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.