Tuesday 27 November
Flew from Sydney to Auckland, arrived on time and phoned the campervan hire company who promised to pick me up in 10 to 12 mins. After 20 mins I got a bit worried and went back in the airport and phoned again. They had picked up the wrong person and asked me to get a cab. Cab driver overcharged me. Welcome to New Zealand. But he did give me a receipt with the company's name on it so the van hire people are going to ring them up and ask for a refund. Next thing after all the paper work was done and I produced my credit card to pay the bill. Now this was a slightly anxious moment due to the fact that when I go to Sydney and went to an ATM to get some cash the card was refused. I phoned the bank back in the UK who informed me that I should have told them I was leaving the EU. It appears the all cards are refused outside the EU for security reason. No one told me. I even went through Santander's website looking for such an instruction. You will find it now following the 3 emails I sent expressing my dissatisfaction in their service. If I hadn't been staying with family I would have been well and truly up the creek without the proverbial paddle. After the first phone call during which I was assured my cards would both work I went down to the local ATM to beg for some cash. Did I get any? Not a chance. I even tried the credit card. So an other phone call. It's tedious because the second person has no idea what you said to the first person, And I wish call centres didn't play music when they put you on hold. At the end of the second call during which I was put on to some one from security who said there was no reason why my cards, when inserted into an ATM any where in Australia or New Zealand shouldn't produce a torrent of cash. Well the debit card did but not the credit card. A 3rd phone call to the UK plus the 2nd of 3 emails delivered an assurance that if the sun were to actually rise tomorrow then my cards would work. Well to be sure I took $20 out using the credit card so the sun will rise tomorrow, it might not shine but it will rise. So landing in New Zealand I was confident but there was a little 'but' hanging about in the back of my mind. It had every reason to be there because neither card would produce anything except 'Transaction Declined'.
My first idea was to walk back to the airport and see if I could get deported back to Australia. Then the lady from the van hire company lent me her car so I could drive to a nearby ATM and see if I could get some cash. No cash. Looks like no holiday; I had worked all of August to pay for it. 180 boring trips to Cockington and back just so I could drive a campervan round North Island New Zealand. I couldn't ring the bank, it was the middle of the night in the UK.
Then the lady( may she win the lotto and live happily ever after) phoned her boss and explained the situation and boss lady told me to take the van, ring my bank and come back in a few days and pay. New Zealanders are the greatest people in the world. Heading north from Auckland I pulled into a service station to check my map. On the way out I got stopped by the police and breathalysed. Good job I hadn't stopped somewhere for a large double whisky to calm my nerves.
To morrow I will pop in to the van place on my way further south and pop my credit card into the chip and pin thingy. I know it will work because I used it to by some petrol.