With this detailed guided tour, it’s easy to follow in the footsteps of the unruly visitors whose shocking antics have gripped the nation.
Mere weeks into 2019, we already have a strong contender for the year’s most compelling news story. From the farthest reaches of the North Shore to the light-industrial outskirts of the Tron, a large family of overseas visitors has allegedly been leaving rubbish, behaving in a threatening manner and refusing to pay restaurant bills.
Presumably in large part due to skilled negotiator Madeleine Chapman’s diplomacy efforts with a certain Bunnings-hat-wearing member of the crew (along with deportation notices issued by Immigration New Zealand), the group is thought to be leaving the country imminently.
While you may breathe a sigh of relief that the tourists’ reign of terror has come to an end, it’s understandable if that feeling is tinged with the faintest hint of disappointment. For a precious few days, content junkies lived for the breaking news alerts, the grainy social media videos, the are-they-or-aren’t-they-Irish confusion and the breathless reports from journalists in the field.
If you’re in that boat, fear not. Inspired by Alex Casey’s iconic unofficial celebrity eating tour of New Zealand, we have devised a step-by-step guide to following in the footsteps of the infamous visitors, reliving each precious moment, and supporting the businesses affected by the dastardly deeds they allegedly carried out.
On that note, this tour most certainly is not designed to replicate the movements of the group exactly. Please don’t leave rubbish behind, please don’t threaten people and please, for the love of god, pay your bloody bill.
Our tour begins in Mairangi Bay on the North Shore of Auckland. On January 9, the family allegedly visited the pleasant seaside suburb, where they indulged in a “breakfast binge” at local joint Montrose Cafe. They are said to have racked up a bill in excess of $110, attempted to turn staff against each other and claimed there was hair in their food before shoving their dirty plates into the manager and doing a runner.
It’s unclear what the group ate, but they are said to have added to their order constantly and asked for things that weren’t on the menu in an attempt to bamboozle staff. As unpleasant as the family’s behaviour appears to be, everyone deserves to experience New Zealand cafe culture at least once in their life. In that spirit, order the mince on toast with fried eggs and a bowl latte.
From Mairangi Bay, head north-west to the sprawling inland hellscape we know as Albany. Here, our plucky protagonists dined at none other than Nando’s, where they were thrown a curveball by having to pay upfront (they demanded a refund, naturally).
If the group is, as reported, from Liverpool, they will no doubt be familiar with the joys of the said establishment – enjoying a cheeky Nando’s is a favourite pastime of the English. However, shockingly, what is widely considered to be the best foodstuff on offer at New Zealand Nando’s does not appear to be available at UK outlets.
Presumably, the family stuck to their favourites from English Nando’s and did not order the cheesy garlic pitta. Had they indulged in this culinary masterpiece, it’s highly likely their crime spree would have ceased immediately as they made peace with the New Zealand people and thanked us for introducing them to this cheesy, bready food of the gods.
Anyway, Nando’s cheesy bread is good at any time of the day, and it certainly hits the spot for morning tea. Thankfully, Nando’s Albany opens at 11am. Enjoy. Follow your cheesy bread binge (though do save some for later: see afternoon tea) with a palate-cleansing Red Bull or Primo from the Caltex next door (walk swiftly past any festive decor lingering from December. Seriously, don’t even look at it.)
Now it’s time to swing south and head for the bustling hotspot of Takapuna. Artwok is your destination: modern Chinese. The group allegedly threatened staff here and walked out without paying. Don’t do that: get the crispy pork and the eggplant and potato dish instead.
Stick around Takapuna, browse the shops and go to the beach. It’s a lovely spot. Have a Corona, maybe eat some of that cheesy Nando’s bread you stashed in your bag (it’s still good cold, trust us). But please clean up after yourself, and definitely don’t threaten to knock anyone’s brains out.
If you didn’t have too many Coronas at the beach, jump on a Lime scooter and whizz up to Mr India in Hillcrest. Here the group is said to have put hair in their food and refused to pay the $250 bill. Avoid any chance of this by wearing a hairnet whilst indulging in a curry. Hayden Donnell, Spinoff contributor and renowned North Shore man about town, recommends the palak paneer.
You don’t have to go far for the evening’s culinary finale: The Backyard Bar & Restaurant, where the tourists allegedly put ants in their food in an attempt to get out of paying, is right next door. Ants are of course edible, but save them for another day and treat yourself to pavlova, a custard tart or perhaps a special coffee to end the evening on a sweet note.
It’s now time to farewell the delights of the Shore and head to your downtown home for the night, the Ibis on Wyndham St. Luckily, the number 923 bus leaves just round the corner from The Backyard and will whizz you over the bridge in no time.
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Morning! Sleep well? I hope so. Break the fast next door at the Coffee Club. There’s a full breakfast menu, but we haven’t got all day: just grab a piece of chocolate cake to fuel you for the journey ahead. Do pay for it, and don’t abuse the staff. It’s now time to farewell the big smoke and head to the mighty Waikato. I don’t care how you get there – bus, Onzo bike, white van – just make sure you’re at Burger King Te Rapa in time for lunch.
Only one thing will satisfy after the journey from Tāmaki Makaurau: Burger King. The tourists’ antics came to an end at the BK on the corner of Te Rapa Road and Wairere Drive. It’s a lovely spot, between an Office Products Depot and a crematorium, with ample parking. This family’s holiday has certainly been action-packed, so it would be a fitting tribute to order the Family Action Pack: $24.95 for a Whopper, a BK Chicken, two nugget burgers, two large hot fries and four small soft drinks. Bon appétit.
The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.