(* or more accurately: “Around half the world in 37 hours”, but that’s not much of a title!)

One million bags of flour

We have been in Christchurch for 10 days now, which is a bit late for a description of “first impressions”. But believe me, at the time I was too busy having those impressions to write about them. Not to mention being totally jetlagged after a 37-hour flight in the exhausting company of our baby, which converts to 63 hours sans baby at the current exchange rate.

But I’m not going to blame my little girl – far from it. She actually did really well during the flight, and it was thanks to her that we were given the seats with the baby bassinets. We didn’t actually use them, which meant that Mama and Papa had much more leg room, even if there was no real benefit for the intended recipient. Meanwhile she worked her charms on the cabin crew, so that we got even better seats, and a steward pinched some chocolates for her from the first-class area. These were much enjoyed, again by Mama and Papa, while our young consumer had to be content with another unsalted rice cracker.

(And then our daughter turned our leg room into a  playground …)

The only problem was that we could only sleep when she did…

But apart from that, the flight was a great experience – the A380 was pretty amazing. Well, maybe it’s too easy to impress me: Just put me in a two-storey aluminium pipe with wings, with a weight of a million bags of flour, flying through the air, and I am amazed! As my partner put it: “Here we are, flying halfway around the world, 10 kilometres above the ground, with the population of a whole village on board”. That put paid to any prospect of sleep for another hour, as I tried to calculate how many people would be flying around up in the air like this at any particular point in time.

Arrival in Christchurch

(The first thing you notice at the opposite side of the world: everything is upside down down there.  )

We arrived in Christchurch at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and finally emerged from the airport one and a half hours later. There was some delay in getting through agriculture and customs, after the bio-protection dog took an interest in our luggage as we were about to go through the last set of doors.

We had really tried our best to put all the food we were carrying into the bin before the inspection point, we had rinsed out all the containers we had used for the baby’s fruit and vegetable puree, but in some bags there were still enough trace elements of tomatoes and gherkins to be picked up by the sensitive canine nostrils. A single apple core or piece of tomato that we had overlooked would have cost us 400 NZ dollars (about 250 euro), and our little girl had had one-and-a-half days to hide her scraps away in unexpected places. .

(But after a while, your brain adjusts and everything looks normal.)

It all sounds a bit over the top – until well into last century, settlers had been still bringing in all sorts of animals and plants, yet now they were making such a fuss about a little bit of fruit. Yet just a few years ago they had a very serious situation with a fruit fly that had found its way into the country, for example.

But all’s well that ended well, and at around 7 in the morning we could finally take our first breaths of that famous New Zealand air. And I have to admit that it is just as good as everything you read and hear about it. A beautifully fresh bouquet, with a hint of earth and rain and sea and blossoms – as I said, a real 5-star air experience!

Although after 37 hours of the atmosphere of aeroplanes and airports, even the petrol fume and döner kebab-laden air of Berlin would probably also have smelt like Paradise …