Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kiwi Quest 2010 - More Planning

I'm not so good at the "blog updating" thing, am I? I see that my last post on this subject was 3 months ago...

Well, a few things have changed since then. I thought I had nearly my whole trip planned out, save for a couple of flights within New Zealand, from the North Island to the South for the GAP trip, and back. Turns out I was wrong.

On the advice of my mother, and the experience of very little flight selection with Aeroplan already, I finally booked my inter-NZ flights: Auckland to Christchurch and back. Two days later, I get a call from GAP Adventures to inform me that my GAP trip has been cancelled due to insufficient numbers of people signing up. WHAT??!! Oh crap! They offered me a spot on the same trip (see link in Sept 2009 blog entry) departing in March, but unfortunately I couldn't take it. Then they offered me a discount on any other trip in lieu of that one, but again, I couldn't take advantage. In the end, I got all my deposit and trip insurance money back without any hassle, but I was very, very sad and frustrated for the whole weekend. I was also under a lot of stress outside of this trip planning so to suddenly be nearly back at square one was very disheartening.

After a few days, I was less depressed enough to start investigating alternate South Island trip ideas. You see, I didn't want to fly for 2 days and not see half of the country I am visiting, especially since the whole country is only 268,021 km2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand) so I was determined to find a replacement for my cancelled trip. After a LOT of research (something I'm pretty good at online), I decided to take myself on a Secret South adventure with a company called Active Earth New Zealand (http://www.activeearthnewzealand.com/secret-south.html). It ended up being a few days shorter than the GAP trip (11 days vs. 14), and cheaper too, but in the end that means I saved some money to put toward wool clothing (NZ has a LOT of sheep) and I'll have more time to spend in the North Island with my aunt and uncle. Win-win situation, I'd say!

Due to the change in length of South Island trip, and the fact that my newly booked trip departed Queenstown instead of Christchurch, this meant that I'd have to suck it up one more time and call Aeroplan again. I wasn't dreading calling Air New Zealand at all (I had booked one flight with each company for various reasons) because they had better "hold" music and I loved their accents. Aeroplan, on the other hand, has an annoying voice activated menu which means I have to speak as though the phone is simple-minded and deaf in order to be understood. I think the Aeroplan menu woman is related to Emily @ Bell, the voice menu girl that my mother loves to hate. It also meant I'd have to pay (again) to make changes to my flights, but in the end, neither call was too painful and I got early morning flights to make the most of the day at the other end of it.

I'll be headed to Queenstown the day before my trip leaves so I've booked myself a relaxing excursion to take in some of the local-ness of the country:
http://www.realjourneys.co.nz/Main/Farmexcursions/ I figure I'll save the skydiving and bungee jumping for next time. Queenstown is known as the "Adventure Capitol of the World" so I'm going to have me a grand adventure, me-style :)

I'm headed to the No PST Province in 2 more sleeps for some holiday snowboarding vacation so I'll try to update this blog a little more when I'm back. Happy Holidays!

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