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Wicked experience

March 12th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 12-New Zealand - (5 Comments)

We shopped around the many campervan hire shops in Auckland to find the best deal four our 5–week tour.  We were expecting NZ to be somewhat cheaper than Oz but it wasn’t to be and ended up picking a smaller but cooler van from Wicked, a company famed for their expletive spray paints.

Having seen hundreds of wicked vans in Oz, most of which were shit heaps, we were cautious and wanted to see the van before we handed over our hard earned cash.  Wicked wanted us to pay a $200 deposit over the phone to reserve one, but if we weren’t satisfied upon collection we would loose our deposit – yea right!.  They were closed on the Saturday and Sunday so we took a chance and headed out of town to their depot with our rucksacks in the hope that they would have one ready for the off.

They hadn’t but we only had to wait a few hours for one or two to be returned and would get the opportunity to choose.  When you book over the phone one is reserved and that’s yours, like it or lump it!  The first one returned was Elvis, wow, this is cool and not too outrageous like ‘Farmer Sutra’ we seen which had a farmer performing a number sexual acts with sheep in all sorts of positions – cool but not for us…

We are delighted and think we’re rather cool driving around in our Wicked camper, it’s comfortable and a pleasure to drive and as for Elvis, well, say no more. All vans come with some slogan on the back, ours reads ‘The cost of living hasn’t affected its popularity’, boring but somewhat true.  We will make a point of adding some pictures of other Wicked vans en route.

No doubt you’ll be sick of seeing pictures of Elvis over the next few weeks so we’ll just add these few for now.

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The City of Sails

March 11th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 12-New Zealand - (0 Comments)

We arrived in Auckland, The City of Sails, pleasantly surprised by its sheer size, cultural diversity and welcoming attitude. We didn’t tour much as as we would have liked as we had some special shopping and socialising to catch up on.

We stayed in Auckland City Base (ACB) an impressive 523 bed hostel. A backpacker heaven it had everything under one roof like a bar, nightclub, internet cafe etc.  The most impressive were its two free cinema rooms which had movies playing back-to-back 24 hours a day, so when we were feeling a little groggy after a nights socialising we’d hide in there for a few hours.

At night we soaked up the atmosphere in the city’s Irish bars, there’s a hell of a lot of Irish in Auckland.  Our time was primarily taken up touring the jewelry shops for an engagement ring.  We did find one but when we went to pay the funds we had transferred from our savings account (to compensate for our SA flights) hadn’t cleared so we had them send it to their Wellington branch so that we can collect it en route. Pictures of the rock will follow in a week or so .

Apologies for the crap photographs, these are the only ones we took while in the city.  The most impressive building was Sky Tower, at 328m it’s the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.  Don’t ask what the whole suitcase thing is about, some passenger stuck on the Aurora cruiser which had been docked for days for repairs was killing time trying to train pigeons to walk the maze – what it that all about?  After a brief conversation with him we knew he wasn’t the full ticket.  We felt sorry for the porter who had to to cart these suitcases to and from the cruiser.

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A slight oversight

March 11th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 12-New Zealand - (2 Comments)

Fully prepared with plenty time and really looking forward to our new adventure in New Zealand, or so we thought…

Arrrrrrr…

When we arrived at the check-in desk in Sydney Airport to catch our Pacific Blue flight to Auckland, the check-in assistant asked to see a hardcopy of our NZ outward bound tickets.  What?  She said, “you need to have an entry and outward bound ticket before you can enter the country”. Bollocks, shit!

I had checked (or glanced) the entry requirements via the web and had clearly missed or overlooked this requirement and had only booked a one-way ticket.  Explaining that we were on a world tour and had no definitive plans, as yet, of our next destination did not persuade her to let us through.

To cut a long story short, we had 20 minutes to find an internet cafe, book an outward bound ticket  and produce evidence in hardcopy before the check-in desk closed.  There were a few expletives exchanged between the two of us under the pressure. Finding an internet cafe was easy but one with a printer not so. 

Booking a flight to Fiji or the Cook Islands was not good enough as we would have to return to NZ to catch a flight to South America, put simply, they would only accept a flight to SA.  This put us under serious pressure knowing the most expensive flight on our trip would be from NZ to SA and having to book this ‘on the fly’ was a bit of a kick in the teeth. 

Galloping around the airport with our rucksacks on was no mean feat but we managed to find a cafe, book a flight, get it printed and back to the check-in desk with minutes to spare.  We ended up paying over $2,000 but were allowed to board. 

When we got to passport control in Auckland Airport, Sam had somehow mislaid the hardcopy evidence of our flight to SA, so we were hauled into the interview room like criminals.  These guys are hardened officers and my lighthearted jokes didn’t go down too well. Thankfully, they allowed us to use their computers and print off our confirmation email.  After an hour or so of paperwork we were let loose.  To be honest, we can’t blame them for being so strict having passed the dodgy characters in the interview queue.  Once the officer looked at our tickets he strongly advised that we change airlines if we wanted to ‘land safely’ in SA. 

So when we arrived at our hostel in the city it was down to business and we managed to cancel the tickets but spent a full day doing so.  Now we have to research flights to either Fiji or the Cook Islands and then onto SA, yet another few days on the web – life can be hard at times!