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.


Illustrated Epistle Extract: Things That Will Kill You in New Zealand

Since we have been back in Lyttleton, we've had a few small tremors (3-ish on the Richter scale) and a larger jolt (4-ish) and I'm glad our house is timber and that the chimneys were taken down after the two big Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. We live on a hill and there are some large rocks above us, but there are also large trees and buildings in between us and those rocks, so having those rocks come tumbling down in an earthquake is less of a worry than in some other places. A 7.8 earthquake in Kaikoura in 2016 caused massive landslips that closed Highway 1 (Yes the major road connecting New Zealand's north to its south) for over a year, so being protected from slips and rockfalls is a something you have to consider.


At least being on a hill there is less risk of tsunami. In 1868, a tsunami drained Lyttelton Harbour and then ran up 3 metres above sea level, causing damage to wharves, jetties and boats, inundating paddocks and drowning sheep. It was due to an 8.5-9.0 earthquake that happened in what was then Peru (see Te Ara entry). Our house is about 40 metres above sea level, which puts us at low risk of tsunami damage, unless we are down at the pub on London Street, though even there it would have to be massive.

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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: