Our time in New Zealand has sadly come to an end. We'll certainly miss it and would love to go back someday. We've compiled some of our lingering thoughts from our time here so we can remember them.
|Trying to blend in...|
|Our little kiwi!|
One common theme that emerged at tourist sites that we weren't big fans of was the disdain for native plant life. In Waitetapo, it was refered to as "barren native bush" while a lush rainforest of said bush sat behind the presenter. With that, like many places in the world, was the focus on European disocvery as original discovery, completely ignoring the Maori who were there beforehand. We can't judge that too much, though, as Canada has the exact same issue.
In many ways, New Zealand seems to be ahead of us in Canada. Travelling gluten-free was super easy. There is clear labelling of packaging for allergens, palm oil usage, and health ratings. Even the cafe in a one-horse town had their bakery items labelled (and there were gluten-free options!). There is a strive for enviornmental sustainability and we even noticed free coffee grounds available at gas stations for you to take home for your garden! Rarely, however, are there change tables in bathrooms and if there are some, they're only in the women's. So changing Baby in the car, in the stroller, or on any mostly flat (very public) surface became commonplace.
A commentary of New Zealanders would not be complete without a discussion of language. This trip had all the classic qualities of a regular trip for us: apprehension regarding social situations, bargaining who would go ask for ___, mental preparedness prior to an interaction regarding vocabulary that might be used... except that we were in a country where the population spoke English! It was so weird to feel all those insecurities when we speak the same language. There were some occasions where someone would ask us a question (at a grocery store till, for example), and we would return blank stares, having NO idea what they asked. As much as we tried to work on our accents, we just couldn't figure out those vowels. (Except that we can both nail the word, "tiger." Super useful in social situations...
With the amount of road tripping we did, we couldn't possibly say goodbye unless we mentioned Number Three: Driving. There are signs all over the country warning (boasting?) that New Zealand roads are different. At first, we chuckled at this. Yes, they're windy and mountainous and only two lanes, often at high speeds, but we're used to that in the Rockies. It's not like some of the countries we've travelled in where road markings are a laughable aspiration and red lights are something to consider. We tried to think of taglines for other places we've been, our favourite being: "Malagasy roads are different: sometimes they're not there." Ahh...the good old days when travelling between towns meant stacking some 2x4s on the front of your car so that you could literally build the bridge as you drove across it.