West Coast Again, May 21-25 2021: Day 1, WLG-CHC

Posted by Patrick Lam on Saturday, June 12, 2021

Last year Elliott and I went to the West Coast for the Queen’s Birthday) weekend. Victoria Day is a bit earlier but the Canterbury Open was basically on the Victoria Day long weekend (not a holiday in NZ!) and I figured it would be a good chance to get out to the West Coast again, though coming from Christchurch rather than Wellington, and a bit further south than last time.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria (statue on Cambrige Terrace in Wellington)

Friday, May 21 (gallery)

I may have been thinking of expanding my airports-walked-to list when booking a Friday late morning flight to Christchurch. As I’ve been doing lately, I took the #2 bus to near WLG and walked the remaining 700m to the terminal. Arriving a full 65 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 11:35, I made a last-minute decision to check luggage; the flight looked full and I thought it would be better to take up less space.

As my bag was rolling down the belt, I remembered that my power bank was in the checked bag, and that power banks were no longer supposed to be in checked luggage. Oops!

So, instead of enjoying the Koru Lounge, I asked the friendly lounge staff to help me recover my power bank. A couple of phone calls and 20 minutes later, I picked up my power bank from the AvSec office (next to the luggage belts) and went back across security (with the power bank) to finally eat something at the Koru lounge. I don’t think one can do anything luggage-related at YYZ in 20 minutes!

(This is not the first time that checking in luggage I could have carried on was a lose; I did that flying to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky a few years ago too, and missed out on a day of climbing while waiting for my bag to be delivered. Do I ever learn? At least this time there were essentially no consequences except for feeling like I had to inhale my food, and then having an extra 20 minutes due to a flight delay anyway.)

Fun fact: domestic flights in New Zealand only require going through security when the aircraft capacity is greater than 70. WLG-CHC is often operated by a A320D, which does require security.

Reclaimed powerbank; Kia Ora Australia.

The Air New Zealand magazine Kia Ora has been quite silent about destinations outside NZ until now. Australia’s back with that travel bubble now.

At Christchurch airport, I picked up my bag (in which the power bank was replaced by an AvSec-wuz-here note) and put my carry-on essentials back into the bigger bag.

I had a 13.5kg bag for a 13kg walk. Should be manageable. I noticed on Discord that SE Soc was having a beginning-of-term social so I joined in and IRL streamed my walk.

WW2 aircraft outside Lone Star Café; Christchurch Railway Station over there; Heathcote Park.

I used a Jabra 35 headphone although I’ve unfortunately lost the part that goes over one’s ear and keeps it from falling out, which meant that every 10 minutes I dropped the headphone. And the volume was not loud. Not the best experience. Maybe other hardware is better, or just, you know, old-school wired earbuds.

Livestreaming is pretty bandwidth and battery intensive. I had plenty of bits but not so much battery, and ran out about an hour into my walk. Fortunately, I had a power bank! (ha) I figured that was enough live streaming for the day, but I continued walking while recharging my phone (so that I could navigate).

No more power!; totem pole opposite WW2 aircraft donated by the US; win-a-mint at the fish and chips.

I got some pretty average (NZ slang for below-average) fish and chips at 4:30 on a Friday evening from a surprisingly busy shop given the quality of the food. Well, at least the quantity was large. There was a nice park on the Heathcote River where I could eat the food.

Well, I couldn’t quite finish the fries, and gave it a second try a bit up the hill, but still couldn’t. A bit more walking took me to my airbnb, Sherwood Lodge, a great place for a quiet pre-tournament evening.

View from Sherwood Lodge

Overall, great day for a walk through the not-so-exciting suburban streets of Christchurch. Not as nice as Swiss airport walks (where there’s more going on), but good exercise nevertheless. To be continued: part 2