The Top 7 Things You Should Know About New Zealand

New Zealand is a wonderful country and should definitely be on everyone’s visit list.  However, there are a few things that you should know when you get here that might help things make more sense.

7. There is wifi everywhere

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Wifi now comes to you in red!

Perhaps this is a phenomenon that is slowly developing elsewhere, but New Zealand seems to be at the forefront of putting wifi strategically in everyone’s body, or at least, that’s how it seems.  There is a remarkable amount of free wifi to be had for those looking to scrape by with free internet.  The public Link busses that go around downtown Auckland have wifi, the ferries have wifi, the Auckland museum has wifi (and even additional information available for iphone users), and the CBD in Wellington is covered in wifi.  This is not to mention all of the cafes, bars, and restaurants that also offer free wifi to their customers.  Just order and then exchange a quick wink and a secret handshake with the waiter and you’re set.  It’s a huge life saver while on the go.

 

6. It’s a great place for a picnic

Auckland Skyline by Day_1280_for_WebViewing the water from the botanic gardens_1280_for_Web

One of the more stunning things about New Zealand is the landscape, and it’s hard to find a better way to enjoy it than packing up a nice lunch and sitting on a hill overlooking the water.  Of course, if nautically enhanced lunches are not your thing, there are plenty of other parks and public areas from which you can enjoy.  In Auckland, I would highly recommend the Auckland Domain, especially the little raised spot right in the middle of all of the sports fields.  In Wellington, the botanical gardens offer a great vantage point from which to view the city.

 

5. No Sheepocalypse (Though still a fair number of sheep)

The residents of New Zealand_1280_for_Web

The Residents of New Zealand

Before we actually touched down on the shores of New Zealand, I had been lead to believe, primarily by Aussies, that New Zealand was packed to the brim with sheep.  I was expecting that moving through town would be like being constantly covered by a wool coat.  Fortunately (or unfortunately?), this is not the case.  One reason is that while the sheep used to number 22 sheep per person in New Zealand, that number has dropped significantly to 8 per person.  The main reason for this is that the economy has switched to focus much more on bovine adventures.  In fact, it wasn’t until we took a car and got almost a days drive from Auckland that we saw sheep.  Don’t worry though, there is still plenty of fantastic lamb and mutton to be had in many a restaurant, so your stomach will be just fine.

4. Auckland = Little China

NZCH flag

Auckland is full of Asians, like full to the brim.  This is especially true if you are talking about the downtown / Central Business District.  We walked by more Chinese groceries then we passed western supermarkets.  There are large amounts of Asian restaurants, whether it be Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, and they are patroned by many people from that area.  Of course, some of these people are bound to be tourists, but there is such a large amount that it seems clear that a large number live in Auckland.  This is not to say that there is anything wrong with this, but it was most unexpected by us in a place where you count on seeing stout white folks or perhaps Mauri.  It just shows the face of New Zealand is changing

Note: This is not meant to be a value judgement, simply an interesting anthropological observation, so any inferences beyond that are your own. Now get back to your Klan meeting and don’t write me any hate mail

3. For long distance travel, go Naked!

There is a company in New Zealand that runs a long distance bus service known as Naked Bus.  These guys operate like the cheap carries in Europe, offering fares as low as $1 if you book early enough.  However, even if you don’t get in on time for the cheapest of fairs, their normal rates are still quite reasonable.  Of course, this should always be weighed against the price of flights on airlines such as JetStar, which offer some great promo rates, but the advantage of the bus is that you get to see much more of the countryside than you would otherwise, and the countryside of New Zealand is a wonder in and of itself.

2. The Maori are close at heart

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Even their protesters use Maori

I am sure that there will be people who disagree with this, and like most times when Europeans dealt with native populations, not everything is rosey, but New Zealand seems to have held on closer to and done a better job of cherishing the Maori population than I have seen anywhere else.  Again, this is not to say that the relations are anywhere near perfect, but the fact that Maori words and slang are used in daily conversation and that there are still heated debates about restitutions and land being given to the Maroi seems to indicate that there is far more connection here than you would see in someplace like the States, where Native Americans seem to have been long since forgotten.  In New Zealand, the influence of the Maori seems to be hiding in every corner in a way that I just haven’t seen in any other country, and I think this is to be commended.

1. The All Blacks are better than Superman and Jesus combined

all blacks jesus

Us Americans think we know a thing or two about team spirit.  We all go out and root for the home team when they’re doing well and remember the stats of the occassional star player, etc.  Well we don’t know shit about shit.  New Zealand loves rugby, and the epitome of rugby is the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team and the winners of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.  Touring around New Zealand, we might have seen the occaisonal New Zealand flag flying at the captiol building, or the town square, or perhaps at one of the large museums, but there was an All Blacks flag in every window.  We even saw one case where the All Blacks flag was the window as the real glass had fallen apart and the only thing keeping the wild kiwis away was the sheer rugby brilliance of the All Blacks.  Know that to profane the All Blacks is like peeing on the baby Jesus while drawing a sketch of Mohammed with a burning American flag.  They’re just that important.

 

I hope this helps you better understand New Zealand, or at least my demented take on it.  It really is a fantastic country and I hope you get a chance to experience it first hand.

Posted on by Aaron in Aaron's Blog

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