planning a visit
I'm in the process of planning some fairly extensive travel. I have a long list of places that I'm trying to decided on and a shorter list of places that I know I'm going to for sure. The top of that list is New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, ...
I prefer to really spend time in a place before moving on, so I'm thinking I might buy a car or a small RV while I'm there. If I can get the visa I'm thinking 6 to 12 months, if it's only 3 then I'll just rent something. Also - is there a good film lab - I might be shooting some 4x5, but mostly 120 roll film. Also if there's a lab that rents time on Imacon scanners at a reasonable price that would nice too (rather not drag my scanner with me - and drum scans tend to be way too expensive).
In any case I was hoping someone there could give me an idea of who to talk to about buying and registering a vehicle in NZ, and if you have any thoughts on where to too look for one. I'm also trying to decide when I should try to get there if I only end up with 3 months - I usually prefer off seasons - winter in particular but Fall would be good. This is primarily because prices are lower for hotels and rentals - if I buy an RV it's less of an issue.
There are several places around that do cater for tourists that wish to buy a vehicle then on-sell later. However, I'm not sure how these compare price wise with just taking your chances and buying/selling through normal channels. Plus I can't recall any of their names..... I suppose they may make it easier with ownership and insurance (which is not compulsory in NZ). Look on TradeMe for starters, that'll give you some idea as to prices. I'd also enquire with some of the rental companies, as for a long term hire they may do you a good deal. Take a look at Autotrader as well. Land Transport can provide all the info on registration, etc.
Seasonally, I'd shoot for end of summer and autumn - (we don't do fall ;) - this is the most stable time, weather-wise. As long as you avoid the school summer holidays (e/o Dec through e/o Jan), you should be OK. There aren't that many of us (4 million), and what we consider crowded may seem like deserted to those from other countries.
There are some good labs in the main centres. Be aware that processing and film may be more expensive than what you are used to. So, bring lots of film! In Wellington, ImageLab and Wellington Photographic Society (WPS) are the two I'd recommend for developing. Note that ImageLab does all the E6 processing, even that for WPS. I don't believe you can rent their Imacon, alhtough you may be able to get time on the one at the university if you can sort out a contact.
As someone who just came back to NZ after 8 years away, this will be the best advice i can give you: PACK A TON OF FILM! I would go as far as saying that if you dont need to, you should wait till you get home to develop them, otherwise your travelling budget will be severly impacted.
To give you an idea, imagelab in auckland charge NZD30 to develop a roll of 35mm exposures (x36 4R prints). A roll of Tri-X (36 exp) costs about NZD13 i think. I dont shoot MF, but i would think the prices would be crazier!
You're welcome to swing by my place (45 mins north of Auckland) and process it in my darkroom. I have some big tanks for multiple rolls, etc. Also, if you are up this way there are a couple of us that go on shoots so be sure to contact us.
I've found some of the slower services through the pharmacies to be quite good for normal 35mm C41 dev and print, and way cheaper too ($~15 incl. CD).
Dev only 120/220 roll film C41 costs the same as dev only 35mm (at least at WPS). I think the last roll of E6 (220) I shot was $12 from ImageLab down here in Wellington. It's shooting colour sheet film that gets expensive really quick!
Those prices are similar to or cheaper compared to what I was paying in Holland.