NZ is spectacular. I, however, am a bit of a fuckwit.
Auckland is, of course, full of lots of interesting things and has that REALLY TALL TOWER with the glass floor that people seem to enjoy flinging themselves off for fun, BUT my absolute favourite thing in the entire city is their little-green-man. He WALKS. It may have been the 12 hour flight, the change of time zone and the desperate lack of sleep, but seeing him made me grin like a fool for a very long time. I found this youtube video someone else has taken of him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHy6vUXMlnY I am SO glad someone else is as excited by this as I am. (I may made exactly the same “ooh look at him go” noise on Monday.)
There was, though, one rather frustrating part to Auckland. After a terribly long flight, 5am arrival and hours and hours of wandering the city, I just wanted to do that drink-on-your-own-in-your-room-watching-British-comedy-on-youtube thing. While buying groceries, I attempted to buy a single bottle of cider. My conversation with the supermarket checkout-man went something along the lines of:
Him: Do you have ID?
Me: *produces drivers license*
Him: Ummm…Do you have a New Zealand one?
Me: No. I’m not from here…
Him: Oh. Well. I’m going to need to see your passport.
Me:…I…does anyone bring their passport grocery shopping?
Him: Oh…well… I can’t accept this.
Me: [and this is the bit where I think I really offended him, it was a stupid thing to say] Can you really not accept an Australian license? We’re practically the same country!
Him: We’re really, really not…
Apparently this is fantastically insulting to Kiwis, and for this I apologise to the whole country. Still, I didn’t mean it in an…arrogant colonialist kind of way, I just thought, like, considering their government doesn’t even require me to have a visa and doesn’t mind if I stay there as long as I like, they probably wouldn’t really care if I bought one single bottle of cider. Ugh.
I went on a fabulous tour thing of the Waitomo Caves with all the sparkly, sparkly glow worms, and saw lots of sheep shearing stuff which was actually really interesting. I am trying very VERY hard not to make jokes about sheep at this point but…its just…in my DNA. As a sort of compromise I will direct you to the most gratuitous thing ever on Wikipedia: Under “Etiquette in Australia and New Zealand” it says, SO UNNECESSARILY:
“Making jokes at another’s expense or “taking the piss” is common in Australian society and is often a bonding process. However, it is frowned upon and considered cowardly to make jokes in the absence of the subject. Contrary to many other countries, Australians will generally wait until the subject is present before making derogatory jokes. For example, when an Australian meets a New Zealander on holiday, they may ask if they brought velcro gloves in order to get a better grip on those Australian sheep.)”
At the check in for the tour thing, the woman marking off names and filling in paperwork handed me what appeared to be some of those super huge puffy earphones in a plastic bag (you know, how they give them to you on planes.) The paperwork was taking a little bit of time and more out of feeling I had to make awkward conversation than any desperate need to know, I asked her of the headphones: “Do we hang onto these or give them back at the end?” She put down her pen, gave me the most “what the fuck are you on about” stare and said “…you can keep it”. I, of course, immediately thought she was the bitchiest woman I’d ever encountered. It wasn’t until I got on the bus and was ready to plug in my headphones that I realised they were, in fact, a giant chocolate muffin.
The tour ended in Rotorua, which is pretty exceptional. Of course, there’s the unavoidable fact that the whole place smells terrible, but one assumes that this is balanced by the immediate benefit of being able fart whenever you like with no one being able to smell it. And there are, I suppose, all the other excellent things like hot springs and geysers and boiling mud. Not to mention the existential crises brought on by the constant reminder that you’re at a point at which here the earth’s crust is only four kilometres thick and the entire planet is actually just a really flimsy rock shell hovering precariously over a core of molten-death-lava, orbiting a giant ball of fiery doom in an infinite void of nothingness. But you get over that pretty quickly and go back to making fart jokes. They also have actual Kiwis there, which are awesome because they’re the most useless birds ever as they’ve never really had any predators. Apparently they sleep for about 20 hours a day, and the rest of the time just forage around for food. They are basically feathery, beaky cats and I love them.
Seriously. Look at this country being fucking majestic.
The tour bus was nice too, they gave us lunch that came with JUICE BOXES which made me super happy, mainly because I think my last juice box was in about 2003 and I’d forgotten how much fun they are. Being the child that I am, I was doing that thing where you blow into the straw and then let…whatever forces are at work in there…suck the juice up for you. I misjudged the length of the straw and at one point the juice sprayed everywhere, getting all over the girl sitting next to me. However, she was looking the other way at the time, wearing one of those plastic-y jackets and obviously didn’t feel it, so I just kind of…left it. Am I a terrible person? I spent the rest of the ride quietly snickering to myself, but really, how do you say “oh, excuse me, you didn’t notice but I just squirted juice all over you…” to someone?
I also went to Napier, a town that was obliterated by an earthquake in 1931 and consequently rebuilt entirely in the Art Deco style. It’s super pretty, even if the beach is totally doing sand wrong. (Black pebbles? NOT SAND) and half the town is built on land that ROSE UP OUT OF THE OCEAN during the quake. Hot tip: they tell me here, in Hawkes Bay wine country, that 2013 was a REALLY good year for NZ wines because it was a really long dry summer. So, you know, get on that. (I say that, like I want to sound like I know what I’m talking about, but really I’m still a student, and pretty happy with anything that says “wine” on the label and won’t send me blind…)
There were a couple of other fuck-wit-isms. On the bus between Rotorua and Napier, the driver had been joking around about how he didn’t know where he was going, getting loads of laughs. He said, very seriously, “I need you all to make sure you have your seat belts on”. I looked around for mine, couldn’t find it, and then laughed a little too loudly in a “oh! you got me!” kind of way. Turns out, it wasn’t a joke. I was sitting on it and EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE BUS turned around to stare, shocked, at me. I also then asked someone if a shop called “Cou own” was a Maori word. It was just a sign for “Countdown”, the local name of Woolworths with a few letters not lit up. UGH.
Anyway. I’m in Wellington now, which I really like. It feels like the Melbourne to their Auckland/Sydney. I also went to see a whole bunch of Lord of the Rings things (and had to keep very quiet about the fact that I’ve only really seen the films in bits or on planes and that my main interest is the books…)
HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING FILMING LOCATION PHOTOS:
TREES. THAT IS ALL THAT FILM IS. TREES.
I am getting pretty good at putting on a Kiwi accent. The best bit of it is that they all keep pronouncing my name ‘Sirrah’, which means I get to pretend I’m being talked down to by a 16th century Lord of the Manor, or, you know, living a minor role in a Shakespeare history. It’s pretty great.