When I got to Immigration I realised what makes entering NZ so special compared with any other country I’ve been to - including the UK!. It’s the friendly welcome.
Having come through the Biosecurity checks quickly and painlessly I was out in the sun walking between International and Domestic: a walk I have done at least twice a year since 2005. It is a walk which, for some inexplicable reason, I feel is the proper start of my journey home and not just a journey between countries.
Things are different in New Zealand. Domestic flights are still like they were between Glasgow and Lewis in the Good Old Days ie about 25 years ago when security as we know it today was unnecessary, where the same staff greeted you at the airport year in and year out and therefore knew you.
Mind you there are still moments like that at Stornoway. A few years ago when I was travelling weekly between Stornoway and Glasgow for several months I walked towards the check-in desk and as I approached it the person behind the desk already had my boarding pass prepared and gave it to me with a ‘I’ve given you your favourite seat again, Mr Edwards’.
A couple of years ago as I boarded the Auckland to Napier flight for the last leg of my journey home to Napier and was welcomed on board with ‘Graham, you’re back. Wonderful’ and a chat before I took my seat. The flight attendant is a lady (I nearly said girl’ which to me she is but I realise that that isn’t PC these days) from nearby whom we know. How special and at home does that make you?
So my next posting should be as a Hebridean in New Zealand. See you there - I hope.