Auckland, New Zealand
It’s not looking good for me. I must apologise to my New Zealand friends for the following diatribe but if, after two hours back in New Zealand, I am finding this place infuriating, then what hope is there for me upon my return to the Un-united Kingdom? Immigration, customs, airport bio-security staff, and the Indian motel staff are all annoying the hell out of me. It is all rules, rules, rules and a thousand and one questions about where you have been, what you are doing and veiled attempts to extract cash out of you in the form of fines for inadvertently breaking New Zealand rules. One of the blokes at the bio-security unit threatens me with a 400 dollar fine for supposedly not declaring my tent. This after another bloke working for the same unit cleared me and told me I didn’t need to declare my tent (which I never managed to use on the tour and have been carrying around with me for 12 weeks!) The immigration officer, spotting on my new visa form that I am a journalist, tries to trick me into admitting I was working at the rugby world cup during my previous stay in NZ. He’s not going to have any joy with his mind games because I wasn’t working here, but being aware that he is pretending to be my mate and then trying to catch me out so I can be arrested for breaking visa rules is more than a little annoying.
At the motel I switch on the TV for the first time in weeks and the first thing I hear is that Iran is apparently a leading country for money laundering! I’m fuming at this shite. Iran?! Try Switzerland or the Cayman Islands perhaps. The news channels are quoting this crap like it’s bible, and just because the United States Secretary of Shite – the war mongering, bags-under-her-evil-eyes Hillary Clinton – claimed this yesterday in some US state department interview. Another war anybody? Want to kill a few hundred thousand Iranians?
The New Zealand news is so naff I can hardly believe it. It seems like a parody of itself. After being in Samoa and thinking that fine country was bonkers, now I’m back in NZ and am finding this country to be naff, clichéd, corporate and - when compared to the Pacific – relatively unfriendly. It is the NZ general election on Saturday and you should hear the rubbish they are spouting on national TV about the candidates. Latest stats, by the way, show that around 100 Kiwis are leaving New Zealand each and every day because of the economic crisis. Most of them, you won’t be surprised to hear, are setting off for the big bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne.
In other news, I hear that the Great Dictator has been ousted from power. Yes, Silvio Berlusconi has apparently resigned. The New Zealand press is also reporting that 133,000 foreign rugby fans attended the 2011 rugby world cup (around 40,000 more than original forecast numbers). 19,100 of these were from the UK and 11,100 from France. According to the NZ Herald, the tournament made 269 million dollars in ticket sales, with 81 million dollars of this coming from overseas visitors.
I’m cold, restless, in desperate need of alcohol, and irritated by pretty much everything around me. Like I said, apologies to my friends in NZ and the cool people I met during my seven weeks here. I had a fantastic time in New Zealand. It’s just that after spending the best part of six weeks in the Pacific, returning to a ‘western’ country is more than a bit of a disappointment and a head spin. This is the motel where I began this tour on September 4, and this is the place where I will spend my final night in the Southern Hemisphere. I want to go back to the Pacific islands.
I buy a bottle of wine and hide in my motel room. I must admit to shouting at the TV and mumbling to myself a lot.