Category Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated destination for Olleydays, started in difficult circumstances, almost bittersweet.

The kerfuffle started with leaving South America. There is one flight daily from Santiago de Chile to Auckland at about 9 o’clock in the evening. We arrived at the airport only to be told our flight had flown the previous day, despite all our paperwork suggesting we had arrived for the correct flight. We were advised we wouldn’t be able to get out of Santiago unless there were cancellations for the next flight and that was highly unlikely and required us to hang around at the airport all evening until check-in close. Further investigation, by the very helpful staff at the airport, highlighted some odd activity on our ticket showing multiple bookings for previous flights over the prior week. Some sort of monumental cock-up by the people who booked our tickets! The airport staff even recognised our name from several apparent no shows that we knew nothing about! We waited and sure enough, were unable to fly.

Fury didn’t even quite cut it. Not only had someone messed up our booking, but we had to venture back one hour into Santiago. We lugged our entire lives back with us into the city which was no mean feat and fortunately our hostal room was still free. Multiple emails and skypes were had to try and ascertain what had happened and to alert our camper van rental company that we would be late, how late we weren’t sure but that we still wanted the rental. We were feeling pretty annoyed that our hotly anticipated trip to NZ was going to be reduced by a day. We were advised to try again the following day and we reluctantly agreed having been told that the flight was fully booked already by airport staff.

We set off for the airport again with an air of resignation, expecting not to be able to fly, the promise of a complementary stay at a nearby hotel the only silver lining to us.

Same story, different day. Hours of hanging around to no avail. Instead of travelling back to our hostal to potentially be disappointed and traipse around Santiago at midnight looking for somewhere to stay, we checked into the nearby Hilton, courtesy of the company who managed to mess up our tickets. This time, we were told it was looking good availability wise for the next flight so we enjoyed a day at the pool and the luxury of a hotel room. We had made contact with our van rental company, Jucy, and  advised that we hoped to arrive the following day, hopeful that they would be lenient with no arrival fees.

After a quite restful day in the hotel, we spent another evening waiting around at the airport until the end of check in. This time, there were two spots available! However, there were three of us on the waiting list. Seeing as the guy ahead of us had been waiting a day longer, we decided to let him go, leaving only one seat and two of us. Surely this good karma would pay off eventually? Back to the Hilton, it could’ve been worse.

The following day started with more contact with our agents and this time they rang our hotel room to confirm we were leaving South America at last that evening! Although not to Auckland as planned, but Sydney with a tight changeover for Auckland. We contacted Jucy again to keep them up to date and confirmed we hoped to be there the following day, again. Now 3 days out of our 4 weeks of scheduled NZ time.

We’d left South America, finally! Our plane was a little delayed leaving but I felt sure we’d make it up, and some, and be able to catch the flight to Auckland.

We didn’t make it up. In fact it was even slower and we were alerted mid-flight that we wouldn’t make the transfer. In fairness, we were told we’d be put up in a hotel in preperation for the following flight the next day at 7am, but this doesn’t make up for the further day eaten away from our NZ trip. I wondered how much Jucy would expect us to pay of our missed rental as it was starting to get embarrassing. It started to feel like a higher being did not want us to visit New Zealand!

Jucy, our camper van hire company, could not have been any better. Prior to our delayed arrival, they were very aware of our strict budget and did everything they could to lower the overall cost of the hire and even threw in the use of a gps device and free second driver cover so that we could both take the wheel whilst in New Zealand. Despite our numerous delayed arrivals, they also didn’t charge us for missed days. Service like this just doesn’t happen in England.

The more we travel, the more we’ve begun to realise how miserable and unhelpful people are (generally) in England. Customer service and even a willingness to help strangers in need seems to be dying out. Everywhere we’ve been so far, people go out of their way to ensure that customers, or even strangers like us have a pleasant experience with their company or country. Regardless of if it’s looking for certain items in a supermarket, trying to arrange alternate travel for missed busses or errors with paperwork that leave us stranded, we have been dealt with in a very professional, respectful and hospitable manner. Thinking to times where these sorts of things have occurred to us in England, I’m sure some of you are familiar with the shrug of the shoulders and the ‘not my problem’ response. Frankly, it’s quite embarrassing and is something that we should  be ashamed of; one aspect of life at home that I’m not looking forward to returning to. Do some people not realise that this can result in further business and positive attitudes towards a company and even a whole nation of people? It really doesn’t cost anything and, contrary to some belief, IS a part of your job.
It was this ‘can do’ attitude that made Jucy appealing to us as we were recommended to them by some fellow travellers as being particularly helpful. As a result, we’ve recommended Jucy to numerous other people, some of whom have made bookings. I couldn’t recommend them any more highly. If you are ever in NZ or Aus, just book with them. You shan’t be disappointed. If you are, then I will shoulder some of the blame.
Rather than give you a written rundown of everything we
did, I’ll leave it to the pictures to do the talking for us.
Here’s the route:
north
mid
south
Simply put: the most breath-takingly stunning place that I have ever seen, and possibly ever will get the opportunity to. Here’s the gallery and the photos in no particular order

 

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Mendoza Reds (ARG) vs. Marlborough Whites (NZL)

Hey there sports fans! Welcome to another exciting, pulse-raising edition of the Olleydays blog. I know you’ve been waiting some time for this one but the wait is over, the anticipation has reached fever pitch and the stage is set to see several scorching wines go head-to-head in personified battle. Continue reading Mendoza Reds (ARG) vs. Marlborough Whites (NZL)

30 days to go!

Whilst I take some time out from the wonderfully exciting world of travel insurance, small-print and locating some yellow fever in Suffolk to inject, I thought I’d actually spend some time getting excited about the impending 8 month trip. I was thinking to myself about all the places we’d be visiting and the unknown gems that we’ll hopefully uncover and write about, but there is, of course, thanks to the marvel of books and the technological era, a wealth of information we already know about many far-flung places we’ve never visited. It is because of this background knowledge that we have planned to visit some of these places. So I’ve put together a list of the top 5 places that we’re planning to visit and attempted to remember who first planted the idea.

So, in true 21st century, list-crazy fashion (I’m so net-chic), here are the top 5 places that I’m most excited about.


-5-  Macchu Picchu, Peru

Providing the solid, yet ancient, foundations for this stellar list is the nation of Peru and her Incan civilisation’s Macchu Picchu. As a snap-happy twenty-something, the prospect of shooting this place at sunrise (albeit after the strenuous vigour of the Inca Trail) does promise to be spectacular at the least! Whilst this is an Olley original idea, my friend Will, who has been a superb source of travelling wisdom has provided extra motivation to complete the trek. I’ve been advised that chomping down on the coca plant will provide that extra ‘oomph’ needed to mount the summit.

-4-  Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Slam-Dunkin’ in at number 4 is the Bolivian Salt Flats. I’d spotted this area whilst doing my research and was debating about whether or not it would be a waste of time; it looked flat, it looked barren. My good, and now well traveled, pal Mike, from University, could not talk highly enough of the place, but his having lived in Bromley, I assumed his tolerance for excitement was quite low 🙂 . Once I’d seen one of his photos however, it was sold and the tour, with which I was not convinced, will be booked once we are out there (apparently it’s cheaper this way – thanks Mike!).

-3- Kinabatangan, Malaysia

Cruising smack bang into the middle of this list is the Kinabatangan River in Malaysia. One of our trips that has already been planned is one to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in Sabah, Malaysia. The folks convinced us to book this tour and are coming out to visit us for this tour and the chance to see some of the exotic wildlife along a river cruise is going to be incredible. Again, plenty of opportunities to practise some wildlife photography.

Pig-tailed Macaque drinking water, Kinabatangan, Borneo | © C S Ling

-2-  Waitomo, New Zealand

Steam-rolling its way into 2nd spot is the Glow Worm Caves at Waitomo. I discovered these on a Pinterest trawl and added them to my board to remind me of the research I’d done and what not to miss! They look incredible. I have a number of incredible sights in New Zealand over on my Pinterest board. In theory, but against the established rules of this list, the whole of New Zealand should probably be at this spot. In fact, from the many people that I’ve spoken to about New Zealand, I could probably do a top 100 of just New Zealand! An old Schoolfriend of mine, Aaron, is currently back after a year in NZ and is going through the stages of getting permanent residency out there. From what he’s said, the whole country is a picture opportunity. If you stopped at every incredible scenic point, you’d never get anywhere!

Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand

-1-  Mumbai, India

Taking this list by storm, is the capital city of the state of Maharashtra. Whilst I know this is a huge divergence from the ‘traditional’ beautiful tourist destinations, I’ve always been captivated by the tumultuous and intense way of life in India. I’ve always been fascinated by India, ever since I was young and even more so with Mumbai after reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This was lent to me by a colleague and friend of mine at Burtons, a fellow Paul. After feeling like I used to lose myself in the depths of the slums in Mumbai every morning on the tube for about a month (it’s a huge book!), I feel like I might even be able to recognise it…

Shantaram - Leopolds Cafe, Bombay!

This environment is far different than the previous home. How can environment and shelter influence the nature v. nurture debate?

If I manage to catch the start of the IPL season, then I will be, quite possibly, the happiest man on the planet!

EXCITING NEWS – You will all be salivating at the prospect of this: a forthcoming Guest Blog post. Yes that’s right! I will be featured this weekend over at The Taste Chase! So pootle over and check it out to see what its all about. Knives and forks at the ready!