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Colin Hogg: Tour of NZ lacks direction and loonies

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Aussie pair spend most of the time in the deep south trying to uncover the weird to accompany the wonderful.

Hamish and Andy this week take a tour of their home country. Photo / TV3
Hamish and Andy this week take a tour of their home country. Photo / TV3

Despite the passage of years and the growth of sophistication, there remains a tragic hunger deep in New Zealanders to know what foreigners think of us.

That can be the only reason I watched Hamish & Andy's Caravan of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand (8.30pm, Thursday, TV3). At the end of it, I wondered if maybe the issue isn't really whether New Zealand's a sillier place than Australia.

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee were certainly silly about half of the time on the first episode of this two-part special which has the Australian comic duo travelling through both countries to decide which is "best", whatever that turns out to mean.

In truth, this is just a travel show with angles. As Billy Connolly had his three-wheel motorbike and Stephen Fry his London cab to traverse the USA, so Hamish and Andy have their trusty campervan.

And, like almost every other television tourist who does this sort of thing, they're in search of an entertaining mix of scenery and loonies, and while there was no shortage of the former as they travelled New Zealand last Thursday, they were often scratching to find the nutty enough locals to slot in between the lakes and mountains and glaciers.

And the claims that they spent two weeks travelling our length and breadth didn't quite deliver as the hour-and-a-half long show spent most of its time in the far south, with a swift hop to the Marlborough Sounds and a giant leap to Auckland.

It wasn't clear whether Hamish and Andy were suggesting that the North Island is dull and sensible or most of our crazies live at the bottom of the South Island, but they didn't want to tear themselves away from down there.

Hamish and Andy's other angle is that they like to get involved in what they're looking at. The most involved moment came when they were cajoled - "don't be so Australian" - to strip off for a game with Dunedin's Nude Blacks.

"I can't tell who's on which team," shrieked Hamish from the midst of one particularly alarming ruck.

It was slightly less fun with a moody moonshine maker in Invercargill and the compulsory Mayor Tim Shadbolt. They did manage to pump up the drama on an encounter with a luckless moose hunter in Fiordland by abandoning hapless Hamish and his cameraman deep in the wilds and having him rescued by helicopter.

In Queenstown there was the inevitable bungy jump, though taken while eating ice cream, and on the West Cast the unavoidable consumption of a huhu grub.

In Christchurch, they met a toothsome chap who thought he was a vampire and in the Marlborough Sounds they had a stormy time delivering mail to a distant Sounds dweller in a hovercraft they'd picked up along the way.

We could have lost the desperate encounter with the Alexandra Blossom Festival and the bloke in Auckland who makes lightning. It's not how I want Auckland to be remembered.

This Thursday, they do Australia and declare a winner. Whatever that means.

Next time they should try a real challenge ... perhaps Antarctica vs the Arctic.

- NZ Herald

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