Shorts from New Zealand

I’m back in Christchurch, which means I will have spent a third of my year in New Zealand in this city and the vicinity. My working holiday visa expires in a little over two weeks, so I’m working to sell my car and wrap everything up here. But it’s not quite time to return home–I’m taking the scenic route. I’ll first fly to Sydney and visit Australia, then I’ll visit Southeast Asia, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. I’ll return home in October and revel in my second autumn of the year.

So for this blog post, here is some

Miscellany from Down Under

For this story, keep in mind I’d been working and living almost exclusively with Kiwis for the four and a half months prior.

All year, I’ve been told Americans are loud, and I’d felt that, too, often speaking more quietly by a few notches when talking with a Kiwi. I thought it was just the volume at which we speak (and how slow we speak) that people noticed.

But when I visited a sheep station in Queenstown during a week of touristy activities, there was a group of Americans who sat in front of me during the sheep shearing demonstration. They were being rambunctious and laughing and joking, having a lot of fun, a scene I’m used to and in which I participate when I’m home.

And I watched and thought, in a quiet little voice, “Oh my goodness, the Americans are so loud.”

I was slightly startled at this thought, but continued watching and walked through the gift shop.

Then, on the way back, I stood on the upper deck of the boat. When we were about to dock, I missed the announcement for everyone to return to the lower deck. An American woman said to me loudly from across the deck, “We have to go down now.”

The mannerism was so different from what would have happened if a Kiwi had been giving me the same information that the thought was overwhelming this time: “Oh my goodness, the Americans are so loud.”

The sentiment about knocked me off my feet, and I disembarked, dazed at what had just happened.

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This is me. I go to Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of New Zealand, and the first thing I do is ride a boat to a sheep station and pet lambs.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sky, outdoor and nature

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The best waffles in the world are at the historic Cardrona Hotel in the Crown Range. I think they had cinnamon in them.

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It is now a common occurrence for me to sing or hum Christmas songs. The other night, I listened to the entire Wyndham Hill Christmas album while working in my journal. This is happening because it’s winter here.

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While riding a boat across Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown and gazing at the Remarkables with “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” playing on repeat in my head, I had this musical epiphany:

I haven’t known since the movie debuted who the singer, Neil Finn, is and didn’t really think to investigate. However, on this fateful boat ride, it finally hit me that Neil Finn is the brother of Tim Finn (and I had even read about them both before I came here in my Lonely Planet guidebook), who sang the hit “Four Seasons in One Day” with Chris Martin at the Coldplay concert in Auckland. I had even posted a video of Neil Finn singing that song on one of my blog posts from a couple of weeks back as it was my favorite version from YouTube.

He’s a Kiwi, and New Zealand is Middle Earth, and I was staring up at the Misty Mountains. It was pretty neat.

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When driving out of Queenstown to return to Christchurch, I accidentally started driving toward Milford Sound instead. I remembered where I was supposed to be going before the roundabout at the airport.

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Two students from the primary school in Dunedin where I worked as a teacher’s assistant were looking at a library book. It was a travel book, and they were trying to work out the title, which was something like, “Let’s go to Indonesia.” The picture on the front was of a oceanic fishing boat.

One said, “Indiana. I think it looks like Indiana.”

(I’d never said where I was from, so wondered how she knew the word. Later, I figured it was probably because of Indiana Jones; many times when I said where I was from, I would receive the reply, “Is that where Indiana Jones is from?”)

I said, “You should look at the word again.”

She looked at it again. “Indiana!”

So, to a seven-year-old in New Zealand, Indiana is just as exotic as Indonesia.

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And, to finish, these are hot dogs. The inside is a sausage, and the outside is the same kind of batter used for fish. The taste…well, they’re definitely not corn dogs, let’s just say that….

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