Saturday, December 15, 2012

Things I've learned while in New Zealand:

We've only been here a few weeks, but I've already learned several useful things while traveling through New Zealand:
  • Rugby is not something to joke about. Example: Me: Those All Blacks sure got a beating by England, eh? Kiwi: When is your flight back to the USA?
  • "Crikey!" can actually be used to exclaim excitement or shock, not just to mock Crocodile Dundee. Example: Crikey, these weeds are out of control!
  • A moko is the tradition face tattoo of the Maori people. Women had them on their mouths and chin while men wore them all over their faces.
  • A "pozzie" is a space. Example: Do you see a pozzie to park the car?
  • In Rotorua shops close at 6pm, or 2pm on weekends. This is because New Zealanders like to enjoy life and not be stuck at work all the time. Good on ya, Rotorua, good on ya.
  • Kiwis use the expression "Good on ya" to express a liking. Example: see above.
  • I quickly pick up new expressions (a little too quickly). Lance has forbid me to use the phrase "good on ya" for at least 2 days. I decided typing it does not count.
  • Its amazing how difficult it is to break a habit.  Despite being here for several weeks, I still try to get in to the "wrong" side of the front seat of a car. Riding on the left side of the front seat makes me feel like I'm in a robot car.
  • Topography on maps is important in New Zealand. Topography on a map is not important in Ft. Lauderdale because everything is flat, however this is not the case in NZ. I'm convinced that constant uphill walking uses specific muscles that no one in Florida has (unless they hit that button on the treadmill). 
  • It is incredibly important to know your Maori vowel pronunciation (click here to hear). It will (slightly) help you sound like less of a complete idiot when telling the bus driver that you need to go to Ohaeawai, Kaingaroa, Kaukapakapa, Oromahoe, Paekakariki, Te Anau or Waipukurau. Despite daily efforts, I am still in the "sounds like idiot" category of tourist.
  • It is also important to know that Maori pronunciation of "wh" is pronounced "fu". Also quite frequently used in city names, such as Whakatane, Whakamaru, Whananaki, Whangamata, Whangamomona, Whanganui, Whangarei. Best of luck.
  • A very common breakfast for Kiwis is muesli, a combination of uncooked rolled oats, small bits of dried fruit and nuts. Some have it with a bit of milk while others have it with milk, yogurt, and cream and more canned fruit, all together, in one bowl. Yes, milk, cream, and yogurt. 
  • Kiwis love their dairy. We stayed with a couple who had ice cream...with cream poured on top. The top three ice cream flavors are: 
    • #3 Hokey Pokey - vanilla with honey comb bits
    • #2 Jelly Tip - vanilla with raspberry jelly and chocolate flakes
    • #1 Vanilla - from New Zealand cream, as if there was any question. (So far Lance has only tried 2 of the 3, but there is still time.)
    The Shweeb
  • Buying fish in New Zealand is expensive because they export it all over the world. The market says that if fisherman can sell a fish for $40USD in the US, then the locals should pay that too. 
  • Toe-may-toe / To-mah-toe
    • I say cookies, they say biscuits
    • I say beets, they say beetroot
    • I say cilantro, they say coriander
    • I say fries, they say chips
    • I say chips, they say crisps
    • I say bell pepper, they say capsicum
    • I say entree, they say appetizer
    • I say dinner, they say tea
    • I say 7-up, they say lemonade
    • I say lemonade, they still say lemonade (and yes they have both 7-up and lemonade)
    • I say swiss chard, they say silverroot
    • I say ketchup, they say tomato sauce
    • The Zorb
    • I say kiwi, they say kiwi, but sometimes they mean the fruit, sometimes they mean the bird and sometimes mean themselves. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reminders from Rotorua, New Zealand

Lance and I were caught in the rain the other day while walking home in the city of Rotorua and I had a flashback to a night when I was about 11 years old. My dad and I were driving home on a rainy night and he pulled over to pick up an old man who was walking with his groceries. Dad pulled over and gave the guy a ride to his house which was only about a mile away. It was just few minutes to drive, but I'm sure it felt like an eternity to walk in the dark rain. I don't even know if my dad would remember this small gesture, but it obviously stuck with me since it was about 20 years ago. No one offered us a ride when we were walking the other day, but the next time I'm driving and see someone who obviously just needs a quick lift out of the rain, I'm going to follow my dad's example and lend a stranger a hand. 

It made me think about how much parents' actions impact their kids. I don't remember what I got for Christmas that year, but I do remember my dad showing me how easy, and important, it is to be nice to each other, especially when someone is in need. I think this is a good little reminder around the holiday season. I hope the parents that I know show their kids what the holidays are really all about, and not just be another example to get obsessed with the crap-buying culture. I know its important to give back and volunteer at all times of the year, but it seems extra important around the holidays and yet it still can get lost in the shuffle of organizing recipes and planning parties. So this is just a friendly reminder to take the time and lend a hand to a stranger, and maybe encourage some of your friends and family to do the same.