The last word on New Zealand

Here are our observations:

Good

Birdlife
Although there are many introduced British birds such as sparrows, blackbirds and finches; the birds in NZ are very different. They are extremenly tame.

  • Sparrows were everywhere and wouldn’t think twice about flying into a building and seeing what’s in the Kitchen.
  • The Gannets we saw were adorable. They were so sociable and greeted each other with great ethusiasm after fishing trips. We also liked the way they pretty much turned into a dart before their vertical fishing dives.
  • New Zealand Robins look very much like British ones but are a little bigger and don’t have the red breast. They are very interested in humans. They will come right up to your feet and just look at you. If you talk to them they tilt their head as if listening.
  • Fantails look a little like long tailed tits. They follow you around the forest and swoop for the flies you attract. Extremely cute and good pest control.
  • There are Myna birds hanging about on the roads everywhere north of Taupo. They are a little causual when you approach. Tests the brakes out
  • Pukekos are tops! They look like Moorhens a little but enjoy trying to steal any leftovers. The other great thing about them is that they hang about in family groups. There will be several adults taking it in turns to look after all of the chicks and then look for food. If one of them finds food they run back to tell the rest and then they’re all off. I’ve never seen this kind of cooperative behaviour in birds before. It was great fun to watch.
  • The Red billed gulls were very amusing. They had tantrums like you’ve never seen. Extremely funny.
  • Keas are the Alpine Parrots we wrote about. They are very cheeky. They chewed off our wiper blades and ripped a big hole in Mark and Martin’s tent on two occasions. Despite all the vandalism you can’t help but love them.

Beer – Quality Real ale. Speights old dark and many of the Montieths brews.

Friendly People – The Kiwis are a nice lot. They are not as status obsessed as Brits can be and so there were a lot of ancient caravans around.

Not quite so good

Bad or non existant signposting – Lonely planet maps are a bit useless to so it was a difficult combination.

Liberal and often inappropriate use of the word historic. It seems that anything more than a few years old was dubbed ‘historic’. Hardly!

Roads – Some of them were just loose gravel and very skiddy. Believe it or not there seems to be even more road works than in the UK. Half finished roads that are covered in gravel seem to be a speciality.

News – Complete lack of serious news reporting. All focused on the local and human interest angles.

Just interesting

Kiwi obsession with corrugated iron. It makes roofs, sculptures and even entire buildings. All nicely painted and sitting proudly. Odd.

Overall we’ve loved the place. The scenery is fantastic and there’s a lot to do, particularly if you’re an outdoors type. The towns tended not to have as much life as we’re used to so I don’t think it’s a place we could settle (Comment specifically aimed at parents.)

We’ll catch you again when we get to Aus

Viv & John xx

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