I cannot get over how gorgeous this country is. We went on a little town walk this morning in a place called Wanaka (about an hour north of Queenstown) and happened upon this view:
We love it here. We sometimes wonder if we should have just done the whole 4 months here, just wandering around in the campervan at whim. Ahhh...
Anyway, so there's a serious crush happening on New Zealand, and while there are a lot of similarities in our two cultures, there are of course differences as well. I thought I'd list out a few so far - some are dumb and small, but clearly I thought it was funny or interesting enough to note.
- Coffee!... Mmmm coffee. Its great here, but ordering a black coffee will not be what you think it will be. But, it will definitely give you a jolt. Turns out, it's not a drip coffee kinda country, it's all espresso based (often, double shot espresso based). So, would you like a long black, a flat white, or maybe an americano with "runny" cream (because non-runny cream = whipped cream)? I would. But be careful when ordering a simple iced coffee, the standard might be this:
- They like to put beets on burgers ("beetroots," mind you, and its pretty good).
- NAMES - Listen, I love New Zealand, I think I made that clear. But I cannot pronounce a damn thing here. New Zealand, at a glance, tricks you into thinking it has easy-to-pronounce locations. Wellington! Christchurch! Queensland! How very easy and British sounding! LIES, lies and trickery! Those cities are the start and end of all you can pronounce, I promise you. Everything else is Maori based and I guarantee you (and definitely I) are basically massacring all names when we try. Punakaiki, Whaipukurau, Dunedin (ok that one is Scottish influence but I still bet you say it wrong), Whaririki... Just try to say them. WRONG! Obviously I cant hear you when you try, but trust me, whatever you are saying, you are wrong. I thought for sure Waikite was " WHY- key- tee".... WRONG! It's "WACK-eh-tee!" Also, just for fun, sometimes(most of the time) wh" is pronounced as an "f," and sometimes not. But I've totally embraced my complete inability to pronounce anything correctly and am absolutely fine with it. I'm just hoping my attempts are charming to the confused locals who have no idea what I'm saying.
- Driving! We are both totally fine driving on the left side, except we both occasionally still hit the windshield wipers when turning (is in the same place as US car's turning signal). Also, I love the kilometer. I am mostly too lazy to do the conversion to miles in my head, so am constantly delighted at how quickly we get places.
- Feijoa is delicious - it's a fruit people "either love or hate," said the woman in Whakanui (not pronounced as an "f", tricky bastards) who sold me a feijoa smoothie, and I loved it. A bit tangy, with some banana-y undertones. Kind of. But definitely delightful. However, the woman also added that you either love or hate the feijoa, "like the avocado," and I cannot imagine someone who hates avocado (because you are wrong. Avocado is amazing). And no, I cannot pronounce "feijoa," correctly, and neither can you.
- Sheep: its not just a stereotype. They really are everywhere in this country. And yet this is the best photo I currently have:
- Not really a note on New Zealand, but 3 times now I've found dead bees on the drivers seat after I've driven (WHAT is happening??), and 2 live bees in the car while driving other times. Do we have a hive in this car and just aren't taking advantage of potentially free honey?? And no, we have not yet checked the engine or undercarriage. Apparently I prefer to just be bewildered.
- New Zealand may have hit the jackpot for most gentle native species -- unlike their neighbor...No offense Australia, but so many things there could and perhaps will kill me. But New Zealand does have a super annoying bug: the sandfly. On the west coast of the south island they are everywhere, whether there's sand there or not. And I have the bites all over to prove it. They are tiny, gnat-like, thirsty little jerks.
Annnnnd...until I can do another real catch-up, I'll leave you with this...