New Plymouth, New Zealand

Today was a day off and here is how we spent it:

9:00 Luggage call
9:15 Check out and pay incidentals
10:10 Arrive at airport
12:05 Departure time in Brisbane
18:00 Arrive in Auckland (lose 3 hours)
19:10 Departure time in Auckland
19:55 Arrive in New Plymouth

The flight from Auckland to New Plymouth was in a very small commuter jet-prop job. Between the band and the crew we'd taken over the whole flight along with our staggering mountain of luggage which by the time it was loaded caused a delay in take off. The luggage bay was so full that you couldn't have slipped an envelope in and so heavy that a request from the captain was made to move people toward the front of the aircraft for balance. This is not an encouraging message. Tim Hook, our tour manager and not a big guy, was asked if he'd sit in the cockpit with the pilots to help offset the load, unheard of in commercial aviation these days. I barely tolerate flying at the best of times and was on high alert for the 45 minutes it took to get from Auckland to New Plymouth. On the plus side, the plane took off, gained altitude with no problem and it was a smooth flight until the landing which involved a junior pilot, cross winds and a seriously heavy payload. I wouldn't exactly call it rough, but it was the kind of landing you read about.

Once inside the tiny terminal we were greeted by the Mayor and about a dozen Maori women and men performing a traditional welcome that resembled something closer to a 'don't tread on me' ceremony than a welcoming party. They followed with a song that was very Polynesian in sound and structure and made Guy and I want to get out our Hawaiian steel guitars and play along. Wisely, Guy got his camera instead and captured their souls in action. If you go to you'll be treated to all the visual details along with his wonderful commentary that accompanies.

The good folks at the hotel kept the dining facility open for us and we indulged in a late dinner and wine that was very tasty and well appreciated.

The show's tomorrow with notes to follow.

So long,