Meet Bettina, my new ride, tidy!! :-)
I travelled for 8 month along the East and South Coast of Australia in my Commodore station wagon, old Bella, so for New Zealand I fancied something different and a motorbike seem to be the perfect option. I envisaged thrashing a touring bike on clear open roads, winding through beautiful green landscapes or climbing up mountains overlooking the deep blue ocean. That’s all very well, until I realised exactly how inconvenient it would be to travel by bike. First of all, you’re very limited to how much you can carry, and if you need to make a stop you can’t really leave your bike unattended if all your pannier bags are strapped to it, unless you take them with you. Also, every time you ride you have to wear protective clothing, that’s a jacket, trousers, boots, gloves and helmet; so what do you do with all this gear if you want to nip down to the beach or check out a tourist site? Not to mention the heat, imagine wearing a leather jacket and trousers in prime summer season! Having said that, the weather has been pretty bad, which again is not the best condition to be riding a bike. But the biggest issue of all, which I realised in my first few days here in Auckland, is that motorbikes are actually more expensive than cars! I thought I could save a bit by buying a bike and it would use less petrol, but much to my surprise I couldn’t find anything decent for less than $3500 - $4000 and I only had $3000 to spend! You also have to consider the extra cost of accommodation, which could be saved if you slept in a car. And what would I do at the end of my journey? A bike would be a lot more difficult to sell than a car or a van; maybe I could ship it to the UK for the same cost of a new one?
On the other hand, the market for cars, vans and 4x4s was buoyant, and I soon realised that if I choose the right vehicle I could strike lucky a second time and make a profit when I sold it, just as I did with Bella. So I started looking for a decent vehicle, armed with the experienced I had from Australia.
I spent the next two and a half days, scouting through many message boards in hostels and trawling the internet for adds. I found two very useful sites, one is the equivalent to ebay, trademe.co.nz, and the other one is just plain free adds, te.co.nz (trade and Exchange). The second one is great because it gives you the contact details of the seller, so you don’t have to wait for an auction to end if you want to buy straight away. It was through this site that I met Nico, a backbackers from Germany, travelling and working in Auckland. In his spare time, he was buying cars from desperate backpackers, a few days before their departure, and selling them to other backpackers without spending a penny more. He gave me many good tips and showed me how easy it is to buy a car in Auckland. You must check the VIR records on vir.co.nz if you’re buying a car, it cost $30 but it tells you if the vehicle is stolen or has pending fines to pay. I also visited a car market, somewhere off Karangahape Road but the prices were obscene! There’s another big car market every Saturday, but again I have been advised not to go there as most sellers are proper dealers trying to flog off vehicles they can’t sell in the shop.
I really wanted a 4x4 to cruise on the beaches, or a spacious van so I could sell it easily, or even another station wagon, but a good one… unlike money-draining Bella. I checked out many vehicles, a lovely Nissan Terrano 4x4, a Toyota Hiace and a Liteace, a few nice Subaru Legacy 4x4 very popular amongst backpackers, and eventually I ended up buying something completely different to what I had in mind! A little Mitsubishi RVR Z. I called her Bettina :-) Betsy for short.