Coming from a country as grey, wet and cold as the UK, you would think that living in NZ would be a total joy where the weather is concerned, especially as everyone in Auckland does like to think they live in the subtropics…and in many ways that is true. The summer here has been warm without getting very hot and has lasted for months now without a great deal of rain and not overly humid either by UK standards.
No need to worry too much about the weather when you go out and it is rarely cold. I have heard the locals refer to the rain as liquid sunshine.
So, what is to miss?
In the winter months it rains…heavily. Cloudy days without any rain don’t happen very often and when you have sun which burns in double-quick time due to the thinner ozone layer, you have to be very careful out there. There are many skin clinics here for a reason and you have to have a hat and SPF 50 to be safe.
So I miss cloudy days. I also miss the cold, sunny, crisp days of winter. There were 4 frosts last year…otherwise lots of rain.
You might say I should just get on with it and enjoy…but you have to be aware of the downside…especially when bad weather is accompanied by god-awful TV…although there are many bonuses of long steady summers.
I know I have commented before on obesity being an issue here in NZ, much like in any other developed country of the world…but what I have not perhaps mentioned is just how big some people are.
The Pacific Islander community reveals some enormous folk…not just the rugby players but generally. It occurred to me that even some of the women dwarf me…in fact never mind that…some of the school children dwarf me as well! Quite staggering. The Dutch are a tall people but they are much less intimidating because they are not broad as well.
On those occasions when I go out to bars, you often see bouncers and they can often be from this community as well. They were particularly scary to see on Hallowe’en!
I guess the moral of all of this wisdom here imparted is this…if you are going to pick a fight or just have words with someone, you need to look at them first and assess if there is any value in such a confrontation at all.
Every so often you stumble across cultural peculiarities which are a surprise to you. Recently, this has been revealed by Jelly Tip July. You may see this as a deliberate attempt by retailers to whip up a frenzy by having special edition foods available for a month…and perhaps you would be right.
In this case, it is based on an apparently much-loved ice lolly called a Jelly Tip which has a jelly tip (!!) and is surrounded in chocolate. On top of that, they have just released jelly tip biscuits and jelly tip chocolate. The interesting thing is the use of the trademark by 3 different manufacturers at the same time (Tip Top (ice cream – who own the trademark), Griffins (biscuits) and Whittaker’s (chocolate)).
And the result? Kiwis going mad for them at the shops! So why not join in!!!
Apparently this behaviour is not unusual when they had to ration chocolate milk some time ago when a new range was launched with Whittaker’s chocolate mixed in with…you guessed it…milk.Whittaker’s are also in this promotion with their white chocolate filled with raspberry jelly with a milk chocolate base. Nice!
I have heard a number of people warn me of the dangers of the sunshine in New Zealand. Apparently the ozone layer is thinner here and the sun is more intense. I have been told that you certainly shouldn’t go below SPF30 when choosing sun cream and preferably SPF50. I can vouch for the fact that just a half hour in the sun can burn you. The number of skin clinics here helps make the point.
Best not to be seen without a hat…especially when you are follically challenged…which reminds me of my Dad’s words of wisdom…”if you want to get ahead, get a hat”…😄
He also has other pearls of wisdom for the balding male such as “grass doesn’t grow on a busy street”.
Anyway, having seen the locals at the beach with various gear to keep them covered up, I have invested in a rash shirt (SPF50 and stops you getting irritated by a surf board too!)…it makes me look muscle-bound…sort of…well OK…not really. I had never heard of such clothing before. Here is a classic shot of me in beach wear…be careful out there…it can get hot. Who cares how you look when your well-being is at stake! Image is nothing…but a slight tan doesn’t go amiss.
The giant Kauri trees af New Zealand are enormous. While not as large as the Sequoia trees in California, they are not far behind. They were decimated when European settlers arrived and began taking them to remast their ships (amongst other things). The timber of the kauri is impervious to water and, it must be said, makes wonderful looking furniture. The gum (resin) was also collected for a variety of reasons such a jewellery or because it could be burnt or used by Maori as a chewing gum.
Kauri are thankfully now protected and there are efforts to re-establish large forests but the trees take a LONG time to grow. You are not allowed to cut them down (although Maori can take them to make a Waka – a ceremonial canoe).
Tane Mahuta (or “Lord of the Forest”) is estimated to be around 2,000 years old and is the largest tree in New Zealand (and probably the largest living thing therefore). It is situated in the Waipoua Forest in Northland. As with General Sherman in California (which is the largest living tree by volume on Earth) taking a photo is not a simple task. Check out the size of the people at the bottom of the tree for perspective.