In November 2011, myself and a friend flew from Melbourne, Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand for a 2 and a half month road trip around both Islands.
Our plan was to buy a car, travel the South Island, travel the North Island and sell the car before flying back to Australia. We wanted to look into Woofing, or working for our accommodation and generally living off a shoestring budget.
We did just that, except for the shoestring.
Airport waiting and sleeping
We flew into Christchurch, and planned on sleeping at the airport, since we didn’t land until midnight. Neither of us had ever slept at the airport before, and figured it seemed like a really basic thing to do. It’s not. Christchurch airport was under construction, and is generally VERY SMALL. We accidentally picked a spot too close to constantly opening doors. It was freezing and we struggled to sleep on a hard floor, against a pole. Other travellers chose more wisely, picking hidden spots against a wall, and protected from gusts of winds as the door opened. I piled all my large clothes and towel on my travel buddy so he’d be warm, but we should have just booked a hostel.
We arrived at Auckland airport a few days before our return flight to Australia, and subsequently stayed a night around the airport, a night at an airport hotel and a second night at the airport. It was horrible. We wasted three days at the airport. The airports in New Zealand are closed between 11pm and 5am. There are few places to sleep.
Buying a used car for travelling
We assumed that ‘Backpackers Car Market’ meant a car market for backpackers, with a small budget. Most cars are positioned between $3000 and $5000, a little out of our budget ($1000-2000), we searched Gumtree and local newspapers before finding a local, yet Australian seller just outside Christchurch centre. We drove the car around a little, looked inside the bonnet (although neither of us had any ideas what we were looking for), and bought it then and there. All in a few hours.
Although we never had a problem with the car, we did have to renew the Warranty of Fitness, at around $50. To renew this, we had to pay $300 to fix minor problems with the car, including a new petrol cap.
To sell our car (I think it was named Bruce or Barry or something), we advertised on Gumtree, and delivered the following photo to hostels around Auckland.
(well I can’t find it)
Although we originally hoped to get the same price we paid (about $AU 1500), by the time we exchanged the NZ dollars, we had about $1100. Not too shabby still. We began advertising about a week before we flew out, and it took around 24 hours for interests to pile in. We ended up selling the car to an english couple and their baby, but it left us four days with no car. We should have began advertising later.
Despite our attempts to live as cheaply as possible, I frequently insisted on buying. We bought snack drinks at petrol stations and expensive hot chocolate powder at supermarkets. I was constantly unaware of how much money we were spending since all we used was a debit card. Towards the end of the trip, we realised we should have set weekly allowances, withdrawing cash for the weeks spending and leaving only petrol/gas costs to the debit card.
I-sites are NZ’s best government initiative. They are basically information centres which hire locals. They offer phenomenal discounts, and really helpful information. We went in with questions like, “what can we do here that’s remotely interesting”, “where can we stay for really cheap tonight”, “where can we get a new tire for our car at 10am on a weekend?”, “What is something non-touristy to do here”.
They always gave us amazing answers, always solved our problems and were really, really friendly.
stay tuned for more New Zealand.