I never quite appreciated the public transport network back in the UK cause let’s face it, compared to the rest of Europe its pretty sh*t! The trains are extortion, meaning its cheaper for me to fly budget airline to a European city than it is to go anywhere domestically; you are programmed to believing that the trains don’t run on time and I have to say personally its probably been a 50-50 split there; during peak hours you can forget about having a seat to sit on and let’s face it…. If you’ve ever been on the Eurostar, the Channel tunnel chain from England to France, you know you’ve crossed into England when you start to see toilet stylee tiles inside the tunnel. Talk about great first impressions! Then I arrived in NZ.
Trains, if they run at all, run every two days, and that’s not even a return ride on the same day. So for example, if I wanted to take the train from Hamilton to Auckland, about a 2hr drive, I have a choice of departing on Saturday, Monday or Wednesday. To return I can only do that the next day, so Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday. Seriously, I kid you not! There are no other trains. Even this train is only available because it is part of a long distance route travelling from Wellington (tip of the North Island) up to Auckland. There are three long distant trains all to cater tourists in NZ. One in the North Island, two in the South. There were three but due to damage on a coastal route one of those trains are no longer available and no, there are no other alternatives, not even a coach that now covers that long distance journey. So literally there are places you can’t get to on public transport in NZ. Kinda reminds me of Scotland really and trying to go to remote places, only I never thought I would ever say this…. Our train services are better in that at least Scots rail offers locally operated services that run daily.
If you are a tourist and/or have the great luxury of wasting time, like I did when I had to return back north from Wellington, you will like the Explorer trains. Because they are catered for tourists they are well run, clean, have spacious seating areas, food cart and even viewing cart so you can take photos as you whizz by some of the fantastic landscape.
It was quite a shock to the system when I went to the other side, the terminal building side of Hamilton Airport to find one super small building with a cafe upstairs and rental car desks and a few check in counters only, I was pretty shocked. After six months of going to Hamilton airport to go to ‘school’ I didn’t realise how small the terminal building side would be. Heck it was probably the size of my school if I was to split the 2 storey terminal into a bungalow and stretch it across the L3 school plot. But that wasn’t even remotely the most shocking thing, that would have to go to the complete non existent security which I didn’t have to go through before I boarded the plane. Not only was there no security but the only visible Air NZ employee who had been standing at the check in desks only hours before, when I first arrived to check in my luggage, was now also boarding the passengers. It was so informal I couldn’t get my head around it. What is going on? This most certainly ridicules every single heavily secured airport back in the Northern Hemisphere that’s for sure, and what was worse was that it made me feel uneasy. Uneasy because I’ve now been conditioned to expect rigiourous security checks before boarding a flight. The whole experience was very disconcerting and made me look like a paranoid foreigner. What is this thing they [NZers] have, this innate friendliness and trust?! I’m so not used to this!
Then comes the next shock. I was flying to a destination that would have probably taken (approximately) 4 hours if I was flying in a straight line. Instead, as there were no direct flight to the South Island’s West Coast, I ended up taking 3 separate journeys. 2 of those journeys consisted of me getting off the plane only to get back on the same plane 5 minutes later with the same crew and in the exact same seat! My flight times consisted of 2hrs, 40mins and 20mins, so really my 4hr approximate is even too much! Insult to injury, I had to pay the premium of flying 3 flights, so I was really penalised for Air NZ not having direct flights to destinations. How is that the customer’s fault? I compare this to NZ companies charging the customer direct debit and admin fees to pay them. Does this make any logical sense to anyone? I have to pay the company fees in order to pay the company. Eh, hello? Why are you penalising the customer for being your customer? Huuuum ~~~ [Meditation].
NZD$10 travel by shuttle bus anywhere in town
Don’t let this ‘offer’ catch you out cause it most certainly did me. Had I known it came with a T&C based on min 2 people, I would have taken Uber instead, which would have worked out roughly the same price but I would also have arrived at my destination much quicker than waiting for everyone else in the shuttle to be dropped off first. So yeah, travelling, like most other counties, doesn’t pay to travel alone.
Uber vs Taxis:
Well this is a very new concept in NZ so don’t expect it in the majority of places here. Sure you stand a chance in big cities but to give you an idea, Uber only became available in Hamilton a few months after I arrived here. Comparing the price to the local taxis there’s not actually much of a difference if there is even any at all, as I found out with my Uber ride to Hamilton Airport. The Uber ride cost me just over $37. The taxi quote was $40. I guess I could use the $2 & change to buy a pie though the $5 pizza is out.