Tuesday, Feb 3, 2016
In the morning, we had a light breakfast, packed most of our things so that we could return the camper van as scheduled and left the campground a little after 10 am. Our route to Auckland gave us more opportunities to take pictures of the beautiful scenery on our way around the Firth of Thames.
Cheryl suggested we take a short side-trip to see the Square Kauri, so we drove the 9 km to climb up the 187 stairs to see this magnificent tree.
The kauri is the largest (by volume) but not tallest species of tree in New Zealand, standing up to 50 m tall. This, the square kauri is the 15th largest Kauri tree in New Zealand.
We were soon back on the road again, and after an hour we saw an advertisement for “Bugger’s Cafe “. When we drove by it we saw so many cars there that we just had to turn around and go there for lunch.
We weren’t disappointed, the food was delicious ( even though I just had a burger and Cheryl had a chicken sandwich ) and the humorous displays and quotes, posted around the restaurant, added to the enjoyment. I found one of the poems to be very funny and it has been posted on their website because so many people have asked about it:
I have a little Satnav
It sits there in my car
A Satnav is a driver’s friend
It tells you where you are
I have a little Satnav
I’ve had it all my life
It’s better than the normal ones
My Satnav is my wife.
It gives me full instructions
Especially how to drive
“It’s thirty miles an hour”, it says
“You’re doing thirty five”
It tells me when to stop and start
And when to use the brake
And tells me that it’s never ever
Safe to overtake
It tells me when a light is red
And when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively
Just when to intervene
It lists the vehicles just in front
And all those to the rear
And taking this into account
It specifies my gear.
I’m sure no other driver
Has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car
It still gives its advice
It fills me up with counselling
Each journey’s pretty fraught
So why don’t I exchange it
And get a quieter sort?
Ah well, you see, it cleans the house,
Makes sure I’m properly fed,
It washes all my shirts and things
And – keeps me warm in bed!
Despite all these advantages
And my tendency to scoff,
I do wish that once in a while
I could turn the damned thing off!
by Pam Ayres
With full stomachs, we finally arrived in Auckland, delivered the van to the rental agency and got a ride to the airport so that Cheryl could catch her flight back to Chicago and I could get a rental car in order to continue my adventures for a few days.
Everything went well for Cheryl. She got to the terminal in plenty of time to check in and relax a bit before flying home. We had a good time driving around to different campsites and seeing these beautiful islands over a 3-week period and I will miss my travelling companion.
For me, this is when some more ” fun ” began. I had envisioned just walking up to one of the rental car agencies and renting a vehicle. It was not to be. Every single rental agency in Auckland was booked and there were no rental cars to be had. Oops ! In hind-sight, I probably should have rented the van for a couple of more days or rented a car in advance, but I didn’t know when I would be flying to Australia when I booked the camper van and I didn’t know that it would be so difficult to get a rental car in Auckland. That’s part of the fun of not knowing. It gives you all sorts of unusual “opportunities”.
I checked the iSite booth and talked to one of the agents but they weren’t able to help me at first, so I checked several options on the internet and I called several different rental agencies without any luck. I then called my sister’s niece (in-law) and she suggested that I take the $20 bus ride from Auckland to Hamilton, which is where they live and I was planning to go there anyways. I checked back with the lady at the iSite booth and she was able to quickly book the bus ride to Hamilton and a room near the bus terminal. I was set for the night and tomorrow I will try to rent a vehicle in Hamilton which, hopefully, will not be as inundated with tourists, although this is the high season for touring in New Zealand.
It has been quite a different day. Cheryl was the planner and the navigator. Now I will have to “ad-lib” the rest of my trip. We saw most of the sights that we wanted to see in New Zealand and I plan to visit with a few people before I leave but that will all depend on whether I can rent a car or get transportation to see them. If not, it will be a relaxing time for a few days.
Have a safe trip home, Cheryl. I wish you all the best!