(September 11, 2012) Auckland
Flight is scheduled to land in Auckland airport at 6:30 AM, as
motorhome rental office open at 8 AM, it seems we're going to have time
enough for going through the severe immigration process.
Once in our vehicles, our first stop would be at BNZ bank office
for activating our account and picking the debit card up and some cash,
which we will spend immediately in the supermarket in front for
basically food, but also, in a local cell phone SIM card.
In our way to Auckland, we would stop, first at Mount Eden, and
then at Backpackers Car market to purchase our ferry tickets, as they
have the cheapest prices in the country.
We will start our visits in Auckland at Kelly Tarlton's
aquarium. Then, we will go to Sky City to take a look to Weta Cave and
go up to the tower.
The next would be drive to Coromandel. It is a 184 Km long route
which could be covered in 2 hours 50 minutes. While going across the
forest we could stop in the biggest kauri in the peninsula, and then we
would choose a Holyday Park to spend the night, ideally, the Hot Water
Beach Holiday Park.
Visits in Coromandel can be done between this afternoon
and the morning of the next day and what we can do this day would
depend of how the jet lag is affecting to us. The two must-dos here
are Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. Both are scheduled for the next
morning, as they need low tide and it will happen then.
Going up the Sky Tower: 28 NZD
Although this flight is longer than the previous one, all of us
have felt it as shorter with all the sleep. I even haven't used my
display with games or movies as I've been writing the L.A. pages.
It even lands 30 minutes before time and immigration process,
with their biological procedure for avoiding the entrance of any animal
or vegetal specie in the country, haven't been that tough so we're
ready in the hall, and already wearing our winter clothes, at 7 AM.
Welcome to New Zealand!
We must wait one
hour to let the motorhome rental office to open and we've got an
appointment in the bank office to 9 AM. For the first, as there is an
i-site in the airport I provide there with maps and information about
the whole country and it's in there, where they call to our office to
be picked up.
While waiting the van outside, we can
check it's not such cold as we thought. When van arrives we can realize
live is "slower" here, in a way that is not strange the process of
picking the motorhomes up takes three hours! We've spent the most part
of the morning in there.
At the moment first motorhome is ready I and the driver go to the
bank just for finding our appointment has expired as the man I should
meet with, two hours and a half before, is not there anymore. They call
him and reschedule the meeting for 15h and we cannot miss it for any
reason. I just exchange 50€ for the next expense.
We come back with the news and, as all three motorhomes are
finally ready, our convoy leaves to Auckland. All our plan for today
have been rewritten and our target now is reaching Kelly
Tarlton's at 12:30h in order of don't missing the Shark Cage activity,
which 71$ per person have been paid few days before coming. We're on time
if we don't get lost, but that's asking too much.
very nice woman from a flower shop of who-knows-where not only give us
the indications, but even prints us a map showing how to get the famous
aquarium and, thanks to her, we only arrive a few minutes late.
We've been able to realize driving a motorhome is slow while
coming to here, but managing it in a common parking is a real challenge.
Shark Cage is for a maximum of 6 people groups, so two of us are
out of it. I'm one of those and that's the reason I exchanged money
before, to be able of purchasing the general admission ticket, which is
27.20$ per person with the 10% of discount coupon we've got from a
voucher in Apollo offices. The six for the Shark Cage are taken to a
"Personnel only" entrance and we look the Stingray tank and the tunnel
through the big one, where we're waiting to see our group.
Around 30 minutes later they appear, wearing neoprene clothes,
inside a cage which, otherwise I thought, it moves in a 15 minutes
going and return trip across the tank and we can see them through the
transparent tunnel walls.
Once they're back with us, they're mainly talking about how funny it is and how cold the water was.
We visit the penguins - why the babies seem to be bigger than the
adults? - and seahorses areas and leave the place as we must come back
to the airport because missing our appointment there would be a
tragedy. We get the bank office on time and we're able of activating
the account and get the card, but the procedure has taken one hour and
a half Be careful with the procedures in this country when planning
Once we've got access to our money we can think about doing
things, but the time spent has been a lot, too much. We cannot come
back to Auckland. Remaining time today is for lunching, shopping - the
basics, at least - and driving to Coromandel, where our plan starts
Lunching: fast food, in the McDonalds in front of the bank office.
Shopping: In "Countdown" supermarket, besides the bank. I spend
78$ in what I need for the next breakfasts, you know, juice, eggs,
bacon, fruit, cookies, ... and something to eat with a quick cook like
soups and cans with spaghetti or beans. We got a plug adaptor as well
and a SIM card with a local number to my free cell phone in the
"Warehouse" along the supermarket.
The map is showing the airport area and why we spend almost the whole day in there:
1- Auckland International airport
2- BNZ bank office
3- Mc Donald's
4- Supermarket area
5- Apollo rental office
Driving to Coromandel: As we're leaving the airport area at dark
we've got an intensive course about driving an eight meters monster, on
the left side of the road, by night. We're going slow and, after three
hours driving with no stops, already in Coromandel, but far from our
destination we agree on the next available place as all three drivers
are very sleepy now.
After some minutes driving
between absolute darkness, a picnic area opens at our left and we go
inside with no doubt. We get toilets ready to use with the chemicals
bought at supermarket and set everything ready to sleep. We need to
rest. It was a long time driving across forests darkness doesn't allow
us to see. Tomorrow we will be able to appreciating them.