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The Flight To New Zealand
Friday, February 6, 2015   Related topics:
Before we can experience Silversea Silver Discoverer's Sub-Antarctic Islands cruise, we have to get to Dunedin (pronounced 'Duh-Nee-Din'), New Zealand. The journey requires three different flights, on two different airlines and nearly 20 hours in the air! And, because we cross the International Date Line, we will lose an entire day. Long flights can be very taxing on the body and the mind, especially when traveling in Economy class. Our 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, is on one of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 777-300s.

While many Silversea guests will probably opt for Business Class, Air New Zealand also offers an impressive Premium Economy seating. The 777-300s offer the new "Spaceseat" in Premium Economy which we had an opportunity to experience on our flight. The Spaceseat is much more than just an Economy-class seat with a little more legroom. These seats are "pod"-style units, sort of like a paired down Business Class seat. In fact, we found the Premium Economy Spaceseat to be as comfortable as some other airlines' Business Class seats. We will do a complete review of Air New Zealand's Premium Economy service at the end of our trip and we should be able to compare our Spaceseat experience with Air New Zealand's 777-200 Premium Economy seating.

Air New Zealand's Premium Economy Spaceseat

What we can tell you is that we were very impressed with Air New Zealand overall. We have flown on dozens of international airlines over the past few years, and Air New Zealand would have to be in the top three. Watch our website and our newsletter for the complete review of Air New Zealand coming in February. After landing in Auckland, we made our connection to Air New Zealand's domestic flight (Airbus A-320) to Dunedin. The two-hour flight from Auckland to Dunedin was uneventful, but offered the same good service that we have now come to expect from Air New Zealand. We landed in Dunedin at around 10:30am. After a quick restroom stop, we heard our names being called over the airport PA system with a message that we needed to go to the information desk. As it turns out, our driver, Jeff with Jaguar Limousines, was waiting for us. After we were seated in the Jaguar, Jeff gave us an information sheet from Silversea Cruises with a schedule of events prior to embarkation.

Rickee reads the Silversea pre-embarkation information sheet

Soon, we were on our way to Dunedin, approximately twenty minutes from the airport. Jeff was very kind to point our all sorts of interesting information about the area on the way to our hotel. He even made a short detour up a hill so we can have a panoramic view of the city and harbor.

Jeff points out areas of interest to Rickee

Jeff delivered us to the front door of Scenic Hotel, located in the downtown area of Dunedin. Our Silversea information sheet mentioned that the hotel is only a five-minute walk from the "Octagon", the city's main shopping district and hub of activity. The Receptionist at the hotel told us our room would not be ready until 2pm, but that we could leave our hand luggage with them for safekeeping while we did some exploring on foot. You may recall from our previous blog that out large duffel bags have been shipped directly to Silver Discoverer using Luggage Forward, so we did not have wait at baggage claim, nor deal with luggage at the hotel. After dropping off our carry-on bags with the hotel, we set out to do some exploring.

The Scenic Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin is a very easy city to walk around on your own. It is virtually impossible to get lost. Within a few blocks of the hotel, we came across shops and cafes located in the Octagon area. Our first stop was a New Zealand souvenir shop for an addition to our magnet collection. There are all sorts of little shops in this area, and some that you might not see anywhere but New Zealand. Have you ever seen a Possum shop? So here's the story: apparently, New Zealand's bird population has no natural predators, so they lay their eggs on the ground. However, an infestation of possum from Australia has changed all of that. The possum are eating the eggs. So, in another of man's never-ending quests to control nature, New Zealand figured out a way to make yarn from possum fur and a new industry was created. In most products, the possum yarn has been mixed with wool, another abundant New Zealand resource. Hunters now have a financial incentive to kill the pesky invaders and stores are now springing up all over New Zealand selling products made from possum.

A Possum store in Dunedin

If you are interested in possum products, you had better grab your wallet. They are not cheap! Rickee looked at a scarf that was $200! After about an hour of souvenir and possum shopping, we were getting a little hungry for lunch. We found a small Turkish Doner joint right across the street from the hotel and stopped in for some hummus and a lamb doner sandwich. These Doner Kebab joints are everywhere in Europe and they have made their way into New Zealand.

Turkish Doner restaurant

After lunch, it was about time to check on our room and sure enough, it was ready for us. Even though the lobby of the Scenic Hotel looks a bit tired and sparse, the rooms were large and very nice. All of the carpeting and furnishings looked to be new. There is a large, flat-screen TV on the wall facing the two queen-sized beds. But honestly, after 20 hours of flying, all I can think about is the bed. After a shower, I crawl into bed and you won't see me until tomorrow morning.

Our room at Scenic Hotel

Tomorrow, we embark Silver Discoverer and the Sub-Antarctic Islands adventure will begin!

Originally posted on: 1/5/2015
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