For whatever reason (that reason possibly being that it’s a ridiculous thing to do), I didn’t have to go through immigration at the Sydney airport. This meant no conversation with immigration officers about my lack of proper documentation and no heading back to the US with my tail between my legs.
However, I did have to go through customs. This made no sense to me, but I had to throw out my green tea flavored mints because they are technically considered food. And at that point, I was willing to consider them food since I had no other source of calories.
I ended up going to a desk labeled “International Transfers” in the airport and asking for a flight to Auckland. And they gave me a boarding pass, no questions asked.
I wasted a few hours in the Sydney airport, annoyed that the only thing I could do was sit. Finally, I boarded my Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. Air New Zealand is really nice. So nice, in fact, that they gave me a free meal to compensate me for my missed flight. I was beyond ravenous at that point, and I almost cried when they handed me the meal. Never has food been so delicious.
My brother had told me to stay in the Auckland airport until he returned from his day trip to Rotorua. So, when I landed in Auckland, I had several hours to kill, waiting for him. So, I went about immigration and customs very leisurely. I waited patiently for my backpack to show up on the conveyor belt. And waited. Eventually, it became clear that even if I sat there all day, my bag wasn’t going to show up.
The people at the lost luggage counter for Air New Zealand were extremely friendly. I explained that my bag hadn’t come and one of the guys at the counter told me he’d track it for me and asked for the baggage tag.
“So you came in from San Francisco?” he asked me.
“No, actually, I didn’t get on any of the flights on that tag,” I explained to him.
“Well, I’ll try to find out where it is. What happened?” he asked. I told him the story of the delayed flight and the re-routing and missing the flight.
“Well, no wonder your bag didn’t show up. It’s sitting on the tarmac in San Francisco,” he said.
“That’s useful,” I laughed.
“It’ll get here with tomorrow’s flight,” he said. “It will take a couple hours for it to clear customs, but it should be ready to pick up by early afternoon.”
“I’m actually flying out to the South Island tomorrow,” I told him. “What happens if it doesn’t get here before I leave?”
“We can send it down to the South Island to wherever you’re staying,” he told me.
“Well, I was actually planning to go backpacking,” I said smiling. “I suppose I’ll have to change my plans if I don’t have a backpack.”
He shook his head in amusement. “It’s been the holiday from hell for you, hasn’t it?” he said.
“Actually, I’m pretty happy to be anywhere but work right now,” I told him. It was true too. “It’s all part of the adventure.”
Although it was irritating to have to continue to live in my traveling clothes (this was the one time I failed to obsessively pack a change of clothes in my little carry-on bag), I was quite happy to be in New Zealand. Plus, to make up for any travel-related mishaps, the rest of the trip was amazing!