Kia Ora! Welcome to the next report in this series of flights down under! This report will cover a domestic flight on Air New Zealand between the South and the North Island. This is the only non-oneworld flight in the routing.
After a wonderful week of breathtaking scenery in the South Island of New Zealand, it was time to head to the North Island for a few days. Only two airlines fly direct between Queenstown and Auckland: Air New Zealand and Jetstar. Both airlines operate one-class A320s on the route. Although Jetstar was less expensive, I decided on Air New Zealand to test out the flag carrier of this awesome country.
We arrived at Queenstown Airport a little over an hour before departure.
Check-in was quick, as there was no line. I was glad because I'm not used to flying on carriers on which I don't have status and access to priority check in and security.
Domestically, Air New Zealand operates like a low-cost carrier with fees for checked bags and seat assignments etc. I paid for a higher fare that included bags and seat assignments as I knew I'd have quite a bit of luggage for the 3 week+ trip.
Normally, when travelling in Y, I assign a window and an aisle in hopes the middle stays empty. But that isn't possible with Air New Zealand; the seats have to be together. However, with our fare we were able to select Space+ seats towards the front of the cabin with 34" of pitch.
Central waiting area
Our aircraft on the parking stand. I love the new NZ livery.
Jetstar A320 to Sydney
The gate area was really small and crowded. There was a large group of boisterous American college kids just laying on the ground in front of the gate podium, like it was still camping time. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my countrymen overseas.
Boarding began right about on time, but it was a total cluster with such a crowd in front of the gate podium. My fare came with priority boarding, so we were among the first to board.
Generally good looking cabin. I like the black leather.
My seat. 2 rows in front of the Exit Row.
Seat pitch is really good at 34"
View out of the window.
Contents of the seat-back pocket
Despite the chaotic boarding, it was over rather quickly. The fun surf-themed Air New Zealand safety video is played after pushback.
ZQN has one main runway. We taxi to the end of the runway and do a turn for takeoff.
It's a shame that it is cloudy this morning and the beautiful mountains around Queenstown are hidden in the clouds.
Some of the highest mountain peaks of the Southern Alps can be seen above the clouds
Beautiful scenery is always the best kind of In-Flight entertainment.
About a half hour after takeoff, a snack is served. There are only three choices of drinks: Coffee, tea, or water. Anything else is Buy-on-Board. This seems awfully cheap and even below U.S. standards.
Trivia is played on the overhead screens. I didn't see anywhere to connect head phones, so I assume they don't ever play movies on the screens.
Leaving the South Island over Tasman Bay
After crossing Cook Strait, we arrive over the North Island.
Soon enough we begin our descent and here we are over the southern Auckland suburbs.
The Auckland CBD with the Sky Tower in the distance.
Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, is still rebuilding from the devastation after the swarm of large earthquakes that rocked the Canterbury region in 2010 and 2011.
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park and Lake Pukaki
Glacial Lake Mueller and Mount Sefton
Glaciers of Mount Sefton
Mount Cook / Aoraki
Glacial Lake Hooker with icebergs
Snow-capped summit of Mount Cook
The mountain lakes in New Zealand are a gorgeous blue that you don't often see in nature.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mount Aspiring National Park
Milford Sound / Fiordland
Mitre Peak, Milford Sound
Planespotting in Milford sound :-)
Lake Te Anau
Queenstown / Lake Wakatipu Area
The Glenorchy area at the northern tip of lake Wakatipu. Many scenes from The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies were filmed in this area.
Paradise, near Glenorchy
Dart River Estuary, Glenorchy
Air New Zealand
Queenstown - ZQN
Auckland - AKL
It was an overall good first flight with Air New Zealand onboard a brand new aircraft. The seats were comfortable and the crew was pleasant. There were some disappointing aspects, however. I didn't like that I didn't have the option of assigning a window and an aisle. I also thought that limiting drink choices to coffee, tea, or water was very cheap. Luckily, domestic flights within New Zealand are short. This Queenstown to Auckland flight at 1h45m flying time is about as long as it gets.
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