It’s official. I will be spending the New Year adrift in the earth’s stratosphere. My flight takes off from Portland, Oregon on the chilly morning of December 30th and will arrive in Auckland two days later. The timeframe of the flight: 26 hours. Ouch. But it’s not as bad as it sounds as I know firsthand that things could be worse. Prior to my thru-hike along the CDT, I endured a torturous 37-hour travel log while stuffed inside a Greyhound bus. So, compared to that, 26 hours seems like a piece of cake. And indeed I think it might be. First, I conveniently fly out of Portland, which is a scenic 3-hour drive and happens to be home to many of my good friends. After celebrating my going away with my PDX crew, I will then fly to Honolulu, which having never been to Hawaii, I look forward to using my 10-hour lay-over to stretch my legs outside the airport. Then, just before bed-time, I’ll hop on another plane for a straight shot to Auckland. I will no doubt bring along a neck pillow, earplugs, headphones and an eye mask. I will also make sure to take conservative advantage to the flight’s free booze.
I have to say that purchasing a one-way ticket to a country that sits very, very far away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is quite intimidating. It’s also quite distracting. I’ve spent countless hours searching for the cheapest flight. There were certainly better things I could have been doing, but alas I’m slightly obsessive and therefore would rather spend my time twiddling my thumbs in front of the computer.
While twiddling, I searched for flights during multiple time windows. It wasn’t until this very morning, after talking to my boss, that I picked a window to leave for the land of the kiwi. To be honest, I really wanted to fly to New Zealand on December 4th. It was the cheapest airfare, a total of $200 cheaper, compared to the remainder of the month. That date also had a special place in my heart because from what I’ve learned about the Te Araroa (my next thru-hike), the ideal starting time is November to the middle of December. That said, the TA appears to offer a large thru-hiking window, one that stretches from November until late April. With 1,800 miles standing in between me and the trail’s southern terminus, leaving early January should allow for just enough time to hike the trail in good weather. That said, so what if I end in rain or snow. I think I’ve hiked through enough of both to know that I’ll be just fine.
That said, one of the things that I’m still perplexed by is the time difference. For example, if I leave PDX at 7am on December 30th, land in Hawaii at 11am (world-clock three hours earlier than pacific), then depart at 9:30pm and arrive in Auckland nine hours later at 5:45am, then what time is it in Oregon? And better yet, what day will it be? There’s a 21-hour time difference compared to us pacific-time folks in addition to the convenience of seeing santa slide down the chimney almost a whole day earlier. After doing a few conversions, I’ve come to the educated guess that I’ll be arriving in New Zealand on January 1st at 5:45am kiwi-time. Meanwhile, folks back home will just be popping the bubbly for the day leading up to the New Year.