Somebody called New Zealand a place in the South Sea where 3 million people were trapped alive with First World privileges. When George Bernard Shaw went visiting there he found "altogether too many sheep". Well, at last count, there were some 50 million grazing its verdant meadows. A place which visitors like British Liberal politician Sir Clement Freud and Rolling Stone Bill Wyman found almost ‘shut’, conjuring up visions of a beautiful and boring place. That was then. In fact, arriving in wet and windy Auckland, where fancily leashed dogs sniff you for food at customs (packed and prepared foods from outside are banned to prevent contamination and protect the country’s amazing biodiversity), has a sense of deja vu about it. At the traffic lights approaching the motorway to the city, windshield washers in frayed tees and jeans emerge out of nowhere foaming and washing your glass and benignly looking for a few cents—a more sophisticated version of the windshield-wiping ragamuffins at Delhi crossings. (But in Kiwiland, if the average person gives 50 cents for their 15-second effort and they do two window washes each light sequence, these guys are on least $30 an hour, tax free!) A professorial-looking middle-aged Luddite, straight out of Back To The Future
in a miner’s cap with a bulb and graffito-emblazoned vest, mutters choice expletives to passing traffic.