My young son has been increasingly concerned about his collection of monarch butterfly caterpillars. This began as a Christmas holiday project at our lakeside bach, and he's become agitated that the dry weather might be withering his swan plants, depriving his thriving caterpillar colony of the opportunity to transmogrify themselves into butterflies.

Agreeing it was a serious matter, I cancelled my business appointments this week to make a swift mercy trip to Rotorua to remedy the situation.

Readers bemused at my priorities must understand that in the eyes of a 7-year-old, providing succour to a few voracious caterpillars is far more important than attending board meetings with a bunch of pernickety lawyers wanting to tediously discuss how to carve up a few million on a downtown architectural fit-out.

But planning unscheduled trips to Rotorua is complicated.


First, I need paramedics on standby, equipped with emergency resuscitation equipment, whenever I open Air New Zealand's internet booking system.

My blood pressure goes through the roof when viewing the airline's supposedly cost-saving flight deals.

The best they could come up with this week was an outrageous return fare of $640.

Add taxi expenditure at both airports and the cost of rescuing a caterpillar climbs to well over $850. It's probably cheaper to fly to Rotorua via Australia.

It's a shame the swan plants aren't in Melbourne. On this route, our national carrier boastfully offers fares for as little as $149.

The caregiver suggested I should take an Inter-City coach, on the basis that it would add only a couple of hours to the journey.

Naturally, this ageing corporate executive wouldn't even know how to climb on a bus and openly sneered at such a plebeian idea - until she told me I could travel to Rotorua in air-conditioned comfort with plenty of leg room for only $24 - plus, I could commute to the terminal for free, using my Gold Card on the local bus.

The service turned out to be excellent, the coach pulling into Rotorua ahead of my previously planned flight schedule.


There was a "comfort" stop in Huntly and I was particularly impressed that the bus company thinks of everything.

For example, the toilets even provide discreet condom and lubricant dispenser units on the wall.

I don't recall seeing such attention to personal consumer requirements in our national air carrier's washrooms - even in uppity business class.