It’s time to bring the saga up to date. When we last left our heroine, she was prostrate in Canterbury Hospital, and I don’t mean the one in Sydney. No, Paula had managed to severely strain her left ankle while crossing a stile with a complete lack of style. Yes, we were all in the shit, a couple of thousand miles from home and short of functioning limbs. Thank God for Kiwi health care workers, who were utterly brilliant and FREE.

Fortified with drugs, we got her back to the apartment (Oaks on Cashel) and concocted a meal. Panadeine and Sauvignon Blanc proved an ideal compound analgesic, so we got some sleep; but showering and packing in the morning was rather more challenging.

Thank the good lord, the car turned out all right: a brand new Camry that drank fuel but drove all right and held all our luggage. Unfortunately, most of that ended up in the dirt in a layby very early in the drive as Liam and I changed tyres: even before the mountains, I managed to write-off a brand-new tyre on a rock that had washed off a culvert.

As it turned out, this was more than a blessing in disguise, because it it had happened in the mountains, it would have been much more of a drama. The trip over Arthurs Pass into Greymouth may be fabled in the tourist drawcards, but punting a strange car along a very narrow road on torrential rain, through hairpin bends with a couple of inches of water and yet more rubble, was an experience that need not be repeated. Once again, Liam had brought natural disaster to New Zealand.

Dom, by this stage, had decided we were all doomed, although he was suitably impressed by what looked like the Misty Mountains set. The Midlands Railway, so narrow guage it looked like a toy, ran beside and occasionally across the road.

As we came out of the mountains, the landscape changed. Temperate rainforest, with those incredible prehistoric ferns, took over from the stony uplands, with a narrow coastal strip of farmland. Driving into Greymouth, probably the most appropriately named town in the world, we had one more driving adventure: a shared, single-lane, two hundred yard long bridge with the rails straight down the middle!

The town, largest on the West Coast, would be dwarfed by most NSW North Coast townships, but it had everything we wanted, including the Monteiths Brewery, which I’m coming to believe is the best thing so far on the trip. Our motel looked basic but was large, warm and comfortable, close to the wild, wild beach. When I post the photos, you will think of The Piano: roaring surf and drift trees, not drift wood. A sunny evening and super chilli con carne finished a day of adventure.