The first 24.

Allow me to take you through a little throwback. For funsies.

Kelie and I booked the tickets at 7am pre-dropping me off at the International Terminal of Sydney Airport for the first time in a what would be a very short 30 days. I boarded that long flight back to Seattle filled with all of the excitement that my new holiday could offer me. This was my YOLO trip, remember?

I’ll never forget the first 24 hours of New Zealand. I mean, I’ll really never forget any of it {minus the moments I promptly forgot the next hungover day}, but those first 24 hours set the whole scene.

Arriving with ample time to check-in for our ridiculous so-called international three hour flight, we parted ways with the boys with promises to connect on the other side of customs. What came next was far from what we had in mind.

Queenstown, New Zealand

After a leisurely coffee we were confronted with a customs queue, which for the first time in my three years of international travel in Sydney, was not only out the door but miles out the door, snaking into the check-in area. Frantically scrambling for borrowed pens in a line which refused to let un-filled passenger cards to the other side, we finally made it through. At security, three frantically rushed girls didn’t seem to phase flirty security officers but finally, one water bottle down we were sprinting full-speed through the Sydney International Airport. I mean, I’m a runner, but, oh man I’m lucky I didn’t lose my latte on that one.

Barely able to speak when we arrived at the empty gate, we boarded a massive transport bus to make six whole drastically late passengers. As we boarded that Air New Zealand flight I casually strolled down the endless aisle on a walk of shame far worse than any of those I recall from my four years of frats and Franzia. Finally, I arrived at my seat, the very last aisle seat in the very last row of that Air New Zealand flight at what I swear was 10:01am on a flight scheduled for a 10:05am departure.

What I sat down to was 24 text messages from Katie, with a story all her own. That one needs supervision when it comes to booking travel. 

Three hours of New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, and Portlandia {I don’t really get it…} and I didn’t think much when the pilot informed us of high winds, from all directions. Actually, I just sighed internally at my hatred of wind and that wind mixed with cold was not something I was particularly looking forward to.

Flying doesn’t really make me nervous. So as the white-topped peaks of the Remarkables began peeking through the airplane windows, I wasn’t concerned as the plane jerked and bounced about. When the couple next to me started grabbing the seat backs in front of them, I started to consider my decision on whether or not to panic.

I looked out to relish the views of snow-capped mountains and the mineral-blue lake and instead saw the front of the aircraft {from the back row, remember} and decided it might be time to worry. Turbulence is something that you have to experience to understand; a mix of the standard back and forth shaking, dropping and a slight feeling of pressure loss and an all-around swerving of the plane pretty much sums it up.

When the time to destination on my TV screen changed from 12 minutes to 48 minutes, I knew we were heading to Christchurch. This would now be the second trip to Queenstown which started with myself and two mates stranded in Christchurch.

Christchurch, New Zealand

Arrival at ChCh airport was a hasty attempt at wifi connection and a hefty liquor purchase. Then we spent a few hours perched with other stranded passengers on the floors near the Air New Zealand service desk before being told that no more flights would land in Queenstown that day. We were instead offered a free hotel room and rescheduled flight.

Everyone becomes best mates in these situations, you’ve shared some kind of traumatic experience, you’re all in the same out of luck boat; there is no animosity to be found but rather an air of camaraderie. It was with this that we met Nick. Nick would become our best friend and confidant for the next twenty four hours.

In the end, we drove to Queenstown. Avoiding the risk of delayed flights and botched ski trips. That eight hour drive was laden with career guessing (from Nick), tune-sharing (yep, we rocked Beyonce all the way down the final hill to Queenstown #sorrynotsorry), and a lot of geologically enthusiastic chat (Kelie and Nick).

When we walked through the door at our Eagle’s Nest apartment, greeted by our already gathered crew of nine, it felt like worlds had been crossed.

Hey, when we said we’d see you on the other side of customs… that’s not really what we had in mind.