Sunday, January 5, 2014

Getting to grips with NZ costs and prices!

Nice new UV covers on headsails

I have previously mentioned how expensive things seem here, especially to a South African cruiser spending increasingly less valuable ZAR wonga!
So, to start out on the right note, I need to put on record that certain things in NZ are FREE………!   No cruising permits, No customs fees, or Immigration fees, or Caribbean style “overtime “fees, No Harbour Dues, Navigation Light Fees or contribution to Healthcare!  Nothing beats FREE, so that’s a really good start!
Costs of goods and services vary enormously, but in our limited experience thus far, they seem to depend upon the hours of chargeable labour included within the product or service.

Toyoya Ipsum
There is no car manufacturing industry demanding protection in NZ, so most cars are about half the price one would expect to pay in RSA. This is due mainly to the importation of low mileage Japanese cars, of which there is an abundant supply. (In RSA these are called “grey market” products, and will not be serviced by local garages. Another term for this practice is blackmail!)
We purchased a 1997 Toyota Ipsum, in excellent condition, with all the bells and whistles, for NZ$3500  (ZAR 27000), with the proviso that a new overhead cam,  and front tyres were fitted. All 2nd hand cars come with a WOF (Warrant of Fitness), which is a mandatory  6 monthly Roadworthy certificate, and a VIR (Vehicle information report) is available to buyers, detailing the entire history of the vehicle from manufacture, date of import, owners details, number of owners, mileage records , history of WOFs, licence details, or police records.

24 seating options??
Our little 7 seater, (with 24 different seat configurations!), has only ever had one lady owner, since it was imported into NZ in 2006,( a Mrs Paki), who had looked after it so well, that we have now christened the car “Mrs Paki”, in the hope that she continues to behave so well!!
"Mrs Paki"

By contrast, we had a cockpit locker modified, to open from the backrest, instead of the seat area. We did this to improve access to the huge lazarette, and to enable a decent waterproofing gutter to be included, (to prevent it taking in water.) It was the first job I gave out, and it was entirely my fault for not requiring a quotation right up front. The end result was an 80cm locker costing NZ $2200 (ZAR R19360), on the basis of 34 hours of labour, and $130 worth of materials. The labour is costed in at NZ $59.50 per hour (R520 per hour), whether its walking back to the shed to fetch a tool, or anything else! 
And I moved the shower fittings and did the paint job!!

That’s nearly the price of the car! I eventually negotiated that down a little to NZ $1874 (R16500 ) which I still think is ridiculous ! They think this is fair, so I am happy to advertise these rates for them!!! Crazy stuff! I did a similar job on the two back lockers giving access to the quadrant………a similar size a job in less than a quarter of the time, and painted the whole cockpit as well!
R16500 water proofed locker !!

One of the two steering access lockers!

In comparison, I had the rigging thoroughly checked again, (as it all came from the old Roberts), and ended up replacing the 4 lowers, the intermediates and shrouds, fitting a new spinnaker track and car up the mast (to get rid of the silly, fragile Isomat system, which kept breaking!) , plus new masthead sheaves, and a boom gooseneck unit. Paul and Rob from Northspar worked regardless of weather conditions, did a great job, and charged me NZ $4300 (R37800), which is LESS than I would have been charged in Cape Town.
Paul , and Robby, were'nt going to let a squall get in the way!

Roger, from North Sails, recut, and modified the Genoa to fit properly, and replaced the UV cover on the staysail, quickly and professionally, also for a fair price.
Mary bought this carrot with all the extra bits, at no extra cost!!!!
My replacement  Mastervolt Chargemaster 12/100A Battery charger, which had been steadily going downhill, was declared US, and was replaced for R4500 less than I had paid for the original in Cape Town, 5 years ago.
The Marina is very well serviced, and costs appear reasonable at first glance, but “extras” soon mount up! One has to have a NZ electrical compliance certificate before being allowed to plug in. This costs NZ$120 (R1020 ), even if one’s system is perfect, and has worked in every Marina we have been in around the world!   Thereafter, it will cost you R20 per day for electricity. If you are not in the marina or on one of their mooring balls, rubbish disposal in their recycling bins, will cost you R50 a time. Parking your car in the marina car park costs an additional NZ$8 per day (R65 per day?).......more than the Marina buoys, which cost NZ $169 per month.
Guess boat work pricing is the reason why these old classics have not been restored ?

Haul out costs for foreign (tax free) boat are NZ$264, pressure wash down NZ $70, daily rate on the hard NZ$26. Rates are 15% less in winter. (after 1st June)…pretty fair.
Restaurant prices, along with supermarket food prices, are about 50% more than one would expect in RSA, with alcohol costing at least double RSA prices.
Then again, I wanted to modify our binnacle set up, to enable the steering and gear/throttle lever to be serviced from the top, without needing to dismantle everything from the floor. (Impossible at sea) This involved some SS welding, which was also needed to repair the dinghy davits. Total Engineering did this for me at a reasonable cost ….. well nearly! NZ $500! Given that the first 2 guys I asked refused to work on boats, because of some nanny state bylaws!(eg. Need to apply for Fire department approval, and needing to have an environmental observer on hand to supervise!  Both at the clients additional cost!)

fixed binnacle preventing access to steering & throttle/gear lever

Modification enables easy access 

Our experiences of medical expenses, indicate two extremes! Dental costs are sky high, which is why so many Kiwi’s fly to Thailand for any major work to be done! A standard filling costs NZ $350 (R3000), and to repair a broken tooth, NZ $450 (R4000).  A root canal treatment, at least NZ $ 1250 (R11000), and a crown NZ $1350 (R12000). A session to have ones teeth cleaned costs NZ $150 (R1300). I know, because with the exception of the crown, I have had it all done already! The crown gets started on Wednesday!
When I had my Kidney stone problem, the emergency clinic wanted NZ $450 up front before admission, if I went during the day. If I went after hours, and used the phone in reception to phone for the “on duty” GP, I would only have to pay NZ $ 100. As it turned out, I made it through to the next day, to take up a standard GP appointment, which only cost me NZ $ 50! (R450)
Offsetting this lot, fishing is a national passion, and the fishing is apparently really good, with no unreasonable restrictions. People seem to be law abiding, and poaching is not an issue. Green lipped muscles, at 50 per person per day, require no licence, and nor is there a fishing licence levy. If one is too lazy to pick your own mussels, they are freely available in Supermarkets, alive and fresh, or marinated…. At quite high prices!
Mary’s cataract (Phakoemusification) op in Auckland, will be in the region of R45000, and the self- service motel in which we will be staying for 4 days is costing NZ100 per day with free parking for Mrs Paki. Thankfully, we have pre-approval from BUPA, to cover the op, although we will have to pay first, and claim it back!
Lesson learnt..... for best value, do it yourself!!

So, all in all, there is a wide scale of costs to be learned, and managed …but we are getting there!  Although we have “shredded wads of wonga” here, we are happy, with the one possible exception, to have spent it sensibly, and feel we have received good service, and have enjoyed working with the Kiwi’s, who, despite beating us regularly on the rugby field, are very nice people!


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