One of the great things about spending almost six weeks in New Zealand is that it gives you the time to connect with everyday life. Too often, when you are traveling, you get so busy seeing sights and doing things that you don’t have time to connect with everyday life in the country you are visiting. Six weeks gave us enough time to do that in New Zealand.
To connect with ordinary Kiwis, let me suggest three things we did. First, watch TV. I realize that sounds unusual, so let me explain (in a round-about way). Most motels in New Zealand have kitchenettes. That means you can make your own breakfast, which we did. While getting ready and eating breakfast each day, we would watch “Breakfast,” the morning show on TV One.* Doing this, we got to know what was happening in New Zealand, and we began to follow the local news. It made us feel like we were more than just looking at New Zealand from the outside. We were almost living there.
Eating breakfast in the motels also meant we had to go to the food stores – a lot. That was interesting, too. You would see some American brands, but other things were different. Fresh pineapples had the tops cut off; easier for shipping, I assume. And it was really hard to find eggs – because they are not in refrigerated cases. In New Zealand, they are kept on the shelves, with the biscuits (i.e., cookies).
I preferred cereal for breakfast (my wife had the eggs). I particularly liked Woolworths Select Great Start Berry at Countdown.
The second thing is to go to church. Once again, like watching TV, it is easy because it is in English. We found the people at church especially friendly. When we went to the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch (the Transitional Cathedral they are using while they decide what to do with the earthquake-damaged old Cathedral), the Dean of the Cathedral came over before the service to personally welcome us. If you do go to church, be sure to stay afterward – for tea, of course,
Three, read the local newspaper. In the north, it’s the New Zealand Herald. Around Wellington, read The Dominion Post. On the South Island, it’s The Press from Christchurch or the Otago Daily Times from Dunedin. The Herald is now a tabloid, but the other three are broadsheets – and I do mean broad. None of those narrow papers like we have in the United States. New Zealand papers are a full 15¾ inches wide. (See the links in the sidebar.)
It’s fun to see is happening locally and to read the ads. For example, in New Zealand, when you are buying a car or renting an apartment, the prices are quoted per week, not per month. Also, you can see what foreign news is important to Kiwis. We were in Wellington, when Shirley Temple Black passed away. It was big news in New Zealand, and The Dominion Post even had an editorial on her passing.
You should also go to a rugby match, but I will talk about that later, in a separate post.
* You could also try the new Paul Henry morning show on TV3, as well as the radio. Paul Henry had a late evening TV show in 2014, which we watched when we were in New Zealand. As one of the reviews said of that show, with Paul Henry, you either love him or hate him.