My New Zealand Trip, Auckland, Apex Cars and Adoration.

I have spent the last thirty odd years in the UK responding to this question,

“Are you Australian?”

And then it goes like this,

“No, I’m a New Zealander.”

“OMG, I am so sorry. I know you hate being mixed up but it’s so hard to tell your accents apart. When I was in Australia blah, blah, blah.”

“Don’t worry about it. I love Australia.”

And I do. Likewise Auckland although it wasn’t always thus.

Auckland v Wellington (google maps.com)
Auckland v Wellington (google maps.com)

When I grew up it was almost expected of a good Wellingtonian to have an burning antipathy for our northern sister. This didn’t stop us moving there in droves however. The weather was better, the city larger, the jobs abundant and the sailing calmer.

I always enjoyed my time in Auckland’s nice bits, always hated Queen Street and its environs (no centre, no heart) and was almost always pleased to come South and home.

But something is happening to me. My enmity is evaporating with the years and, yes, I am going to say it here first.

I love Auckland.

Since, or because of, the rugby world cup, hosted by New Zealand in 2011, Auckland has had major heart surgery and the waterfront is now a mecca for residents and tourists to wander, enjoy the sun, the boats and yummy food and yummy wine at one of the many cafés that dot the harbour.

Auckland waterfront, sept 2011 (mrscarmichael)
Auckland waterfront, sept 2011 (mrscarmichael)

This trip, as I may have already mentioned, the weather was amazing. It has been, and still is, the best summer anyone can remember. My skies were blue, my heart was not. The sunshine and warmth a real tonic after our, ongoing, winter up here. It’s snowing now, as if to prove a point.

Inside, outside living is something New Zealand does well and this St Heliers’ café does it better than most. I felt as if I were sitting on the beach, sea breezes wafting past me as I sipped my long black.

café, coffee heaven (mrscarmichael)
café, coffee heaven (mrscarmichael)

New Zealand has taken coffee culture to its bosom, big time and once you get used to the terminology – long black = americano; flat white = latté etc – sit back and enjoy. The caffeine content will knock your block off.

Another thing I’m always bored rigid by is,

“I haven’t been to New Zealand but I hear it’s like going back ten years in time.”

Wake up and smell the long black, Guys and if there some things are done in a sweeter, slower, kinder way, isn’t that a good thing?

Here’s an example of just what I mean.

As you know, I chose to do a mini road trip from Auckland to Wellington rather than taking advantage of the very cheap internal airfares on offer.

Hire cars in my birth country have never been the cheapest of commodities but the driving is easy, the scenery spectacular and the photo opportunities considerable.

I rang Avis to see just how much I could be charged for a three day hire, returning the car to another city. $593.00 NZ as it transpires which included a relocation fee of $27.00 but no insurance. This was for a smallish automatic so I demurred.

I then called my trusty stalwart, Apex, an Australasian hire car company that might use slightly more loved vehicles but whose attitude and prices I adore.

“I’m just picking myself up off the floor having spoken with Avis,” I opened. “Now, can you tell me what it really costs to hire a car here, return it to Wellington and have it for three days, please?”

“Could you do it in two?” Dave asked.

I was hanging onto to the car for an extra day in Wellington for freedom’s sake alone but staying downtown in the bustling bohemian quarter I really didn’t need four wheels.

“Yes, I can. Why?”

“I think you’re going to like this, ” Dave said. “A relocation hire will be $1.00 per day.”

Even with my poor maths, I reckoned I was already $25.00 ahead of Avis.

“Brilliant. How much is the daily rate?”

I could hear Dave smiling through the ether. “A dollar a day,” he repeated. “But you’ll have to pay for your own petrol.”

Hello, cut my arm off for this deal. “I’ll take it, I chirruped.”

empty roadside photo opportunity (mrscarmichael)
empty roadside photo opportunity (mrscarmichael)

I took the almost brand new automatic Toyota Camry from 11.30am on a Monday until 1.30pm on the Wednesday which allowed for my two planned overnight stops. I bought a tank of petrol from Apex for 80% of the retail price and I drove south in comfort, air con blasting, radio blaring.

I paid $2.00 NZ for the rental and when I returned the car I was asked if I needed dropping anywhere. Ten years behind or just jolly great service. You decide.

“I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand,” is yet another statement with a high boredom quotient for Your Truly.

Well go, then. Don’t think about it or witter on about it. Just do it. You will not be disappointed. Cross my heart.

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22 thoughts on “My New Zealand Trip, Auckland, Apex Cars and Adoration.

  1. We love New Zealand too. Here is another story. We set off to go to Waiheki Island from Auckland but the gouti was down to eye level so not good for walking round the island on the sculpture trail especially the bit along cliffs. Instead we went to the Maritime Museum which is brilliant. At the end of our tour we asked our extremely well informed and enthusiastic guide if there was anywhere we could sit and eat the picnic we had made and he said yes of course and took us to the staff room where we were not only welcomed but offered pies and cakes and flat whites. (incidentally some one told me, as he made a fern picture on my milky coffee, that it was flat white as opposed to frothy white or cappuccino) I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and have the same accent recognition problem but I can just smile and say Southern African. Now, Rhodesia was a place stuck in the 50’s, and my English cousins got a lot of fun from that. I wish they could have seen us laughing at pictures of them with purple blotchy legs wearing wellies and jumpers and standing on stones by grey seas….

    1. Yet another place I have to visit 🙂 and I think that if I got warm enough to get out of bed and remove the five layers of clothing I have on right now, I too may have blotchy legs.
      Where is the bloody jet stream?

  2. That car hire is amazing! France can be a bit like stepping back in time in a really good way. I took my car for a service at a local mechanics (middle of nowhere, chickens wandering around over the bonnet, guy who’d clearly spent his life up to his elbows in the entrails of vehicles) before I drove all the way home, and he did it all for about £25. This was back in 1991, but it was pretty incredible even then, and he did not take advantage of my womanliness in any way, just treated me like a neighbour. Capitalism has a lot to answer for.

  3. There’s a lot to be said for a country where service still means something. I once dropped my carton of eggs at the supermarket checkout and broke a couple of them. The clerk apologized profusely and ran off to fetch me a fresh box. Compare that to the gruff flight attendants on United Airlines or trying to get a live person on the phone at ANY American company EVER.

    1. Oh yes the real person/phone scenario is a real bug bare of mine. Probably won’t work on AA but I just go to the buy/upgrade option and usually get someone cos they want the business, then I launch into the complaint once redirected.

      1. Oh dear. It’s really touch and go anywhere in the ESL world. Some places are good and some not. Where I am now is pure hell, as far as my job!

  4. Well, mrscarmichael, if you get out of auckland sane and happy, you’re away. Agree about the change downtown – fab

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