Visiting the Penguins

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End May 10, 2005

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, April 6, 2005

I insisted we drive to Oamaru ([pronounced "Om-a-roo") today to visit with a woman that Heather and I stayed with during our travels here - Mrs. Evelyn Walters. She and her husband (now deceased) ran the "Tui Team Room", a restaurant and motel in Oamaru for 12 years. She said that they served about 20 bus loads of tourists a day. Each bus had about 20 passengers, so that means about 800 people a day! They were very busy people. Her husband, Ian, was a real joker - she remembered how he used to give us "cheek" and teased us about being "bums" who needed to get a job.

Oamaru (population 12,000) is known for its historic buildings made of Oamaru stone (limestone), as well as for their penguins, both yellow and blue species. We did see a couple of yellow penguin from afar, but were unwilling to pay the $15 to see the blue ones (and you weren't allowed to take photographs/videos). We've certainly noticed that New Zealand is expensive (though probably not as pricey as Australia). Probably just trying to keep the economy afloat with tourist dollars. Prices also reflect a weaker NZ dollar, not the current value.

It is interesting travelling with Steve. He is a very gregarious and outgoing sort. In every hostel we stay in, he talks to and gets to know everyone. This is his first trip outside Canada/the US, and he's keen to get the most he can out of it. New Zealanders are also very friendly. I remember that Heather and I had all sorts of invitations for a meal/accommodation from people we'd barely met here in New Zealand. When Steve asked a local man for directions to the hostel and the man jumped in our car and took him there.

New Zealanders, like Aussies, use a lot of slang and abbreviate many of the same words, like "bully" for bulldozer, "bach" (pronounced "batch) for bachelor house (i.e., cabin) and "crims" for criminals. They also place their accents on different syllables in words such as "massage", "Fiji" and "garage". People here, as in Canada, use the word "eh" (though in a different way than we do - it's used for emphasis here whereas we tend to say it at the end of a question - if that makes sense!) It may be English, but sometimes it sounds very different! Both "yes" and "no" have two syllables in downunder speak - "yeah-a" or "yee-ees" and "no-ey" or "noo-ooh". To the inexperienced ear (i.e., like me), people here sound much like Australians, but New Zealanders don't appreciate being told they sound like Australians any more than we like being called Americans!

At the Oamaru YHA, we met two young Scottish nurses who had been working in Australia and were in New Zealand to do a quick two-week trip around the country. They were a high energy pair and Steve had them just roaring with laughter in no time!
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