I hopped in a shuttle once I made it through customs in Auckland and made my way to my hotel, the Kiwi International Hotel. It was just after 7:00 am when I arrived and thankfully there was a room ready that I could check into. The five hour flight and losing two hours was not nearly enough sleep so I was ready to lay down for a bit. The only thing I scheduled for the day was renting a plane at Ardmore Airport with Auckland Aero Club at 2:00 that day. I woke up around 11:00, had a shower, and took off into the heart of the city. The Sky Tower is only a couple of blocks so I walked down and snapped a few photos before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to the hotel. The cabbie I called was early to the hotel so we took off a little earlier than I had planned, but we made the 30 minute, $75, cab ride out to the airport. Awful. Like throwing money out the window. Once at the airport I found the flight club and was introduced to my instructor Jason. Jason and I did a quick flight
briefing and then went out to do the walk around. There was a bit of a low ceiling and winds were 20 knots gusting to 30. For those of you that don’t know that is pretty high, so I was prepared for a bumpy flight. The plane was situated on a grass apron, which was a first for me. Jason let me do my thing and I went through my walk around and preflight ritual before listening to the weather and taxiing to runway 210.
The take off was uneventful as we had a great headwind, were at 100 feet msl, and were only half full on fuel. We virtually leapt off of the runway and into the air. At 800 feet I turned crosswind, right into downwind and flew for the coast. We had gone over all of the airspace, which is exactly the same as ours in the States, so I flew the first portion just under 1,500 feet and up to 2,400 before flying over the city. Flying over the Harbour bridge and Sky Tower was awesome, but all of the boats in the water and flying over the different islands that spotted the
ocean below was just as incredible. After about an hour in the air I made my way back to the airport, all was uneventful, it was actually quite smooth given the winds until I descended down to pattern altitude and started to feel the turbulence coming off of the mountains. There was some wind sheer coming off of the trees as I ended my long final, but the landing was smooth. I set NZ JRA down on the runway and taxied back to the grass apron. My first international flight was a complete success.
I had Jason endorse my log book as I settled up. My intention was to call a cab but this time take it to the train station, which would save me about $50. One of the pilots was nice enough to give me a ride so I said thank you and good bye to the staff and Nicole drove me to the train station. We chatted during the brief ride to the train station; once there I thanked her and made my way to the correct track and took the train all the way to Britomart station. From there it was an easy
half mile walk to the hotel right up Queen St.
Back at the hotel I made my way down to the lobby and had a beer while I published a blog, wrote another and posted some photos. It was after 8:00 when I made my way out to find something to eat. I brought my camera with me and photographed the city at night until I was hungry and ready for bed. I stopped at a Turkish restaurant and had a great little wood fired pita stuffed with lamb. After which I made my way back to my room and settled in for the night. My first day in New Zealand was a good one.
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