Posted by John
As nice as the Opua marina is, we do need to get around. A van offers trips a few days a week to Paihia for grocery runs at the supermarket, and cars can be rented easily with a phone call. We took advantage of both the van and the rental cars more than once. We drove to Whangarei to check out a boatyard and see if there was a better place to keep the boat near there. On another trip we drove all the way to Auckland to pick up Julie’s brother and nephew at the airport. On both trips we spent the night at backpacker hostels. On the return trip from Auckland we stopped at Avis to pick up a rental car for Julie’s brother, and the battery in our rent-a-dent died. Fortunately, Avis had a jump starter.
For real mobility, and to save us from going broke on rental car charges, we decided we needed our own car. So we bought one.
Shopping for and buying a car in a foreign country—with left-side driving, no less—was never on my bucket list (or any to-do list), but it became something of a priority once we got here, considering our ambitious plans for the next few months. Of course, once it rose to the top priority, used cars for sale seemed to mysteriously become scarce. We searched internet postings, used car lots, message boards and car auction sites all the way to Auckland. The cars we were willing to gamble on always seemed to get sold just before we could get to them. Finally, we just happened to see an ad for this car posted on the laundry room board. We jumped on it.
After we called the seller, he offered to drive it over to the marina so we could have a look. As soon as we met him, people seemed to come out of nowhere to ask if the car was for sale. They opened doors, walked around looking at the tires, asking questions. Only after we said (loudly) that we’d take it and started filling out a transfer of ownership form, did they concede and go back to whatever they had been doing before.
The next morning we went to two ATMs in Paihia with three different bankcards in order to withdraw enough cash, then we met the seller again and completed the deal. The post office handled the registration transfer. For licensing and insurance purposes, the marina address is now our “permament residence” in New Zealand. The woman at the post office knew exactly what address we wanted to use, as she had done “a few” before.
It ended up being an easy process. Next up is a trip to town to see Star Wars.