Leaving New Zealand - reflectionsApril 17, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C
Today we leave New Zealand for Australia. We leave with some sadness - we have all loved the country. When planning our trip we wanted to include NZ and Australia as they are so far from home, so it was better to include them on a longer trip. I also thought that we probably wouldn't visit again; I'm now not so sure! I'd love to come back again one day....
When we first arrived in NZ from Asia, there were plenty of things we were immediately appreciative of. They included clean toilets, being able to flush loo roll down the toilet, drinkable tap water, cooler weather, needing to use a duvet in bed, great kids' play parks, speaking English and lovely wine. In some ways, New Zealand is pretty similar to the UK but there are also many things that are different or unexpected. There are obviously fewer people (population less than Scotland, in an area bigger than the whole UK) and the roads are hence quieter - the only real traffic jams we saw were on our way into Auckland. Most of the roads are single carriageway, some of the more remote ones are unpaved, the only motorway we have seen was also on the way into Auckland and there are no service stations. Many of the road signs are the same but some are different - our favourites were the animal signs including kiwi & penguin crossings! There are also lots of signs informing trucks not to use noisy engine braking in towns - signs that we don't need because our motorways don't run through towns but the main roads here do. The road crossings are good and people seem to stop for you at zebra crossings more readily than in Britain. The pelican crossings sound like a space invaders game when the green man appears! In fact, people seem to follow the road rules more here (or maybe that's just compared to Bradford!). There are loads of motels here and they nearly all give you some fresh milk so you can have breakfast; many also provide sachets of hot chocolate, that Solana has loved. Motels rooms and even some of the campsite cabins we've stayed on have also had a toaster - a great idea and one that could catch on in Britain (if we weren't so health & safety mad!). Some of the places we've stayed have had smoked glass mugs (remember those ones from the 70s?!) and clock radios - both blasts from the past! They don't seem to use duvet covers very much - instead there is usually just a sheet under the bare duvet, then another sheet (or a blanket in the cooler places) on top. There are more and nicer public toilets here than at home. Analogue TV is still in operation (but digital is too). There are quite a few British birds here - including blackbirds, sparrows, starlings, chaffinches, goldfinches, mallards - brought by some of the earlier European settlers in the 1800s to make the place look more like home... The cost of living seems quite high - particularly supermarket shopping which is more expensive than Britain. Sushi is cheaper than in the UK and usually very good - we have loved that! More people walk around barefoot, particularly children. There are awful sandflies in the West of the South island (probably the equivalent to our Scottish midgies - but worse!) and we've also had a few mosquito bites as we've got to the warmer North of the North island. There are lots of hard-to-pronounce place names, particularly in the North Island. Finally, there are some words that are different in NZ English to UK English - for example "chilly bin" (coolbox), "trundler" (shopping trolley), "jandals" (flip-flops), "jug" (kettle), "gumboots" (wellies), "dairy" (corner shop). People use "wee" (meaning small) here more than they do in England (but not quite as much as Scotland). Cheddar cheese is widely available and as delicious as home but has different names, ranging from mild "Colby", through to "Tasty" (mature) and "Vintage" (extra mature). We agree "tasty" is a particularly fitting name!
If you have not been to New Zealand and ever have the chance to, I'd highly recommend it. If you only have 2-3 weeks, I'd say chose one island/area and explore it in a bit more detail. We've had 5 weeks (3 weeks in the South Island and 2 weeks in the North Island) and it has still felt like we've rushed through some places too quickly and we've had to miss others out. Hoping we'll make it back here again one day...Read more