Saturday, March 8, 2014
I have had a lot of overly happy days in New Zealand, and today was going to top them all. My mom was flying into Dunedin this afternoon for her first visit to New Zealand! Waking up at 5:30am to catch my flight from Nelson to Dunedin didn’t seem so bad because this morning felt like that of Christmas morning. I haven’t seen my mom in over 4 months, and I could not be more excited!
The Super Shuttle picked me up at 6:20am, and I was only a bit paranoid about making my 7:30am flight. As a seasoned American flyer, it has been embedded in my brain to allow for at least a one hour arrival time before your scheduled departure. My ride got me to the airport at 6:45am. Under normal circumstances, I might have stressed a little flying out of a new airport in a foreign country, but the glory of early morning flights is you’ve already beat the vast majority of the population out of bed.
I walked into the Nelson airport, and made my way up to the Air New Zealand ticket counter. It didn’t take me long to find it either as they are the only airline represented at this airport. I handed over my backpack Raul, (yes, I named my backpack), and before I could tell the lady that I forgot to print my boarding pass, she asked me where I was going. “Dunedin.” “What’s your name?” “Dobson.” I bent down to secure the straps on my bag, and by the time I popped back up, she had already printed my tickets and handed them to me. That happened kind of quick, I thought to myself. Maybe I’m still half asleep. “Can I bring my bottle of water through security here?” “Yes. There is no security here, but there will be security in Christchurch.” I wasn’t sure if I heard her correctly, so I do what I always do when I can’t comprehend what someone is telling me: I repeat it a few times out loud to make sure I’ve properly understood. “There’s no security here, but there is security in Christchurch?” Pause. “There’s no security here, but there is in Christchurch?” She nodded, and for fear of looking like a further idiot, I collected my carry on and carried on.
There was a massive series of thoughts that instantly flooded my head, but mainly just the thought of having NO AIRPORT SECURITY AT THE AIRPORT! How is that a thing? That’s not a thing! Am I in a time warp? What is this? A fellow traveler made the comparison that Nelson reminded him of California in the 1950s, so maybe in fact, I had perfected my time machine and didn’t realize I had actually used it. I probably stood in the check in area/lobby/terminal place for a good ten minutes wandering around completely and utterly dumbfounded looking for something, anything, resembling some sort of screening process. Maybe this was one of those things where Kiwis say something that mean one thing in New Zealand speak and something totally different in American speak. But as I rambled in circles, no doubt made a spectacle of myself, I found zero, zip, zilch security anything in sight. Not even so much as anyone appearing like a TSA officer. This airport looked more like a glorified bus station.
Then it suddenly dawned on me: nobody even asked for my ID, let alone checked it! I scrambled for my boarding pass to double check that the right name was on it, and if I was in fact Dunedin bound. Indeed, Dobson Miss Stephan– would be arriving at 9:55am.
Even when I boarded the plane, I still could not get over the fact that nobody scanned my laptop, made me take off my shoes and belt, denied me my full bottle of water or x-rayed my soul before they granted me access into the terminal. I sat next to a gentleman from the area, and asked if all smaller airports in New Zealand are as relaxed. He said apart from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, yes, all airports were like Nelson’s. He continued to say how it’s just “practical” that way, and there is no present need for paranoia. No fear. The Kiwis have it all under control.
I would like to add that once I made my connection in Christchurch, I still did not have to go through a security check, and I finally saw one policeman strolling around during the three hours I sat in the Dunedin airport eagerly awaiting my mom’s safe arrival. Despite the lack of security, ironically enough, I have never felt safer.
PS: I apologize for the lack of picture of the day, but I already looked like enough of a fool trying to figure out this whole no airport security thing. I don’t even want to know what kind of looks I might have received if I tried to take a picture of it.