One of my loyal readers, Faisal (aka “Gandalf” or “Papa Smurf” due to his stylish range of hats), has requested a view on the best and the worst of experiences in New Zealand so far…a tricky task on paper…but here goes…if anyone else has anything they are particularly interested in my reviewing then do let me know…I will even consider sampling the item if not already done…within reason…
Let’s start with the bottom 5
1. It is really relaxed – you will find this in the top 5 as well, but suffice to say that when you come from a country (UK) where they pride themselves on rules and processes and whatnot, having a bank with a cafe in it and music playing is really weird. A genuinely relaxed attitude when you want to get things done now is also strange.
2. The postbox is at the top of the drive…and they do like to bombard you with pointless local newspapers and fliers around here. Waste of paper.
3. TV – it is pretty woeful. You could say that this is also the case in the UK (I have many times) but you really appreciate the BBC when it isn’t there any more. More channels = More cr@p. That said, I am enjoying Aussie (lack of) Rules on Freeview – very entertaining sport. Bad TV = Good excuse to get out there and enjoy life properly!
4. The insects like an excuse to feed on you…a rare event in Britain…although the Scots do have midges which are not to be experienced I can assure you! Ouch.
5. Cost of living – sure this is comparative when using current exchange rates but it does feel expensive for housing, utilities, packaged food (not fresh food mind you) and beer. But then wages should be comparative too.
And now for the top 5
1. It is really relaxed – my wife’s AT HOP public transport card went into debit the other week – she queried it and they just said, “yes, we don’t want to see you not able to get where you need to, just top it up later”. People are happy to chat with you in whatever environment you are in…and don’t forget that Auckland is a pretty big city…very unusual in such an environment…wouldn’t happen in London, Leeds or Sydney (who would think Leeds would ever get mentioned in the same breath as Sydney!).
2. The scenery – you have hopefully got the gist from some of my photos so far but it really is stunning. Very little litter. Pride in keeping it that way generally by the people too. We have barely scratched the surface yet as well which is great! The beaches are really beautiful and so close by as well.
3. Public transport – worth saying that the bus corridor that gets you into Auckland each day is top drawer. Purpose built and sails past the cars. Fantastic!
4. Great food – I haven’t had a bad meal yet and the seafood is HUGE (and fresh and varied) compared to the pathetic offerings I am used to in Blighty. Most fresh fruit and veg in the supermarket is grown here…that is amazing!
5. Friendly people – not just relaxed people as mentioned above but really friendly as well. They are genuine and always happy to make you feel welcome and seem quite interested in you…really makes you feel like you are settling in that bit quicker…perhaps that is why so many people want to come here!