WHEN Lee Howard-Mizsey camped outside the new Kmart store in Whangarei with a chilly bin and foam mattress, she didn't realise the 14-hour ordeal might inspire the completion of a 1200-word essay or result in her peeing into a bottle ... and all for a $5 voucher.
She was one of three nursing students who slept in the doorway of the Okara Shopping Centre store on Wednesday night having heard rumours that the first 50 shoppers would get vouchers.
The cash-strapped NorthTec students - Ms Howard-Mizsey, Izzy Cooke and Ashleigh Ingham - grabbed blankets and settled in for the night.
Ms Howard-Mizsey, known as Bubbles, even brought her laptop and spent the night working on an essay that was due in today , which coincidentally focused on homeostasis and how the body shivers to warm up.
"We did shiver throughout the night," said Ms Howard-Mizsey, who set up outside the store at 7pm.
"There were a few showers too overnight and it was cold at 2am, but we were cosy enough."
She hadn't slept all night but said the other two, who had camped out since 5.30pm, had 40 winks until the street cleaner woke them up at 4.45am.
At 11pm, there were nine people camped out.
They too had heard that Kmart was giving out vouchers.
Unfortunately, when the doors opened and shoppers were invited in, Kmart handed the trio two $5 vouchers between them.
"That was disappointing. We camped out for 14 hours. We had to pee into a bottle.
"Still it was a good experience and we had fun. I'd do it all again."
The store opened at 7.30am with a team of 120 as about 90 shoppers flooded in.
Tina Lyford was the first shopper to test out the new tills and use her $100 voucher.
"I just bought some summer goodies for my kids. Yep - I like the store."
Traffic was light for the opening, however, it picked up later in the morning.
Kmart's New Zealand zone manager Jason Picard said the first day had gone well with pet caves, curiously, selling out fast.
He said parking was well under control at the centre due to the temporary, additional 250 parking spaces provided on the corner of Okara Dr and Port Rd, adjacent to Cobham Oval.