(September 24, 2012) Christchurch
We should start early this day as our target is reaching
Christchurch as soon as possible. We must deliver the motorhomes and be
ready for our return flight, which takes off from this city airport at
In our way we could stop around Ashburton, where we can find another
landscape from “The Lord of the rings” trilogy: Rohan. We could locate
Mount Sunday, where city of Edoras, the kingdom capital, was built.
Once all the duties in Christchurch are done, we could spend the spare
time walking around the beautiful city center until the time of taking
a short flight to Auckland which will link with the one to Hong Kong.
This route is 260 Km long, which should be covered
in 3 hours and 20 minutes
Today is our last day on
this incredible country and we’re just besides the airport where our 8
PM flight leaves from, therefore, we are in no rush. We take our time
for breakfast and motorhome tasks before delivery: packing, cleaning,
emptying of toilet and waste water tanks, filling clean water tank,…
Our baggage is ready and just the remains to fill the fuel tank, which
we’ll do in our way to Apollo office as we’ve seen a sign with the
yellow Z from the gas station we’ve used so much along these last two
weeks, so must be one there.
Once ready, we have a lot of time which we want to
spend exploring Christchurch. Our idea is going to the city all
together in the smaller campervan and we go to there following the
“City Centre” signs. Our target is finding an area with live for, in
one hand, shopping and, in the other hand, finding a BNZ office in
order of cancelling our account before leaving the country. The
contract states there is a 5$ charge per month and we don’t want to
accumulate a big debt in New Zealand with the years.
Somehow, we cannot find the city center and, once
the signs are not appearing anymore, we keep driving randomly through
the streets of what seems to be a periphery area as the buildings are
quite ramshackle. I’m looking in a parking building which seems to
stand miraculously, as the lower floors are basically ruined. That
reminds me the earthquake happened on this city last year. As it was
one year and a half ago I was not thinking about that as the cause of
this buildings status but then a street opens at our left and we can
identify the cone shaped sculpture I know as part of the cathedral
Square and, just for a few seconds as we cannot stop, we can see the
remains of the cathedral too. We feel like in the “Planet of the apes”:
we already were in the city center all the time. It is sad: city center
is destroyed and we’re driving through the ground zero from a natural
disaster, which doesn’t seem to have changed a lot on this last year
and a half.
This breaks our plans: it seems there is nothing
to be visited here, so we ask about a shopping area to some persons in
the street. All of them point to somewhere called “Westfield” and we
follow the indications to reach it.
We park in an area similar to the cities we’ve
been driving across during these last weeks with one floor buildings.
It seems the damage from the earthquake were concentrated in the center
as there are no tracks from the disaster on the rest of the city.
Just at the left side of the entrance to the
shopping mall there is a BNZ office with free computers connected to
internet. I join the row and complete the procedures to account
cancellation. Then I explore some shops and meet the group. It wasn’t
what we were looking for as these stores are not here for tourists but
for citizens, so any missing souvenir must be got in the airport this
When coming back to the Holyday Park I can see a
BP gas station with the lowest price for diesel in the whole travel:
1.559S per liter. Once in our motorhome places the next steps are
clear: we bring our baggage to the Holyday Park office, book the
transfer to the airport to 6:40 PM and take our vehicles for our last
ride to gas station and Apollo office. Somehow, although the gas
station sign is here we cannot find the station itself anywhere, so we
go to the BP one we saw before.
Now we’re ready and drive directly to Apollo
office, besides the Holyday Park. At the map below you can see the
0- North South Holyday Park
1- Apollo office
2- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
3- International airport
In Apollo, they mustn’t be used to be delivered
three motorhomes at a time as we can barely park them here. A girl
comes and checks all of them with this conclusion: the smaller has
nothing, one has the back turning light broken and the other the
scratch at the top from Homer’s tunnel.
We’re seated in the table and showed the contract
from Cheapa Campa, which is the one we signed, for pointing the part is
stated we must pay 70$ as administration fee by accident report. As
they don’t accept cash, it is taken from the deposit because of the
turning light. With this, the first two motorhomes are done. The one
with the scrap is the last one to close and we’re going to find out why.
They’re pointing to the part of the contract
explaining the insurance exclusions to makes us see the scratch at the
top is not covered. I was already read the contract and state I knew
the roof was not covered, but it is in one side. Somehow, as the word
is “overhead” they show us a picture of the motorhome with the not
covered area marked. All this is a preliminary to prepare us for what
is coming: they’re claiming 2500$ by this damage. We just shock.
Our first reaction is answering we don’t
amount of money and the they state how serious is this as it is a legal
issue and they’re pushing us to use the cards of all the people of the
group until reaching that amount. We stop them here as they don’t have
any right to involve third persons here. The literally say we’re not
going to exit by the doors until paying and we seem to get a dead end
as they leave us alone to let us think. I’m grateful we have no
pressure about the flight time as it seems we’re going to spend a lot
of time here.
When the woman come back we try to strike back in
some way: as everything is based on the specified in the contract we
accept the area of the scratch is not covered by the insurance but we
put forward such amount of money is not appearing anywhere in the
contract and that’s the reason we’re not ready for paying it. We’re
offered to call to anybody in Spain, whether family or bank, to help in
getting the money but, although she is living in a country everything
is closed beyond 5 PM, she cannot understand we cannot do anything it
is 3 AM in our country and we can do nothing.
They finally take our point about disagreeing on
fixing such scratch in a fiberglass surface could be so expensive and
tell us they’ve called their accident unit people and they’ve valued
the repair: our debt goes down to 1500$.
We will still be in the office more time with no
step beyond this point until accepting the charge to the credit card.
Then we’re offered transfer to the airport, but we refuse it because we
don’t need it and we’re angry with them. We still wonder how far we
could – and them – have gone.
Some days later, when we were already at home, I could check
were right: the contract sent to us states the damage in the roof are
excluded and doesn't appear the word "overhead" there, as I remembered.
You can check this at page 5 of the document of the picture, just by
clicking it. So, be aware, if you rent with this people, take all the
info and contracts with you or you can be charged a big amount just
because you cannot find your defence.
We’re back to Holyday Park
after a short walk still feeling bad because of the experience we’ve
just got and that makes us to refuse a taxi ride to Willowbank when
we’re told it’s 30$ for it. So 5 of us walk along the road to there
recalling the words of the girl at desk yesterday, who said it was at
walking distance. When doubts are coming to us about what we’re doing,
a picture with zoom to a far sign gives us the information we need to
We must be the first visitors arriving to here by
walking. The kind girl at desk take the 25$ per person of the admission
fee with no ticket in return, but a map of the place, and we get into
what seems to be a big garden ready to enjoying the only visit of the
We soon realize this is not a zoo and is something
different than what we’re used to in terms of animals watching places.
There is a closed itinerary which starts and ends in the building with
the desk, gift shop and coffee shop. On this track you can watch some
animals in jails, another behind fences and get into the area where
some others are living and, in all cases, you’re free to interact with
This is the way we pass through different sort of
one ostrich, deer… Lemurs, monkeys and gibbons are showed like in a zoo
but some other animals like the funny and unknown – by us – wallabies
are not. We just discover these Australian animals as a sort of little
kangaroos and we’re happy we can interact directly with them. They have
a strange behavior, like if all of them were connected and move as
being part of a game by turns: all of them are quiet and, at a specific
moment, all of them move to different places to stop after a few
seconds all at a time. It’s funny.
A part of this itinerary goes through a farm with the animals we’ve
seen on the roadsides’ areas and some other new ones.
Then we get into the New Zealand’s native animals, which is the one we
really have come to see, as we want to see the ones we’ve missed around
our trip. Almost all of them are birds, and we can see the falcons we
already could see from our vehicles several times, the keas and wekas,
but we can be in front of some other we’ve missed because they’re rare
and hard to see, as Tautara, the only living dinosaur and in a special
hut set as a nocturnal forest, of course, the kiwi.
We’re surprised because, after seeing the image a lot of times around
the country as New Zealand’s icon, we have our own idea about them:
they’re bigger than expected. We find one very close to the track,
making a peculiar and repeated noise with the beck hitting the ground.
Then, it goes up to where its forest ends with a wall and starts to
run, one time after another, left to right and right to left, with no
stop. The other kiwi we can see in here is doing the same. What a waste
of energy! I hope it is a symptom because the captivity because,
otherwise, It’s not strange they’re in danger of extinction. Energy is
very precious in nature.
We’ve liked a lot this
visit and, as the coming way by walking has been quite hard, we ask for
a taxi for return. Price is the same: 30$.
It’s some minutes before 6 PM when we meet all together again in
the Holyday Park and, as everything is done now, we agree on asking
about the chances about going to the airport as soon as possible
instead of waiting still one more hour. There is no problem and we’re
at airport at once taking off our passports again after two weeks
We’re not exactly at weigh with some bags,
but we can check in directly to Hong Kong with no issues. As we have
time here, we spread ourselves between the different shops to the final
souvenirs, as all of us have kiwi dollars to spend before leaving the
Then we board to a short flight to Auckland - no screens here – and,
once there, we surprisingly need to leave this terminal to the street
for taking a bus to the other terminal. The one we know from the first
day here. We manage to do all this changes because of our decision of
following the Chinese passengers from our flight, assuming they are
going to Hong Kong too.
In our wait to this flight
we find more shops and our last minutes in New Zealand. When boarding
in the big plane to Hong Kong, we realize it is an older model than the
ones when coming: there is no power plug here, the screen a bit smaller
and the entertainment system is different. But there are different
movies, which can be good news.
We’re flying at night, so we spend the time on it at dark, sleeping or trying.