The Kiwi Experience Pt.2

We’ve been in New Zealand for almost a year now and the time travelling around both the North and South islands while working, snowboarding and mountain biking has gone by too fast. There’s still so much we want to explore and learn about this amazing country!

Here’s 10 more things we’ve learned, embraced and love about New Zealand:

1. Sweet As: If there’s one saying you’ll hear most Kiwi’s use, or us over use now.. it’s Sweet As or pretty much anything word with “as” added to it after. The meaning is pretty much replacing the North American use of “very“, and when said most are either in a state of stoke or a chill laid back surfer vibe.

2. Huts: Something I wish in Canada we had more of. The hut system in this country is amazing! There is over 900 built huts found scattered around the country on both islands. It takes the adventure of tramping, biking and ski touring to another level! No hut is like the other.. some with a few bunks, some the size of a community hall, some with a fire burning stove, some made of wood, some of made of stone, some in the alpine or nestled in a valley. It always makes heading into the backcountry an exciting adventure, and worth the long trek through the bush knowing soon you’ll get to rest your feet, cook a nice meal and have a sleep inside while surrounded in the remote beauty mother nature has to offer.

3. Hot Springs: Like Iceland we’ve found some amazing natural hot springs in New Zealand. We we’re lucky to find a book from a used book store that gave us a bit of an insight on some of the local spring areas to check out. Rotorua was a mecca of amazing free natural springs, however most who visit would never know of their existence being that the majority advertised are man-made and come with a fee. For us we found secret springs to enjoy to ourselves and explore other known springs in the area after a long day of biking. The south island has fewer, but we’ve made the effort to tramp further into the bush in order to enjoy some of what the south hot springs also have to offer.

4. Safe As Wildlife: If it’s one country where you can feel safe walking alone into the bush and pitch a tent overnight its in New Zealand. The scariest thing you will most likely encounter with is being attacked and bitten by a million sand flies. The majority of the wildlife is sheep, farmed deer, cows, horses, goats, weka and alpacas. The most unwanted and hated animal is the possum and is highly recommend by locals to hit while your driving on the highway. Kiwi’s will go to any extent to protect their forests and national bird the “Kiwi”, which so far for us and most don’t typically ever get to see being that it’s nocturnal.

5. Beans on Toast: A Kiwi breakfast delight with a cup of tea. This simple recipe of heating beans and mashing them into a spreadable paste on toast is what I find a new meaning of getting some protein into your breakfast.

6. Vanlife: When we first arrived it seemed like we would try it out, save some money not paying rent, and have the freedom to travel the country as we please. It’s now become more than just traveling around in a van and exploring a country. We’ve started to appreciate living a minimal, lower income and carefree lifestyle where we get to put a focus on the things we love doing the most, which hopefully can build upon and continue this lifestyle we enjoy when we come back home.

7. Backcountry Ski Touring: If it’s one season that pushed our limits, it’s the winter in New Zealand. We experienced more of a mild and spring like winter as we ski toured around the south island. It became apparent that if a big snowfall was coming it wasn’t going to last very long, so we made sure to get out into the backcountry ASAP! Splitboarding in New Zealand took a sport that makes you earn your turns to the next level. It pushed our limits and challenged us having to tramp up to the snowline while carrying our ski gear and with the often use of crampons and ice axes to get to the top. Kiwi’s are hardcore in this sport and have given me an appreciation of our winters back home no matter how bad season might seem. Canada unlike NZ will always have a big enough snowpack reaching to the bottom of the mountains and where most would prefer to start a skin track.

8. Māori’s: WHATS A MAORI?? For many who visit New Zealand, I would say they don’t really get to know or understand this culture too well (other than the meaning of “Kia Ora”). Maybe because we spent sometime in Rotorua were 40% of the Māori culture exists, and as well some of the things we we’re involved with put us in a position to get to know some of the locals. Every Māori we met was down to earth, welcoming and generally quite happy with the life they have and family they were surrounded around. We’ve even seen some of the many recommended locals films and felt connected to the message being presented across now that we’ve immersed ourselves into understanding and taking the time to get to know them. We still haven’t, but hopefully will participate or get invited to a Hāngi.

9. Who likes short shorts? If there’s one fashion statement that sticks out particularly in the summer it’s short shorts, and I’m not talking about the women. Kiwi’s love their Rugby, but it also seems the men enjoy the fashion statement from it. The look even appears more common with the local out of town and/or farm boys tramping around in gum boots and a flannel jacket.

10. Mountain Biking: The main reason we even considered coming to this country was all of the amazing things we watched and were told about the MTB network around New Zealand. For us it all began in the Redwoods in Rotorua, and it was love at first trail. They have it dialed in this country with a variety of trail networks like Rotorua, a few bike parks and an extensive amount of popular and not as popular backcountry pedals that take you through exotic bush, crossing rivers, through valleys and traversing up in the alpine. It takes a twist on the idea of traveling around and going from place to place in the country, and I can’t see a better way to do it!

It’s been an amazing and unforgettable year for us living in New Zealand, and I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to come here and spend time exploring the country. As much as I’m looking forward to coming back home to see friends and family, we are grateful being Canadian and apart of the Commonwealth with countries like New Zealand that we were able to apply for and extend our visa’s for one more year. That’s right folks.. we ain’t done living here just yet!

Posted by Marisa

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