Posted by: monsonmadness | May 28, 2012

Samoa to New Zealand = COLD

Day 1 – Sunday 27th May/Monday 28th May

The day finally came for our trip. The babysitter arrived and was briefed, we said our goodbyes to the children, and off we went! First we took a 30 minute flight over to Samoa. (From American Samoa, you can only fly to Western Samoa or to Hawaii) When we were ready to take off on the runway, we called our kids and had them go outside into the front yard so that they could wave to us as we flew over. Cool huh?

Our plane was small and cramped. You can’t stand up inside, and your knees are pressed up to the seat in front.

All flights to the international airport on that day were fully booked, so we had to fly to Fagali’i, the smaller airport and then get over to the International Airport. If I hadn’t lived here for a year, I would have been shocked by the landing we made. The runway was a single strip of land and we landed just a few few from the end, turned the plane around on the strip, and then steered over to the small building to unload.

We had a 6 hour layover, so we got a taxi to Aggie Grey’s Hotel where they have a nice restaurant. We enjoyed a Samoan pizza in a beautiful setting with five Samoan men serenading us with their guitars and beautiful harmonies, and then a few minutes on the drums.

When we had killed enough time, we took the Aggie Grey’s shuttle to the international airport which was a 45 minute drive. We chatted with a young surfer couple who were vacationing from Australia as we rode. After we had asked them where they were from, he said to me, “Now I can tell that you’re from the states, but what about you (meaning Michael), I can’t tell where you’re from” We thought that was pretty funny. I guess I’m the American and Michael is the foreigner now.

Check in for our New Zealand flight was fast and easy. Not like the Pago Pago airport at all. We were starting to feel really tired. We had left home at 3pm on Sunday, and with the time/date change it was now 8pm on Monday. We were really hoping we would be able to sleep on the whole flight over.

Our flight to New Zealand left at 10.45pm. I tried to take a photo of us getting on the plane but we got into trouble, no photos allowed for some reason. Then, the airline employee told us that we could take a photo if we stepped back 2ft. Random! We were assigned to sit in the exit row with a stranger in between us! She liked that idea almost as much as we did (not) so she traded. Exit rows are nice for extra leg room, but I didn’t have an arm rest and wasn’t very comfortable at all. We probably only managed about an hour of sleep.

When we arrived at Auckland airport just after 2am, we were amazed. It was a real airport. I mean, it was big, with real buildings, and we didn’t have to disembark onto the runway. Inside there were escalators and elevators. Unheard of in American Samoa. The thing that hit me more than that though was the temperature. IT WAS FREEZING. Well, not literally, it was only 52 degrees, but my body was shocked. My back started aching immediately and I had goosebumps and was shivering all over. I was wearing pants and had a hoodie, but I couldn’t wait to get my luggage so that I could get my jacket out.

Walking through the airport on the way to immigration I was impressed with all the fancy shops. We were back in the real world! You can buy whatever you want. The bathrooms were clean, the people were friendly. It was awesome. I also liked the carpets. They had “welcome” written all over the floor in different languages and I was really happy when I found Croeso which is Welsh for welcome. It was funny how we were mistaken for locals many times. Seems like everyone else that got off the plane with us was either Samoan, or else returning home from a holiday.

Our next challenge was getting our rental car. Not many companies offer pick up at 2 or 3am in the morning, but we found a place that would let us rent at that time, and they had left the car at an airport car park for us. We got the shuttle over there, and the shuttle driver was very nervous hearing our plans about driving straight up to Bay of Islands without sleeping first. He said the roads were treacherous and that we needed to be careful.

We got to our car and everything seemed fine except for one critical thing. The GPS unit that we had paid for and were relying on to get us all over the country WAS NOT WORKING. How do you say stress in Maori? As you know, Michael will not drive on the left, so I was the assigned driver, and Michael is not a fan of map reading either (or more likely, I am not very patient with him) so if we don’t have a GPS in a new place, we make sure we’ve printed out directions on mapquest beforehand. This was a nightmare. Our choice was to stay put, find a hotel and get a new gps when the company opened the next morning and miss out on our day in Bay of Islands, or just go for it.

We went for it, but it wasn’t easy. Driving on the other side of the road is always a bit scary at first. I was really glad that it was 3am by this point and there weren’t any other cars on the road. We finally found our way onto a motorway, but then it ended in a residential area and we were back to square one. Finally we made it to the correct roads and started to head north. We drove over a huge bridge and has this amazing view of the Auckland skyline.

I can’t really explain how weird it is to see buildings and lights after so long. American Samoa is so rustic. When we’re in the “real world” our life in American Samoa seems like a dream, it just doesn’t seem real.

Anyway, I drove for another hour, but we came across a toll road and we had to pull over to a service station to pay the ticket. Deep joy! This is where the vacation gets exciting. I felt like I was back home in the UK. Treats ahoy! I was squealing with glee at all of the treats and couldn’t decide what to get. I settled on a sausage roll, “real” sparkling lemonade, a mint Aero, a caramel Boost, a bag of wine gums, and a bag of crisps. I even found the pineapple cubes that my babysitter had requested. I picked up a bag of Maltesers, but Michael chided me, and so I put them back. Lots more time for treats he said! And what did Michael find to snack on at 4am? Yep, if you know him well, you won’t be surprised. Michael’s snack of choice was a dry loaf of whole grain bread with no drink! What a pair we are!

After a little more driving, I felt like I couldn’t do any more. It was pitch black, and the roads were really curvy and hilly. We pulled over and tried to rest for an hour or two. We woke up stiff and freezing cold, but ready for a new day and a new adventure…


  1. Helen I loved this and can’t wait to read about the rest of your adventure! x

  2. So fun!! This is making me remember all our fun adventures and wishing I could vacation somewhere cool with you again!!! But I have to say I’m disappointed that you put the Malteasers back!!!!

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