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Across the Pacific

Written on: Saturday April 5th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Author: Julie


We've arrived in a new continent. After a 20 hour flight with a layover in Buenos Aires, we arrived in New Zealand. It was 5:30 AM local time when our flight touched down at Auckland International airport, so we spent a couple of hours in the airport terminal before heading to our hostel. We knew the room wasn't yet available and we wanted to take advantage of the plethora of information at our disposal. It was like we had hit the jackpot. A large information desk was waiting for us with thousands of pamphlets, booklets, and leaflets describing the many wonders to be discovered in New Zealand. After travelling in South America where the travel industry was still hadn't reached its maturity this was information overload. I had a 30cm stack of travel brochures collected within a hour. Where to start first?

We also experienced our first budgetary shock when we inquired at the desk about the cost of a taxi into center town. We had a foreboding it was going to be expensive after having perused hostel booking sites a few days earlier and not being able to find a private room (with shared bath) for any less than 60$ a night, but we still weren't ready for a quote of 50$ for the ride. Luckily, they also had shuttle buses that ran every 15 minutes at a cost of 15$ NZD per person. That was a much better cost, but when compared to South America we would have a major adjustment to make mentally. The ride into town seemed to pass quickly and soon we were dropped off at the X Base hostel on ? street. We realised that we were truly in a first world country when we saw the groovy, trendy interior with a dedicated TV room, internet room, each floor like a hotel with plush carpeting, quiet self-closing doors, a self-use laundry room, swipe card key entry, and a shared bathroom with 12 showers, 6 toilets, and 6 sinks to be used by the floor residents. At the top the building was a large fully stocked kitchen offering a great view of the cityscape. We had multiple sinks, stove tops and fridges, as well a large storage shelf where we could keep our food. Our room itself was small with a bunk bed and a couple of settee seats but it was better than staying in a 6 bed dorm, especially with our jet lag that had us awake in the middle of the night.

Our plan was to either buy or rent a campervan and travelling around the North and South Island for two months. It was now the beginning of Autumn and the market for buying a used campervan was definitely a buyers market with dozens of them being sold. We looked at a couple, which were converted mini-vans with the back seats pulled out and double-sized mattress installed. Under the mattress were storage shelves with all the cook-ware, blankets, sheets, etc. In the back were a small stove burner, a large water container, and an icebox for the perishable food. My first impression was that it would be a claustrophobic existence for the next 60 days. We also inquired at a few campervan rental places with a broad range of campervans available. Everything for a spruced up version of what was already being sold by backpackers to large motorhomes accommodating 6 people comfortably. We crunched the numbers based on cost of buying, chances of selling in the middle of winter (low season), potential profit, and the cost of living during the period we would be waiting to sell. We also factored in the rising cost of gas and the diesel tax which the NZ government charges for every 1000km (3.70$). Strangely it is not charged at the pump like at home. The numbers weren't looking good, in mid-winter it would be almost impossible to find a buyer and adding in the cost of insuring (180$ for 3 months), inspection and plating the van it proved evident that renting would be a wiser choice, especially with the option of renting a diesel engine campervan. We heard stories of people actually leaving their campervan behind when they couldn't sell, or letting a broker sell it for them at auction and not getting any money back. We couldn't be bothered with the hassle owning would incur and weren't willing to take the risk of losing money. We finally settled on a Jucy hitop campervan with a double-burner stove, built-in fridge, sink and all the cookware and linens included, best of all it came with a diesel engine that provided us with significant savings in the long run. Once the papers were signed, we settled down with our road maps, booklets and brochures and began mapping our intended destination over the next few weeks.