Tips for an NZ visit

This item appears on page 17 of the August 2011 issue.

My partner, John, and I spent the month of March ’11 touring New Zealand. The night before our flight home from the Auckland airport, we stayed at the friendly Parnell Inn (320 Parnell Rd., Auckland 1052, New Zealand; phone 09 358 0642 or, toll-free in NZ, 0800 472 763), located on the very charming Parnell Road.

Our large studio room cost NZD125 (near $100). It was a quiet room with plenty of space for end-of-trip repacking. The small refrigerator and tea/coffee-making supplies, standard for New Zealand accommodations, were augmented by tableware for two, including wineglasses.

We easily could have brought back food from the local take-away restaurants; instead, we enjoyed a sumptuous seafood platter at the intimate restaurant Di Mare (Shop 9, 251 Parnell Rd.; phone 09 300 3260) across the street. The seafood platter for two cost NZD60 ($48); wine cost extra.

For our four-week trip, we rented a nice, used, four-door automatic Nissan Sunny (economy class) from Apex Car Rentals (locations throughout New Zealand; phone +64 3 379 6897 or, toll-free in NZ, 0800 93 95 97).

The very reasonable rate of NZD987 ($793) for 26 days included free GPS (which proved very helpful!) and passage for the car on the Interislander ferry (our passenger fares cost extra). Before our trip, Apex answered all our e-mailed questions promptly. During the trip, they were helpful and flexible, allowing us to alter our ferry date mid trip and to add an extra day at the end of our rental at no charge!

A cell phone was available with the car for $4 a day, but, as coverage is not available in rural areas, you will also need to purchase a prepaid phone card for use in payphones plus one for private phones, such as those provided in motel rooms.

The cell phone may need a “top-up” card, found in supermarkets and other places, but first check to see if unused time is left on the phone by a previous renter. The phone cards are available at supermarkets, also.

Davis, CA