Expectations – New Zealand

March 29, 2007

1. Vegemite – I was told that natives would be tricking me into trying vegemite at every hostel I stepped into.  I was highly disappointed.  I couldn’t even FIND vegemite in the hostels!  We found it in the store but the can was huge.

2.  Customs – They’re very tight about biosecurity so I wore new shoes for fear of tracking dirt into the delicate ecosystem and they really did have a checkpoint to see the bottom of your shoes =O

3. Environmentalism – I’ve never seen toilets that have a ‘low’ setting to conserve water and a ‘high’ setting for a little extra push.  Kickass.

4.  Sheep – I was disappointed that we were never roadblocked by a flock despite how well it boded that the sheep tried to make friends with Beth the day we arrived…


5 – Killer Sheep –  Black Sheep was supposed to be showing while we were there but everywhere we went…the release date was different!  I swear it was a week already released back in Auckland when we were down in Queenstown and the signs said next week it’d be released.  -_-  Very sad, I had to netflix it two years later.

6. Tea Some like it hot. We like it always.  I was born British, what can I say?  The most exciting part about applying at a Bed and Breakfast was the concept of daily Afternoon Tea.  And oh, how there was tea.  There was even tea on the plane!


"Tea this way -->"

"Tea this way -->"

I think that actually was a sign to indicate cafes but they were all over the place and where there is a cafe, there is TEA.

7. Sex – The US is notoriously uptight about sex.  The fact that you can torture people in a movie but not have a natural, positive making love scene just boggles the mind.  Interestingly, New Zealand has legalized prostitution.  I think sex for sale isn’t for me but if you like it, why should I stand in your way?  The important thing is that it’s safely regulated.  So I was curious about coming across this more positive attitude toward sex.  I found it in D.VICE.

I love to scope out the sex stores in every city I go to.  Not because I have a whole lot of secret kinks, but more because I don’t (maybe I wish I did? =o ) so the objects  look like bizarre torture devices to me, fascinating.

But a lot of times, sex stores in the US can have a really creepy vibe, skeazy clerks, and be in a seedy are.  Not so for D.VICE, it proudly proclaims its location:

So very welcoming!

So very welcoming!

I’ve also never seen a place where there is a display of each toy so you can “test” it (not where it’s meant to be used, but, yaknow, a finger to get the idea) so that was entertaining.  Plus their employee was great–more on par with a legal receptionist than a sex store clerk.  Very informative, sociable, and most importantly–not skeazy.

8. Tourist friendly – One of the reasons this was my first vacation as an independent adult was that it was overseas and they speak English.  Lots of English.  Their main industry is tourism so this is probably the most user-friendly place I’ve ever been or will ever be!  Everything is easily marked with giant signs, everything is one-two lane road with nice stopping points if you want the rare person to pass you (and I did, I drive SUPERSLOW).  Didn’t hurt that, at the time, the USD was twice the worth of NZD 😉  Oh and everything has a webpage.  EVERYTHING.

9.  The People – were just as ridiculously nice as I’d been led to believe.  At the Pet Salon, we use software from New Zealand and I emailed Lawrence a bunch for support.  If not for phone problems, we would have met up for a meal and chat but it was not to be.  Anyway, he told me the people are on a permanent vacation and it’s so true.  Everyone was very relaxed, welcoming, kind.  Our hang-gliding teachers said we would have loved to live with them because they built pillowforts (don’t make me move there!).  Actually a lot of people told us we should come live there 😉 We would go out at night, even in Wellington and feel completely safe.  Partly because we knew statistically that crime was lower but also because people had very relaxed body language.

I actually had culture shock coming back to the US.  It was painful to get off the plane and hear the strain and anger in people’s voices, see the belligerance in their posture.

10. Economy – At the time, it was $1USD to $2NZD and while I knew there was less crime there, I didn’t expect the complete lack of poverty.  We specifically started looking for the Ghetto of New Zealand.  The closest we found was Whangerei because it had some graffiti.


New Zealand's Ghetto