10 things I’ll miss about NZ

Posted by: James on: Tuesday, 13th December, 2011

Whittakers 72% Cocoa Chocolate & Peanut Slab
I don’t know what I’m going to do without Whittakers. I’ve gradually moved away from milk chocolate and now anything less than 60% cocoa tastes like cooking chocolate to me. The Peanut Slab is just dark chocolate with peanuts in it – but as the name suggests, the size and texture are incredibly satisfying. This is what Yorkie should taste like.

Loopy Birdsong
I never actually found out what it was that made the noise, but one of the things we noticed when we first arrived was a distinctive bizarre warbling call – like a child let loose with a swanee whistle. NZ birds generally have a lot of character – from cheeky Kea that happily pose for photos and reputedly love to eat rucksacks and the rubber from car windows, to cute little Morepork owls that sit and stare at you from their perches.

Kea

Kea instinctively shows its best side.

Hospitality
The very first Kiwi we met outside the airport made us feel so welcome that we wanted to invite him over for tea. Since then, we’ve relied on the hospitality of several friends and relations of friends (who we hadn’t even met) for quite a chunk of our stay. The country may be beautiful, but it’s the people that can leave you with a warm fuzzy glow.

Being able to point to practically anything and say “I’m sure that was in Lord of the Rings.”
We actually had a road map that highlighted where scenes were shot. We never made it to any of those spots, but it’s hard not to think that most of the landscape must have been used at some time or other – so yeah, we totally visited Middle Earth.

Fruit
Unless you’ve been to NZ, You haven’t tasted a kiwi-fruit before. The ones shipped to the UK are NOT kiwis, whatever the label may say – they’re sour and hard horrible. When you get them in NZ, they’re beautifully sweet and refreshing – and if you get them in season, they’re cheap as chips. Feijoas are a similar thing that I’d never heard of before – eaten in much the same way, just with a more peculiar taste. I’m probably never going to find them outside of NZ. Ho hum.

The Cultural Mix
Auckland particularly has an interesting mix of cultures – it’s not all Pakeha or European-origin. There are Chinese festivals, Indian celebrations and Pacific islanders and Maōri have a presence too. It’s quite hard to feel like a foreigner in Auckland with the mix of backgrounds on the street.

Fish and Chips
The stereotypical Brit is supposed to be all about the fish and chips. The sad truth is that when we eat fish and chips in Britain, we’re eating a frozen fillet that’s probably months old, dipped in a vat of cardiac-arrest-inducing batter and served up with soggy chips. Imagine if your fish were freshly caught, fried in lighter batter and served up with perfectly crisped chips. All this and it’s still one of the cheapest foods around.

Camping
NZ really lends itself to camping. It has a winning combination of stunning scenery, no harmful critters (bar sandflies) and lots of space. Some camp sites are better than others and we often found ourselves gawping at the price of a tiny pitch (our tent was very very small) with shared facilities – but generally, it’s a great way to holiday. We even managed a night of ‘freedom camping’ on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch – simultaneously the most beautiful and the most sleep-disturbingly windy of camping experiences!

Freedom camping with the sheep. I'm gonna miss this little tent.

The Colour
Gardening must be an incredibly rewarding pastime in NZ, with intensely-coloured blooms popping up all over the place with what seems like very minimal effort. Touring the South Island in November is an amazing experience as the Alpine views are flooded with yellow gorse blossom. It’s treated as a weed, but it really defines the landscape.

Volcanoes
As with anywhere, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of walking up and down the same roads every day, but it’s not many places you can break the routine by strolling up a volcano to take in the view. I’ve found that looking over the city from atop a volcano really helps to put the world back in its proper perspective!

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QuaintJames

A fairly loose blog about the places I go and the things I think. May also include left-leaning social commentary derived in part from video games.

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