We headed out of Invercargill, the southernmost town in the world, and to my surprise headed south instead of north - and the friend who was showing us around proved maddeningly elusive about our destination.

We drove along beside a sparkling blue sea and the low hills on our right sank down into a sandy plain with one low mound at the end. We drove round the mound and the road ended. "Now," said our friend, "there is nothing between you and Antarctica except a few scattered islands."

The next point of interest is the South Pole. It was a beautiful day and the vast Southern Ocean was calm and blue. We gazed out over the empty sea and in imagination felt the chill wind from the Antarctic blowing on our bare arms. The sign post pointed to vast distances to famous places, but all of them north apart from one lonely finger that read, "4810km South Pole".

We were at Bluff, the southernmost point on mainland New Zealand and the signpost stood on Stirling Point. And excellent information display had been vandalised by Maori youth wherever it mentioned the pakeha.