So, here we are in New Zealand, for 16 solid days of campervanning holiday! Providence has played a surprisingly large part in this holiday, from the discovery after we'd booked it of a jobs fair in Auckland this Saturday and a Mikelangelo gig in Dunedin two days before we fly back, both of which fit neatly into our itinerary, to the half-price taxi fare from home to the bus station, which came about through sharing our ride with someone else going to the bus station. His had broken down, and by chance our taxi driver was driving a minivan that day because her usual car had a flat tyre. Out of these small misfortunes, some good came. On a similar note, it's free Internet access at this campsite because their access rationing system is broken. Full advantage must therefore be taken.
The flight out was delayed by a couple of hours, but on a 24-hour flight that doesn't really make much difference. Points in Air New Zealand's favour include surprisingly good food and an extensive suite of in-flight entertainment, including new and old films, several TV programmes and a large CD catalogue. So at last I've heard Third, the new Portishead album (hmm...) and Seventh Tree, the new Goldfrapp album (bouncy, bouncy, bouncy - who are you and what have you done with Alison Goldfrapp?) as well as I Went To This Party And There Were 88 Guards With Guns by Kiwi dance act Minuit (pretty good, overtones of Tricky). Also watched Speed Racer - that's a hell of a surreal film. Even for a kids' film. Or maybe especially for a kids' film. This does mean I've slightly exhausted the options for the return flight, though.
Another happy misfortune on the way out of the airport on Tuesday with the campervan - we'd intended to park up at the nearest campsite, in Auckland suburb North Shore (where Jo has family) but couldn't find it. Never mind, we thought, may as well drive on another half an hour to the next one. Turns out the North Shore site was a couple of blocks off the road in the middle of suburbia, and recently lost its "Top 10" status. "Top 10" in this context means a network of well-provisioned campsites with cheeky discounts for local cafes and tourist attractions, of which we've already made liberal use. The next one up the road was the Orewa Beach facility, where we've stayed for the last couple of days in a spot overlooking the beach front, which doesn't do any harm at 8 in the morning. Ha, and again I say ha.
First impression of NZ is that it's a very matter-of-fact place. The supermarket we stopped at on Tuesday was called Foodtown ("Home of good food"). Where's the food? It's in Foodtown. Righty-ho then. This morning we reprovisioned at a butcher's called Mad Butcher. "Mad" here meant "cheap" and not "psychotic", which was a relief. The streets are full of shops with names like these. So far we're managing to live cheaply, and we don't seem to have offended the locals yet. I say that, but then I don't honestly know how they react to being overtaken on the motorway by a campervan. We're usually too far ahead of them to tell by the time it occurs to me to look. Anyway.
Tomorrow, off to Whangarei, where we may or may not look in on the big cat sanctuary made famous by the Lion Man TV show hosted by Steve Busch, recent subject of a controversial domestic violence court case. ("So, John, how are you finding married life?" "You just can't beat it, Steve." Watch out for that on his next series.) On Saturday, the jobs fair in Auckland and then down the road to Waitomo. Any further blogging will depend entirely on how much the campsites in Waitomo and thereafter charge for Internet access, assuming their systems aren't on the fritz as well.