Transportation, Travel

Can you say “whoops”?

I think I was a little drunk on Auckland, almost giddy from the natural setting. This feeling of being surrounded on all sides by beautiful blue water, rolling green hills, and nothing but blue sky and perfect clouds above. And throw in the most perfect weather imaginable, too. All my photos seem to reflect this amazed, disbelieving quality. I took more and more photos and they just seemed to get better and better.

It was sad to contemplate leaving Auckland after having seen so little, but unfortunately we had a schedule we needed to stick to. So in the morning we packed up our bags and went to investigate rental cars.

Rental cars. Oh. My. God. What a disaster. Stephen and I had a long list of agencies and fliers and naively assumed that it would be easy-peazy. Drivers’ licenses: check. Credit card: check. Green light—go! Yes, theoretically that is how it works if the rental cars were not INSANELY EXPENSIVE* with all sorts of MADDENING small print involved. It didn’t help that we were going to a city that most agencies didn’t have a depot in. Nor did it help that we had thought to rent the car for only two or three days. And it positively, absolutely did not help that we only wanted a one-way rental. Uh-uh. Nope. Not good.

Stephen and I trundled up and down the avenue with our rolley suitcases bumping along behind us. We went to one agency. Sorry, no depot in that city. We trundled to the next agency: Sorry, minimum of 7 day rental. We jay-walked across the street to yet another agency: sorry, one-way rentals have a BILLION dollar non-negotiable fee. It was truly like one of those movie scenes. Up the street. Down the street. Heads getting lower with every failure. I see us through the eyes of the rental agency rep’s. Boy, those kids don’t understand a thing about renting a car, do they, Al? Yeah, kids these days, Bob.

This was the point where my mental didn’t-you-know-you’re-an-idiot voice kicked in—that helpful little voice that clearly highlights all your failures, even when they’ve already been brought to your attention. I heard several helpful messages from my little friend, such as “Well, Amy, EVERYbody knows that you have to reserve a rental car in advance.” And, “You should’ve thought about this a bit sooner.” Sigh. Yes, yes, I know. Colossal failure.

The situation looked rather bleak. If we couldn’t get a rental car we would be stuck in Auckland for another day because we’d already missed all the busses and there wasn’t a train where we were going. (This is something we will discuss later.)

After comparison pricing every agency up and down the street, Stephen and I realized we were going to have to get a 7 day rental, which would cancel out the one-way fee. By doing a 7-day rental we would have a car for all of our North Island adventures and would be able to get a fresh car when we arrived at the South Island to get us from Picton to Nelson. It was the best of a bad situation. Yes, yes, brought on by our own lack of planning. We were clear on that.

So we plunked down a credit card for a cool half grand and went to see our valiant steed, err, vehicle. Behold! A Sunny Nissan! Choice of all poor overseas English teachers traveling in expensive Western countries who after having lived in China for the last 6 months refuse to ride a bus around a prime road trip nation! Drive, Sunny, drive! Onwards to the horizon! Yee-haw!

. . . and though we were really not that pleased about the price involved, I think this is an accurate reflection of our feelings as we pulled out of Auckland, heading for State Highway 1.

*A somewhat subjective statement based on the then current contents of my bank account.

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