New Zealand Observations

I meant to turn my “Observations” into a post over a month ago but never got around to it. I can and can’t believe I have been living here for 2 months. Time is going by fast now but when I first arrived the days would DRAG ON.

Going barefoot is a Kiwi thing and I LOVE IT. The children frequently go to school with no footwear. Adults are often seen wearing jandals (they are not called sandals here…jandals. I JUST started using the word, took me forever to remember and say the word correctly). I don’t go barefoot when I am out shopping but if I am with the kids, at the beach or site seeing with Emzie I have embraced the bare feet!

Pluralization of words: Emma and I keep noticing that construction signs and advertising often (unnecessarily) make words plural. Naturally Em and I used to yell out every time we saw a sign. It is just so grammatically incorrect.  They appear everywhere so we are pretty accustomed to them at this point.

Lifts – In Canada I grew up calling them elevators. Here they are called lifts and they go sooo slowly. It is usually faster to take the stairs!

Roundabouts – They appear everywhere. In Victoria they are pretty sparse but not here.

U-turns -They are not illegal and people LOVE to do them.

Shoulder checking – everyone uses their signals if they need to switch lanes but NOBODY shoulder checks. It is just not done here. Emma and I were horrified when we first made this discovery! They just rely on their mirrors.

Gas stations are known as petrol -If you need to fill up your tank you need petrol. Pharmacies are called chemists and small shops or convenient stores are called dairies. They have ON THE RUN here which makes me want to run in and get a slushie or Tim Ho steep tea double double…but sadly neither are an option. You have to go in and pay at the counter. You can pay before or after but there are no key-fob options or credit/debit slots.

Driving the speed limit/car conditions -You really don’t see a lot of people speeding. Even on the highways people usually go the speed limit or below. I think a huge factor for this is HOW MANY opportunities people have to park their car on the road. So many streets feel so narrow to drive because there are cars parked. You quite often see car mirrors cracked because someone has side swiped them. It is also not uncommon to see peoples bumpers all scratched up. There are LOTS of accidents here. Emma told me that you do NOT have to have car insurance here so people choose to drive without it. If they have an accident they don’t bother paying the expenses of fixing their cars. (Out of the 3 homes I have lived at in NZ, at least one of each of their vehicles has noticeable damages from previous car accidents). Also there are electronic road signs that show you your speed as well as signs that warn you to slow down. They have “hidden” permanent radar guns that photograph your license and send you a speeding ticket in the mail if you are going to fast. I think most people know where they are and Emma and I rely on our GPS’s to warn us. I am pretty sure you can receive a ticket if you are more than 5 clicks over the speed limit.

Ethnic restaurants – I was just shocked to see how many different restaurants there were to choose from! Walking down Queen Street day after day had me seeing so many different food choices. It was just so unexpected.

Company names – A lot of products are called by the company name. Instead of what the item actually is. Some examples: Handy Towels (instead of paper towel)..ok clearly I will need to think of more.

Lollies – candies in general are called lollies: mints, suckers, gummy candies they are all called lollies by children.

When people are inquiring as to where Em and I are from they ask, “Where is your accent from? Instead of where are you from?” For some reason I find it far less invasive than:WHERE are you from? I also have people ask me what is your ethnicity? It’s a tricky question for me because I know people WANT me to say Thailand but I always answer with CANADA. And then they say oh really? Prodding me to answer born in Thailand but lived in Canada majority of my life. I am more forgiving of people in NZ asking me instead of Canada because none of my friends or family EVER got asked in Canada. Here Em always gets asked so I am not being singled out…for being brown.

The Sun – As I had been warned, the sun is very strong. At the children’s schools they have a rule that no child is allowed to play outside unless they are wearing a hat. When my kids go swimming they were wearing a shirt or a wetsuit to protect their skin from the sun. My legs get so brown so fast from just sitting outside reading or laying at the beach. I haven’t worn sunscreen yet but I am constantly putting lotion on my legs, feet and arms because they get SO dried out from the sun. Crossing my fingers that I don’t get any bad sunburns this summer. I have to drink a ton of water daily or I suffer from headaches.

Christmas FEVER – They start preparing for Christmas before Halloween is even over! Christmas decorations and carols galore. The newspaper is thicker then ever with all the flyers. I LOVE ITTTT!!!!!

I have not decided if I will add on to this post or post an observation 2. I know there are way  more things I could write about but I  really want to get back to my book 🙂

Sending you all happy vibes,
xoxo Amanda Sumalee