Long plane rides can be tough - but 17-hour plane rides can be excruciating.... On Tuesday morning at 7am, we loaded our bus, drove for 2-3 hours, waited for 2 hours, flew for 3 hours, waited for 6 hours, flew for 17 hours, hustled for 1 hour to clear customs and catch the next flight, flew for 3 hours, played around for 3 hours, then drove for 3 hours - all to reach Rotorua. Wow. 39-40 hours. That is commitment! But we made it; we are hear, safe & sound!
A few highlights: Our airport experiences went smoothly: all save one. :-( Dallas provided the student with plenty of meal options, candy shops, etc., then our long flight was one of the smoother international flights I’ve ever flown. We rode a double-decker plane, which was also a first for every one of us! We were served two full meals and a large snack in-flight, and several entertainment & movie options. From what I could tell, most of us slept quite a bit - so overall the long flight went pretty well. We had to hurry to make the Sydney-Auckland connection, and unfortunately Kenli’s bag did not survive the struggle as we arrived in Auckland without it. I still cannot believe the grace and composure she maintained when receiving the news - what a kind and mature young woman. Since then, the bag has been located and we will pick it back up in Auckland in two days.
We had a nearly 3-hour wait for the final EF group to arrive in Auckland, so We occupied our time by changing clothes, freshening up a bit, and then visiting a park named One Tree Hill that had all sorts of playground equipment, long fields of New Zealand sheep, a hiking path up to a beautiful view of the city, and cool fresh air after 30 hours of airports and planes! It was invigorating.
Then finally, we drove the last leg of our journey to Rotorua, a beautiful city to the South with loads of geo-thermal activity. Upon arriving, the students could feel the wave of sulpher-smell in the air instantly. One proclaimed: it smells like Thermopolis, and I have to agree! Our hotel is just steps from the pretty lakefront, and is a quirky hotel with winding hallways and several buildings. It is also equipped with a warm water swimming pool and three private geo-thermal hot spring spas which you can book for time slots, something I saw three of our boys doing last night. For most of us, sleeping is all we could think about when we arrived. Tomorrow morning - we will have a long, packed day of sightseeing around Rotorua!