Day 13: Auckland
Our last day began in Auckland and ended in Chicago. Thanks to time zones and the International Date Line, we got about eight extra hours of July 20th refunded to us today (probably those hours on layaway from July 7th). The bad news is we spend most of this bonus time high above the Pacific Ocean and not doing more awesome things in New Zealand!
After waking up and putting the Sky City espresso machine to work one last time, we finished packing our bags and checked out. Our Super Shuttle picked us up on time with a couple other riders and we arrived at the international terminal of AKL with plenty of time to spare. No running like crazy people this time.
Unlike airports in the US (as far as we can recall), the airports in New Zealand put most of the shops and food outside of security. The informational monitors tell you when you should be checking in, heading to security, or going to the gate for boarding. Maybe this was why the security lines never took us more than three minutes to pass through?
We had time to relax, shop, and grab some lunch (or was it dinner?) before heading to the gate. We skillfully managed to spend almost all of our New Zealand cash — save one dollar. With that last buck we bought a Kiwi Treasures scratch-off lotto ticket in an effort to extend the trip. Spoiler Alert: We didn’t win.
Our American Airlines flight was right on time for departure at 1:30PM. Twelve hours (in actual time) and several in-flight movies later (The Revenant), we arrived in LA at 6:30AM — on the same day. Time travel is fun! We easily passed through customs, rechecked our bags, and went back through security. Thanks Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check. Now we had three hours to kill in LAX before our flight to Chicago.
Time seemed to pass fairly quickly (perhaps napping helped) and we were once again boarding a plane. Four hours later, we landed in Chicago. Between a bit of a bumpy descent and having pulled the equivalent of an all-nighter, we were a little queasy waiting for the plane to taxi around the O’Hare runways (seemingly forever!) and finally pull into a gate. Thankfully, the delirium subsided a little in baggage claim.
We ordered up a Lyft — our final leg of transportation — to get us home. Our driver was keen on finding ways (most of them legal) to bypass rush-hour traffic on the Kennedy, and we were home by about 5:30PM.
Thanks to New Zealand for a great trip! The fantastic weather and the amazing geography. Not to mention our great hosts and guides, our trusty Toyota RAV4 rental, and, of course, the Edge music video channel and their special 90s videos countdowns. We’d go back in a heartbeat.