The journey to new Zealand ended up taking as along as the Inca Trail, and by the time we arrived we probably looked and smelt like we'd just completed another Inca Trail too. The reason for this is that we were really enjoying Arequipa in Peru and didn't want to leave there, so decided to take a cheap flight from Arequipa airport to Lima rather than the 24hr bus, in order to make our connecting flight from Lima to Chile. We looked into flying direct from Arequipa to Santiago, but the cost was astronomical. Therefore, we left Arequipa on Wednesday lunchtime, landed in Lima an hour later, then waited a few hours at Lima before boarding the flight to Santiago, then we had 16 hours in Chile before we could catch our flight to Auckland, which took 14 hours.
When we arrived at Chile at 6am we were all set to get washed and changed in the airport toilets and spend the day exploring Santiago. Unfortunately the staff at LAN airlines had other ideas....I went into the toilets at Santiago as I was feeling a tad rough, leaving Liam to collect our bags from the carousel. When I emerged about 10 minutes later and half a stone lighter, he was standing at the deserted carousel as it went round and round with no sign of our poor battered rucksacks.
It seems the bags had been checked in as a connecting flight only, meaning that they were all set to go to Auckland and were being held until the flight so we couldn't get them, which wouldn't have been too much of a problem had it not been for the fact that we'd now been in transit for alomst 24hrs in intense heat and were beginning to beef up somewhat.
Our relaxed sightseeing day of Chile then became a sweaty slog of stomping around the city of Santiago in 30 degree heat feeling hot and in danger of becoming a health hazard for our fellow passengers innocently bound for Auckland who would have to sit next to us that evening.
Considering Chile is the one of the wealthiest countries of south America there wasn't a great deal of fun to be had and the buildings and sights were less impressive than many others we'd seen in poorer areas of the continent. We bumped into a couple we'd met a few months earlier in Brazil and had a chat - it's funny how many fellow travellers you keep bumping into again as you work your way from country to country - then went for some lunch and a well-earned ice-cold beer.
One benefit of our early check-in was that we got to choose emergency-exit seats with tons of legroom. Finally boarding our plane to New Zealand at 11.30 that night we already felt absolutely exhausted as we'd not been to bed at all the previous night, and were consequently both out cold even before take-off. The flight was relatively enjoyable (afetr all these 24hr bus journeys the 14hr flight was a breeze), and we finally touched down at Auckland airport at 6am on Saturday morning, a whole 3 days after we'd left Arequipa!!