I just got back from New Zealand yesterday and you’ll have to forgive me if that’s all I feel like talking about for the next few weeks. It was amazing and there’s just so much to say! It’s hard to know where to begin. Maybe it’s best to begin with overall impressions. It’s a country & culture defined by its landscapes. The cities are much like any other place, but there’s no other place in the world where you can find such unique & varied scenery in so small an area. You go from beach/tropics to snowy mountains in half an hour with beautiful lakes, caves, rock formations, waterfalls, and everything else in between. As most will attest, I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but every time we found ourselves in the city, I was itching to get back out. There’s too much to discover in New Zealand and what I like so much about it- is that it’s up to you to find it. In America, everything would have a path with guardrails and warning signs every 2′, rules everywhere, and there would be crowds of people around anything worth seeing. There was no one around there. Half of the things you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention or if some local didn’t tell you how to find it. That makes discovering things, all the more exciting.
Some interesting facts that I picked up throughout the trip:
1. New Zealand is roughly the same area as the state of Colorado (just spread longer and seperated into 2 islands). Not a very big place…
2. There are only about 4 million people living in the whole country vs. 40 million sheep. As a point of reference, there are about 6 million people in the Bay Area alone.
3. NZ is often called the youngest country in the world since the first Maori tribes didn’t arrive until sometime in the 1100’s (or so they estimate) and the first european settlers didn’t arrive until the mid 1800’s. Mucht of the land was also created by more recent volcanic activity.
4. Because NZ seperated from the land mass known as Gondwanaland (the mass that included Antartica & Australia) early on & the rest was developed by volcanos, there are no indigenous mammals or reptiles. Only the birds are native. Sheep & cows were introduced. That means there are no squirrels, no snakes, no mountain lions, nothing like that. You have nothing to worry about on the hiking trail.
5. Kiwis are a pretty laid back sort of people. It was not a strange sight to see people barefoot on the street, in grocery stores, and retail stores.
6. Apparently college culture always involves barbeques & burning. Burning couches to be specific. It seems that a good portion of students live in super cheap housing and there’s an abundance of crappy furniture perfect for torching.
7. They have their own vocabulary that can cause some confusion at first. A few examples:
dairy= a corner store
lollies= all kinds of candy
cheers= seems to be a catch-all phrase that is many times synonomous with thanks
rocket= a type of lettuce
flash= ritzy/ fancy
O.E.= overseas experience, a kiwi rite of passage when kids go abroad- usually for several years
That’s probably enough fun facts for one post.
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