The plant shop turned out to be a garden-and-leisure centre. Along with plants, outdoor furnishings and extensive tearooms, it had a warehouseful of craft materials, ornaments, kitchenware, books, clothing, and gifts (including gift food). It also sold pets. These included standard fare in New Zealand terms – puppies, guinea pigs, tropical fish – but also more exotic livestock.

The reptiles were in a cul-de-sac walled with glass tanks. Terrarium, I thought, and wondered if there was much of a market for the tanks and plants alone. As I stood back to get an overview of them, a lizard charged the glass nearby and flared. There was a coiled snake in a bare corner, and a father and son coming in made a bee-line for that. Nothing else moved.

On the way out, I walked through an aisle of live insects in plastic packs. For the briefest of moments, I thought they might be pets, too.