As if to mark our forthcoming trip to Aotearoa, the New Zealand government is tightening its controls on people visiting the country. Being Brits we don’t need a visa, but we are nevertheless required to apply online for a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). This is presumably a screening programme that detects and rejects any bad eggs who would otherwise gain entry under the visa waiver scheme.
Mrs P and I sit down at the PC to work through the NZeTA process. It’s dead easy, and within a few minutes both applications have been submitted. There’s a cost, of course, around £6.35 each, added to which we both have to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy of £18.55. But a total charge of just under £25 each seems reasonable, and is in any case peanuts when you think of the king’s ransom we’re spending on the trip as a whole.
As soon as we’ve submitted the applications we log out of the NZeTA site and Mrs P checks her email. There it is, a message from the New Zealand government: she’s been approved for entry. It’s only taken a few minutes, so they must really like the sound of her.
I rush to check my emails. There’s an acknowledgement, but that’s all. I guess the lady who checks the applications is having a cup of tea, so I wait a few minutes, then try again. Nothing. I shrug disconsolately, and decide we also need a cuppa.
Half an hour later I check again. Still nothing. Now I’m getting a bit fed up. What’s so good about Mrs P but so bad about me? Well, rather a lot actually, so let’s quietly park that one.
I log on to my email several more times during the afternoon, but there’s still no news from the guys at NZeTA. It starts to dawn on me that we could have a problem here. Maybe some ne’er-do-well has stolen my identity and done despicable things in my name? Or perhaps I’ve been doing a werewolf, living a normal life by day and then, under the cover of darkness, become an international gangster who commits heinous crimes which he promptly forgets as soon as the sun comes up?
Bloody hell, if they don’t let me in Mrs P will go to New Zealand by herself and leave me with an enormous list of jobs to do while she’s away. It’s just too painful to think about it, so I try not to. But I spend a restless night anyway, worrying about what’s gone wrong. Has Jacinda’s crew found a skeleton lurking in my cupboard, one that I know nothing about?
The next morning I rush to check my inbox again, even before making a cuppa. Praise the lord, there’s an email from NZeTA. I’VE PASSED! My closet is officially free from skeletons, so Jacinda’s agreed to let me in to spend my hard-earned pension on Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Watch out, you kiwis, the Platypus Man’s on his way.