Picking up where we left off from yesterday, the day ended while were flying from Bangkok to Auckland. This flight was long but quite uneventful, which is about the most you can ask for when flying a quarter of the way around the world. Once in Auckland, we had to get stamped into the country before switching from the international to the domestic terminal for our flight to Christchurch, which is an entirely different building a short walk or bus ride away. We even had to get our bags and re-check them in. That part was really not exciting for our zombie family! Thankfully the kids were in good spirits, especially Hannah who got close to 7 hours of sleep on the plane.
As we walked through Auckland airport, a lady at the duty free shop asked us if we were interested in getting a Vodafone SIM card. We knew that we had to call the motorhome depot (Wendekreisen) once we arrive in Christchurch, and what she was offering seemed reasonable. We said yes and in a matter of minutes we were all set! No lines, no passport required, and almost no paperwork to fill out. It was far and away the EASIEST SIM card purchase during this entire trip! Thanks Vodafone / New Zealand! :)
The flight from Auckland to Christchurch was with Air New Zealand, and was only 1 hour long with incredible views! It was a bit of a bumpy ride because of the winds and the plane being quite small in size.
My favorite part of the flight was the Lord of the Rings safety video! They have Frodo and Sir Peter Jackson telling you about how to fasten your seatbelt and what you need to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. It was definitely very entertaining! :)
Alas, after 3 flights, nearly 15 hours of flying, and around 7 hours of layovers combined, we arrived in the South Island of NZ!
We booked the motorhome for our adventures around the South Island through vroomvroomvroom.com for an amazing deal. They work with a lot of different vendors and provide you with a nice list of comparisons in prices and features. We tried a few other camper van rental sites and vroom vroom vroom not only had the best website design but more importantly gave the best prices. They are also a super friendly company and now even follow our blog, so shout out to them :)
Once at the Christchurch airport, we gave the motorhome depot a call so they could come pick us up. We were told that we can just take a taxi from there to the depot and they would take care of the fare.
Easy Peasy, as we did not have to wait around. The taxi fare was our first shock of prices out of Southeast Asia! The ride was about 7 km, took like 5 minutes, and the fare was $30!! What!!!!! That would have been like $2 in Hanoi and $4 in Chiang Mai! Thankfully that bit was not paid out of our pockets, but our eyes widened anyways as if we had never lived outside of Southeast Asia before!
At the Wendekreisen depot, a very nice lady explained everything to us. To be totally honest in our sleep and food deprived state it was really hard to listen to her and understand everything she was saying. We tried our hardest though! The entire process did not take long at all and it was all very smooth.
With all the paperworks sorted out and both kids in car seats, we drove out of the lot. Our new ride? A 4 berth, 6 meter long, 3 meter tall, manual transmission motorhome (full details here), where once again we had to drive on the "wrong" side of the road! Goodness gosh! There are really a lot of countries that drive on the left!! Thank goodness for all the practice in the past 6 months we have had with both stick shift and driving on the left! But that still didn't completely prepare us for this massive vehicle we would be both driving and living in for the next two weeks!
First stop, a shopping center with a grocery store where we could load up our fridge and our "pantry"! We were excited to walk into a proper mall, but our excitement lasted maybe 5 minutes! We realized that the malls closing time was 6 PM. Huh?! Apparently in NZ, malls and shops actually close that early. We were too starved to shop for groceries first, so we just got a quick bite to eat and then had to walk out of the now closed mall and all the way around to the other entrance of the grocery store.
Thankfully the grocery store was not going to close at 6! We picked up a few items, keeping the size of our tiny fridge and cabinets in mind, and headed back to our Wendekreisen!
While we were in Thailand, we had used the Rankers website to roughly map out where we were going to stay each night. First destination, Coes Ford, a free camp site with no real facilities just a bit south of Christchurch.
We found the place very easily! Everything is marked so well in New Zealand for campers, it really is quite impressive. We pulled onto a grassy area away from the other few campers and started to settle in, but only enough to freshen up a little bit and head straight to bed! Well, once we converted the rear seats into beds for the kids and setup our own bed in the loft above the drivers seat.
Gosh, what a loooooong day!! I think we were all asleep before our heads even touched the pillow!!