One more thing for all of you coming down for the first time. If you aren’t already a world traveller, this trip may be an eye opener for you. From your home to Christchurch, it is almost a 24 hour trip. There are a few things I have found that make the trip nicer.
First of all go to Radio Shack and get a pair of noise canceling headphones. I’m not sure how they work, but it is incredible how much quieter the airplane is when you wear them. You don’t have to be listening to music or anything, you just turn on the switch and the noise goes away. I’ve never really been able to watch the airplane movies until I got my headphones. You can hear like you are at home.
Get an MP3 player and load it up with you music. The music on the airplane music channel is seldom what you like. You have 2 routes to go with this. You can buy an IPOD type device that has a large 20gig or more hard drive. These are the most popular because all your music goes on it. It has a slight downfall in that the hard drive requires it to have a rechargeable Li battery built in. When the battery goes dead you need to recharge it. Most of the time no problem, but if you don’t have anywhere to plug it in, then you are out of luck. Some have optional battery packs you can buy, that use plain AA or AAA batteries. The other option is a flash card player. RIO was a popular one, but went out of business. These have a card like your camera. They hold only what the card holds. Typically 1 gig or less. You can buy cards to load up and install, but it’s a pain in a way. The advantage is that they need less power and many can be run on regular batteries. When the battery dies 15 hours into the trip, you put in a new battery. That’s the one I use when traveling. I also use it in the gym 1gig is enough music to last a week of exercise without repeating much.
On the flight, count on your bags not arriving when you do. It’s rare but happens every year to someone. That said, pack a carry on with a change of clothes and toiletry items to hand carry on the plane. I have a backpack with lots of pockets. Rather than put it in the overhead compartments on the plane, I put it under the seat in front of me. I can get into it during the flight for books, mp3 player, snacks etc.
The flight from LA to Aukland is 12+ hours. Ask for an aisle seat. That way you can get up anytime and stretch without climbing across sleeping neighbors. Some people trade in their air miles to upgrade to business or first class. Way nice if you have enough miles. I suffer through the flight and save the miles for other trips.
You will arrive in LA in a big group of people on the ice. Try to stay with someone who has been through the process. LA can be intimidating. If the lines are long and you have a chance of missing your flight, they will let you through the line, but it’s easier if you have a large group to coordinate it. In LA (and then reversed in Aukland) you will arrive in the Domestic terminal from Denver and will have to go to the International terminal for the overseas flight. If you haven’t done that before stick with someone who has and don’t leave their side.
On the plane wear very comfortable clothing. Take off your shoes and get as relaxed as possible. You probably won’t sleep well, but on and off if you sleep 6 hours of the 12 hour flight you will adjust ok in Cheech.