Illustrated Epistle Extract: Our First Classic Kiwi Christmas Holiday

Normally we would never ever go away between Christmas and New Year in New Zealand. It often rains and isn't that warm. And everybody is on holiday, as this is the big summer school holiday. New Zealand is as busy as it gets (which, admittedly isn't busy by UK standards, but  means crazy drivers on the roads and premium prices in accommodation). But one of my sisters was coming over from London with her family and the other sister had booked a bach for us all up in the north of the North Island, the Coromandel.

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It used to be that ordinary Kiwi families had holiday homes ("baches", or "cribs" further south). But the increase in property prices, particularly near water, has meant that baches are becoming places that only rich New Zealanders (or foreigners) have. We were lucky to be able to find an old wooden bach that could accommodate all of us (bigger than the one above).
I haven't been to the Coromandel in 15 years and it has changed a lot. The old wooden baches have been replaced by much bigger and modern versions and any available land by the beach either had been built on or is being subdivided to be built on. There are very few beaches left in the Coromandel that don't have baches on their edges (New Chums is one and it is rammed with tourists because of it). The developers have their eyes on these. The money from Aucklanders and other rich outsiders (beachfront sections are retailing for $2 million) has changed the Coromandel. Places like Matarangi swell from 700 residents to 3000 and it feels like all of them have brought powerboats and jetskis.

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This is an extract of my Illustrated Epistle, which goes out in the middle of the month. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a cartoonist (specifically, mine). I'd love it if you signed up at the bottom of this page, or here:

Or head to the archive to read more here.

New Zealand Diary - A Culture Trip to Dunedin For the Weekend

Dunedin is a small city (population 127,000), but it punches above its weight culturally, making it a fun place to visit for the weekend. There are plenty of galleries, including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The Settlers Museum has impressive displays that take you through the development of both Māori and Pākehā culture through the history of Otago.

Everywhere you walk in the city you are likely to come across some fantastic and often enormous street art.

And if you get tired of walking around the city and the cultural sights, you can always stop for a drink.

Living in New Zealand: Summer, Camping and Caravans

Summer starts today, 1st December, in New Zealand. We are hoping to do a lot of camping this summer (last summer I got away twice, for 2 nights in total, as there was so much to do with the house and garden).

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I love camping in New Zealand, though the weather can never be relied on (see my post on Things That Will Kill You in New Zealand). At least usually there aren’t too many people, unless it is the first two weeks after Christmas Day, when campgrounds go a little nuts.

Arctic Circle cartoon about camping in the great outdoors

Living in New Zealand: Why Do Kiwis Make So Many Things Out of Corrugated Iron?

When we were in Oamaru recently, I noticed some nice old buildings near Friendly Bay that were mainly made from corrugated iron.

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Corrugated “iron” (usually steel) is used a lot more in New Zealand than in England. In England you tend to see it used for agricultural buildings, but here the use extends way beyond that. Our house has a roof made of it and so do many houses, even newbuilds. In fact you often see corrugated metal being used for cladding on building walls. Sometimes it is even used just to make things like the sheep and sheepdog in Tirau, New Zealand’s corrugated capital.

Te Ara states:

Corrugated iron has been one of the characteristic building materials in New Zealand for over 150 years. It is technically light steel sheet that has been galvanised (treated with a coating of zinc on both sides) to prevent rusting, then rolled into corrugations at either 3 or 5 inches (76 or 127 millimetres). First produced in English steel mills in the 1830s, it was regarded as suitable only for temporary buildings.

But it is still all over the shop, probably because construction is very expensive in NZ and Kiwis are used to building things with it.