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From South to North Island: Our Boxing Day Rollercoaster Ride

After spending Christmas in Tekapo, we returned to Christchurch to catch our flight to Auckland on Boxing Day 2022. I'm not going to lie and say that the drive from Tekapo to Christchurch was uneventful because it couldn't be further from the truth.

Our flight was scheduled to depart Christchurch at 1200 hrs, so my plan was to arrive at Christchurch no later than 1000 hrs, giving us ample time to refuel at the gas station, return our rental car with a full tank of petrol, and get the rental car company to drop us off at the airport. I'd emphasized to the gang that we had to be packed and ready to leave Tekapo by 0630 hrs, as the drive from Tekapo to Christchurch would take around 3 hrs with no breaks, and longer if we needed a rest stop.

Unfortunately, no one took me seriously. They repeatedly hit the snooze button when the alarm sounded, and took their own sweet time at breakfast. By 0700 hrs, we were still at the house with a whole pile of dirty dishes from breakfast to do!

Under pressure to get to Christchurch in time for our flight, I'm ashamed to say that I was pulled to the side of the road by the traffic police with lights flashing and fined NZD170.00 for speeding. The police officer took a while to take down my details and issue the fine, and we ended up losing even more time.

When I reignited the engine to continue with our journey, I got a earful from Hubby. He went on and on about how he'd told me not to speed, about how we'd now all miss our flight, etc. etc. None of that helped with the situation and to avoid getting into a bigger row with him, I stopped the car and asked him to take over.

Lo and behold, several minutes later, I looked into the passenger side mirror and saw another police car with lights flashing pulling us over. The fine for Hubby was NZD300.00, almost double that of mine! After going on and on about me speeding, he went ahead and did the same, except at an even higher speed. The paperwork took even longer than mine, and we had to plead with the officer to let us go quickly or we'd not make it for our flight. Within 30 mins, we had thrown away NZD470.00.

Thankfully, we made it to Christchurch Airport within minutes of the check-in desk closing, boarded Air New Zealand Flight NZ542, and landed safely in Auckland Airport at 1325 hrs.

Once in Auckland, we prayed hard that the rental car we'd booked would be there for us. Although I had booked a Kia Carnival, just like in our South Island adventure, for our North Island leg of the trip about 5 months before our vacation, a series of cancellations by the rental car company had put our plans in limbo.

I had made a booking with Europcars via for a Kia Carnival back in July 2022, but they suddenly informed us on 9 December 2022 that the car we'd book was no longer available. tried to find a solution for us and eventually booked us a vehicle from Go Rentals on 15 December 2022. However, on 23 December 2022, we were once again informed that the vehicle we'd booked was no longer available, causing us to make a mad scramble for a replacement vehicle at the last minute! This time, I dropped and secured a Large SUV by booking directly with Snap Rentals on Christmas Eve, just 2 days before our collection date on Boxing Day.

We caught the free shuttle from the airport to Snap Rentals' office and true to their word, the Large SUV we'd booked was waiting for us. Snap Rentals charged us NZD2,340.36 for renting us a Toyota Highlander for 4 days, which meant paying NZD585.09 per day for the car. A hefty premium as the Kia Carnival we had rented in Christchurch only cost us NZD158.22 per day. The Highlander also had less room than the Kia Carnival, so we had to struggle with packing 6 people and all our belongings into the car, but we really had no other option!

Like me, my sis' family had also made their booking for a Kia Carnival with Europcars several months before the trip. They did not receive any cancellation notice from Europcars and naturally assumed that their booking was in order. However, when they arrived at Auckland Airport, Europcars dropped the bombshell on them by telling them the Kia Carnival they had booked was not available! The only vehicle available for them was a much smaller car which could not possibly hold their family with all their belongings.

After wasting precious time at Europcars trying to work out a solution, my sis concluded that it was pointless trying to squeeze blood out of stone. Europcars had messed up multiple bookings and if she didn't find a way to squeeze her family and their belongings into the small car, she could be left with no vehicle at all with all those angry customers at the office!

My sis' gamble of driving from Auckland to Rotorua in the small car and heading over to Rotorua Airport the following day to demand a switch to a bigger vehicle worked! She managed to persuade the sweet lady behind the Europcars desk at Rotorua Airport into letting her family have the Kia Carnival which was sitting in their carpark. Luckily for them, everything worked out perfectly in the end.


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