Do you hear the people sing?

28 January 1994 Air New Zealand 8453 Napier/Hastings to Wellington

There's not too much to say about my flying since I actually took up residence in New Zealand. Although my job description suggests the opportunity of travel throughout New Zealand, this hasn't actually happened yet. Travel throughout the North Island such as I have undertaken has all been by road, most of it to a site just nine kilometres from home.

However, it was our decision, just before the birth of our third child, to take a short trip to Wellington for the New Zealand premiere season of Les Miserables. This musical had changed our lives when we saw it in Washington DC, and it seemed that we might not have the opportunity to see it again for a long time. That opportunity had now arrived. Although my two children, by now aged four and a half and two and a half, loved the videotape about Les Miserables, we didn't think that they would yet be able to sit through the whole show. So it was that we decided to take a short trip to Wellington, flying out on Friday night and returning on Saturday at lunchtime.

Our children were going to stay overnight at a friend's house. We went to the airport and a few minutes later were aboard a Saab 340 on our way to Wellington, the nation's capital. It was a beautiful afternoon as we touched down in Wellington, and I think my impressions of Wellington will always be positive simply because my first impressions were too. As we are often told, especially on management training courses, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

On arrival in Wellington, it was clear that where we got off was not where we got on, as we saw escalators, vending machines, bright lights and all that seems lacking from Hawkes Bay.

Our taxi took us downtown via the waterfront, where we saw the fountain playing in the harbour, before arriving at the Parkroyal Hotel, one of the finest at which I have ever stayed. A colleague of mine, shortly to take up a new position in Wellington, has stayed there too, and says it is the finest he has ever known.

After dinner at the restaurant, our complimentary bus took us to see Les Miserables. For the first few minutes only, in my opinion, the show was very amateur in appearance, but by the third song had shaken off this criticism. The show was extremely fine. I was better able to follow it this time, and a few details finally fitted into place as the story unfolded.

With ice-cream from the shop next door during the interval and a bus ride back to the hotel afterwards, it was truly a night to remember, but a late one too.

29 January 1994 Air New Zealand 8454 Wellington to Napier/Hastings

The party was all too soon over. We went back to the airport soon after breakfast and spent a few dollars there while we waited. A light snack served at our seats on the aeroplane took up some of the short journey back to Napier, where we were met by our children and our friends. We had our shirts, our mugs, our programmes and our memories.

Maybe the travel with the company would happen: maybe not, but so far the year ran to a mere four hundred miles or so.

As it turned out, travel on business with the company was very limited: all the journeys have been by car and none of them more than two hours away. Internal air travel within New Zealand is as expensive as anywhere else, so that I haven't taken to the skies domestically except in connection with international flights for a while now.

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