The end of the road

28 / 29 November 2019

We’ve come to the end of the road. After 46 days touring New Zealand it’s time for us to go home. Since arriving here on 14th October we’ve driven 6,701 kilometres (4,164 miles), and seen some wonderful scenery and great wildlife. I love those parrots … almost as much as I love the penguins. To say nothing of the fur seals and the kiwi and the albatross. And the tui … fabulous bird, the tui.

Our favourite New Zealand bird (although by no means the rarest): the Tui

We hand back our rental Toyota Camry at Christchurch Airport: a boringly white but otherwise thoroughly decent car, with amazing fuel economy. It’s the first time I’ve driven a hybrid, but it won’t be the last. We fall into conversation with the guy collecting the keys. He’s friendly, cheerful and helpful, a typical New Zealander.

Now we have the small matter of a 32 hour journey back to the UK, including a layover of over seven hours at Singapore. But at least business class softens the pain … I find champagne is great at numbing the senses, if consumed in sufficient quantity.

white Singapore Airlines airplane

Flying home with Singapore Airlines. PHOTO CREDIT: Josh Methven via Unsplash

Back in the UK it’s cold and miserable. And filthy. As we drive north up the M1 the roadside is strewn with trash, like nobody gives a damn any more. Maybe they don’t. New Zealanders seemed to care; I wouldn’t say the place was spotlessly clean, but it’s in a different league to the UK.

It’s only when you’ve been away for a while and then come back that you are sufficiently sensitised to what we have become in this country. We should be ashamed of how low we have fallen, of how little pride we have in the place we live, of how little respect we have for our land, our environment and our fellows.

Obviously it’s good that we’ll be able to catch up with family and friends. But other than that, am I pleased to be back? No, not really.

Missing you already!

Writing this, I’m thinking back wistfully to the people and the places and birds and the animals we’ve encountered on our travels in New Zealand, and one thought dominates my mind, crowding out all others: “New Zealand … Missing you already!”

11 thoughts on “The end of the road

  1. Ms. Liz January 16, 2020 / 9:02 am

    Wonderful iconic shot that you got of the tui perched among the beautiful kowhai flowers. One of my favourite sights!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man January 16, 2020 / 12:17 pm

      Thank you. The tui was the first endemic bird we saw when we visited NZ, and it remained our favourite (despite seeing kiwi, kaka, yellow-eyed penguins etc). Beautiful, and spotting one amongst those stunning yellow blossoms was very special.


  2. Jane Dougherty January 16, 2020 / 9:12 pm

    You’re not supposed to have those feelings, very unpatriotic. However, I think I’d feel the same. England is too crowded and the nice bits are left should be preserved. They’re not. It’s a crying shame. One of my cousins was born in NZ. Her father was on a teaching stint at Christchurch university. They left when she was seven and came back to England. She managed to hang onto a Kiwi accent and as soon as she finished at uni went straight back to NZ. Weird. But I bet you understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man January 17, 2020 / 2:20 pm

      We met a number of Brits who’d gone out to NZ as adults, and all but one of them could not countenance the prospect of ever returning here. I totally get it. NZ is a young country, looking forward with optimism; the UK is an old country, forever looking back wistfully to the (supposed) “good old days.” If only I were younger …


      • Jane Dougherty January 17, 2020 / 4:13 pm

        That is a very British habit that I honestly hate. It used to be funny, Dad’s Army, England’s finest hour and all that, then it got repulsive, the outpourings of poppies, Victoriana, Royal worship. The hankering after a golden age when everyone knew their place and everybody (the rich anyway) were always happy. It’s a recipe for disaster. Everybody on the outside can see that the UK is just an outpost of the US these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. tanjabrittonwriter January 19, 2020 / 9:25 pm

    It’s always difficult to come back to everyday life after an extraordinary experience such as yours. Don’t be too hard on your home country. We tend to see our holiday destinations through pink lenses and don’t really get a feel what it would be like to live in a different country permanently. Each place has its pros and cons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man January 20, 2020 / 7:49 am

      Wise words. You’re right that tourists generally home in on the best of a country they visit and so come away with a slightly unrealistic view of it. In any case as a (recent) guest I never feel that I have the right to be excessively critical of my former hosts.
      On the other hand, time spent at a distance does lend a valuable new perspective on one’s own country. Plainly the UK is a cultured, civilised nation with a long and proud history of achievement, and is a great place to live if, for example, you get sick (despite its current problems, a universal health service totally free at the point of delivery is worth a lot). And the UK made me what I am, so it can’t be all bad 😂.
      But some things make me despair, and the contempt shown by many – although by no means all – for our environment is shameful. There is absolutely no good reason why the verges of our motorways should be strewn with trash, and it saddens me beyond measure that so many people here seem not to care.
      And as for our politicians, don’t even get me started. On the other hand, when I look around the world I know that we’re no worse off here than many other big, powerful countries (!) Your closing sentence is “every place has its pros and cons” and for me the biggest con of them all, here and – dare I say it – elsewhere, is the political class. They are all, pretty much without exception, a waste of time and space. Oooh, I do feel so much better for getting that off my chest! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter January 20, 2020 / 11:59 pm

        I’m glad I gave you an excuse for that cathartic rant, Mr. P. 😊

        I’m increasingly resigning myself that people are people, and we are all pretty shitty at that.

        The only way to make a little difference is to things differently, and that’s up to each of us. I doubt that any significant changes will result from the decisions by those higher ups.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man January 21, 2020 / 7:20 am

        Agreed, the best we can do is to change our own lives where appropriate and not wait for / rely on others to do it for us or to show moral leadership.
        Look at that, I managed a whole sentence of sensible comment without any serious ranting … I’m clearly having a good day! 😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter January 22, 2020 / 12:07 am

        And now I’m glad that I provided you with an opportunity to spread positive vibes. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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