10 Things I Have Learned in My First 10 Days in Aotearoa (New Zealand)
1. The Maori people are beautiful souls who are raised in a tradition of valuing one’s ancestry, respecting nature, and honoring eachother’s spirit.
2. New Zealanders (or Kiwis, as they call themselves) are some of the most hospitable people we have ever encountered. Nearly every day we have a local stopping us because they hear our accent and want to chat about where we are from, ensure we are enjoying ourselves, and offer their help/ recommendations
3. Do not attempt to drive on the opposite side of the road and car for the first time when you are on a narrow, windy road. Driving 100 km/hr on a motorway is much easier than 30 km/hr on a road of switch-backs.
4. Kiwi civil engineers do not understand the concept of a straight line. Even in the farmland area where it is completely flat, the roads are still windy.
5. No need to pack a cork screw. Cork has to be imported to New Zealand and it very expensive and generally not of very good quality. So the wineries here use screw-caps. The cork vs. synthetic vs. screw-top is actually a very interesting debate being had throughout the world and I enjoy asking the winemakers take on the debate. The answers very significantly in different countries.
6. I love the flexibility of having a rental car and staying in hotels, but I’m looking forward to getting on the cruise ship and unpacking for awhile. I would not be able to live out of a suitcase for the full 100 days.
7. Kiwis take their rugby VERY seriously. The All Blacks (the NZ rugby team) are a national icon and “Springboks” (South Africa’s rugby team) is a dirty word here. Everyone is counting down the days until the Rugby World Cup comes to NZ in September.
8. Sandboarding is not only tons of fun but also a good exfoliant for one’s feet. When coming down the hill, your feet are your brakes. The friction between the sand and your feet leaves them super soft.
9. Sometimes things turn out better when they don’t go as planned. We have had two tours that have been cancelled due to weather. Both trips were able to be rescheduled for when we return in October and our alternate plans ended up being a better choice for the day.
10. The North Island of New Zealand has four seasons — all in one day. One minute it can be warm and sunny. An hour later it can be cold and raining. When planning for the day, you can’t just look at the forecast, you need simply be prepared for anything.