The Kiwi Experience

It’s been 30 days since we left Canada and took the plunge to move to New Zealand for the year (maybe longer?). After a few bumps, some minor delays and challenges upon our arrival, we’ve finally started to ground ourselves into the kiwi culture.

Nevertheless, everything happens for a reason. It’s been a first month of learning and adapting to a new lifestyle and culture. Similar to countries we previously travelled to, being prepared for the unexpected should most definitely be expected!

To emphasis on this further, here’s 10 unexpected things you might not expect about New Zealand:

1. Coffee snobs. If it’s one country who thinks they have the best java in the world.. it’s New Zealand. It’s not uncommon walking around or driving through a big city or smaller town you’re most likely to find local cafes to your left and right. I highly recommend ordering yourself a cappuccino (and a hot cross bun), you’ll be amazed with an impeccable mix of espresso and lightly foamed milk topped with your choice of chocolate shavings and cinnamon spice. It’ll make you question why you would even go back to ordering that typical double double or Starbucks grande latte. Local word has it the “flat white” was originally started here.

2. No shirt, no shoes.. come on in! If you see someone walking down the street bare foot and shirtless, it’s nothing to be frowned upon (except if you plan to go for a nice dinner or a night on the town). Tramping around without shoes is apart of the kiwi culture. I’ve started to grow accustom to it and find the ease of walking around in my bare feet a reflection of what the laid back kiwi lifestyle is all about.

3. Trade me. The Ebay + Kijiji + Amazon of New Zealand. If you’re looking for a deal, you’ll find it here. It can almost become an addiction as much as a headache while hunting for something specific. After spending some time learning the platform, it’s a great way to get some quality goods for a great deal.

4. High tide, low tide. As we’ve spent some time surfing, driving by, and tramping along the coast, you really start to pay attention to and learn about the tide clock. Tide knowledge comes very handy when planning days to hit up the waves or especially when the need of an early 5am start to tramp from one beach to the next is required.

5. Crickets the name of the game. Like Canadians who love their hockey, Kiwi’s can’t get enough of cricket. You would think all the sport craze would be about the All Black’s rugby team. We’ve found cricket to be the one sport locals get off their seats and scream at, similar to how Brazilians behave during a soccer (football) game. You tend to find a variety of recreational cricket matches going on both locally and on the telly.

6. Wi-fi, nice try. Internet cafes.. need I say more? If you sign up with a local bank you’re guaranteed complementary customer Wi-fi usage at any branch. If not, there’s always a McDonald’s kicking around, and when in doubt hit a cafe that advertises Wi-fi (sometimes with the purchase of a flat white).

7. Got winding roads much? For the few hundreds of kilometers we’ve driven so far, having a car with good handling is a must! Whether you’re in a big city like Auckland or driving through the Lewis Pass, winding roads are the name of the game getting around the country. If that isn’t enough for ya, sometimes there’s also severe winds to add into the equation.

8. Petrol vs. Diesel. When we we’re van hunting, petrol vs. diesel was a factor to consider. Petrol is considerably more (almost double) at the pump to diesel. However, petrol being much more expensive and diesel seeming to appear cheaper at the pump, we learned that wasn’t the case. The reason diesel is cheaper is the same as farm gas in Canada. The farm does not have the road tax attached to it, but don’t worry if you have a diesel you’re required to pay a fee per 100km you put on. Bottom line is they tend to be similar in cost in the long run. AA Motoring (a good emergency roadside assistance to get membership with and to also saves some cents/liter at most petrol stations), breaks down both the pros and cons of whether to roll with petrol or diesel for your choice of vehicle.

9. Ginger is everywhere! If it’s one drink I’ve become addicted to, it’s ginger beer! Chilled or slightly warmed up from the sun, this fresh, biting, and slightly sweet flavor with aroma’s I most relate to Asian cuisine in a liquid form is quite a delight. It’s sugar cane content I recon, not so much. As the saying goes.. everything in moderation!

10. So you wanna buy a Caravan? Plain and simple, the van market in New Zealand is a big deal! If you spend a few weeks looking at vans and talking to fellow travellers selling their vehicles, most of time your going to find overpriced junk. A majority of caravan owners are looking to gain a profit higher from what they originally bought. For what seemed a great way to live/ travel New Zealand, the process was harder than expected. With some last minute decisions, keeping a keen eye on trade me, and perfect timing, we ended up buying a van for much cheaper and something we’ve now appreciated in value.

For the full story about how we found our caravan, click here 🙂

Posted by Marisa


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