We’ve been receiving lots of emails today from folks concerned about the earthquake in Christchurch. Thanks for the concern guys, but thankfully, we’re still in Auckland, meaning Christchurch is on the other end of the country. We do intend to be there in about a week or so, but for now, we’re on the North Island.

The "new" car

The "new" car

After working on getting our plans sorted the last week and a half, we’ve worked out a bit of a schedule, at least for the time being. We ended up buying the station wagon we mentioned in our last post, and after doing so, I’ve noticed some little quirks that may very well drive me crazy in the coming months.

  1. Anytime any door is open, including back doors, no matter what, she beeps at you. DING! DING! DING! Nonstop. Even if the lights are off, the key is out, the doors have been locked. It makes unloading groceries or talking while getting ready to pull away very obnoxious.
  2. Whenever you’re in reverse, she DINGS! at you. This DINGing is really going to piss me off.
  3. The aircon does not blow cold. I don’t know if this is a problem yet or not, as I am a Floridian and probably care too much about aircon. Jason says it was no biggie in Seattle if you cracked the windows in summer, so we’ll see if this comes back to bite us or not. Rumor has it, compressors come cheap here. I haven’t seen anything cheap in NZ so far, so we’ll see if we wind up regretting this one.
  4. The pinstripes are beginning to peel a little. I think this quirk may be a good one, because the red and gray stripes running the length of the car kind of age it. Knowing me, I’ll probably set about stripping these with the help of a credit card edge as scraper within the next couple of days.
  5. One last thing, because I am an American and am used to driving from the left side of the car, I went to get in yesterday and stuck my key in a gaping hole in the door handle, which made me realize that the passenger side door lock for the door is missing. There’s just a hole there. I don’t know if this makes the door easier to jimmy or not, but we may have to find a way to rectify this before we set out on our grand adventure. Needless to say, the fact that I think the driver’s side is on the wrong side of the car means that I will be letting Jason handle the driving until we get out of the country and into less crash-risky territory before I have another go at driving.

As of next week, we’ll be setting out south from Auckland to see a couple of spots on the North Island en route to Wellington, where we’ll pick up a ferry to Picton in the South Island. The ferry is $400 round trip for us and the car, and it’s about 3 hours across. We hope to spend about 4 weeks driving around the South Island and may do a couple of farm stays as well. If we do the farm stays, my visa allows me to trade 4-5 hours of work daily for for free food and accommodation, so that will help us stretch our budget some and put off work for awhile longer. Only catch is, most farm stays demand a minimum of 5 days’ stay, giving us a little less time to wander. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of work seeing as how the earthquake probably shook some things up down there and folks may need a bit of help getting things ship shape again.

We’ll pick up some camping mattresses and a gas burner this week before we leave in case we decide to camp in the car a few nights, and we’re getting an oil change and fluids/tires checked before we go. We’re debating buying a $90 membership to AA, which is like AAA in the U.S., but wallets are getting kind of tight over here, so we’ll see. It costs $76.00 to fill our little Mazda’s tank!