Andrew Gunn: Shock and awe while avoiding nuclear fallout in Queenstown
SATIRE: As the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet continues to deny swirling rumours that former President Obama is in Central Otago this weekend, Stuff travelled to Queenstown to canvas visiting American tourists on the attractions of the area.
"Barry", a self-described "former federal government" employee in his mid-fifties, was in the grounds of Central Otago District High School shooting hoops with half a dozen burly but athletic men he described as his "Marine buddies" when spoken to by our reporter.
Barry said he could understand why his well-heeled fellow countrymen would seek out the popular southern town. "Folks want change," he explained as he executed a successful hook shot over the head of his suited, earpiece-wearing opponent.
"Folks want hope. And being nine thousand miles from what's going on in Washington DC right now is about as big a change as they can hope for."
"That's change they can believe in", he added as he cadged a cigarette out of his sight of his wife.
Barry, who says he "keeps himself pretty well-informed" on matters of international relations, said New Zealand's remote location was particularly attractive in the current troubled times.
"Just look at the Korean peninsula, where a petulant inexperienced leader has run roughshod over the norms of diplomacy and is poised to lead the world down a dangerous rabbit-hole of nuclear sabre-rattling."
"And let's not forget Kim Jong-un either. Hey, look, it's a good idea to be well-clear of the fall-out from the argument between those two. And I mean fall-out, people."
While having nothing but praise for "you wonderful New Zealanders", Barry did express shock and awe at the current state of the housing market in the bustling Central Otago resort.
He and his family had travelled to Queenstown in search of a holiday home with some "fairly basic requirements" – three bedrooms, off-street parking, a semi-detached guardhouse, blast-proof windows and line-of-sight communication with certain non-specified low-orbit satellites.
But so far the only property he'd managed to locate that was within the family price-range was a fibrolite lean-to with outside toilet on the road to Arthurs Point, a property Barry would only diplomatically describe as being "much in keeping with the state of the Union: that is to say, constantly in need of perfecting".
As at press time Barry, his family and Marine buddies were boarding a private jet to fly to Auckland, where he was prepared to pay anywhere up to "a cool million bucks in your local currency" to secure a holiday home there instead.
"My wife asked me if we could really get a decent property for that, and I said honey, yes we can. Yes, we can."
An Auckland property market insider advised Stuff that anyone coming to that city with that sort of money could be forgiven for having a degree of hope, but was unlikely to walk away with any change.