June 15, 2011

10 Things About New Zealand

Inspired by Leah's post on 10 things about Vancouver, I decided to do my take on 10 things about New Zealand. She recently left Wellington to relocate to Vancouver (while I left a brief stay in Vancouver to move to Wellington.) I love how blogging has connected us! It's been great to be able to communicate and share our experiences. If you haven't travelled to Vancouver, Leah has some great pics and adventures to share, if you have, you will love reading about her discoveries. She's just recently settled in, and already found a job, made friends, and ventured out to so many cool locations! I'm living vicariously through her because I'm too chicken for some of them, like crossing a suspension bridge!?! Brave!

Here are 10 things about life in New Zealand:

#10 - Screwed
All wine bottles that I've come across so far, New Zealand based, are screw caps, not cork! Handy, and helps get to the goods a whole lot easier, and faster.

#9 - Potato, potatoe
Coriander is cilantro, kumara is sweet potato, and toma-toe (pronunciation) is tomato! Whole meal is whole wheat, milk is offered up as trim, slim, and regular. Biscuits are cookies, mince meat is ground meat, lollies are candy, and (hot) chips are thick-cut fries but shoestring fries are the same and wedges are potato wedges - important to know what you want and order appropriately!

#8 - Technically ketchup is tomato sauce
Toma-toe sauce is a ketchup. It's overly sweet, and has a thinner consistency. Not to be confused with toma-toe puree, which would be an equivalent to North America's tomato sauce. I write this to serve as a reminder, because two days ago I made a quickie minestrone soup with two cans of toma-toe sauce ketchup. Gross.

#7 - Convenience
If you see a Fish'n'Chip place, it most likely doubles as the local Chinese takeaway (take out).

#6 - The NZD
Prices include tax. What you see is what you pay. But it doesn't matter. Things are expensive anyways. An oil change, on the cheap back home could cost $19.99 plus tax. Here, you are looking at $100 and up. Avocados off season and purchased from the grocery downtown, $3.50 and up. OPI nail polish, $25. Cover girl mascara, $22. And a typical breakfast meal for us (two people) usually costs $45 and up. Tipping is not necessary by the way, and only on public holidays will restaurants tack on, usually 18%, holiday service charge. Yes, a charge to enjoy their location on a holiday. (I haven't figured out the reasoning on this one yet.)

#5 - Operator, operator
Every time I call a business number, say airline, bank, or the government's recycling office - a real live person answers! (Insert halo angel like music.) None of this automated assistance, or press 1, then 5, then 4, then shake your left leg business. Just a real, live, person on the phone who wants to help you. LOVE!

#4 - Cuss words
It's common to read/hear swear words in/on the news. The best one we read that we felt truly captured the moment, was a passenger's story of a flight making an emergency landing. The news quoted the passenger saying that everyone was (pooping) bricks. I mean, it made sense that someone would say that, but I can't ever imagine seeing that in print back home. Here, they tell it like it is!

#3 - To the left right, to the left right
Not only do they drive on opposite sides of the road, but the same goes for walking! Surely this thing is a non-written rule around the city. But you know how it goes during the business hours, there's a groove to the city and the walking, and I always seem to be on the wrong side.

#2 - Maori heritage
The Maori culture is a strong part of New Zealand, and very integrated into the work world. It's quite common to greet others with, Kia Ora (pronounced Key Ora)! I've had a chance to participate in a Powhiri (pronounced Poh-fur-ee, note the 'wh' makes an 'f' sound, so much to learn!) which is a welcoming ceremony with lots of singing. And we even performed the Haka, a traditional dance accompanied by rhythmic shouting and movements. I won't lie, it kinda scared the goonies out of me, when I stood up to prepare to sing, and someone else shouted first. I thought the song was being cancelled, but that was just part of it! It was an interesting moment as a newcomer to say the least. The songs are beautiful and the ones I've sung often refer to beauty of the land.

#1 - Underneath it all
Women's fashion is similar to back home. Leggings are quite popular, and boots. Although all kinds of boots, short ankle, lace-up, heel, tall, short, baggy. Flat shoes are popular but more lace-up styles than ballet styles. The biggest difference is how they layer their clothes. Because the temperatures here don't get too cold, or too hot, layers are key. Just like eternal fall in San Francisco, though layers here are often a merino (wool) long sleeve tshirt, under a dress, paired with leggings. It's almost as if their summer wardrobe lasts all year because of the under layering, kinda smart. And of course confusing to me all the same, because it's spring back home and fall here - my mind is in overdrive trying to keep it all straight!

What a list! Did anything surprise you? Have you been to New Zealand before? Anything to add?


  1. That's so funny about the differences in food there! And holy smokes CoverGirl mascara is pricyyyyyy!

    I have not yet been to NZ- but its sooo on my list :) love these tips! Have a great day girl!

  2. $25 for OPI nail polish!?!? That's the price of Chanel polish! Craziness. I though coriander was the name for the seeds of the cilantro plant. I love reading about all of these differences - too bad about the tomato sauce/ketchup mixup.

  3. @Kim The coriander/cilantro thing has me so confused... I've been told by a Mexican restaurant here (and I've searched countless stores for cilantro), that I won't find it here, but that I should use coriander instead. Is it part of the same things, just a different name for reference? Or is it separate? Ah, things that boggle my mind!

  4. Oh my god Sara, I laughed the whole way through this post! So many things I can relate to (but in the opposite way ie. WHY isn't tax INCLUDED?! What on earth is Cilantro?!) haha.

    New Zealand is a very expensive place to live (don't even get me started on the price of clothing) but you learn to adjust. It's hard not to go NUTS over here when cosmetics and things are so cheap compared to home!

    Swear words are pretty common place - yep - we just aren't that P.C! Have you been introduced to Shortland Street yet? That show has some of the raciest things on prime time TV - lesbian sex scenes included!

    I constantly walk into people by automatically veering to the left here (damn!)...must learnt to stick to the right! Can't even begin to imagine driving...it scares the beejeezus out of me!

    And if you want the BEST merino layers ever...then make sure you check out Icebreaker ;)

    While sometimes frustrating and confusing - I think ultimately it's these differences that make things fun!

  5. Love this list! I'm surprised to hear that NZ is expensive though, I guess since i've never lived in another country I've never really thought about it. Do our wages here make up for it or is it cheaper back in Canada overall?!

  6. @Amanda - In Her Mind Thanks for stopping by Amanda!! NZ is expensive and I can understand why at times, it's quite small and importing items are costly... Salary wise.... er, when I convert it, it works out to what I made before graduating college, but I try to not let myself do that, as that's just crazy talk!! It more than makes up for it in beautiful scenery, cool people, and overall lifestyle :) I can see why you haven't left!!

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  8. @Leah Definitely makes this fun and funny at times!! I still haven't lived down the whole ketchup soup thing. I never put a lot of thought into how it Canada can be quite different, so it was fun to read yours!! And, you sure do get HEAPS of tomatoes for the CDN price :)

  9. I'm so happy I chanced upon your blog Sara. My husband and I live between Canberra (Australia), Dunedin (New Zealand) and Fiji. New Zealand is an expensive place to live but it is such a beautiful country, I think that makes up for it. I love the way New Zealanders say bag and fantastic - beag and fentestic - love it! I can't wait to be back in Dunedin again.

  10. @Vanisha @ Vanisha's Life In...Fiji Hi Vanisha, thank you for stopping by and commenting! Fiji sounds amazing, I'm loving your blog and cannot wait to visit (hopefully this year!) You are right, the beauty of New Zealand does outweigh the prices, I didn't mean to complain, it's more of me in sticker shock. I have to stop converting it over and just accept the NZD as it is :) Look forward to reading about your adventures!


So glad you wandered by!