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Kia ora New Zealand


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Our descent into Christchurch was very bumpy due to heavy winds despite the sunny weather. Immigration was no issue at all – we even had a chat with the officer about traveling. But customs proved to be a challenge, as already expected. Even though we had eaten all fruit and vegetables before entering New Zealand, we still had a bit of food with us and we also had our hiking boots. The customs officer wanted to inspect all of the shoes and also decided that our pack of rice needed to be inspected before we’d be able to import it. In the end a single one of the shoes had to be disinfected. After a couple of minutes of wait, we had our shoe and also the rice back. We were warned once more about a 400$ instant fine in case we had not declared something and could then proceed to the x-ray machine. All good…
At the terminal, we got within 10 minutes our most urgent needs settled: a new and instantly activated SIM card valid for the next eight week and some leaflets and brochures from the information center. With that we were just in time for our shuttle to the rental company.
Having decided rather late that we wanted to rent vs. buy a campervan in NZ, we did not have too much choice in regards to availability. We were happy to get a rather cheap deal with Lucky Rentals. We were well aware that we’d not be having a luxury camper, but were still rather unexcited upon seeing our new home for the next seven weeks.
After all, our ‘Roadie’ has already done more than 495,000 km in his lifetime. While having all the promised features like a fridge or cooker, it was cheap in many ways. Once more we realized how lucky we had been in Australia with our Drive Beyond which featured brand names for all the equipment that came with it. Here we had to deal with the really cheap version of everything. Eventually after having checked the sixth camp chair, we had three together that we deemed fit enough to survive the next seven weeks.
Still, we had been very clear that despite the fairly high price tag of camping in a campervan, that’s how we wanted to travel: being outside most of the time while still being sheltered from the NZ rain. And if that meant that we had to reduce our luxurious standards vs. our van in the US and the 4WD in Australia, so be it.

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After a first stop at McDonalds to get our empty stomachs filled, we headed to our first campground for the night. And being used to Australian prices for campgrounds, we were in for quite a shock, as a comparable campground in Australia would have cost us maybe 33 AUD vs. the 58 NZD we were paying here (and AUD and NZD are almost the same in terms of exchange rate). Wow! At least food shopping seemed to be similarly priced than in Australia. In other words: still much more expensive than in Germany, but at least not much more than what we’ve gotten used to in the last couple of weeks.
In the end, the rather expensive campground was an excellent choice after all. Sam and Max met Rudi and Michi, the first Austrians travelers we got to meet since back in Sedona. They had their last night in Christchurch before leaving the next day back home to Austria. And we were the lucky ones to get everything they had left over from their three weeks of traveling: lots of food, some plastic storage containers, toilet paper, beer and cider. And best of all, they also had quite a list of recommendations for us in regards to places they liked and where to go. Thanks!
The next day was dedicated to getting some more supplies. After having checked a couple of camping stores for lights, we eventually found exactly what we needed at a hardware store. We also bought new Crocs for Max – this time in yellow such that we might be able to spot them more easily in case he’d forget them somewhere again.
As expected, central Christchurch was dominated by vast empty spaces, lots of road cones, steel supported crumbling buildings and gigantic construction sites. Even though the last big earthquake took place almost six years ago, it will still take a very long time for its destruction to disappear. Those areas of the city which have been rebuilt already were quite impressive. We marveled at some of the new architecture displaying ostentatiously the structural reinforcements intended to withstand future earthquakes, some buildings were restored seemingly without changes vs. how they looked before.

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Max had been looking forward very much to that evening, as we picked up his new bike. We had already placed a bid on TradeMe – the NZ equivalent of Ebay – back in Perth and secured a used kid’s bike for Max. The bike worked well and Max was very happy to be mobile again.
On the way out of town we discovered a special deal on CamperMate and decided to stay in the luxurious Christchurch Top 10 holiday park after all. And it proved to be an excellent decision. For one, we were once again the lucky recipients of quite a couple of leftovers other campers did not need anymore. And even more importantly, Max made a new friend, 4-year old Leo. And while the two of them played blissfully, we got to talk at lengths with his mom Simone. As we soon learned, they moved from Germany to Timaru four years ago. Hearing how they like their new home country, we were looking forward even more to the coming weeks of exploring New Zealand.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 15:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged town plane bike campervan earthquake customs

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