Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bye bye New Zealand!

It has become something of a tradition on this blog for us to write a little summary when we leave a country of 'things we'll miss' and things we won't miss, so here's the dirt on New Zealand:

Things we'll miss about New Zealand:
  • The friendliness of Kiwis - people regularly say hello to you in the street, and almost everyone we met was incredibly kind and welcoming. Kiwis appeared to have a particular soft-spot for Brits, too!
  • The fantastic scenery round every bend in the road. Mountains, lakes, valleys, sea views, winding rivers and miles of unspoiled open spaces.
  • Like in Australia, it's so easy to travel in NZ. There are lots of tourist information sites, everything is well-signposted, and there are loads of free amenities available to the free-loading public such as toilets, showers, BBQs, picnic areas, etc. And of course, English is the national language, which makes travelling there incredibly easy for us. We're looking forward to the challenge of learning/practising a new language, though!
  • Wine-tasting. Again! There are lots of vineyards across New Zealand, and we made sure we got to a few of them to sample the yummy wine.
  • The outdoorsy lifestyle. Like in Australia, there is a big emphasis on getting out of the house and back to nature. Trekking, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, the lot. New Zealand is also the extreme sports centre of the world, so sky dives, bungee jumps, white water rafting, and pretty much any other adrenaline rush you can think of is on offer there.
  • It's a lot more affordable than Australia! Obviously the exchange rate will always affect this one, but things in NZ were generally the same price as at home, and we didn't spend all of our time in supermarkets horrified at the prices, which did happen in Oz. We'll also miss that the $NZ was two-to-one with the pound when we were there. It was always easy to convert into 'home prices'!
  • The beer. I'm really enjoying trying the different brews from around the world on this trip, and NZ did not disappoint. My favourite was 'Sassy Red', brewed by Macs. Yum!
  • The Lord of the Rings. Ania and I are HUGE fans of LOTR: both the movies and the books. Tolkien may have been English, but LOTR has a special place in Kiwis' hearts thanks to Peter Jackson's amazing movie version of the story. Visiting the WETA workshop in Wellington; doing the Tongariro (Mordor) trek; and best of all, visiting Hobbiton (near Matamata) made us feel like great big kids. It was truly magical!
  • Dan and Sarah. We had a wonderful time living in our Jucy campervan, and then later in a cottage in Ashburton, with Dan and Sarah. It was great to make such brilliant friends on our travels!
Things we won't miss about New Zealand:
  • The road rage. Kiwis are almost universally friendly and good-natured until they get behind the wheel of a car, at which point we found people to be surprisingly pushy and quick to anger. Perhaps it was more surprising because it seemed so out of character...
  • The horrific earthquake that affected Christchurch. Very sad.
That's all we can think of for the negatives! All in all, we loved New Zealand, and would recommend it to anyone!

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