– FEBRUARY 19, 2015
We have arrived in New Zealand…but not without controversy.
Days earlier we had reserved a car online to use for our 40 days in New Zealand. I had received a message back from the website stating “this is not a confirmation. You will receive an official confirmation shortly.” No further messages came. Then we got off the plane in New Zealand and our credit card had a charge listed for the rental car…but because there was no official confirmation provided to us, we had no idea which specific rental car agency at the airport we were dealing with (Hertz, Thrifty, Budget, Avis, etc???). So we split our forces and Jill covered half of the car rental kiosks and I covered the other half…no dice at any of them. Oh yeah, none of them had any cars left either. Fun.
So then I suggested we go to the airport customer service kiosk and ask them to look up the same website for any kind of contact info. We found two 1-800 phone numbers, but nobody answered at either of them. Then I suggested we try the live agent chat feature, which had some guy on it from a call centre in India. This guy had my correct e-mail address, but he couldn’t figure out why we weren’t e-mailed a confirmation. Rather than just e-mail me the file we needed, he went back and forth trying to figure out why instead of correcting the situation and allowing Jill & I to move on with our day. Two hours later we finally found out the agreement was with Snap Rentals, who claim to be at the airport but instead are a 15 minute drive away from the airport. At least we finally got the contact info from Snap Rentals so we could move forward.
Snap Rentals then sent out their on-call manager to pick us up from the airport. He was a really nice guy and he spent another 90 minutes with us to make sure everything was correct with the website site order form from days earlier. He gave me a free sim-card for my phone and then he upgraded us from a 200,000+km Nissan Sentra (in really rough shape) to a new Toyota Passo as seen below.
Even better, take a look at the license plate of our rental which made us laugh after a trying half day.
So we then asked a few people how many days we should spend in Auckland…but all of them half-laughed to suggest this was a dumb question. We knew we had to move north from Auckland anyhow, so we decided to leave Auckland and move onward to the 4 hour drive to the north island Bay of Islands area.
I have to take a break from the serious stuff to show a picture I took on the road to Paihia (Bay of Islands) that made me laugh like an idiot. Mark Chenoweth will certainly appreciate the humor in this picture. Specifically read the sign then look at the ground around the base. I can’t make this stuff up…life can just be too damn funny.
Our specific destination was Paihia and we reached it around 5:30pm NZ time. We walked around the town streets and the beach, then settled into a hostel for the night which is half a block from the beach…and we are due for full sun and hot weather! Tomorrow will be an easy day of laying on the beach and generating trip cost spreadsheets to track every penny going forward. I have to spend some time wrapping them up so I can start tracking the receipts to ensure we stay on budget.
We will use Paihia as our base of operations in the Bay of Islands. Jill has plans for rock climbing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and sand boarding (think of snow boarding but on a sand dune instead of snow). My leg has healed enough that I am using the cane only half of the time, but it would be too early for me to participate in these type of activities. I want her to do it and I can be her cheerleader and picture taker, but she’s debating.
One thing we will do though is take the car on the ferry to Otehei Bay for an overnight camping trip on that island. The ferry has multiple departing times, so this is too attractive for only $20 round trip. This wasn’t on our pre-planning, so this is a great example of our schedule being very flexible for adding in new stuff that the locals strongly recommend.
More to come tomorrow while we soak up some sun, sand & surf!
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.