I’m sitting in an airport cafe in Melbourne, Australia awaiting a connecting flight to Perth, Australia where I will connect with yet ANOTHER flight that will take me to my final destination of the day: Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
I had to get up at 3:00 this morning in order to get things in order, get some breakfast, and get to the airport in Auckland. The flight was delayed for an hour, and it took four hours to get here; long story short, I’ve had a good amount of time to think about my time in New Zealand as a whole. Here are a few of the things that have stuck with me about this lovely little country:
The Maori. I had no idea the Maori people even existed before coming ashore in Tauranga. The indigenous peoples of NZ are treated with far more respect and equality than the Native American (then again, our manifest destiny took place over several hundred years; NZ had a war.) All government buildings are presented in both English and Maori languages, there are Maori language TV stations, etc. They are a wonderful people and I’m glad their culture hasn’t been eradicated.
Fitness. Kiwis are very proud of their national parks and walking tracks. They take excellent care of them and most everyone I met has spent time on them. As a matter of fact, I think I could count the amount of overweight New Zealanders I saw on one hand. Granted, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but the country as a whole spends a lot more time outdoors, eats/drinks less crap, and is in better health than the good ol’ U S of A.
Geographical Uniqueness. You can drive for a dozen hours in the US and the scenery barely changes. In New Zealand, you can drive for thirty minutes and go from desert to tundra to mountain to ocean. Just about any type of environment you want to be in is quickly accessible. Camper vans are in large supply and some folks rent them for MONTHS and holiday around the islands.
Extreme Activities! These folks LOVE their adrenaline. Bungy jumping, jet boating, sky diving, canyon ziplines, boat races, V8 Supercar races. you name it. People here aren’t content to sit and look at the abundant beauty of the land, they get out and DO. Not only do they get out and do it themselves, they try to convince everyone else that it’s the best thing ever.
I loved my time there. I made a lot of friends and learned a bit about myself, too. Indonesia is almost here and should prove to be an equally eye-opening experience.