Author Topic: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings  (Read 20156 times)

Online AJK

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Hope to have the next installment this week.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Online chff

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Hope to have the next installment this week.
Can't sleep

Offline ilherman

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Can't sleep
So read the first part again.  :P
You can say what you think when you think what you say.

Offline Fan of Dan

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2015, 12:08:53 AM »
Nicely done AJK and great write up!!

Offline voldemort

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Hope to have the next installment this week.
Sitting on tenterhooks waiting for the week to end.

Online AJK

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I have a flight tomorrow on which I hope to continue drafting.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline voldemort

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Awesome.

Online AJK

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2015, 12:30:12 AM »

A Small Brook at the Foot of Fox Glacier


Intra-New Zealand Flights & Hotels

With our international airline itineraries nailed down, I began the process of booking intra-New Zealand flights and hotels. 

However, I soon came to realize that New Zealand and chain hotels is akin to Qantas and first class award availability: rarer than unicorns. Not a single Hyatt, SPG, or Marriott in the entire country. There was a single Hilton in Auckland and a single Hilton in Queenstown (more on the latter later).

So faced with the likelihood of having to stay in a dozen or so bed and breakfasts (not something Mrs. AJK would love) and the attendant research that would entail (not something I would love), I chose instead to refer back to my bucket list and cross off another item:

Rent, drive, live, eat, and sleep in a recreational vehicle (or “campervans” as the Kiwis call them).   

And so began research into the many and varied RV companies.  Ultimately, after reviewing https://www.rankers.co.nz/, essentially the tripadvisor for RV rentals, we settled on Wilderness Rentals for a couple of reasons.

One, they offered a line of RVs that looked to be the Ferraris of the campervan world, truly stunning, modern, and efficient:

Click HERE for a 360 degree internal view.











Two, the price was right. All told, considering we would no longer need to rent or pay for a car or worry about researching, booking and paying for B&Bs, I don’t believe we paid much more--if at all--than it would have cost us had we went what we was the traditional route. 

Little did I know at the time that RV’ing through NZ is a national pastime and a favorite of tourists.  The only thing you see more of than RVs are sheep. (And on my gawwwwd was there a lot of sheep. Like millions. Multi-millions. Like, everywhere.)

If you have the chance to visit and tour NZ, I cannot recommend highly enough to do so in an RV.  The convenience it afforded, the experience it provided, and the novelty it offered were too hard to pass up.

Once we settled on Wilderness, we had to begin planning our proposed route. With locations in Auckland (AKL), Chistchurch (CHC), and Queenstown (ZQN) (which is only a drop-off location in high season, which is apparently not when we went), we initially toyed with a one-way rental from AKL to down to ZQN and back up to CHC. 

As follows:



However, the more I researched, the more I realized it’d be foolish to try to do both the North Island and South Island given our time constraints.

Instead, we decided to just focus on the South Island (apparently the “better” of the two) and pick up and return the RV in CHC.



Once we confirmed the CHC RV pickup, I then turned to booking our flights AKL-CHC-AKL.  There were two options: Air New Zealand and Jetstar.  I preferred the former because they’re a Star Alliance member, and I am Star Alliance Gold, which would get me a larger baggage allowance, which mattered because these domestic tickets were to be booked separately from our international first class itineraries, which would have otherwise given us as much baggage as we needed.

When I first looked, probably a month or two before departure, flights on Air New Zealand were reasonable.  If I recall correctly, they were about $150/pp for the “Seat+Bag” tickets. 

(Oddly, and contrary to published Star Alliance rules, if a Star Alliance Gold member purchases only a cheaper “Seat” fare, he or she is not entitled to ANY luggage.  In order to get the “extra bag” provided by the Star Gold benefits, NZ requires you to purchase a “Seat+Bag” fare, which would then entitle the traveler to two bags, instead of one.  Star Alliance was less than helpful when I pointed out that NZ was deviating from the published rules.)

Anyway, after I confirmed the RV and went back a few days later to book the Air New Zealand tickets, the flights that we needed had doubled! (We needed certain flights because Wilderness had informed us that we must arrive in CHC no later than 4PM on the day of pickup, or else we’d be forced to get a hotel for the night and they’d pick us up the next morning, something I really wanted to avoid, considering our already short time frame on the ground and that Wilderness wouldn’t be refunding that portion of the RV rental.)

So I did some research into Air New Zealand flights. Like I mentioned, they have a “Seat” fare, a “Seat+Bag” fare, and a couple of others, one of which is a “Flexi-time” fare, which includes everything the Seat+Bag fare includes in addition to a number of other perks, including the most important: free changes.



Essentially, as soon as the clock strikes 12:00AM NZ time on the day of the flight, Air New Zealand will allow you to change your flight as many times as you want to ANY flight that day which has revenue availability, whether before or after your originally scheduled departure, and without upcharging for fare difference, if any. 

Armed with this knowledge, I scoured Air New Zealand’s website and ended up booking the cheapest Flexi-time fare available for the day we needed, which turned out to be the same price as our original flights would have been, saving us $300! All we needed now was a couple empty seats on our preferred flight on the day of departure, and we’d be home free.  A calculated risk, sure, but one with which I was comfortable.

Now to finally conclude our pre-trip preparation, we needed to book three hotel nights: two nights over Shabbas in Auckland on our way back home after we returned the RV, and one night in Bangkok for an overnight layover. I booked a cash+points stay at the Hilton Auckland as a backup, but shortly before we left, a deal went up on DDMS:

http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/56813

Using this, I booked a Superior room at the St Martins Waldorf Apts Hotel (no relation to Waldorf Astoria), for two nights at $50 per night instead of $135, which is highly recommended and was a 10 minute walk to the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, and was the size of a very large suite with kitchenette and washer/dryer, and I booked the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, ranked 8th out of 767 hotels in Bangkok by Trip Advisor, for one night at $28 instead of $110. At those prices, it’s a no-brainer to keep the points and use cash.

With that we were all set to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2015, 01:04:05 AM »
How much fuel does that eat ?

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2015, 02:14:39 AM »
Nice. Ur missing the hour ticker on the second map to show how long the driving distance was. That's a lot of driving.

Offline AharonInIsrael

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Cool! Really enjoying the planning!

Offline Emkay

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How much was the RV?

Offline voldemort

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Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings
« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2015, 02:13:47 PM »
Keeps getting better and better!

Offline efflpetzel

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I really enjoyed the detail of the flex fare,
A real Yiddish kup!

Online AJK

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I really enjoyed the detail of the flex fare,
A real Yiddish kup!

One of my favorite parts of the trip, ironically :P
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper