A hearty Stray welcome to guest blogger Sam Berwick, who recently arrived in New Zealand from London. As a Brit in the ‘land of the long white cloud’ for the first time, he now describes Kiwi culture as “funny, strange and down right crazy” and that’s after only a few months! In this blog series, Sam’s shares his unedited thoughts, observations and advice as a Kiwi culture survival guide for all visitors.
New Zealand through the Eyes of a Brit – A Short Blog Series
By: Sam Berwick
PART 1 – Your Introduction to Kiwi-Land!
On a beautiful island, sat on golden sand, looking out across the crystal clear waters of the ocean, the sun shining, reggae playing in the distance. A man walks by, his dreadlocks swinging in time with his step as he takes a large gulp of his ginger beer. As he passes a faint “herbal” smell follows him. At this point it would be logical to say that I can only be in one place – Jamaica – but you’d be wrong.
This is Waiheke, a small island paradise found in New Zealand, only a short ferry (or “fairy” as Kiwis say) ride away from New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. (Auckland is NOT the capital, but Aucklanders will tell you it should be.) A country where they have a beach for every occasion, more Japanese cars than Japan and where a short walk is considered no less than 5km or 3.1 mile in English-English!
After spending 3 months in New Zealand there are some things that as a Brit I’ve found funny, strange and down right crazy and I feel it is my duty for Queen and country to share them with you, to make your transition into Kiwi culture that much smoother.
Once the plane has landed and you are safely on the ground, it is time to disembark and take the short walk through the terminal to the customs desk, where you are welcomed with open arms to NZ/Aotearoa and the greeting of “Kia Ora!”
This is when you will first start to notice people acting strangely, in a way that is rare in the UK, but don’t be alarmed by this, they’re just being nice! The niceties of how your flight was and how much you’ll love NZ are however short lived, as the subject changes to the serious matter of the most feared thing in New Zealand (this statement may not be true)…imported fruit and vegetables!
They’re not interested in explosives or guns. No, they are after something that is far more dangerous, something that could wipe out an entire population…of sheep…bananas and nuts.
Once it has been established that you are not smuggling fruit, your ‘new best friend’ bids you farewell and sends you through to the arrival lounge. What awaits is none other than Gandalf the Grey, towering above you. This will be the first of many references to Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Sir Peter Jackson that you will see on your travels throughout NZ and although you may think that Kiwis (a perfectly acceptable thing to call a New Zealander) like Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit and they watch it all of the time, they don’t. In fact, they don’t seem to care for it at all.
Now that you’re out in the real world there are some things to be aware of…which I’ll tell you all about in my next blog! Subscribe to the RSS feed (top right of this page) so that you’re first to know all about how to interpret certain Kiwi-isms in everyday language.