Day 1, 2 and 3
5 t/m 7 February 2014
Amsterdam via Hong Kong
(China) and Auckland Airport
to Piha Beach (Lion Rock).
1. Departure Schiphol 5-02-2011 at 12:25 uur
2. Arrival Hong Kong 6-02-11 at 07:05 uur
3. Departure Hong Kong 6-02-11 at 21:00 uur
4. Arrival Auckland 7-02-11 at 13:10 uur
(all local times)
Wednesday 5 February 2014, waking up with the well known travel stress but also a wonderful feeling "YES, We're going again. GREAT. It's my fourth holiday to New Zealand and my girlfriend Karin her second time. We both experienced New Zealand as paradise so we can't wait to go.
Just like in 2011 the dad of Karin, Cor brings us to Schiphol Airport, only this time he sleeps in our house the night before. Our departure isn't in the weekend as all the other times, but on Wednesday so we have to prepare ourselves for losing time because of possible traffic jams around Amsterdam. I already checked in on our flight 2 days before we left. You could leave later but, we were ready and all the suitcases were packed so we decide to leave at the normal time.
We carry our bags to the car of Cor and the fit all in the back. A rug pack and a small sport case for in the plane and 4 suitcases as cargo. The four suitcases are 1 hard suitcase and three soft sport suitcases. The three sport case because you can fold them together in the only hard case. You can't store 4 hard cases in a campervan; there is not enough room to store them so they'll be in the way over and over. So take my advice and do it this way. The expensive and fragile stuff you take with you in the hand luggage or in the one hard case. We drive past Amsterdam without any delay and arrive on time at Schiphol International Airport. We say goodbye to Cor and deliver our luggage at the self check-in bag drop of Cathay Pacific where we booked our flight. No row here in contrast to the row at the desk were they have to check-in too. We directly go to customs and pass without problems.
Now we have time enough to walk and see around on an airport with about 1200 flights every day. And we take our last cup of coffee on one of the cozy terraces at Schiphol. Around 11:45 hours we go to the right gate and check-in on the plane. We are sitting on the reserved seats in the plane. This without extra legging space because this is only available in the Boeing airplanes (last 3 seats) and not in the Airbus were we are in now. Luckily we leave this time with only a small 5 minutes delay and once airborne we're heading to our paradise New Zealand. The care by the flight attendants on board is fine, but of course 11.5 hour flight is not something you look after. This time we had our Samsung Galaxy tablets with us and Karin did read in a book and saw some movies. I did a lot of games Sudoku. That's a reasonable intensive brainteaser with as by coming advantage that time flies.
Sitting in the back of a plane has the extra that you can stand behind your own seat without anyone seeing or bothering. Negative is there is reasonable noise from the pantry where they prepare the food and drinks for the flight and it's clearly colder there. Personally: I like that.
At 00.05 hours Dutch Time, 07:05 Local time we land at Hong Kong International Airport. We have our first 11,5 hour flight behind us and after about 30 minutes we are past customs and in the arrival hall on the airport. Since we've been here before I know where the nearest atm is and I get some money from the wall. We walk to Starbucks for our first cappuccino on Chinese soil. After this break and stretching our legs we walk via a completely covered corridor form the arrival hall of the airport to the Regal Airport Hotel.
Once there is appeared that our day-room is not ready because they have to clean it before we can go in. They will give us a sign when ready. So we take a seat on some fine sofas. But waiting takes time and is not fine when you are tired in despite of the good seats. Then - at last - we can check in and we're heading (and searching) for our room. When we're in it's almost 09:15 hours local time. So we waited in the lobby from 08:00 hours till now. Closing the curtains and to bed. It takes some time - that is a feeling - before I fell asleep. When the alarm went off, we got out of bed and Karin took a nice bath. After her I took a nice refreshing shower and my muscles were really enjoying this. Reasonably fit we go down to the lobby and to kill some time we walk out through the main exit and I take some pictures of the hotel from the outside.
Just like we did in 2011 we have our breakfast at the Burger King in the arrival hall and Karin smokes a last cigarette just outside the arrival hall. We checked in at the gate at a late time so when we walked to our places, get rid of the hand luggage and got our seats the plane left immediately. again we're killing our time with games, eating en watching movies. looking around we are getting jealous of all the other people. We're always between the 10-20 on a plane with 350 passengers that can't sleep during the flight. You are very tired and would love to fall asleep. Two times I was away .. .but looking at the time after I opened my eyes, I was away for 5 - 10 minutes.
We fly over the Indonesian Islands for hours and hours and after that a few hours above the north east part of Australia (as big as Europe). Just above the Australian town of Brisbane the plane takes a curve to the left for the last 2,5 hours to New Zealand.
At last New Zealand emerges at the horizon and when we look once more we see the beaches of Piha Beach through the window of the plane. Now this is quite a coincidence. We know Piha Beach from the tv-soap that covers the work the rescue-unit of Piha Beach, the beach on the east of Auckland, were many citizens of Auckland spend a day at the beach (mostly in the weekends) to enjoy the mighty waves on that beach. This beach has because of its massive high waves and dangerous currents a Rescue-unit and they make a soap this unit.
We can follow this - sometimes - on Travel Channel and I thought SBS6. On Travel Channel we watched series 1 and series 2. When we set foot in New Zealand it is also our first destination for the night. It's a nice surprise that we see this beach as the first thing we see from the plane of New Zealand. Ten minutes later at about 12:50 hours local time we land on Auckland International Airport. It took more then 30 minutes before our luggage came rolling on, but then we're outside in the sun and searching for the shuttle bus that will gives our free ride to the Alpha Campervans Depot of Auckland. First I go back inside in the arrival hall to get some money out of the atm machine. I have 2 bank cards en a Credit Card. With the 2 bank cards I'll take two times the maximum of 500 NZD. It's wise to have your money on two different Cards so if you need money you can get 2 times the normal amount that you can get from the atm. And if you lose one or it's not working anymore, you still have one to use. Outside we found the place where the shuttle should be, but there wasn't one that fitted the description we had, until Karin found out dat they used an other shuttle because the normal one of THL was in the garage for repair.
Within 10 minutes we are at the Alpha Campervan Depot in Auckland. In the same building there are the depots of: Kea, Maui, United Campervans, Britz, Mighty en Econo. We don't have to wait long before a friendly young man helps us through the paperwork. Half an hour later the campervan is parked and ready for us and a friendly young lady, tired of the many hours she was already working, gives us explanation of everything that in and around the campervan. Then I find out that the sliding door would not open properly from the outside and that there is no MP3 player in the car stereo and that was listed as equipment on the site where I had booked the campervan. Karin finds out that the (only) leg of the table is missing and you can not live without. The campervan goes back into the garage to repair the sliding door and complete the table. Meanwhile, I'm just going along with the young man who had done the first intake to "complain" about the missing MP3 player. He admits that it happens more often, but they, themselves, are clearly in their specifications that only a CD player is provided in this campervan. Their campervans are on so many sites of thirt parties that they can't check all of the given information is completely correct. But no problem he said en he went to the back and returns with a Car MP3 Player with FM Transmitter that fits in the cigarette lighter of the campervan. The player needs a memory card or USB-stick. Finally the campervan is repaired and is presented again to us. The last explanation of the man and then its ours.
We leave at about 16.45 hours and that was more then 2 hours after we arrived and 1,5 hour later that was is our itinerary. We ride away and the campervan starts peeping, then the peeping stopped .. .and a few seconds later it starts again. No problem we were within 300 meters from the depot so we returned immediately to the depot and to our still friendly young man. I cleared the drivers seat and Karin went away with him for a short ride. They returned and the young man told me what the problem was. As long as I have my foot on the clutch of the campervan the peep will go off after a few seconds. Shit, I used to drive in a way that I push the clutch often about 10-25 meters before the corner and I put the gear already in the good position for after the corner. This campervan decided that was wrong so we heared a lot of peeps the next weeks. With another delay on route again to the Supermarket in Green Bay at about 5 minutes from the Alpha Campervan Depot. We got our first shopping's there and filled the refrigerator and then, finally, on our way to Piha Beach.
According to the planner Piha Beach is at a distance off about 30 minutes from Auckland, but although we were on the right side of Auckland it appeared to cost us 1,5 hour. I think it's because of the route through Auckland itself. You leave the Highway very soon and then you drive through the suburps of Auckland heading the West coast. At the same moment is the evening traffic jam of Auckland at its highest level, so we can't make speed. BUT we are in New Zealand and we're glad to be on our way and that our 2014 trip has started. The last 25-30 kilometers are on very small and winding roads (yep - the Beatles) with many mountain ridges and many hairpins. It started raining and then suddenly we see the bay of Piha Beach and exactly as we seen Lion Rock and the beach in the soap series. Beautiful sight in despite of the rain which influences my photo's. It is late and after we checked in by a friendly lady that was expecting us we drove to our first power site. After connecting to the power and making our beds ready for the first time it was almost dark. We're very tired but happy we arrived. Tomorrow is our first full day in New Zealand.