Arrowtown, Wanaka and Fairlie

 Time to start the journey back up to Christchurch. Given the weather, we thought it best to make a fairly early start and take it easy, though the drive can be accomplished in a day if needed.

We packed up… OK, we chucked everything onto the bed in the back of the van… and set off for Wanaka where we’d decided to have lunch. Lou made me drive past Have A Shot (twice) even though I wanted to whack a few golf balls at the TV screen again. Maybe next time.

 Lunch was… tomato soup. Again. Twice in half a day! We then bought some bread and fed the ducks on the lakeside. These were very friendly ducks, even moreso than the ones in Rotorua. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had ducks take bread out of my hand. It took a while for them to gather, but as soon as they spotted one of their number getting fed, they flocked in. As did the seagulls. And sparrows. No eagles, though. I did spot two sat by the side of the road, eyeing us up as we drove past later on.

Reading the local paper, I spotted something else I like about Kiwis. They don’t really give two hoots about “language” the same way we do back home. Insisting programs on TV are on after a certain time in the day, just because someone says a word that some old granny has decided is “rude”. We really should wake up and realise that life’s too short to get worked up about pathetic things like that. The quote that got me ticking over about this was an interview with a local guy who runs the snow patrol on one of the peaks. Apparently, when he started the job, he was “a shit skiier”. Even the super soaraway Sun would have popped an asterisk in there.

 A second example jumped out as us from the radio when we left Wanaka. It was an advert for a local glaziers. Essentially, it was four people breaking a window and saying “oh, bugger”, followed by an announcer asking if you’d ever had one of those “oh, bugger” moments. This is the kind of thing that would have had Mary Whitehouse in fits, yet the Kiwis regard it as just another funny advert. Mind you, I come from a country that was trying to have the latest Australian tourism advert banned from television only a few weeks ago. The tagline: “So where the bloody hell are you?”

Little things like that sum up the Kiwi lifestyle quite well. Why find things to get worked up about? Who really gets upset at a choice of words that aren’t aimed to insult. This is a country which invented throwing yourself off bridges with elastic tied to your feet – they have better ways to spend their time than complaining about people’s phrasing. Also than teaching them to spell judging by far too many shop signs, but I’ll let that slip.

 Oh, another thing I found out was that virtually all Kiwi travel insurance policies include cover for what the UK would class as “dangerous pastimes”. You don’t need to seek extra cover (and fork out more money) for pursuits such as rafting, bungy jumping, snowboarding, mountain biking… the assumption is that Kiwis will go and perform such acts of lunacy anyway so they’re included as part of the policy. I checked several policies before I left the UK and one of them even had a premium for bamboo rafting. I mean, come on. The river doesn’t even move at walking pace and it’s barely deep enough to drown a sparrow in. It would make more sense to charge extra for swimming at the beach.

As the weather was closing in and the sun dropping, we opted to stop partway north. Again, we tried Tekapo but the campervan park was inaccessible without chains. We continued for a while and reached Fairlie where we set up camp for the night. Lou made herself welcome in the kitchen making dinner and it was nice to see a sign inviting us to make full use of the washing up liquid and tea towels. Most parks don’t supply these, believe it or not. Lou, therefore, started spraying washing up liquid around with mad abandon to ensure all our stuff was nice and clean. Then the chap who’s liquid she’d been using by mistake took it off her and moved his box of stuff back into his van.

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4 thoughts on “Arrowtown, Wanaka and Fairlie

  1. I can understand the bamboo rafting thing.

    Our guide, when I went rafting, said they lose people to rafting fairly regularly, in the rainy season – which sounds I admit like the usual “scare the tourists so they think that what they’re doing is more dangerous and exciting than it really is”…

    Like you said, the river was easily fordable in places even by hydrophobic hamsters, but the walls of the gorge told a different story about the rainy season. Large treetrunks and heaps of driftwood three metres over our heads.

    And he claimed that, yes, people do raft on the river in the rainy season. Hence the deaths.

    If that’s true, it would explain the higher premiums. Unlike bungee jumping, parachuting, snowboarding and so on, bamboo rafts don’t seem to come with any kind of harnesses, safety guys, on-hand medics, danger ratings, etc. Which is a bit like taking untrained snowboarders/skiiers onto an unrated slope in the wilderness.

    I generally trust insurance companies (ok, “trust” is far too liberal a word) to know how to make money, and how to keep it. They make money by making sales, which means making their prices competitively low. They keep money by not covering the stuff they expect to pay for, or charging more for those things.

    But yeah, charging a premium outside rainy season is still silly.

  2. The other thing they do well is effectively run a monopoly on certain types of insurance. There’s no need for competition in motoring insurance in the UK, for instance, as it’s mandatory. Likewise house insurance if you have a mortgage.

    I like NZ for them not making motoring insurance mandatory. Premiums here are a lot lower, although there are huge numbers of people who decide just not to bother as they don’t need it. Mind you, that’s the same situation as in the UK anyway. It just costs you a lot more back home to be “legal” than it does here.

  3. One other reason in NZ for low insurance premiums is ACC, a compulsory government run insurance scheme, you pay 1-1.5% of earnings and get back any medical or loss of earnings (within reason) when you are involved in an accident, so theres no massive personal injury claims like for whiplash etc.

    The majority of people do have car insurance because its cheap, your average 15 year old scoob STi driver wont tho.

  4. You do have to ask if ACC is fair, as some people won’t drive and therefore won’t be at fault for most motoring accidents (jaywalking notwithstanding).

    However, I’m sure ACC covers more than just auto accidents? Also, the whole society here seems less litigious.

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