Tim Roxborogh on the joys of moaning about your holiday
Why we should not invite tourists to NZ in shoulder seasons
I want to love spring. Given I hate winter, it's really a necessity to balance it out with a love of spring. But spring is like the Warriors: you know how good it can be and you're frequently disappointed. Also like the Warriors, there's little correlation between one day and the next. As I write, despite it being the middle of spring, the country is suffering a wintry blast with sideways wind and rain. The day before? A hot, still, blue-sky day where we were all reaching for the jandals.
I point this out because according to everyone from Lonely Planet to Backpackerguide.co.nz, the "shoulder seasons" are a great time to visit New Zealand. They're half right, but when it comes to advising people who are choosing whether or not to spend thousands of dollars coming to our country, half right isn't really good enough.
So yes, by all means, if you are a tourist to New Zealand and you want to avoid the high-priced mayhem of summer, delay your trip and explore the country in March or April. Even in May you could well be enjoying some nice late-autumn weather.
But not all shoulders are created equal because while autumn is a great time to discover Aotearoa, spring, I'd argue, is not. Strike it lucky and the intermittently decent weather might follow you. The smell of freshly cut grass will be in the air, the cherry blossoms will be out and all the little lambs will be posing for your photos.
What's more likely though, is that you'll arrive in one of the most beautiful countries on Planet Earth and be battered by so much wind and rain you'll be forced into getting a sensible, Wellington-style haircut. And no-one should have to get a haircut on holiday.
The thing is, if you come to New Zealand in winter and you get wintry weather, you're not going to be surprised and therefore you're less likely to be disappointed. Then when those crisp, stunning winter days hit, you can't believe your luck and your goodwill towards New Zealand shoots through the roof.
Another key point is that some parts of the country — especially in the South Island — are actually surprisingly sunny in winter, even if they're cold.
In a nutshell, for years I've told people thinking of heading to New Zealand that they should avoid spring unless they're coming for our ski slopes. Come in summer if you want beaches and hot weather, come in autumn if you want cheaper hotels, smaller crowds and aren't fussed about swimming in the sea, and come in winter if you don't mind the cold and the fact in the North Island you're likely to get a serious amount of rain.
But spring is the windiest time of year and even if the rain isn't falling, the days are often grey. And then randomly it's warm and amazing and it's like the Warriors beating the Raiders having been thrashed their three previous games!
Beds in luxury lodges that are way too high
The beds in a luxury lodge I recently stayed at were so high off the ground, they were almost like top bunks with just the bottom bunk missing. The beds themselves looked hugely impressive in a kind of Princess And The Pea-style of old-fashioned slumber-luxury. But wow, getting on to them you needed a pole vault, or indeed, the bedside stools that one member of our touring party never found.
We were travelling in a party of six, with three couples in three very lovely suites. First-world problems and all of that to one side, my late-night bathroom visits were fraught with me trying to aim for the much-too-small stool while sliding out of bed in the dark.
But as I say, at least we knew we had a stool as when we woke up, friends of ours — who happen to be aged in their 60 — didn't realise it was hiding under the bed. The dear couple hadn't had so much exercise in years as they'd tried for an alleged 20 minutes to hoist each other up on to the bed. A hiatus hernia, a slipped-disc and dislocated shoulder later, they were happy to report it was a good night's sleep*.
* It's possible these health maladies may have been exaggerated somewhat.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com