Thursday, May 14, 2009
Van-free in Auckland
Home sweet home, where did you go?
How to not get your van stolen in three days in four easy steps:
1. Do not put "for sale" sign in window advertising brand new tyres.
2. Do not fill out mandatory forms that must hang in your window with your address. Ignore the law until you sell, then write a fake address down.
3. Do not tell anybody, even the owner of a reputable hostel, where you are staying, that your van is for sale, and that you have a buyer lined up but are looking for alternatives in case your buyer falls through the following day, especially if that reputable person sells vans to backpackers, has a garage, and gives you a speech about Karma and spiritual stuff. (He's the only person we mentioned to where we were staying)
4. Do not leave keys in the ignition (just kidding, well, not really, you probably shouldn't do that)
How to get Karma so mad that she throws you under a bus, in one easy step:
1. Steal Robin's van
On the bright side:
1. We wanted to get rid of the van one way or another.
2. None of our personal belongings were in the van (but you knew that anyway, didn't you, you little bastard)
3. Nobody was hurt...at least not us...physically anyway
4. We don't have to sit on a used car lot being a used car salesman today
5. Auckland has beer
Really guys, this sucks, but the police were really nice, though we don't expect them to find our white van amongst the 300,000 other white vans in this city, and if we do, we're sure it will be stripped. They answered the phone right away and were really sweet and professional. When we went to the central downtown police station in person there was no line, and the clerk chatted with us for a half an hour.
Unfortunately there are assholes everywhere, willing to take advantage of easy targets. We sort of feel guilty for letting out a little too much information to somebody we thought was a good bloke, but you know what? That still does not give them the right to take something of ours that we rightfully own. Here's the appropriate bumper sticker we saw while walking around; "Thou shalt not steal God is watching you stupid fuck!"
So we're scanning the newspapers looking out for bus accidents......
I would still say this is a safe city and country. In my opinion, the most unsavory people you may run into are often the ones making their living from young travelers (duh), though our hostel is fantastic. I woke our host up at 0730 this morning freaked out wondering what to do, and she stayed with us for hours helping with phone calls and anything else she could. We love her. Freeman's Bed and Breakfast is the very best, and what we were expecting in NZ.
More advice we can give you is to spend the extra $50 on stolen vehicle insurance coverage. Never leave your passport in your vehicle. We didn't, but we just want to really stress that one. Like individual stocks, do not invest more than you can afford to lose. What we lost will not financially ruin us. It was still less than a rental, or what the cost of staying in hotels and hostels would have been, so relatively speaking we still had a cheap vacation. When you go to buy a van, make sure you run a legal check. Also make sure the seller is the actual registered owner! We did this when we bought, but whoever stole our van will be able to flip it to some clueless young couple no problem. Only one of our potential buyers asked about a legal check. All other people only looked at the price, and didn't consider the engine or legal status of the vehicle. Whoever buys our stolen van will be shit-out-of-luck, and I feel more sorry for them than us. At least we got three legal months of joy out of her. They will lose money and their vacation when found and seized.
We'll be home on Saturday, and we're looking forward to watching the Mariners, drinking the best beer in the world, ordering real iced coffee, and visiting our friends. I'm also looking forward to driving my little two-seater hybrid car around instead of a huge van. Grant is really looking forward to this, as it is my turn to do the driving for three months.
Cheers, and here are some pictures of the Far North
Bay of Islands - The bay of Islands is pretty. We went sailing and had a good time.
Cape Reigna - Cape Reigna is one of the most spiritually important places for the Maori people. It is at the very far North end of the North Island, where the Tasman sea and Pacific Ocean literally meet. You even see the line where the seas crash against each other from different directions. It is also where the Maori believe all their souls go before dispersing to the spirit world, Hawaike. They actually go through that tree's roots down to the next word and "disperse". Where the oceans meet is also where they believe some gods met and created life (or something). So there you go.
Close up of the "dead people tree" (Robin's words)
Looking towards the Tasman Sea
Where the seas meet, a clear line in the sea!
Then we visited some sand dunes at Te Paki. An activity you could do is to surf or boogie board down the steep dunes. We only managed a short walk.