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TRAVEL Danny does an eleven-hour bus ride

Daniel Carey (complete with hairnet) examines his last button from his tour of Cadbury World in Dunedin.
Daniel Carey (complete with hairnet) examines his last button from his tour of Cadbury World in Dunedin.

Danny does an eleven-hour bus ride

Danny does..
Daniel Carey

“IN winter,” Bill Bryson tells us at the beginning of his book ‘Neither Here Nor There: Travels In Europe’, “Hammerfest is a 30-hour ride by bus from Oslo, though why anyone would want to go there in winter is a question worth considering.”
After reading about Bryson’s trip to the northernmost town in Europe, my eleven-hour bus journey from Auckland to Wellington seemed positively mild. Four Welsh rugby fans were also making the trip, though most of the New Zealanders on board were stopping somewhere en route.
“Don’t go to bed too early,” a Kiwi veteran of the trip warned me the night before, “because you WILL sleep on that bus.” The advice came at a cost – his hyperactive three-year-old daughter threw water at my jeans as we spoke – but he was right. An hour in and I was dozing. Reminded by the driver that we could not eat or drink anything on board (apart from water and fruit juice), I found myself dreaming of Cadbury World, the chocolate factory I had visited the day before.
Dreaming about the Heart Room, where some romantic/sap (delete as appropriate) had proposed to his girlfriend in 2002 (she said yes); the chocolate waterfall (‘purely for your enjoyment’, the guide reminded us), and the requirement for hairnets (and snoods for the bearded men). Sadly, I was in the wrong factory to find out how Jacobs get the figs into the Fig Rolls.
I woke up before we stopped in Hamilton, picking up one man who had remembered his i-pod but appeared to have forgotten to wear anything over his boxer shorts. We saw New Zealand’s largest lake and longest river, and the driver reminded newcomers that alcohol was banned.
I dozed again and dreamed of Speight’s, the brewery I had toured with three Aussies and two Malaysians. “Are you Irish at all?” the tour guide asked me as I poured a glass that was mainly ‘head’. They don’t teach you pint-pulling in journalism school, unfortunately.
Waking up after we left Taupo, I read the paper and learned that deaf New Zealanders had been advised to listen to the radio in the event of an earthquake, and that an Italian had ripped out his eyeballs during Mass. After that, it was hard to get too excited about their Irish presidential election coverage.
We had our second food break at the Gumboot Manor in Taihape, where instead of table numbers, we got a little wellington (or gumboot, maybe?) to help the waitresses unite us with our food. Eleven hours and eight minutes after he left Auckland, the bus driver welcomed us to Wellington. It was wet and windy. I think I’m going to feel right at home here.

Daniel Carey, a Mayo News reporter, has taken a year out to travel the world. His addiction to the keyboard remains, however, and this column will carry his reports from life on the outside.