We had long thought of finding a holiday place in Hawkes Bay big enough to take all our extended family. And as I knew how hard it was to find accommodation in that area in the summer, we booked through bookabach agency a year earlier. When the time came, we were very sorry that our family in Melbourne weren’t able to come because of Covid restrictions, but the New Zealand bunch were still keen on the holiday, making us a total of eight. We were travelling by car from Auckland, Wellington, Whanganui, Palmerston North (all in the North Island), and from Dunedin in the South. We were to be staying at Haumoana, right near the beach; a favourite surfing spot for the children when they were teenagers. But that was not the only reason we chose this spot: it was also close to bike trails, great produce, and wineries – and the house could sleep up to eleven. We couldn’t wait to get there.
Kerry and I were running late due to heavy rain and had just entered Napier when my daughter called. Three family members had arrived before us to find the property manager as wrecked as the property. She screamed and swore at them, saying that she’d cancelled the booking (that morning) and ran off, hiding behind a shed on the property. We drove up opposite the house, observing the large bin of empty beer bottles on the verge and our grim-faced family hovering. Being forewarned had helped, as I can be quite calm, when I’ve had time to consider my approach to a tricky situation. Kerry and I both spoke with the property manager, or attempted to, while her adult son looked on in embarrassment. Every excuse imaginable was given as to why she hadn’t been able to contact us earlier. She’d lost her phone, the computer was down, etc., etc., etc. When I learned that she was also the owner of the property, I almost lost my cool. We sat outside in our cars like a posse planning its move, until the owner’s son finally emerged with the contact number for bookabach scrawled on the back of an envelope and slipped it to me through the car window.
Our daughters had been scrolling the net searching for new accommodation and luckily found a large home available in the countryside – terrific, as vacancies were as scarce as hen’s teeth. One downside – the place wouldn’t be vacated until the following morning and we could only have it for three days in total – two days short of the intended holiday. The house looked terrific, even had a swimming pool, and naturally we accepted the offer. That still left us, however, without a place for the night, and it was already 6pm. Again, eldest daughter came to our aid by contacting a friend who happened to have a place we could all fit in, just a short drive away in suburban Hastings. The friend was on holiday herself, leaving a son at home. He went to stay with a friend, just to help us out.
How fantastic and hospitable some people can be. Take note, owner of the house in Bridge Street, Haumoana.