Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there

Days 21 to 24, all wrapped into one

Twitchhiker - Lion Rock, Auckland

Right then. It’s Wednesday morning, and I’m about to hit the open road in a camper van, driving the length of New Zealand’s South Island from Wellington to Invercargill, with a man I’ve never met called @SmileyKiwi.  My schedule has meant I haven’t worked since last week and I’ve got little chance of doing so for the foreseeable future. Yeah, hand me the world’s smallest violin, why don’t you. As far as this blog is concerned, however, it means that I’ve no idea when I’ll next get a chance to update it, and I’m already four days behind.

Unacceptable, I hear you cry. Absolutely correct, I reply. I need to get back on track, but I can’t do that with the usual chapter and verse of inarticulate noodling and lazy, stereotypical observation that I normally churn out like a  meat whore in a sausage factory. So you’ll have to accept this short and sharp list of bullet points highlighting events that have occurred over the past few days:

Day 21 – down under

– My second LA host @patricktoneill took me for a quick scoot around his offices at TBWA. It felt like the apartment owned by Tom Hanks’ character in Big; an playground for adults, with a full size basketball court and indoor park – completely ludicrous, but more fun than your magnolia canteen and its communal fridge stuffed full of out-of-date Muller Rice.

– Air New Zealand were nothing short of spectacular from the moment I arrived at Los Angeles airport. I was bundled to the front of the queue at security by head concierge Tierry, while other passengers gave me the sort of look they usually reserved for door-to-door salesmen and paedophiles. I sat in their lush and lavish Kiwi bar, in a section of eight empty seats reserved for VIPs. Rhys Ifans sauntered over and attempted to join me, but was hurriedly shooed away by Tierry on the basis that he wasn’t a VIP. The grubby Northerner sat opposite, now into his 21st day without a bath, smiled and waved apologetically at the BAFTA winning actor.

Day 22 – null and void

– I left LAX at 7.30pm on Saturday evening and was due to arrive into New Zealand at 4.30am on Monday morning. Therefore day 22 of my journey, Sunday past, didn’t occur. Move along ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here. Strapped into my steel cylinder six miles above the largest ocean on the planet, I evaded the passage of linear time and told the Air New Zealand stewards of my travels. They responded in kind by allowing me to stretch out on a full-length bed in business class. I was so grateful I’d have gone down on any of them in a heartbeat, except perhaps for the steward who looked like Gregg  Norman.

Day 23 – in the sky, in the gutter

– The bright-eyed, purple-dyed Helen (@MsBehaviour) picked my up from the airport. We trundled through the deserted streets of Auckland to Kiwi FM, where I met breakfast host @radiowammo and managed to sound reasonably coherent for a 30 minute interview. We headed home to Helen’s husband @Chelfyn, an ex-pat who hailed from near Whitley Bay, an adored childhood holiday destination on the North East coast of England known and loved by anyone over the age of 30. Not now though, it’s a bit of a shit hole. He recognised that my diet for the past three weeks had been lacking in bacon and egg sandwiches, and quickly righted that wrong. After breakfast, we disappeared into the bush on Auckland’s west coast and were plunged into the richest, most spectacular landscapes of my trip so far. For the people of Auckland, this is their backyard where they spend their weekends; for me, it was paradise found.

– Melinda (@ProudKiwi) and the team at @SKYCITYAkl welcomed me to the Sky City Grand, a sumptuous hotel in the heart of Auckland. I failed in spectacular fashion to catch up on either work or rest, and instead met up with local media and the likes of Andy Blood, who had supported me since the first week of planning. That evening, Auckland threw the grandest tweet-up to date; two dozen people bustled on the private patio of a local wine store (@theWineVault). Together with the thoroughly personable proprietor Jayson, I guest-starred on Wine Vault TV and tested out a range of local beers. I must warn you that at this point in the evening, we were both magnificently smashed on vino.

Day 24 – onto Wellington

– I joined the Sky City team, Jo from @flyairnz and Rebecca from @purenewzealand for lunch atop the Sky Tower. We discussed how the christing hell I was ever going to get to Campbell Island, and all concluded that swmming was perhaps my singular best option. Twitter had more faith in me, however; a follower had contacted the preservation authorities responsible for access to Campbell Island, and this was the reply:

Hi Twitchhiker Supporter

your email has been forwarded to me as the DOC’s Southern Islands Area manages the New Zealand subantarctic Nature Reserves including Campbell Island . I appreciate that Tiwtchhiker is keen to get to Campbell, as are thousands of others, unfortunately it’s not that simple when it comes to getting to the islands. At present there are no visits to Campbell planned until November, and that is a commercial cruise company, so given his timeline of the end of this month I can’t see anyway to facilitate his journey. If you do think of a way to get him down (some  rich benefactor comes up with a ship especially for the trip) then we will forward you/him the permit application, as all landings on the islands require a permit, and work through any issues that may arise.

From the tone, they didn’t fancy my chances either, but it was something to aim for. Now all I needed was a boat and crew who were prepared to go out to sea unpaid for six days and fund all costs from their own pocket. And were on Twitter. Stranger things have happened along this trip so far, but not many.

I flew into Wellington airport, just after 8pm, where my host for the evening, the effervescent Narelle (@narelle_NZ) met me. A second consecutive tweet-up at the Southern Cross saw a dozen tweeps turn out, drink beer, down Jagermeister and tell tales concerning Lord of the Rings. It’s tradition, an old charter or something.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Lots of Celeb tweeters – maybe you’ll find one with a Yacht! Good luck!

Comment by Mobius

Great to meet you! While much of the Wellington TweetUP at Southern Cross was spent catching up with our fellow tweeple, I hope you enjoyed the brisk Wellington evening, and the late night/morning at Matterhorn with @Narelle_NZ, @JoMangee, @mandrewnz, @alex_bettylou and others.

A few pictures await at
(and more if you click in via the guest pass linked)

Comment by JoMangee

campbell island!! rah! rah! rah!

Comment by Crista

It’s very, very important that you stop and meet the people who have been rooting for you along the way. You’ve got a long time to write up the final details later. Just keep going – you never know what might crop up to get you to Campbell Island.

Had a bizarre dream last night that you, my boss and I were having a dinner of Snickers bars in Invercargill and toasting your progress with cans of Fanta. I can proudly report that my unconscious was a perfect gentleman throughout.

Comment by Adrian

I wonder with all this new found fame are you going to pass on any riches made from books etc to the charity: water fund? Good luck for the rest of the trip.

Comment by harvey

That sounded more negative than it was meant to. Well done on raising this fantastic amount for charity so far and good luck with the rest of this fab adventure

Comment by harvey

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