Within minutes of our arrival in this country, a lot of things went very wrong, which consequently ended up in us dishing out 280 Euros due to our ignorance and thoughtlessness. Half of that money was taken by the Authorities of Biosecurity from Heidi, the other half by Air New Zealand. It was definitely not what you call a good start!
Disaster number 1: we left Rarotonga on March 11th at 03:40 am and after a four hour flight, we arrived in Auckland. We had booked the onward flight to Christchurch for the same morning. What we did not realize was that by crossing the International Date Line, we lost a whole day and actually arrived on March 12th. Air New Zealand showed no mercy and made us pay again for our tickets Auckland – Christchurch!
Disaster number 2 was even more annoying. New Zealand Customs officials ask you to read and sign a card with a long list of products that cannot be brought into the country. We knew about that and had no food with us, but when they asked if we had been in a forest, we honestly ticked off “yes”.
So we had to line up with the suspicious people. Our walking shoes were scrubbed clean and the questioning began… “Did you bring any food?” – “Of course, not!” – “What about shells?” Heidi was so surprised that she admitted of having shells in her bag. We had to show them the shells and in that small plastic bag, the officers discovered some other forbidden stuff – little red beads, which they identified as seeds. Heidi had gathered those so-called “poor men’s peanuts” weeks ago in Rarotonga and did not even remember having them.
We were given THAT big speech of how these are not native plants to New Zealand and that New Zealand needs to protect this and that …To make the whole story short, Heidi had to pay 200 NZ Dollars for “unintentionally” not filling out the custom form correctly!
We told ourselves to put the story behind us and move on in a positive attitude, which proved not to be that easy…