On The Road: Systems failure on South island
Saturday 24 January 2009
I take the bus from Dunedin to Invercargill, the last town of any consequence in New Zealand's South Island. I am going to get my van out of storage, where it has been for the past 15 months. It starts first time. Unbelievable. Massive celebrations. One hour later, I go to the post office to secure a new registration, thinking it'll just need backdating.
"Sorry, Mr Donald. ON7598 is no longer valid. It needs to be re-registered and new plates." Trying to keep the panic out of my voice, I ask, "How much is that, then?"
"Not sure, go to the AA. It's not cheap."
I go to stand in front of a smiley-faced young lady at the AA. She says, "Oh yes. That will be around NZ$1,000 (£385) Mr Donald. It needs a Vehicle Identification Number and a full test." I'm not sure if anyone saw my buttocks clenching, but everyone must have heard them.
I've got the same feeling as I head to the AA mechanic, who tells me, "Sorry, mate. Can't possibly do it till mid-January." I go to the VIN centre. They can't do it until February.
So, I'm facing six weeks in Invercargill, a visibly broken man. Instead I drive to Dunedin – illegally – wondering whether or not to remain so for the entire trip. But the fine is NZ$800 (£310). It's a no-win situation. And do I really think for a moment I wouldn't get stopped somewhere along the way?
It gets better. In Dunedin it's blowing a gale and lashing down. I find shelter in an internet café in a shopping mall and fire up the laptop. It crashes. I rush it to the IT hospital where it's pronounced DOA.
I'm reeling. A replacement will cost NZ$3,000 (£1,150). And that's not even the worst of it. All my research data and all my images are gone. I actually start to cry. A grown man standing in a quiet corner of the mall, sobbing.
The next person who tells me I've got the "best job in the world" will get my size-12 boot up their backside.
Footprint New Zealand (£14.99) is now available
Surfing holidays: Chasing the perfect wave off an empty beach
The 10 Best hiking boots
On Holiday Group collapse: Q&A
New low-cost airline flying to America under threat after US pilots association raises safety fears
Malaysia Airlines MH370: the missing aircraft, and what investigators will be looking for
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + Award-Winning Benefits: Flight Centre Business Tra...
Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Increases in tourism, the introduction of new...