Monday, January 23, 2012

19 January 2012: On the leaving...

We made our way to Christchurch International Airport at 8am this morning, our last day in New Zealand.  During the final packing of our rental van, many students were asking whether they could just 'miss the flight' so they could stay in New Zealand the entire length of their 3-month visas.  With a sigh, I had to respond, 'No, you need to go back home today', but knew in my mind that I had the same sentiment!  We all miss our family and friends at home, but the last 22 days were so amazing that none of us really wanted to go home.

Packed into the van, we began what would be one of the longest days of our lives!  Sure, we had completely skipped 28 December 2011 during our flight to New Zealand, but that was ok.  Today, our total travel time, all on 19 January 2012, would be 33 hours!  Wait, you say, how can that be?  Well, our movement began at 8am, 19 January, going to the Christchurch Airport.  After leaving at 4:30pm (19 January 2012) from Auckland following our connecting domestic flight from Christchurch, we crossed the International Date Line and re-entered 19 January 2012.  We landed in San Francisco at 10:30am (7:30am EDT on 19 January 2012) and then arrived in New York at 9pm, 19 January 2012.  While our total flying time was only 16 hours, our total time in motion (including my car drive home in Newburgh from JFK) was 33 hours!  Whew!

As we disembarked from Air New Zealand's US affiliate, United Airlines (who's service paled in comparison to their Kiwi counterparts!), we met as a group for the last time.  Dr. Moran and I let our students know how proud we were of their efforts in the course and their flexibility in dealing with the issues we faced.  As pioneers of  a new course, they have set the bar (for accomplishments) very high for future participants.  Dr. Moran and I were happy to have such a great bunch of students accompany us to New Zealand.

Breakfast on our final day in New Zealand.  Notice those instant soups in Peter Kelleher's and Bryan Pujol's hands?  Yum!

Our group says goodbye to the trusty stallion that carried us throughout New Zealand.  Good riddance?!

The view from my seat aboard our flight leaving Auckland.  Goodbye New Zealand sky...

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