Invictus Games

Invictus Games: From Whenuapai to Toronto Only 30 Hours of Travelling

Coach Ray, Aaron (Assistant Manager), Phil (Head Coach) and Nicki after being asked if we were the All Blacks

Nicki:   Somehow I managed to lose my wallet between getting off the Air New Zealand plane and trying to get through passport control. Yeah-nah, those ‘fast’ passport scanning machines don’t work and we all had to line up anyway, lol.

The rest of the day was spent in ‘hurry up and wait’ mode and having a bit of a stress over my lost wallet.   I am sure I am going to give myself a ulcer before this trip is over lol.

It can only get better.

Jules:   As we took off on our flight, the last of my concerns that I wouldn’t get to the Games, left.

We all settled in and Air New Zealand staff made sure that we got enough room in any spare seats. We were lucky the flight wasn’t full and I know the taller team members appreciated extra leg room. As the meal was served I started to relax. We were really going.

The long haul flights are hard on the body and we were always going to struggle more than most due to having been ill, wounded or injured. I’ve flown long haul a bit and it is human nature to grizzle when uncomfortable or overtired. It can even cause “incidents” on aircraft and at airports, but not for this team. Even when customs took a long time, gear was lost, and tired people struggled to get to the right terminal, we all still met our connecting flight to Canada and STILL as a team.

We all know life is such a rollercoaster made up of positives and negatives.

I was feeling very nauseous on the plane, especially after landing. While standing in the security scanner, and when it moved very fast (and I wasn’t expecting it), I almost vomited on the glass window. Quite a low point for the day. I didn’t think they would be amused either.

Reading a text from my husband telling me how proud he is of me, brought unexpected tears to my eyes. Very much a high point for the day though and will be a lasting memory. So will the fact that in the space of an hour I had almost disgraced myself twice in the Houston Airport.

I don’t travel well (and who of us does?), but in the worst moments today I tried to concentrate on the positives. I hope to continue to do this during our time in Toronto and for the future and be better able to withstand life’s rollercoaster when it hits an unexpected turn.

We are one of the first teams to arrive in Toronto due to some clever planning of our management team. Tomorrow we have some time to relax and even get some retail therapy. I am very much looking forward to lying down to sleep.  Nearly there.

Coach Ray:  Well we’ve all made it. With the fuel crisis in Auckland and a number of glitches along the way (not the least Nicki misplacing her wallet).

We spent the morning in New Zealand packing and repacking our bags (and sharing stuff around so our bags would be under weight.   The vehicles were loaded up at 10am and we waited around for the mess to open at 11:30.

After a qwik bite to eat we departed for the airport just on midday. We were departing Auckland at the same time as the Auckland Aces cricket team. With the international terminal being upgraded we were expecting a bit of a wait, but in the end we passed through customs relatively smoothly.

Yet another wait and eventually we got onto the plane. After a qwik bite of dinner, I curled up and got some shut eye. Dozing for the first hour and then got a good sleep for an hour before I was woken briefly. I then got a solid 4-5 hours and before I knew it, it was 7am Toronto time, so I got up and walked around the cabin a bit and did some stretching.  Then I sat down and watched some movies and read my books, keeping myself awake during normal day time (in Canada) to assist with minimising jet lag. Thanks to Air New Zealand stewarding staff that looked after us and also gave us a shout out over the PA system.

I enjoyed looking out over Mexico and even spotted the Rio Grande as we crossed into Texas. Shortly afterwards we landed in Texas. This was a long, unnecessary process as whilst we were only in transit we still had to pass through immigration, get our bags and then head back through security. Far too much time was spent waiting in queues.

Out on the other side though, the team looked sharp in our uniform. A few locals approached us enquiring if we were the All Blacks, even when they found out we weren’t they still wanted their photos taken with us. A Kiwi came and said Kia Ora and an ex-Canadian soldier also thanked us for our service (he knew all about the Invictus).

Our time in Houston was over way too qwikly (but it would have been qwiker if they didn’t move us to a later flight – if we could have gotten through security to get to the flight). We boarded our Toronto bound flight and had pretty much half the plane to ourselves.

On arrival into Toronto it was nearing midnight and once the baggage carousel got un-jammed our bags all came out and we passed smoothly through all the immigration checks far more easier than in the US.

Invictus Games had a team of volunteers there to meet us. They looked after our gear and were super friendly in the Canadian way. The got us loaded on the bus efficiently (including our wheel chair guys) and off to the hotel promptly.

The welcome at the hotel was pretty sweet.  They had our rooms all sorted and keys were qwikly handed out so we could go and shower.  Once again we had a crew of volunteers here to meet and greet us. The New Zealand flag was outside between the Canadian and the Invictus flag. We all got given an Invictus cookie and I’m going to keep my room key as a souvenir. A qwik shower and it’s off to bed for a good sleep.

Read more about about Invictus Games through our daily updates at 7pm NZ time.

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