Think you know New Zealand? Think Again. Here’s my top 9 things you probably don’t know about this fantastic country…
1) It’s Not Close to Australia.
Most people are under the assumption that New Zealand is very close to her antipodean neighbour, Australia. Hell, some of you out there might even think they are the same country. However, you might be interested to know that Auckland is a 3.5 hour flight from Sydney. Not that close, after all.
2) It’s Small, But Not THAT Small.
You probably have an image of two tiny islands afloat somewhere in the southern Pacific. However, you might be interested to know that New Zealand is actually much larger, approximately 270,000 square miles in overall area. The South Island alone is larger than the US state of California.
3) The Seas Are Cold.
You’ve likely seen countless pictures of the fabulous, pristine beaches and turquoise waters of New Zealand. It all looks so tropical, right? However, you might be interested to know that while these waves do look inviting, you’re very close to Antarctica here and that makes a real difference. Average sea temps are around 18 to 20c, (64-68f), in the summertime and 12 to 14c, (54-57f), in winter. Brrr.
4) Sunscreen is a Must. 365 Days a Year.
You may have heard about the lack of ozone protection here. However, you might be interested to know that most everyone wears sunscreen year-round, even in the winter. Not doing so may seem a small thing, like you might end up with a little sunburn. In the long run, though, the rays here can leave you prematurely wrinkled, or with something far worse. Slap it on!
5) Kiwis Are Quite Sarcastic.
New Zealanders are known worldwide as a friendly and welcoming sort. However, you might be interested to know that most have a wicked, (if not barbed), sense of humour. Pack your thicker skin if you’re visiting, because you’re quite likely to end up the butt of someone’s joke at some point or other.
6) Driving Here Can Be Challenging.
Maybe you consider yourself an experienced and capable driver. However, you might be interested to know that many of New Zealand’s roads leave something to be desired. Narrow lanes, lack of shoulder, winding blind curves, steep inclines and harrowing cliff top drop-offs, this is what awaits you in your little rented campervan. I’m not even going to get started on the aggressive Kiwi drivers. Drive defensively, and stop rubbernecking at the glorious scenery.
7) There’s More to Eat Than Lamb.
Sure, you’ve heard the old quote that there’s more sheep than people here. However, you might be interested to know that New Zealand has a wealth of other edible options. Fresh caught fish, world-class beef, venison…any of you carnivores will be spoilt for choice. Fruit of all sorts is grown in abundance here, with some home gardens boasting everything from apples to lemons, grown side by side. New Zealanders are also extremely proud of their dairy industry, artisan cheese and ice creams abound. Plan on gaining a few pounds.
8) Everything is Expensive.
You’ve spent a lot to fly to New Zealand, so you’re hoping to get some breaks on the ol’ budget once you’re here. However, you might be interested to know that that isn’t going to happen much. Everything from your accommodation to your eats, wine to fish, bungy jumping to jet boating…it all costs more than you think. The only really free thing is the amazing natural beauty…and that thankfully is in abundance.
9) Two Weeks is Not Enough.
Unless you’re flying in from Australia, (see point one), you probably think that two weeks holiday will be plenty of time to see all of New Zealand. However, you might be interested to know that to really relax and see and appreciate all of the many astounding sites of this country, you’ll probably need at least three weeks here. Just flying to Auckland from the US West Coast is 12 hours. Plan for some jet lag too.
I hope you’ve learned a little bit more about fabulous New Zealand. It really is everything you think you know, but so very much more.