Sunday, August 18, 2013

Campervaning around South Island with Kea

I didn't update this blog for close to 5 months ever since I came back from New Zealand. Fuhh. Kena update lepas ni... berhabuk!! 

Ada yg asked about New Zealand trip update .. not much to update though since I went to about the same places I went in 2011. And since the iPad kena songlap kat Rotorua, and most pictures are in there so I don't have much left except what I had in my handphone. Story about break in in Rotorua will be in another post insyaallah kalau rajin.

But one thing different this time is because we used campervan to move around in South Island. I used Kea Campervan, after a bit of research of what campervan to use. It was April, so it was still peak period and the price was at a high side. I hired the campervan at the rate of NZD235 per day basic, plus NZD60 platinum cover for the insurance and other facilities like GPS etc. The rate is half what I quoted if we rent it from May to Oct. All in all, I spent NZD2,950 for 10 day rent. There are other cheaper options like Britz, Backpackers, Apollo etc, but I read the reviews at many places and thought I would go with the one with almost no bad reviews, and that is Kea.

But I guess I was just unlucky. Turn out it was not such a good experience after all. We took our camper in Christchurch and drove it all the way to Lake Tekapo on the first day with our ears stuck because of the noise coming from the microwave since there's some crack at the plating. And we didn't know what to expect since we never drove a campervan before, so when my brother complaint that it was quite heavy, we thought that is because it was indeed heavy. Little that we know that there's something wrong with the turbo, causing the driving experience to be difficult. 

The journey from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown was a disaster. It became so heavy to the point we can't even climb a hill. And you know how hilly Queenstown can be. It was already night when we reached Queenstown, so the next day we called Kea Christchurch for help, and since there's no Kea in Queenstown, we were directed to Maui Queenstown for help. The camper we had was a new camper and still under warranty, so they directed us to another workshop, and asked us to come after lunch. So there we were, after lunch, we drove to the workshop as directed, and they told us it was supposed to be a one hour affair, so we can wait. We waited for about 3 hours at the workshop without being attended, and when I called back Kea, and Maui followed up with the workshop, then only we were told that there's spare parts they need to wait for and the camper will not be ready for the day. What the? So what the manager think am doing at their office if they know the camper will not be ready that day? I was so pissed off but the mechanic in Maui was very helpful and told us we can have the one and only Kea they have at Maui base at that time, but turn out it was a 4-berth camper while ours is 6-berth! So we had to go back and had to wait for the replacement camper which will be driven from Christchurch the next day. And the next day, they started to drive from Christchurch in the morning, and it was only in the afternoon we got the replacement camper. So all in all, we lost almost 2 days in Queenstown. The lesson I got is, I better opted for a camper company which has more branches, if I opted for Maui instead, I would have the replacement camper right away. And what makes me pissed off is, Kea told me that it was not their policy to compensate for the lost of days because they have tried their best to accommodate us as soon as possible. While I agree the staffs are polite and trying their best, I thought the policy is disappointing. You know you handed faulty vehicle to your client but no compensation? 

What did I get instead? Read the message below. When they send the replacement camper, they put a  bottle of wine in the fridge together with this message. I am a Muslim for God sake!

 The replacement camper is in good shape, the performance was good... but... there's a leakage of water hose. Macam mana nak isi air bang oii? Tension tau. Our fault was we didn't check the water hose before we leave Maui base. We should have checked it first!

But the experience driving around with a camper is really something. My parents can get their sleep anytime they want.. they can also go to toilet anytime they want. Though of course the capacity of the toilet is limited, it is designed for mat salleh where toilet affairs doesn't involve a lot of water. Depa tak payah cebok. Kita nak cebok tak boleh kat toilet tu kena cebok kat shower sebab toilet tu punya tank kecik gila. Kalo cebok gak dalam tu nanti penuh within seconds hahaha..  And the baby can also get his sleep along the journey comfortably.. with comforter, pillows etc by his side. Tak meragam langsung pun dia along the journey because his sleep was not interrupted. See the picture below, that's how comfortable he was sleeping in the campervan while his father drives.

 I didn't sleep in the camper all the time, simply because there are 5 adults and the camper can be quite crowded with 5 adults in it. My parents need proper sleep and the baby needs to wander around. We still sleep in motel and only slept in the campervan for 2 nights, one night in Christchurch and another night in Te Anau. I slept an additional night in Lake Tekapo in the campervan with my brother while the rest slept in a cabin.

With complete kitchen in the campervan, we were also not worry about food. I didn't cook in campervan all the time, I normally cook in the common kitchen at the holiday park. But it was so easy because we cook in the morning and bring it along the journey, we can reheat it whenever we want to eat, and we can get everything from the fridge along the way. The above picture is when I cooked in the campervan at Lake Tekapo. It was convenient except you can't do much frying because the smell will conquer the whole campervan haha. 

Minus the bad experience we had with the faulty camper, all in all actually a nice experience being in the camper. Will I do it again? Yeah... when there are only 2 of us in the camper. It is easier to handle because 5 adults I think is too many you will bump into each other all the time in the camper :)

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