Monday, January 28, 2008

Auckland (1)

Auckland City Centre
Photo by Haani

Chances are you'll fly into Auckland International Airport south of Auckland. Near Manukau Harbor, it's not the easiest place to face your first time driving on the left side of the road in a strange vehicle that flips on the windshield wipers and smears bugs every time you reach for your turn signals. You'll probably want to check out at least some of Auckland's tourist attractions, so you'll need accommodations for a night or two.

There are several quality hotels near the Auckland Airport. If you are driving an auto or RVing, the Great South Road runs parallel to and crosses over the motorway. Grocery stores, restaurants and motels are all along this old highway. Fifteen to twenty minutes south at Manurewa or Papakura, traffic thins out and prices are reasonable-- don't forget your AAA card. Before checking into a motel, stop at a supermarket for breakfast and snacks. Rooms have mini kitchens with coffee and tea.

About a thirty minute drive north of the airport, central Auckland offers a variety of accommodations. To find something in your price range, try Auckland Hotels.

Another option if you've rented an auto or RV is to book into the Top 10 Holiday Park, at nearby Manukau City. The Top 10 Holiday Park is close to downtown Auckland, a mall, and Rainbow's End Adventure Park-- a large amusement park. Rooms are rented with or without linen. Bring your own linen for a lower price. You'll share toilet/shower facilities and the community kitchen and TV/reading room. Another advantage of the Top 10 Holiday Park, if you're driving an auto or RVing-- city buses stop right outside. Auckland is a large city squeezed through a tiny isthmus. If you're not ready to tackle city traffic and the frustration of finding a parking space while driving on the wrong side of the road-- hop on the bus.

If you have a KOA card, bring it. Top 10 Parks offer a 10% discount with your KOA card. They sell their own card for about 20$US. The card purchased when you check in, is good for two years and is reciprocal with a US KOA card. In New Zealand, your KOA card brings discounts on entertainment and food.

Don't leave home without your AAA or KOA card.


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Monday, January 14, 2008

Vehicle Insurance

If you're renting a car or an RV (movan), you'll need a driver's license for the vehicle insurance to be valid. A United Nations agreement lets license holders drive for up to twelve months in New Zealand on their own country's license and visa versa. United States recognizes the agreement, so with a current US license from any state, you can drive whatever class vehicle you're licensed to drive in the states.

New Zealand has no-fault vehicle insurance. If you ding a mudguard, or bang your bonnet, it won't ruin your day. The authorities probably won't be involved unless there's an injury.

If you're a member of AAA in the US, bring your card. All privileges are reciprocal with the New Zealand Automobile Association (AA). You won't need personal insurance if you're touring by auto or RVing, but your AAA card will get you discounts on motels and entertainment, and best of all get you free maps not available in Tourist Information Centers that show the back roads. You'll need these if you're just nosy or plan to freedom park in an RV.

Check out AAA's sister at AA New Zealand.

The RV in the photo is a Maui Rental Van.


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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What if I go Crook?

Bring Your meds. Some newer prescriptions are either under different names or not available. If something minor pops up like allergies or sore muscles, talk to the chemist. Some meds which require a doctor's prescription in the US have "pharmacist only medicine" on the box. You'll show ID, then receive the medicine after a short discussion about proper use.

If you lie about your weight and get dropped on your head bunji jumping, New Zealand has top quality medical facilities.
You won't be hassled for payment, but if you have private coverage, just pay the bill and straighten it out with your insurance carrier when you get home. Medicare won't cover you out of the country. A five day hospital stay cost 200$US. We asked for a bill and the Kiwis were surprised. They told us, "Most tourists just stick us with the bills."
New Zealand is a small country with just as many budget problems as we have. Pay your own way.
For vitamins, so you can avoid that trip to the hospital, bring your own if you have a special brand, or buy them in a health food store or chemist shop.

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