with a bang.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on December 23, 2016, 01:28:23 AM
Wow, an unexpected surprise seeing this post. I've been wanting to go to NZ for a while now, but your pictures make me really, really want to go. Problem is July-August is the only time I can go that's not the best time of year to be there.

How many days of Shabbos did you keep, or do I have to wait for the next post to find out what you did on Sunday?

Great job and looking forward to the rest.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: benjie1305 on December 23, 2016, 07:56:12 AM
What a lousy trip. Looks so boring and has no beauty in it what. so. ever.

I mean who'd actually want to go to New Zealand after seeing your post.

#OppositeDay
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 23, 2016, 12:33:10 PM
Wow, an unexpected surprise seeing this post. I've been wanting to go to NZ for a while now, but your pictures make me really, really want to go. Problem is July-August is the only time I can go that's not the best time of year to be there.

How many days of Shabbos did you keep, or do I have to wait for the next post to find out what you did on Sunday?

Great job and looking forward to the rest.

We kept one day.  Thanks for reading!

What a lousy trip. Looks so boring and has no beauty in it what. so. ever.

I mean who'd actually want to go to New Zealand after seeing your post.

#OppositeDay

Yes, I felt the same way about AKL on the opposite day before we went!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Dawie on December 23, 2016, 12:53:50 PM
W.O.W.
I'm convinced
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yehoshua on December 23, 2016, 01:02:03 PM
We kept one day.  Thanks for reading!
Lucky you guys!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Yaalili on December 23, 2016, 01:40:44 PM
Thank you for continuing, great installment!
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: davidmal on December 23, 2016, 02:27:22 PM
Brave trip. Great read. Great photos. I just wish when I click the photos it allows it to be maximized.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A &quot;Holiday&quot; to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on December 23, 2016, 02:59:54 PM
Brave trip. Great read. Great photos. I just wish when I click the photos it allows it to be maximized.
Me, too. Never figured out how to do that using Flickr guest pass.
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: eandd on November 22, 2017, 11:06:42 PM
Any chance you can continue please?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: jj1000 on January 05, 2018, 10:41:43 AM
@AJK Please finish this. :)
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: Mtl18 on January 08, 2018, 11:27:40 PM
Awesome TR. We are going in couple months and deciding between car/motels Airbnb versus camper. Traveling with 10 month old. Was it a challenge driving the camper and on other side of road?
Title: Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
Post by: AJK on January 08, 2018, 11:38:12 PM
Nah, not really. I've also had a lot of experience, including driving a stick on the wrong side in a place without traffic laws (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=30766.msg712681#msg712681) :)