Monday, October 09, 2006


Journey to the Bach and our first impressions!

Catch-up Posting:

Apologies for the slow down in the postings, I am trying to catch up!

As we left the Airport Campus towards the Car Rental centre, Debbie and the kids looked around, our driver was quiet and was not going to give us a running commentary….

Debbie asked me about driving over here; was I concerned about it and the different rules?

I confidently replied it would be easy, they drive on the same side of the road in New Zealand and the cars are also right hand drive. To prove the point I looked across at the junction we were stopped at with a red light to see a van bump over the central reservation to get back onto the right side of the road! The driver and I exchanged glances and laughed! Doh!

The rest of the drive was uneventful and we made our way through the region above the airport known as South Auckland, the area was quite build up and had a light industrial feel about it, lots of cars sales yards and various retail outlets. As we drove into the rental forecourt , I spotted a Toyota Estima sitting in the sheltered collection bay and suspected it would be ours. I went into the reception area and went up to the desk to complete the paper work and collect the car keys, I took the additional Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) as any ding or dent, even if we were not responsible would come off the credit card deposit we had to leave.

The girl behind the counter was friendly and helpful, she was interested in what we were over to do; and fascinated with the fact we had just arrived as fresh immigrants. She took us outside to the Estima I had spotted and showed us around it, as I had taken the 'bronze' rental option, it was an older vehicle and not really showroom condition. That said, it was clean inside and out, and the mileage 170,000 kms seemed to have been well handled and the significantly cheaper costs made sense to me.

The car is a MPV as requested , and they had folded up the last row of seats to leave a cavernous space for our pile of luggage, which I unloaded from the pick up van's trailer into the Estima. I retrieved my Pocket PC, GPS Receiver and Pocket PC holder from the luggage first and rigged it up , plugging in the power to the car's cigarette lighter socket. Hopefully this would take the stress out of navigating from the South Auckland region to the West Auckland region and the Bach*. I started up the GPS Software and Receiver and held my breadth, I could not really test the software I had bought in the UK as I was on the wrong side of the world! It took an extended period of time to get a GPS fix, but hey presto the fix was found and a green arrow appeared on the map showing where we were! We were good to go!

With the car loaded with luggage and the children in their car seats we set off, the car was an automatic with a hand lever gear shift and I got off the starting line with no problems… after about a 150m I realised that I had the handbrake on and took that off. The journey was simple we got onto the motorway really easily and made our way north to another motorway which took us west. Our Bach is based in Te Atatu South and as we turned off the motorway the GPS guided us 'in' (The GPS software was developed and written in New Zealand by a company called NAVMAN, but the voice instructions were still with a UK accent! ).

As we entered the suburban streets in the area we would be staying for the next 3 weeks, we looked around and noticed that all the houses were of a similar age , but all differing designs, they were all quite large; either in footprint or where two storey both! What really surprised as was they all seemed to be build right on top of each other. Our immediate thoughts were that this was strange and some what cramped, I know Kiwi's are supposed to be  neighbourly but this seemed a little extreme.

We approached the house on Sherwood Avenue and looked up a steep driveway to the house, it looked great from the outside and the front garden looked great; lush green lawns and a selection of trees. The house has a big covered deck outside with a table and chairs, where the front door is, this is approached by a set of stairs.

(I promise to get some photographs' up on the site very soon)
We all bundled out of the car and I located the letter box at the front of the garden, by the road. Now I should pause here, there is an interesting story as to why I was seeking the letter box…

*When we had finalised out dates for me leaving Fidelity and booking the flights I began an internet search to locate some temporary accommodation while we sorted our selves out. As we wanted separate rooms for the children and somewhere that would take the dog I looked around and discovered the New Zealand 'bach' (This is pronounced 'batch' by the way). Traditionally the bach was a glorified beach hut where families could go away for the weekend and short breaks to their own place. They were quite basic and were not really holiday homes. Today, a bach can still be quite basic, although I believe the original bach has been replaced by more sophisticated properties and often represents a quite grand  place to stay with all creature comforts.  I found a suitable bach, which was really a three bed house  in the region of Auckland referred to as West Auckland, part of the Waitakere City District called Te Atatu South. Anyway, I negotiated a rate for staying an initial 25 days, and sent an email asking how I could get him a deposit to secure the booking. I received an email back saying not to worry about the deposit and the key would be left in the letterbox for us! I was amazed how trusting the arrangement was.

I opened the letterbox and there was a key there, as promised. I ran up to the house with the everyone keen to get in and opened the door. We all went in and explored, I was very happy the house was very clean with simple white walls and a polished wood floor throughout, except the lounge area which was carpeted. The back garden was nice with a patio area, out furniture , the obligatory BBQ , a rockery and a bush growing what looked like grapefruit! The owners had left us a note welcoming us and saying they would be around Sunday to collect payment and had left some beer in the fridge also.

I unloaded the suitcases again, carrying them up the stairs, by the time I was finished I was knackered!
Debbie inspected the bedrooms and the kids decided that they wanted to share a bedroom, so much for finding a three bed place.

I distributed the suitcases to the relevant rooms and went back to the living room. Debbie and I decided we had better get some food in, we could not live on beer alone!

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