Busy day in town…Lots of shopping…New camera…New clothing purchase…

Kitty-corner crosswalks are legal in many locations in New Zealand.

Walking the busy downtown New Plymouth streets lined with a variety of shops and restaurants is as enjoyable as it is in any big city. 

Although the names of the stores are unfamiliar to us when New Zealand favors its own locals brands and vendors, the inclusion of a 15% VAT (value-added tax) makes prices on certain goods and services high.

With no particular items in mind to purchase, we found a “pay for” parking spot on the street where there’s one meter on each block. The shopper enters a credit card for an extra fee of NZ $.50, US $.34 or pays cash without the extra fee for an hourly fee of NZ $2, US $1.35. We purchased one hour on the meter.

We could have parked in a ramp, but we easily found a spot on the street with metered parking.

Each parking spot is numbered and upon purchasing the ticket, it’s necessary to enter the spot number.  A receipt is printed, but unnecessary to post in the car’s window. The meter records the spot number, the amount paid and the time the fee was paid. 

When and if a meter reader or officer checks the meter for the block, she/he can determine who hasn’t paid for parking in which spots. It’s a logical system, similar to many systems and services firmly and efficiently in place in New Zealand, which appears to us as a highly well-run country.

Knowing we had one hour to walk up and down the hilly often steep streets we decided to stop at an optimist shop for Tom to purchase new nose pads for his glasses which had become loose over these past years of travel. 

We both perused the shoes in this store.  With no room in our luggage for more shoes and none to toss at this time, we couldn’t buy a thing.

(With neither of us having had an ophthalmology appointment since leaving the US long ago, when we return next year we’ll each have an eye exam and purchase new glasses for Tom and contacts lens for me). 

To walk out the door of the optical shop with the new pads at no charge, having never made a purchase in their location, we couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces or thank the staff member more who so graciously had served us. That’s NZ for ya! 

As we continued along the steep uphill shop-lined street, I noticed a clothing store that appealed to me.  Needing to toss some old clothes, I’ve planned to make a few purchases while here since it’s been a year since I purchased any clothing. 

This Dick Smith electronics store is going out of business. It was interesting to check out the merchandise and prices, although we had no particular needs at this time, other than cameras which they didn’t have in stock.

Buying clothing in other countries is a problem for me, especially when it comes to pants. I’m 5’8″, 173 cm tall with a long inseam making purchasing pants long enough a challenge. Women in most countries are much shorter than I, making it nearly impossible for me to find pants to fit in both size and length.

While Tom sat on a park bench on the boulevard reading a book on his phone, I was able to try on the only two pairs of longish pants they had in the otherwise well-stocked store. One was too short but the other not only fit perfectly but were actually long enough.

The price with the included VAT tax made me cringe a little at NZ $169.90, US $114.60 but when I purchased my last pair of long pants (white) in Honolulu last May (click this link for that post) they were a similar price at an upscale department store at the mall. 

Tom doesn’t like to shop surprising me when he seems to enjoy walking in the town.

A moment later I was out the door with my purchase. In my old life, a purchase such as this may have elicited a little rush of excitement having found something that fit. In this life, I feel no particular joy in buying clothes when all purchases require “tossing” older items in order to make room in my single suitcase. 

Also, in my old life, a trip with a friend to a good sale was indeed a fun outing. Now, with no girlfriends to shop with, I’ve totally lost interest in buying clothing other than the bare essentials.

With a half-hour left on our meter, we continued up the steep hill. Tom mentioned he’d noticed a camera store when he’d dropped me off at the pharmacy before we parked the car. He pointed across the street to the location of the camera shop, Plymouth Photographics.

This is the store where I purchased the pair of black pants.

With no intention of making a purchase, preferring just to “look” we wandered into the store checking out the various digital, lightweight. cameras. Still looking forward to technology to move forward to a more sophisticated lightweight camera in years to come, if we made a purchase, weight must still be the number one consideration, not only in regard to my shoulder but also in the weight of our bags.

Taking anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 photos a year, depending on our location, consideration of my bad right shoulder has to be first. What point would there be in a heavier camera, however, advanced it my be, if I’m unable to hold it up for often hours in a single day?

My shoulder hurt so badly after returning from safari after taking over 300 photos a day I had to wear a sling for days to let it rest. Sure, surgery would most likely resolve this occasional issue but I have literally no interest in having surgery unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. The shoulder is onlyh painful when taking too many photos or performing tasks or activities that may cause discomfort.

Within 20 minutes, we were out the door with a new Canon digital camera in the box. Why did we need another camera? The camera we currently have has deteriorated from humidity, a by-product of living in very humid locations such as in Hawaii (8 months) and Fiji (four months). 

A women’s and men’s clothing store with a sale with nothing of particular interest to either of us.

Extreme humidity destroys cameras. It’s a simple reality of our lives of travels that every 18 to 24 months, we must purchase a new camera. This has prompted us to purchase what we need…lightweight, relatively inexpensive digital cameras.

At a cost of NZ $599 (including NZ $78.18 VAT tax), US $404 ($52.60 VAT), we realized we may have paid a little less had we ordered it online but adding the cost of shipping, customs fees, and taxes ultimately wouldn’t have resulted in a better price. 

We walked out the door with the Canon Power Shot, SX 60 HS, a model with which I’m familiar (a newer model of our old camera) resulting in no learning curve which will easily work with my current software, uses the same battery (of which we’ll now have four) using the same battery charger we currently have. It was a no-brainer.

There are a few familiar chain fast-food restaurants in New Plymouth such as this Domino’s Pizza.

With 10 minutes left on the meter, we rushed back to the car, bags in hand, items in the trunk. We were ready to grocery shop at Pak n Save and New World. By 3:00 pm we were back home where I spent the next few hours putting everything away, washing produce, and making dinner, keeping me in the kitchen almost until dinnertime.

Today, I’ll begin setting up the new camera, stripping the old camera of accessories we can use on the new camera, and of course, taking a walk to look for those birds in Trish and Neil’s yard that we’ve heard so much about. Then, we’ll stop by to see the newest offspring in the pregnant mom’s paddock.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be back with photos taken using the new camera on yet another beautiful sunny day as summer winds down in New Zealand and temperatures cool accordingly.

May YOU have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2015:

In Kauai last year, we spotted this African Tulip Tree with the pod that blooms into these gorgeous flowers. For more photos, please click here.