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June 08, 2005

Postcards from Northland

We've been in New Zealand about 3 weeks now and I feel its about time I made some sweeping statements about the country based on evidence collected from our travels around Northland.

"The Roads" - a portion of ninety mile beach is also actually a highway and it has a 100km/hr speed limit. What NZ call highways are mostly like B roads in Wales (2 lanes, bendy and of varying quality) apart from in Auckland where Highway 1 is 8 lanes wide. We had to stop on a more remote portion of highway 1 due to a farmer herding some bulls. The roads are generally quiet which is good as it means we don't tend to collect a trail of cars.

"Boy Racers" - take Otley boy racer population, multiply by 10 and you get how big car pimping and cruising is over here (mainly in the towns in the middle of nowhere). I have not spotted any chavs yet but there is definately an equivalent.

"Warehouse" - a huge shopping phenomenon in NZ - you can go to one of these megastores and buy a cheap version of anything. Mainly you come out of the store with things you never even knew you needed, a bit like Ikea I suppose.

"The Towns & Suburbs" - I guess partly due to NZ being such a young country, some town centres and Auckland suburbs specifically seem to have an industrial estate (containing 1 or 2 huge supermarkets, Auto Warehouse, DIY store and a Warehouse) as the town centre. It reminds us of why we should be supporting local shops in Otley.

"The Scenery" - on the surface the countryside looks very much like the UK. When you look closer, the hills are definately more pointy, the trees more tropical looking and there is certainly more of it.

"British Lions Tour" - the first Kiwi we saw after landing in NZ asked us if we were here for the Lions Tour. People have not stopped asking us that since... I wish I understood rugby.

"Simpsons" - we have actually seen several new (as in new to us) episodes which has been quite a shocker. Perhaps FOX sold one half of all episodes to the UK and the other half to NZ which could explain it. I am sure that is it.

"Rainbows" - very likely to be because of the rain that follows us round, we've seen an unusual amount of rainbows since we got to NZ - sometimes up to 4 a day.

"Ducks" - at many holiday parks we are greeted most mornings by a collection of ducks. Maybe they have been installed especially to wake people up in the morning to ensure they leave by 10am.

"Pedestrian Crossings" - on some crossroads with pedestrian crossings across all 4 sides you are also encouraged to cross diagonally. This makes perfect sense and I am not sure why other countrys don't do it, it was a little confusing at first though.

"Kiwi Fruit" - apparently originated in China not NZ and got renamed Kiwi Fruit by the Americans in the 60s.

"Kia Ora" - I thought it was a soft drink from the 80s but apparently it is also a traditional Maori greeting.

Posted by deb at June 8, 2005 11:55 PM


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