Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Renting a Car in New Zealand

Route 70, New Zealand (May 29, 2008)

The day after Akaroa I rented the car that we would keep for the next week. Before leaving Boston we found a local Christchurch rental car company, that turned out to be quite good. Sometimes choosing blindly from the internet has its own risk: you never know what is really on the other side of your internet connection. This time instead we got the real thing.

Route 70

First of all, in New Zealand you don’t rent a car. You hire it. So, if you search on google for new zealand car hire, one of the first links you get is the Apex car rental company. It is local (they say... the kiwi way), but big enough to have different locations in both islands. The first thing we liked was that one can chose the car to rent (sorry, I mean hire). Not just the model, but the car itself, with the mileage on it. We chose a Ford Focus automatic. I am usually for manual shifts, but given the added complication of driving on the left, I thought an automatic shift was not a bad idea. Fortunately the Focus had one of those semi-automatic shifts where you can directly select the gear, which turned out to be a quite useful feature (decent compromise for the lack of control of automatic shifts) when later on in the trip I had to drive through mountains and unpaved roads. The people at the rental agency were very nice (as most New Zealanders, I should add), and helpful. Somehow our request for a GPS unit (remember this trip was in 2008, before GPS was ubiquitous on smartphones) and snow chains was forgotten in our internet registration, but the guy at the agency went out of his way to find a unit for me. I even got a travel guide for free (you can actually download it from the web site). And for the environment conscious among us, the company plants a number of acres of new trees every year, to try to offset the CO2 emissions generated by their cars (at least they did that at the time, I can't find a mention of it on their current web site)!

The trip to Akaroa was just a pause in Mayli conference, which had two more days to go. So I went alone to rent the car, and spent the next couple of days driving around Christchurch, in the beautiful hills and plains at the feet of the Southern Alps. Farmland (and a lot of sheep), with one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. But that’s a new story for next time...

Route 70, New Zealand (May 29, 2008)

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