January 22-25 2007

Welcome to the seventh phase of the Around-the-World driving expedition of the World of Wonders Project. Kim & Don welcome you to join us as we explore the island nation of New Zealand, known by the Maori as Aotearoa or "Land of the long white cloud".

We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand mid-day on Monday, "two" days after we left Arizona. The "two" is in quotes because when you travel to New Zealand from the United States, you cross the International Date Line and time moves forward a day. Our actual travel time from Prescott was 23 hours. Ugh.

Immediately after arriving in Auckland, we contacted the customs broker that was helping to facilitate getting our Fuso out of the clutches of the port. We found out that all of the customs work had been taken care of, but we still needed to have the truck inspected by the New Zealand Ministry of Forestry (MAF). MAF is charged with keeping New Zealand safe from imported infestations. They are very strict about incoming dirt, insects and food items. We were able to set up our inspection for the next morning, so we decided to wander around Auckland for the afternoon. We knew that if we just hung around at the hotel we would be crashing early and then suffer the full effects of jet lag.

New Zealand is where sports like bungee jumping got its start.  One of the places to do this is the Sky Tower, the tallest building in NZ.  Do you think you could jump off of this?  No, we didn't do it either.

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Auckland is built on an isthmus between two harbors, the Tasman Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. If fact the isthmus is so narrow that you can walk from the sea to the ocean in about 20 minutes. The Maori arrived in the area around 800AD and the British settlement of Auckland began in 1820 when the area was visited by Samuel Marsden who named the city after the Earl of Auckland. Auckland is one of the world’s most sprawling cities. The islands of New Zealand were the last major land mass colonized by humans.

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The next morning we arrived bright and early at the MAF offices. Our inspector, Brian, outfitted us with bright green safety vests and escorted us into the port area. After driving around for a few minutes, we spotted the Fuso. Looking very good after a month in the port in Panama and a month on board ships, we opened him up and allowed Brian to do his thing. Fortunately the thorough internal cleaning we had done before leaving Colombia had been sufficient and the only additional cleaning we needed to do was to wash the bottoms of the shoes that had been left on board. 

Unfortunately the underside of the truck and the area under the floor coverings in the cab wasn’t clean enough, so the Fuso had to be taken to a cleaner in the port to be washed. This was the only indignity that we had to suffer as the cleaning of the underside and the cab cost us $210.00 NZ dollars. That’s about $140.00 US dollars. Also, originally we were told that the cab was going to be vacuumed. Well, the workers actually washed out the floor of the cab and soaked all of the padding. We had to pull it all up and let it drip dry.

Having a Customs agent, in our case Aironaut, assist us in obtaining all the clearances was a big help. Since our ship arrived in Auckland two days earlier than expected we were in danger of being charged an extra $300NZ for each day (past a four day grace period) so having someone start the ball rolling early was great.

Amazingly, only 24 hours after we arrived we had the Fuso out of the port and legally in New Zealand. We celebrated our good fortune with some excellent Kiwi wine and cheese.

The morning of the 25th we visited our agents to pick up our Carnet (the Fuso’s new passport) and to thank them and reimburse them for the port costs we incurred. We did some basic grocery shopping and hit the road. Actually we only went about 20 miles in all as we had to visit a vehicle registration office to obtain our Kiwi vehicle registration, then visit our tire sponsor, OTR, who helped us out with a discounted price on 6 new tires. The Fuso looked very "smart" in its new shoes, ready to do some exploring through New Zealand.

After getting some pointers on possible places to freedom camp, what wild camping is called by our NZ hosts, we parked for the night at the end of a road overlooking the water near a ferry terminal.

By the way, here are some photos of the ship that carried our Fuso from the Americas to New Zealand.




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