Monday, November 21, 2011

In and out of Auckland

Day 1 (Sun, 20 Nov 2011)

In case you haven't figured out by now, this family runs on angst. Some families treat holidays as adventures, which includes getting lost, missing the train and running on spontaneity. We are not that family. Taking a wrong turn is likely to send us into fits of anxiety (with lots of shouting). Sure, we'll go home and later laugh about our mis-adventures, even turning them into engaging stories for parties but at that moment, all we can think about is, "OMG, WE'RE LOST!!!"

Which explains why our trips are always planned to the last detail. So when we decided to take our family holiday in New Zealand this year, we had to go into major planning mode, including the routes, pitstops, accommodation, and even possible meal locations.

The decision to go to New Zealand was fueled mostly by Jetstar's super deals - with air tickets to NZ cheaper than to Seoul, it became too good to resist. We were rather apprehensive as we'd never taken a budget airline before, let alone on a long-haul flight. Would we be half comatose by the time we reached there?

In the end, it turned out much, much better than we'd expected. The Jetstar seats are surprisingly comfortable (leather seats) and I didn't feel half as claustrophobic as I did on the ANA flight to Tokyo. Going with online tips, we booked 2 seats by the exit which gave us a lot more legroom. You pay a little more, but totally worth it for long-haul flights.

We arrived at Auckland Airport at 11am and proceeded to have a simple fast food brunch at the airport before collecting our car from Apex Cars. We chose Apex cos of its good reviews online.

A little confession: we didn't plan to see anything in Auckland. We chose to stay at the Grange Lodge Motel just a short way from the airport, outside of Auckland city cos we didn't want to be caught in rush hour traffic when we leave tomorrow. We also figured we would be too tired to do any sight-seeing and we were right. Even though we managed to catch a few winks on the Jetstar flight, we were still zonked out by the time we reached the motel. So if anyone wants to know, the only thing we saw of Auckland was the airport.

The motel is very homey, loaded with facilities and run by a super friendly lady called Bernie. We got a very comfortable 2-bedroom unit with a self-contained kitchenette and even a private patio. Rental car is parked right outside our unit.

Bernie welcomed us with a basket of home-made apricot muffins - yummy! Tea, hot chocolate and milk (all provided) with muffins managed to perk us up, out of our stupor.

We all took a short nap before heading out to a nearby Countdown at Westfield. Call us crazy but we love to go to local supermarkets. It's interesting to see what sort of groceries they have stocked up. This being NZ, the milk and cheese selections are awesome.

On the way back, we stopped by a little shop (run by an Indian family, ala mama shop) for some fruit...

... and then a Chinese takeaway to bring back some dinner. We only ordered two packs of fried rice and one sweet and sour fish but gosh, the portions are enormous. We had one whole pack of fried rice untouched.

This being late Spring/Summer, the sun rises at about 6.15am and sets only at 8pm, which gives us plenty of daylight. The weather is nice and crisp at 18 degrees celcius in the day. Having said that, it was early to bed for us. The real adventure starts tomorrow!


Yve said...

Hi, we're heading to NZ in a couple of weeks, too. Will be fun to see what you get up to. It gives us a great preview!

monlim said...

What a coincidence! Seems like NZ is becoming a popular destination again. Yeah, free preview here!

Anonymous said...

Hi Monlim,

I truly enjoyed reading your blogs all these while. Great Job!

May I know how to go about doing the online booking for the motel/hotel? Can I simply click on the link provided and do the booking from there?

Looking forward to hearing from you soon :)


monlim said...

Tan: Most of the motels allow direct booking, just click on the links and book online. However, sometimes you can get special rates via sites like wotif or Pays to look around, can save you quite a bit.

Also look out for the fine print. Some discounted rates don't allow cancellations, others you may pay a little more but get free breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great advice. Appreciate it very much.

We intent to do a free and easy NZ trip for my family next year during the long school holidays!