Argument about time not over we go for an early breakfast allowing us to reach the radio station at 9-45 to the Gateway Club house .Which has four clocks giving the time in London Singapore New York and London which solves the problem. We've got up two hours early. To share breakfast with polyglot nationalities,all slim and vigorous and touring Kiwis all fat and slothful. How do they get like that? Can't remember any of these ambling pie mountains when I first came..Kiwis were all slim and tough looking. Not now -They've replaced the fish and chips of yesteryear with Fat Food.Another thing to blame Roger Douglas for.
Kill time by our own ramble through the ruins of what used to be Christchurch which is now a patchwork of concrete slabs bomb sites and containers Brownlee's work,like God's is never done. Cost of reconstruction has now escalated to $40billion which should be a major Keynesian boost to the economy though there's not a soul of anyone working,anywhere. However the cardboard Cathedral is nice .Inside a woman preaching .Outside a black befrocked clergyman escaping.
At 10-45,exactly on time a man comes to open the radio station,print out the front pages of the papers and tune in to Stephen Nolan rambling on about pensioners being over paid, getting too many perks and generally mollycoddled-preparatory presumably to indicting his two overpaid pensioners Edwina Currie and me. Particularly me of course for gallivanting round the world as an overpaid pensioner..The news is cold snow and sleet in the North while I'm sitting 13 hours ahead of them in beautiful sunshine.
The programme rattles along for its one hour rag bag with Edwina allowed to say anything she wants at Edwina length while anything I say is immediately interrupted and talked over by insane questions about whether I deserve my free bus pass and am I screwing students by taking money from them.Explain that it isn't a zero-sum game but can't be heard over Nolan's interruptions of my brilliant analysis..
Our minder seems to quite like the programme-ruder,he thinks,than anything local. He suggests a route to Wanaka where we're going for a rest and recuperation but like all New Zealanders asked for travel times he minimises it. They either think their country is smaller than it is or they drive Ferraris because any of our journeys always takes two hours longer than Kiwis tell us it will take. David Lange was the same with his fast night drives from Auckland to Wellington (or was it vice-versa?) which Hamilton couldn't have done in the time Lange claimed.
The main national artery from North to South has been made as boring as possible so that the delights at the end look better and bigger. It should be measured in distances between dairies where you can stop for milk shakes and pies in the way Poms do at service stations..Miles and miles of fuck-all hidden behind huge hedges It only becomes interesting after the turn off to the lakes where the route becomes beautfiul but in the cold distant way of NZ country which is more hostile than the British coun tryside probably because in Britain there are all sorts of walks churches and rights of way but here it's all owned by someone who doesn't want you on it.
Even worse there are neither dairies nor toilets.In fact the one place we stopped had a huge sign saying "No Restroom" and another proclaiming toilets 14 miles back the way we'd just come.Probably done to make you drive faster. I makes me want to stand by the road and pee for England as that other great Yorkshire man did when he took possession in the Pre-Pie and Pom years.Now they've probably got concealed pee-cameras and helicopter patrols to stop that and arrest peeing-poms.Makes me wonder what the Japanese tourists do because in the only toilets we do find there's a notice instructing people to put used toilet paper down the toilet rather than in the waste bin but judging from the accumulation of damp toilet paper in the waste bin the tourists haven't understood.. What's the Japanese for damp toilet paper?
In the old says the fields were occupied only by sheep (plus occasional posters inviting people to vote National)) Now there are all sorts of exotic animals;llamas (wondering if they can escape back to South America) deer, cows heifers calves and vast irrigation sprayers moving like H.G.Wells's Martians slowly across the fields. The only roadside buildings are galleries,craft centers,art shops,rustic furniture builders and museums of agricultural implements. All closed.None offering rest rooms.Not a dairy in sight.What the hell are those cows doing all day?
All told its a beautiful but boring seven hour run to Wanaka where we arrive buggered. Will the super market be open to get some food. I say it won't-after all in Britain they close at 4-00 on Sundays and this is religious NZ. Wrong they've converted from Sabbaterianism to $atarianism
Ca y est.Wonderful Wanaka where nothing ever happens but cold beauty reigns.We manage to find Diane's house where the key is buried in the garden and our suitcases are too heavy to carry upstairs But we can just manage to get in up and eat and then to bed.Buggered.. Vaut le visite as the Guide Michelin might say of places much easier to get to.