Reflections on New Zealand

Trip Start Apr 12, 2009
Trip End Jul 05, 2009

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Where I stayed
Windsor Hotel

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, May 28, 2009

3 million deer, 4.5 million people, 9 million cows, 50 million sheep and 90(!) million possums all wrapped up in one amazing country. New Zealand has been everything we'd hoped it was going to be and a whole lot more. The comments and complaints about the weather have proably been more frequent than merited and the climate has probably been not too far from expected overall. Lack of stiff upper lip on my part probably mixed with a propensity for boredom if I'm not fully occupied all the time! If I could go back and swap some warmer less changeable weather for the sheer isolation we've been able to enjoy, I'm not convinced it would be an easy decision. Not only the deserted roads and beaches we've had all to ourselves but the attractions too - as a perfect example only yesterday we spent the last 30 minutes of opening hours in Christchurch wildlife park all alone apart from the keepers. Surely high season would rob us of delights like that, and also of the unlimited access we've had to the very knowledgeable guides that seem to be there at every single trip, museum or attraction.

The country in general is a strange mix of cultural influences. The Maori are not just part of the country's rich history - Maori community is very much alive and kicking and the chiefs still play a major role in shaping NZ politics and the policies adopted both domestically and abroad. Popular culture - rather than the UK influence I expected there are large signs of US-style influence abound. The way the cool kids dress, the structure and delivery of the content on TV, the diet and attitudes toward and marketing of food all have more than a doff of the cap to the States. Immigration is booming despite more recent tightening of controls and the proliferation of communities from SE Asia is easy to see in the larger cities and it's influence will surely only grow as a wave of NZ-born talented immigrants emerge from the academic system into the workforce.

The country is very proud of it's potential for self-sustenance with it's farming produce and also it's renewed Swiss-style approach to foreign policy. The residents of each town or city are fiercely proud of it in it's own right and the jokey rivalry with the opposing island is as clear to see as the slightly less friendly comments made at the expense of the Aussies.

Above all, there is a relaxed and friendly attitude wherever you go in NZ and coupled with the unrivaled natural beauty makes for a wonderful place to visit and one that surely can't come with anything less than a very strong recommendation to get here and see it for yourself whenever you can!

So - to Australia...
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