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An Air New Zealand Memoir

Air New Zealand

Image captured from the Auckland International Airport Air New Zealand Koru Lounge on the mad dash into the lounge.

Ki hori e hoa! An Air New Zealand memoir

Many of you regional folk will be able to relate to the following kōrero. Flight cancellations or delays can be a challenge, only to miss your connecting flight to home or your final destination. Hōhā!

Whether near or far, whānau is everything to us. Let us remember this whakaaro as we take a deep dive into the following story. And whilst this may not directly be a story related to KANAPU Hempery, it involves our people and was simply too good not to share.

Kirby’s story began at Napier Airport.

Checked in, coffee in hand, I was ready to depart to see my brother Josh and his wife Sarah in Melbourne, Australia for a whirlwind weekend catch up. Departing at 1:25pm to Auckland, it was 1:20pm and still no boarding call. At 1:45pm an announcement was raised over the loud speaker that the flight to Auckland was experiencing mechanical issues and had indeed been cancelled.

This was more than a pickle.

My connecting flight to Melbourne was immediately following the 1:25pm flight arriving in Auckland. There was no other flight from Hawke’s Bay that could get me to my international flight connection. Enter lovely Air New Zealand flight attendant with the solution.

“There’s a flight that departs Palmerston North at 4:10pm that will arrive in Auckland but will only give you 10 minutes to get to your international connection. We can put you in a taxi but there is no guarantee you will make either flight.”

It was 2:00pm. Naturally, I took the bait.

I climbed into a taxi around 2:10pm with an excited couple travelling from Canada who thought it was a wonderful adventure. Oh boy, they did not know what they were about to witness. The taxi driver set his Google Maps route and embarked on the drive of his life.


Sometime later on the back roads of Tikokino…

Anxiety levels rising, the fantastic taxi driver, bless him, was slowing painfully for each slight curve in the road and so a conversation began.

“Would someone who held their P license be able to drive this vehicle?”

The taxi driver looked at me and grinned. If there was ever a moment to be on the same page, this was it. Ki hori e hoa! | Step aside my friend!

With the fare already upwards of $270, The taxi pulled to the side of the road out the back of Tikokino, I slid into the driver’s seat and another grin appeared.

It was 2:45pm.

There is no glamorous word for it. I hoofed it. Through the back roads of Central Hawkes Bay, the Tararua and over the Saddle Road, arriving at Palmerston North airport at 4:06pm. I drove straight up to the main doors of Palmerston North Airport where two Air New Zealand attendants were awaiting our arrival. They herded us intrepid travellers from carpark to tarmac. Bags in tow, were hurled onto the back of the plane, and passengers had already boarded.

Something was off.

As I ran up the steps to NZ5116 and ducked under the entrance, an almighty cheer and applause erupted from the passengers and crew aboard. I made it!

Heoi ano, the day was not over yet.

After arriving into Auckland Domestic Airport, I now had to get to the international terminal within 8 minutes. This was not in my original plan. I was planning on having a leisurely beverage in the flash Koru Lounge prior to flying out to Melbourne. A plan that took a dramatic turn one might even say for the best.

I hit the ground running, through the regional arrival gate, out of the doors of the domestic terminal following that suggestive green line on the pathway to the international terminal. I was now in direct competition with my l checked through luggage.

Huffing and puffing on my run I started reflecting on my recent driving achievement. I called Isaac.

“You’ll never guess what I just did!”

Isaac: “Why are you breathing so weird?”

I shared my incredulous journey and we lost the plot. Parched from my recent exercise, I tore into the international terminal, I had 3 minutes left.

I charged through those glorious Air New Zealand doors, into a buzzing lounge, honed in on the drinks fridge and threw back a crisp apple cider faster than you can say “NZ0129 is now boarding through Gate 2”.

What an absolute sight. I left the lounge where plenty of raised eyebrows curiously watched on. Sitting down on my final flight was almost an anti-climax, my adrenaline was still pumping and I was ready to do that all in reverse!

And for those of you who are wondering, a taxi fare from Napier Airport to Palmerston North Airport is $600. Kia ora Air New Zealand, who undoubtedly had to pay for our new found friend and taxi driver to return to Hawkes Bay same day.

Ka mau te wehi!



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