Adventures at the end of the Long White Cloud

Our Next Life

  • David Swann

Our 19th Move!

We've been married for 33 years and we've already moved home 18 times... so we like to think we're fairly proficient at packing up and getting on the road. But that doesn't make the 19th move any easier. It isn't. It's bloody hard work.

The Mobility Gene

Fortunately, it's still exciting. There's apparently a gene for mobility - DRD4-7R a.k.a. the 'wanderlust gene'. It's possessed by 20% of the population and encourages migration. Kind of interesting in evolutionary terms - if no-one moved on, villages would interbreed to the point of disaster. If everyone moved on, social structures wouldn't evolve. So 20% seems about right. Sarah and I have that gene in spades! We once stayed in the same house for seven years. We fairly galloped out of there.

We've been in our current house for barely six months. Even by our standards, that's a short stay! And the shame is that we're in a delightful little place with views out over Evans Bay in Wellington. We love it... but we can't afford it. And we're fed up constantly chasing money and climbing slimy corporate poles.

The view from our (unaffordable) deck in Wellington

Of course, why would we make any move simple? This one is compounded by the short notice, the need to be working on a ton of stuff for our 'next life' and finishing off some projects here in Wellington.

New Cars

Oh, and we need to buy a new car. I'm useless at buying cars. I tend to get carried away with one cool feature of the car I'm test driving and then can't help myself: "Yes, I'll buy it!"

We once went to get a sensible small car and walked away with a really cool Jeep Wrangler. It didn't do anything on our 'must have' list, leaked horribly and had a habit of pirouetting in wet weather. But it was great fun off road!

We went back to the UK for a few months and set out again to buy a sensible small car... and this time walked away with a Mercedes C240 Kompressor. Not sensible but we loved it!

So... what have we done this time? We needed to buy a big, fairly serious off-roader to support our airbnb experiences ideas. And that's exactly what we did! It's a miracle.

We bought a 2007 Mercedes ML500 at an incredibly low price of NZD13,000 with only 105,000km on the clock. This was a 2015 import from Japan and so like most luxury Japanese imports, this has been impeccably maintained. Is it green? Sadly no! Once we get experiences rolling, we'll graduate to a hybrid and offer ecotours, I promise. Meanwhile, we'll offer our guests the opportunity to luxuriate in leather.

How to tell it's an import from Japan? The silly wing mirror!

I'm also researching the various aspects of getting airbnb-ready. That includes preparing for building work as soon as we arrive - we need to be hosting guests by the end of August. I've started capturing the house into a 3D house planning system called Live Home 3D. Yet another vertical learning curve... more on that in a future episode!

We also need to tackle the bureaucracy needed to obtain passenger endorsements and passenger service licenses to allow us to offer airbnb experiences (did I say that we were going to do all of this properly?). I'm going to be publishing a separate blog post covering off the details of this... it's going to be useful for folks wanting to follow in our footsteps. And probably one to miss if not.

Sarah's doing the hard yards of earning money - she's working in elderly care. It's hard grind, it's poorly paid, but someone's got to do it. You'll be old one day.

Planning the Move

It's only been six months since we sold our house and moved into this rental in Wellington. So when I called the removal company, they groaned. They remembered just how far down the hill this rental is... only alleviated by a rather splendid private cable car. But it was still a workout for the removal team. And now they get to do it again!

Our landlord wasn't too happy. We're less than halfway through a one year lease so quite understandably have to pay a break fee. Fortunately, the rental market is still red hot in Wellington. We have to put up with a couple of viewings... but have little doubt that this place will go quickly. It's a delight!

We have to get two vehicles down to Bluff. Our tiny Nissan Micra (George) is rather elderly and isn't looking forward to wheezing his way down south. I'm going to wheedle him down next week, driving solo. That's going to be painful... George has got arthritis, whines loudly at speed and clunks alarmingly. It's going to be a long, long drive. I'll then fly back from Invercargill before repeating the drive south in the rather more luxurious Merc... and with Sarah's company.

And the company of a vomiting cat.

Mr Pippin, the Vomiting Cat

Have I introduced you to Mr Pippin yet? He's an elderly, toothless sealpoint Siamese who we adopted from the awesome Cat Protection League in Wellington.

Mr Pippin not vomiting.

Mr Pippin's obviously lived life as a Tom to the full and has the ragged ears to prove it. But his life of hard living has impacted his stomach. If you feed him any more than 17.5 pieces of kibble, he vomits. If the kibble isn't warmed to precisely 20 degrees, he vomits. If his water isn't slightly spritzed, he vomits. And sometimes, he vomits for the sheer entertainment value. Sometimes, he gives plenty of warning in the form of violent retching. Other times, he violently retches and nothing happens. And that time he threw up on my head at 4:30am, he gave no warning at all.

Yes, we've taken him to the vet. The vet will nod sagely as we describe the symptoms and look at us like idiots: "That's what elderly sealpoint Siamese do... don't feed him more than 17.5 pieces of kibble, warmed to 20 degrees and with lightly spritzed water."

You might recall from an earlier blog that Sarah's likely to accumulate a menagerie once we get down there. Based on our previous experiences (incontinent Poodle, farting Welsh Springer Spaniel, cannibal hamster, mental Chihuahua, boss-eyed cat, smelly-eared English Springer Spaniel...), that could get entertaining. Which reminds me. I need a man cave. Without a cat flap.

So, we anticipate an interesting ride south. It will feature on the non-smellavision YouTube channel!

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