We landed at Christchurch airport on time, 9 May 2017 around 2 pm. We didn’t have chance to discover the airport too much, because we need to pick up our campervan as soon as possible. On autumn, the sun sets shortly after 5pm in South Island of New Zealand. It is not a good idea to roam around after dark, to locate your camping site in foreign country and after about 12 hours flight and transit.
The immigration was very fast and efficient. There was no authoritarian sound but instead very friendly and welcoming tone. The custom check was also fast and direct. Lesson learned from our past few trips are to be honest and declare anything relevant from what you bring to the foreign country. Most common questionable articles are foods and medicines. On top of that Australia and New Zealand also want to know if we have any shoes or adventure gears that probably contains soils from other countries which might need to be cleaned to avoid contaminating New Zealand biodiversity.
We brought some dried food such as anchovy, food seasoning, chili paste and chili sauce and also some pack of instant noodles. Those are perfect material during camping. Trust me, for whom not familiar, just hot rice with fried anchovy and chili paste taste amazing regardless its simplicity. We declared all of those in our immigration card. We also bring some medicine such as cough syrup and Panadol. The immigration officer wrote some letter code on the card, after we told them what food and medicine that we have. Then they also chop our passport which indicate we are welcomed to New Zealand.
After passing the immigration check, we directly see the luggage belts. Less than few minutes waiting, we have seen our two checked in luggage. We took those two and push the trolley to custom section for visitor with item to declare. The staff took our card and read the code letter on it. He is old, I think more than 60 but very friendly. The officer asked us to open the luggage that contains food to declare. The old man checked it shortly but diligently. He also asked what kind of medicine that we bring. At the end he let us in without taking anything out from our belonging. Finally we really step our feet on the soil of New Zealand.
Phone Sim Card
In past time, when people traveling to foreign country, the first thing they try to find is somebody holding welcome tag. Maybe some people from hotel or travel agent that will pick up the visitor. But nowadays, in the digital era, the first thing you want to find is a sim card. You need to communicate, you need to search something on internet and you might need to call a rental car company to pick you up.
There are two major telco company in New Zealand: Vodafone and Spark. There is one smaller new comer, 2 degree. After quickly comparing the package, we took 2 Vodafone sim cards, one for each of us. It costed $28 for 1GB data, some sms that I don’t think we will ever need and some minutes of talking time. When we bought the card, the staff will have to setup everything and we are good to go in only couple of minutes.
Apollo Pickup Car
After getting the sim card activated, I call Apollo hotline quickly to tell them we have landed and want to be picked up. After the phone call we get direction to wait somewhere near the bus stop to the city. It is easy to find because thankfully Christchurch airport is not too large. I couldn’t imagine if I were foreigner and need to find something in Soekarno Hatta Aiport Terminal 2.
The pickup car is already there. Together with us there are 1 couple with their twin babies and 1 other older couple join us shortly after that. After we put all the lugages the lady who drive the pickup car, bring us to the Apollo office. It was just about 10 minutes ride and we already reached the Apollo office. We will share more about how the Campervan pickup process looks like.