Sunday, 6 September 2015

40 Hours in Auckland 

All because I had China Southern (CZ) frequent flyer miles due to expire in January 2016 

All flights and accommodation were booked 3 weeks prior to travel

The prices shown are all in AUD

Traveled solo 

Virgin Australia (VA) Cairns to Brisbane 
- Economy Class 

2 hr flight time
Booked though Orbitz and paid for with a 28 Degrees MC which attracts no international transaction fees. The ticket was purchased in $USD and was cheaper than buying direct on the VA website. Jump on the free bus from domestic to international airports and got me there about 2 hours before the flight departed. Ready to check-in for my business class flight. A seamless check-in with China airlines, with access to the Qantas Club Lounge. Salinger was the drink of the day before I boarded the flight. 

China Airlines (CI) Brisbane to Auckland
- Business Class

2:35 hr flight time
A little bit of Chaos getting this ticket sorted. China Southern (CZ) website does not allow you to redeem other skyteam alliance airlines, you have to ring there customer service in China (Thanks to Skype the cost is minuscule). Then being advised that I must pay the taxes with a Chinese credit or cash in China. A little difficult when you live in Queensland. Eventually I was directed to ring CZ Sydney office, they were fantastic and made all the arrangements from there on. They took payment is $AUD and emailed an E-Ticket. This charge went onto St George Amplify Card as they provided the best frequent flyer points return at 0.75 per $ spent. 

Auckland Accommodation - Auckland city hotel Hobson 
2 nights
Booked through HotelClub. Used NAB Amex. This was one of 2 charges that went towards the $500 spend required on the trip for the complimentary travel insurance to kick in. NAB charged $3.28 int transaction fee. I did a quick web search to see what promotional codes were around and found a valid one for HotelClub that gave a further 15% off which brought it in at just under $95 per night, I thought this was great for a nice inner city hotel with walking distance to everything. 

Now the Tweener:

Booked the airbus online $25.30 return 

To absorb my time in Auckland I : Walked, ate, consumed loads of NZ wine and beer and caught a ferry.

Food: (sequenced in order from arrival to departure)

Dinner -The Federal :  Casual, sit at the bar, good honest simple food &  great wine - loved the fried cauliflower.
Breakfast - Best Ugly Bagels : Great spot, wood fire burning and the bagels were fab
Lunch - Botswana Butchery : Bit flash!!, could die of thirst waiting for the 1st drink to arrive, food was great.
Dinner - Depot Eatery : Sat wedged into a corner at the bar, busy as, great staff and loads of fun. Most importantly the food was fantastic. Over indulged in there wines by the glass though..! My big spend for the trip.
Breakfast - Fond(ou) Cafe : Just coffee today inside the hotel and good
Lunch - Food Alley : NZ has a great array of food halls and mini shops selling fantastic food : picked a winner here too.

Take home treat: took the ferry to Devonport to explore and spend up on Devonport chocolates  great chocolate fish & chips for fathers day.

Pubs: That I visited once or twice
The Shakespeare Hotel
The Occidental
Vultures Lane

China Airlines (CI) Auckland to Brisbane 
- Business Class 

3:50 hr flight time
Ticket purchased on China Airlines (CI) website and charges in NZD. For me this was WOW 392 bucks business class. This also went on the NAB Amex which made the insurance effective.  NAB charged $7.84 int transaction fee. Stupid error on my part, I didn't have the credit card I charged with when checking in as it was a requirement to site this as part of the check-in process, I was then required to fill out indemnity forms which added 10 minutes to the check-in process. Handled very well by the check-in staff and then I was on my way to the lounge. In this instance China Airlines (CI) used the Priority Pass Emperor Lounge. 

CI is a great way to go if you want to take a quick trip to NZ. The flight I took was a continuation service from Taipei going over and the return service via Brisbane to Taipei. While on the CI website I did play around a little, looking at buying both directions and found it was much cheaper to buy one-way tickets instead of a return flight if you were flying out of Australia. At check-in in Brisbane I also saw that you could upgrade from economy to business at the counter for $149. 

Brisbane Accommodation - Clayfield Motel 

1 night
Booked direct with the motel. I stayed overnight in Brisbane because the scheduled arrival of CI0054 arrived to late to connect with flights to Cairns and a good reason to rekindle my affection for Brisbane city river and the River Cats. I chose this motel because it was only 10 minutes away from the airport and they had done a deal with Alpha cars - $10 each way airport - motel - airport. Train station was very close so next day it was easy access to the city for lunch. checked out in the morning and left my bags at reception. I found Great coffee and Italian sweets nearby which I had to have before I left for the city and after I returned but before catching the shuttle back to the airport. 

For anyone who is interested lunch was at Harajuku Gyoza - Southbank. 3 items, 1 beer $32 loved it

Jetstar (JQ) Brisbane to Cairns 
- Economy Class 

2 hr flight time
Booked on the Jetstar (JQ) website using the the direct deposit method to avoid all fees. This booking took several attempts because I initially saw and missed a cheaper price with VA as I would prefer to travel with them and accrue Velocity points. So I booked a JQ service with the direct deposit method as it allows 2 days to pay, I then looked for the same flight the next day and the price had dropped so I booked it again, I watched for a day and then payed. 

Theory: the Qantas / Jetstar sites must monitor your interaction with there website and track your IP address, they seem to know what you searched for previously and the system price manipulates and then moves on after a certain amount of time.

NAB insurance cost $11.12 effectively due to the international transaction fees incurred using these cards 

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