Editor at large Shayne Currie is on a two-week road trip, to gauge the mood of the nation and meet everyday and notable Kiwis making a difference in their communities and wider world. Today, he talks to a farmer-turned-broadcaster Jamie Mackay and poses the first of a new Nine Questions column with Sir Ian Taylor. This is the first of a daily trip diary.
Members of the Australian women’s rugby team were strumming and singing the music we all needed to hear as passengers came off flight 675 in Dunedin on Sunday afternoon.
As they sat in the airport lounge, the players greeted passengers with a feel-good Bobby McFerrin song.
“Here’s a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note.... Don’t Worry, Be Happy...”
Certainly, a number of travellers leaving from Auckland, many of them in All Blacks gear, were in a somewhat solemn mood, following the gutting one-point loss to South Africa in the World Cup final on Sunday morning.
As I arrived in the south for the start, officially today, of the NZ Herald’s Great New Zealand Road Trip, I picked up the all-electric VW ID.5, and promptly tested it on one of the city’s steepest climbs for some much-needed fresh air, and to put rugby at the back of my mind.
The car made light work of the terrain, and first impressions - being my first proper turn in an electric car - were excellent.
At the Signal Hill lookout - with expansive views over the city and Pacific Ocean - I met Manpreet Singh and Balwinder Singh. Originally from India, these friends have made Dunedin their home in the last few months.
Manpreet is a Class 5 truck driver who makes regular trips delivering eggs to Christchurch and Coca-Cola products back to Dunedin.
He’s been in the southern city for four months, and already loves what he describes as a more laid-back lifestyle than he experienced living in Hamilton.
The pair were in a cheery mood - they’re bigger cricket than rugby fans, and are excited about India and New Zealand’s prospects at the Cricket World Cup - and had been planning to do some drone photography.
“Beautiful” Dunedin, they say, has the full range of attractions - historic buildings, gardens, a “great” museum, and the opportunity to see incredible wildlife such as penguins and albatrosses on the Otago Peninsula.
I asked them to fill out our mood board, which will feature on the Herald road trip.
Manpreet wrote: “It’s really cool to live down here in Dunedin.” His one word to describe life in Otago? Stunning.
Today, we head further south to Invercargill and Bluff. Let the fun begin.