After our date-jump flight to Auckland and then directly to Christchurch, we managed to get a few hours sleep, then headed out to breathe in some kiwi culture.
First and most striking thing you will experience when arriving to New Zealand is the way they speak. They suppress the “e” in favor of the “i” or “ee” whenever they can. Don’t be surprised to be advised to take bus number teen (ten), return to dick (deck) number 5 or have a pin (pen) ready. The kiwi accent is really enjoyable though and its not that hard to mimic:)
The food was quite a shock after arriving from Peru. The great variety (khmmm) of British cuisine is an everyday reality, lamb shank and fish and chips are probably the meals we can call the national dish. (Ah, and pies, lets not forget the pies:) The very first day we took refuge in a Korean restaurant to have some of those delicious Korean pancakes that we discovered in Toronto back in August.
Speaking about Korean, the other striking think for us was the many Asian people on the streets. Koreans, Chinese and Japanese are numerous in the big cities like Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. Accordingly, there are many restaurants catering for them, and many signs and advertisements are written in Korean, Japanese or Chinese. Unfortunately a lot of kiwi girls tend to dress with a lack of good taste or sense of self-criticism. Some of them do actually walk as if they were still wearing rubber-boots. Refreshing exception are the Asians who tend to dress with a much better taste.
The kiwi mentality as we experienced is a bit of an ego-centric: New Zealand is in the center of the World (also depicted on the maps like that), and has all the greatest things of the World. Everything is the best, the biggest, the greatest here. We can find the southernmost city here, even though it is in Argentina, the fastest advancing glacier, even though its not really advancing, and other interesting stuff. The easternmost McDonalds we visited was probably a scam also:) The kiwis also invented all the extreme sports: jetboating, skydiving, bungy jumping, you name it. Apart from the ever popular rugby and cricket, it is little known that there are other sports in the world. If the kiwi team is not participating, it is not shown on TV. Thus the Olympic games are rather short here:) Ah, and if you know where Captain Cook landed first, you are wrong: in every city there is a place where Cook first landed, making him the official record holder of being the man who landed at the most places at the same time.
The Maoris. Maoris tend to walk around without shoes even in the supermarkets, and to be honest during our stay we had not seen a single slim Maori. They are an interesting topic to discuss with the non-Maori locals. While they are officially regarded as the aboriginals, their aboriginality is often questioned. The theory is that they were pedaling over on their boats from some Polynesian islands (some say from Hawaii), thus they only arrived a few hundred years earlier than the British. Nevertheless claiming back “sacred” Maori land is a national sport and a good business for them:)