Thursday, 29 December 2011

Goodbye overpriced Vodafone, here comes 2degrees

I've always considered Vodafone one of the cheaper telephone companies and was happy with it in other countries (Czech Republic, Australia, UK). That's why I walked into a NZ Vodafone shop without much thought. It was, however, a mistake that has cost me dearly. They're incredibly expensive here. Although it took me seven months to realize that not all NZ networks are this overpriced, but better late than never, and today I moved over to 2degrees. Adiós Vodafones!
Just a quick pricing comparison
- New sim card: $5
- Calls/texts to any network: 44c/9c 
- Top up reward: 22c/2c calls and texts to 2degrees and landlines for a whole month
- Disadvantage: apparently Vodafone and 2degrees aren't exactly on friendly terms and due to some missing agreements, 2degrees customers can't send or receive texts to/from some overseas Vodafones (e.g. Czech Republic, France, Germany).

- New sim card: $30
- Calls/texts to any network: 90c/20c 
- Top up reward: you get 100 free minutes to VF mobiles and landlines. Catch: only usable during the four weekends following the purchase. Catch n.2: it doesn't say "free call" when you dial a number, and considering how many people switch networks but keep their old number, calling a 021 is no guarantee that you're making a free call. Trust me, my wallet found out the hard way.
- Top up reward n.2: 10% extra (not sure if it only applies to specific payment methods, i.e. credit cards, or if it doesn't matter)
- Cheap overseas calls: apparently, you can call overseas landlines for $2/h. However, this information is not exactly widely advertised and it only got to me by word of mouth, when I'd already been living in NZ for half a year. By then my VF credit had ran out again and I was not going to buy any more.

More details and current prices are on the websites:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cycling NZ - Mt Cook... in the name of My Bad Knee

Click for more photos.
I haven't had much time for blogging during my cycling trip, so there'll be a lot of catching up. Here's some to start with.

Day 12 - Thursday 10 Nov 2011
Distance Ridden: 101km; Route: Lake Tekapo - Lake Pukaki (via Canal road) - SH80 to Mt Cook village; Weather: clear sky, hot, windless; Terrain: flat along the canal, few climbs around Pukaki, few climbs and steep drops to Mt Cook.

After three dull days in Tekapo (too lazy to do anything interesting, as explained in the previous post) I finally decided to continue my journey. Life poured back into me incredibly quickly with the advent of more cycling. I guess pedalling is what gets me going, after all. I jumped on the bike, kicked into the pedals and inhaled the wind with a big smile on my face. I'm cycling again! I'm alive!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Back in Blenheim... lifting wires... oh happy days

Money flies when you're having fun. I had a lot of fun and drained my savings a lot quicker than expected. It was a sunny December afternoon when I looked at my bank account and had a very nasty surprise...

Luckily, after three months of travelling, I was planning to take a break in any case and start working again. Not so luckily, the fruit picking season in Otago is delayed by several weeks due to bad weather; as a result, there is hardly any work available and hundreds of people waiting for a job. The action won't start till January. Considering my worryingly dry financial reserves, I started looking for alternatives and after a couple of hours on the internet, I found one in good ole' Blenheim.

A phone call, a job I could start the next day, a quick decision and a 10-hour hitch-hike across the South Island. I love hitch-hiking in NZ, so easy and reliable, although this time there was a good deal of luck involved. I managed to cover 800 km from Cromwell to Blenheim in just two rides (through Christchurch) and got here at midnight.

Working again after a three-month break is not easy, though... I'm a vineyard worker again, doing the dullest job ever - wire lifting (consists of walking through endless rows of plants and lifting the wires holding growing vines). The boredom is killing, but it's money, and it there isn't more than a week's work anyway. Then hurray back to Otago.

Hopefully I'll manage to catch up on my cycling blog while in Blenheim. It's all written down on paper, just needs to be digitalised.