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Current as of 26/10/16 01:19PM NZST

Flying from Auckland to Queenstown with Air New Zealand

By Shandelle Battersby

Shandelle Battersby flies Air New Zealand NZ643 from Auckland to Queenstown.
An Air New Zealand A320 at Queenstown Airport. Photo / Aero Icarus
An Air New Zealand A320 at Queenstown Airport. Photo / Aero Icarus

The plane: An Airbus A320.

My seat: 19A, a window seat on the left side, which is the best place to sit when flying into Queenstown, thanks to the great views of the Southern Alps and Kawerau Gorge. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover on this flight, so there wasn't a lot to see until we got really close to Queenstown. Underneath those clouds, the Remarkables were brown and dry, with not a skerrick of snow. They were, of course, still a spectacular sight.

How full: About half, on a wet Sunday morning. I had the row of three to myself.

Fellow passengers: A real mixed bag, mostly tourists though, many of them North American. Three of the four cabin crew were young men.

Flight time: Normally 1hr 50m.

On time: We actually pushed back a few minutes early and were scheduled to land 10 minutes ahead of time when pesky crosswinds struck. As we were about to touch down, the plane suddenly accelerated, soaring skywards again, southwards over Lake Wakatipu, then banking north towards Arrowtown. We tried twice more with the same result before the captain announced we were going to change our approach to come in to the runway from the southern end of the lake. It proved fourth time lucky, though the landing was less of a glide and more of a jolt. "There's no doubt we've definitely landed in Queenstown," the cheeky cabin crewman said, as everyone gave the pilot a clap. Despite the three "go-arounds" we were only about 20 minutes behind schedule, and I was relieved we didn't have to divert to Invercargill or Christchurch. Diversions happen to only about 2 per cent of scheduled landings over a year, so that would have be a particularly unlucky outcome.

Plus for four landing attempts: Three free scenic flights over Queenstown. People pay good money for that sort of carry-on.

Minus for four landing attempts: The turbulence that inevitably comes with crosswinds. I was definitely feeling a bit crook when we eventually touched down. At ground level there was surprisingly little wind.

Food and drink: Hot drinks and water, and a Cookie Time biscuit or small packet of rice snacks.

Entertainment: BYO - I've seen those quiz questions so many times that it's no longer any fun and the safety videos wear thin very quickly.

Would I fly this again: With a choice of two domestic airlines flying into my favourite place in New Zealand, it's inevitable.

- NZ Herald

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