We arrived in Auckland early Friday morning and spent three days there exploring the city. Since we only spent a few days in one city, it’s probably not fair to make any kind of sweeping generalizations about Kiwis or New Zealand for that matter. Nevertheless, it’s fun and we can always revise them later after a more thorough Kiwi experience.
- Everyone is on vacation. We were aware that Kiwis take extended holiday at this time of year as it is their summer, but we were surprised just how serious they are about vacation. We passed numerous restaurants with signs stating, “Closed December 23 to January 8th” Can you imagine a restaurant in DC or New York just closing down for three weeks during the holidays? This can be the only explanation for why we didn’t get the “high energy” Auckland experience promised by many brochures. That and because everything closes at 5pm!
- The native trees and flora are quite beautiful. We enjoyed visiting a number of parks throughout Auckland. Sadly but not surprisingly, much of the native vegetation has been destroyed as the early settlers and Maori cleared way for agricultural and other interests. Still this place has some beautiful green spaces – even in the cities.
- They really, really do love the All Blacks, the national rugby team. Their national pride seems to ride on the shoulders of this team.
- Good food! Food is something I think we were both indifferent about prior to arriving in NZ, but we’ve had some really good, cheap grub. First off, they love sweet potatoes and pumpkin and use both in a lot of dishes. A particular favorite of ours is eating at Burger Fuel – where they don’t dish up any lame Boca burgers. Oh no. The menu has not one, but four vegetarian burgers that include ingredients like sweet potato, chickpeas, sunflower seeds and cumin or basil served with plum or peanut sauces and aioli. And don’t forget a side of sweet potato fries! It’s truly vegetarian, fast food heaven!
- Within the food subject, we have to single out ice cream for a little factoid. Kiwis apparently have the second highest consumption of ice cream per capita in the world. They even have a national flavor – hokey pokey – which is vanilla with toffee chunks. We can offer positive reports on the ice cream, but have yet to try the hokey pokey. I wonder if it makes you want to turn yourself about?
- Lee Anne’s absolute favorite thing about Auckland is that at certain intersections downtown, you can walk diagonally through the intersection. It’s brilliant! You don’t have to cross to one corner then wait for another light and cross to the next corner. Nope. You just walk right where you want to go. It’s simple, but still exciting!