21.02.2008 - 23.02.2008 22 °C
Having slept rather uncomfortably the night before, E-J was exhausted and Sam wasn't much better, but we decided to head off early to try and get to Wellington for mid morning.
The journey was pretty smooth with E-J singing along as the CD player blurted out "There may be trouble ahead". If only we realised how significant that tune would be. By 11am we were in the city centre. We decided to park it in a multi story car park, we figured that it would be safer in an indoor place rather than out on display for the whole of Wellington to see. As we drove past the two men standing at the front desk we enquired whether it would be all right to park the campervan there. Being as cheery as all New Zealanders we had met so far, they gave us a warm smile and said, "yes it's fine, it's fine, have a good day". The next obstacle was then finding a parking space as the place was chocker blocked, but as we reached near to the top, some spaces became available. We then did our usual check that all the windows and doors were locked and nothing of any value was out on display. In hindsight, we wished we'd locked our bags together with a chain like we usually did but for some reason, whether it was because we were tired or distracted, we forgot.
For the next four hours we wandered around the city taking in the sights and spending some much needed catch up time on the internet.
At about 3pm, we headed back to the car park, wanting to move the car to a less expensive parking space where we had seen a load of campervans while walking around. As we walked up the levels, Sam managed to walk out onto the wrong floor and in a panicked voice, said the van had gone. E-J, more reassuringly told him to calm down as it was on the next level.
As we walked to the van, we were joking away about our equally terrible driving skills and the challenge of managing twenty more days in the van without any major incidents. We didn't notice a thing. It was only when E-J jumped into the drivers seat and as she slammed the door, heard the shattering of glass. Shocked by the noise, she turned round to see that the two back windows had been smashed in and all our bags had gone. All she could say was, 'Our bags, our bags, they're gone...."
The next hour or so seemed a bit like a blur as Sam contacted the police. A sweet girl who happened to be there when we discovered the break in, went down to contact the staff on the bottom floor. The two staff were already aware of the situation as they had already been up there and cleaned all the glass away from around the outside of the car. This explains why we didn't notice the damage at first, but also makes us wonder why they didn't think to contact the police when the break in was first realised.
E-J at this point was in a state of shock, but Sam took control, giving a full account to the police, the car hire company and insurance. What E-J couldn't believe was that the police said there was no point in coming to the crime scene as only the windows had been smashed and as there was no blood anywhere, they wouldn't be able to find any fingerprints.
E-J started to take things into her own hands, walking into the offices next door, where she had noticed people having cigarette breaks in the car park. She started to ask whether anyone had seen anything, but sadly to no prevail. She then proceeded to walk around the building checking all the rubbish bins and in the alleyways around the building, but she found nothing.
The irony was that these buggers hadn't bothered to look in the glove box where they would have found an ipod of value. We had also hidden our passports and credit cards in a separate compartment that they hadn't bothered to look in either, so all that they had was a load of worthless clothes and junk, but to us it was priceless memorabilia.
By now it was 4:45pm and we had to drive the car round to a garage by 5pm. Getting slightly lost, Sam started swearing at all traffic as E-J sat in the passenger seat with tears of disbelief and heartache.
All we were left with is what can be seen in the picture above, simply the items that we hadn't packed away. We wish we'd been a little messier, so that more would have been left...
We took what possessions we had and headed to a nearby hostel. All we had with us were our camera, passports and wallets, two sleeping bags, a jacket and two jumpers and the clothes we were wearing that day. Poor Sam was in a t-shirt and shorts and to add insult to injury, he wasn't wearing any underwear!
The next struggle was trying to find a hostel, as everything was booked up. On our final attempt we finally got into a twelve bed dorm, which we knew would be pretty unpleasant.
A few more insurance calls later and one more large check around the car park, we then retreated to a bar to drown our sorrows. Our two glum faces attracted the attention of two girls, called Sue and Sina. On hearing our story these two proud Wellingtonians couldn't believe it. They insisted on showing us the proper Wellington the following evening and offered us the chance to stay in their home.
That night we both slept badly. With the robbery still fresh in our minds and sharing a dorm with loud, drunk eighteen year olds meant E-J started the day at five thirty.
The next day was all about organising ourselves and realising just how much needed to be replaced. This ranged from the mundane items such as buying pants and everyday basic clothes to buying something to be able to wash with. After a day of painful chores, speaking to our banks about security issues, picking up the campervan (which now had perspex in place of the glass windows) and dealing with the ever-unhelpful insurance companies, we managed an hour and a half of intense shopping. This is when we constantly saw the genuine sympathy of the Kiwi public. So many people took it upon themselves to help us; the pharmacist gave us a load of free sachets of cleansers, shampoos, etc, the jean shop gave Sam a good discount on his jeans, the phone company gave us a free charger and Sina, one of the girls from the night before provided us both with two rucksacks to put our new belongings in.
Feeling as though we had hit rock bottom, we finally met up with Sue and Sina. With it being Friday night they insisted on showing us the town and raised our moods straight away with a few drinks in the pub before we headed to see the local rugby team, the Wellington Hurricanes.
When we got there the queues for tickets were enormous but somehow we were luckily able to get tickets quickly. We then found our seats and with a few beers watched the Wellington Hurricanes beat the Queensland Reds.
Although the game wasn't the most incredible, E-J thought there was something special about being at a live game and feeling the atmosphere of the stadium. E-J also complained constantly about how poor the teams cheerleaders were and how she would be so much better. Sam observed as E-J's views on this opinion became stronger and stronger with each glass of white wine she had. As we left the ground E-J danced through the aisles ready to hit the town!
After the match we made our way back into town to enjoy some more drinks. In the first bar we stopped in we happened to bump into Graham Henry, the All Black coach, which was an incredible feat for Sam. With Sam trying to talk to him about the new laws being introduced, E-J insisted on telling "Henry Graham" how she had been robbed! Sadly for Sam this ensured Graham wanted to make a quick exit! Then afterwards Sam explained to E-J who he was, as she had no idea.
The rest of the night was spent enjoying more drinks and E-J in her usual state of excitement became more and more out of control on the dance floor until finally at 2am Sam decided it was time to pull her away from the floor and thanked the girls for a great night and for uplifting our spirits during our time in Wellington.
Sam's comments: Should have worn some underwear! When purchasing new ones picked up the wrong size and am now a proud owner of 2 pairs of XXL navy blue boxer shorts!
E-J's comments: Wellington to me will always be associated with a sad time, but also an example of just how kind and thoughtful the Kiwi community can be. People were generally devastated to hear our news and willing to help in any way they could.