New Zealand- Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 376 (186)

Christchurch

Saturday 19th March (2005)

By all accounts, there is little by way of reason to stop between Oamaru and Christchurch so we made the conscious decision to push all the way through this morning. Michiel was going along for the ride and we will set him off there and say goodbye. It was a long and uneventful drive up the coast and we stopped but once for fuel and a leg stretch. Along the way, I consulted the guidebook and decided to try our luck at a different hostel that was going to be a bit cheaper than the one we booked and, more importantly, with cheaper Internet access. I had originally chosen this new place yesterday but they have a policy of not accepting advanced bookings so I wasn’t able to book until today. Fortunately, they not only had a room for us but we would be allowed to stay there for the three days and it would be very inexpensive at just NZ$44 (€25,52) per night.

When we finally arrived and located the hostel on the edge of the inner city, I was quite surprised when the receptionist took us for a walk to locate our room. It’s located in another building in another street across the road and around the corner. It’s a fair trek from the Internet, which is only available in the main building, but there’s just one other bedroom in our building and thus just one other couple with which to share the kitchen and bathroom facilities. The cheap Internet is a little bit of a disappointment in that although it is cheap at NZ$2 (€1,16) per hour, you have to pay in whole hour increments so just logging on for a couple of minutes to check on e-mail will cost NZ$2 (€1,16) every time. After offloading the car, I wasted no time in dropping a NZ$2 (€1,16) coin into the slot on one of the terminals to search around some more for a rental car in Wellington. I did my best to locate and call just about every car rental agency that I could but still the only agencies with cars that I could take from Wellington to Auckland were the bigger companies that were charging upwards of NZ$50 (€29) per day. This problem is now starting to eat away at me and I’m starting to reluctantly conclude that we are simply going to have to eat the higher cost, lest we risk not getting a car at all. There was one possible option with one particular company for NZ$42 (€24,36) but we’re still waiting to hear back from them.

Michiel was also sitting at one of the terminals trying to look up the phone number of the people he was going to be staying with here in Christchurch but was asked by the receptionist to leave. Apparently, the Internet here is just for paying guests only. I felt bad for him. He ended up wandering into the city centre to try to find another Internet café.

With the car rental problem weighing heavily on my mind, I decided that we should drive over to the airport. When we arrived there a few weeks back, I remember an advertising board with numerous car rental agencies listed where all newly arriving passengers, ourselves included, were comparing rates. We set out towards the airport and made it onto one of the main roads here around Christchurch before we both realised that we had no idea where the airport was. We ended up taking the main highway but I had a feeling we were going the long way around. Anyway, we arrived and parked the car in the arrivals car park and went inside. I spent the next half hour calling all the listed companies but still with no luck. For whatever reason, all the rental cars in Wellington are just sold out. I was now starting to get very despondent. Not having eaten anything at all so far today, except an apple in the car on the way up here, probably wasn’t doing me any good either. I’m now really starting to worry about what we are going to do when we hit the ground in Wellington with no transportation arranged.

We drove back into town following the signs to the city centre. We weren’t but ten minutes on the road when Sandy decided to get ahead of the game and start looking for street names. As we sat there at a traffic signal, we realised that our hostel was staring us right in the face on the opposite side of the road. Had we set off in the opposite direction to begin with, we’d have been at the airport in ten minutes instead of forty.

The other two housemates at our hostel were at the house when we returned - an Irish guy and a New Zealand woman. They were in the middle of making a roast dinner and the aroma wafting through the room was quite appetising so I set off to find a supermarket to grab something for Sandy and me.

The clocks apparently go back tonight so we should enjoy a peaceful and restful Sunday morning here in the Christchurch suburbs.

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