Sean Gillespie flies Air New Zealand flight NZ8172, from Gisborne to Auckland.

The plane:

A de Havilland Dash-8/Bombardier Q300. The last de Havilland I'd seen was the wreckage of a 1955 crash high up in the Tararua Ranges. Ominous. I kept my seatbelt on.

Class: Being a domestic New Zealand flight it was relatively egalitarian. Except of course I'm not a Koru Club member with "status" so my seat options were toward back of plane.

It was, however, classier than a bus and kinder to my stomach. Any direction you drive from Gisborne involves roller-coaster roads.


Price: $309. Gulp.

Flight time: 1 hour five minutes.

My seat: Lucky 13A - window seat at very back. Despite having flown more miles than it'd take to travel to the moon, I never get bored of the view. A plane's back row lends itself well to photography - no wing in the way and usually no neighbouring passenger politely tolerating your movements as you line up your next shot.

Fellow passengers: Well-to-do locals and a handful of rocket scientists on way back from their Mahia Peninsula launch pad.

How full: If it was a glass of beer there was no risk of spillage, but it was full enough I wouldn't have asked the bartender to top up.

Entertainment: Didn't notice. I was engrossed with the misty, moody Te Urewera out the window.

The service: Flight attendant said my name in a way suggesting she'd sized me up as a problem passenger. She then bribed me with extra cookies. I love Air New Zealand cookies. I was very happy. And well behaved.

Food and drink: Mmm, cookies.

The toilets: Other than in an emergency, does anyone use the toilet on a domestic flight?

Luggage: Available for pick up quickly.

The airport experience: Pleasantly provincial - easy to access, friendly, and down to earth.

The bottomline: Excellent views including Poverty Bay, Te Urewera, Tauranga and Awhitu Peninsula.