Interesting Facts about New Zealand

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These are just a few of our observations about gorgeous New Zealand:

Where we call each other Americans; they call themselves “Kiwis.”

We have not seen one piece of litter our entire stay here, seriously.
The really weird part about that is, you also can’t find public garbage cans easily anywhere. In addition, personal garbage cans in the homes we’ve stayed are also remarkably small. Pack it in, Pack it out, where it all goes we can’t figure out. They don’t create as much, I’m sure, since everywhere seems to have both garbage and recycling areas in their home and pick up for each. You also don’t see any signs with fines for littering; but you just have this feeling that if you did, somebody would appear and clobber you around the head.

The history of New Zealand starts more than 700 years ago when it was discovered by Polynesians who became the Maori culture. The Kiwis are very respectful of their Kiwi heritage.

Abel Janszoon Tasman was the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642. It became a British colony in 1841 and gained its independence in 1907.

NZ has many sheep farms, primarily for wool and meat – lamb is a common meal here.

NZ also domestically raise deer. It is unusual when you see a plethora of deer in a fenced in area to us.

NZ is huge on road safety. All along our drives, we see signs warning you to pay better attention, don’t drive sleepy, etc. The roads seem to all be two lanes only. Stop signs or traffic lights are exceptionally rare. You find the occasional roundabout or a sign that says “Give way.” We haven’t experienced traffic at all except for maybe directly in the center of Queenstown. One lane bridges are common and may appear without warning.

You don’t tip waiters and waitresses in NZ, and the minimum wage $10.95 in US dollars, it is $7.25 at home. Often you will order and pay up at the bar in a pub, where we try to find cheaper meals. Unfortunately, I must admit this may be the reason why the service has usually been pretty mediocre at best. Often its provided with a smirk or impatience, sometimes outright rudeness, but usually just a little smile at the cash register. Not quite Southern hospitality, but I sure would prefer to work with the wages here. Chain restaurants seem extremely uncommon. Just your basic fast food joints mostly.

There are no native mammals to NZ other than two types of bats. All other mammals were introduced by Europeans.

The water is crazy blue. We have debated the whole trip how it is possible or why. Walden is convinced the script writers in NZ are putting some kind of chemical in the water to attract tourists.  Wikipedia says,”The glacial feed to the lakes gives them a distinctive blue color, created by glacial flour, the extremely finely ground rock particles from the glaciers.”

Milk Shakes here come as “Milk Shake,” which is really just like flavored milk; Milk Shake with Ice Cream, which includes a scoop or two of ice cream but is still very thin; and Thick Shakes, which basically taste like our milk shakes in the U.S. Each one cost a little bit more than the one before, starting at about $4.50 USD

Milk tastes different here to us. They have “light” and “regular” instead of “skim” and “whole,” with no options in between. We can’t determine exactly why, but we think it may just be from eating different foods per our research.

We have not been able to find oreos or chips ahoy (the kids’ favorites), but Walden loves Arno Shortbread, his new favorite!




Here, as well as in Britain and Thailand, they drive on the left side of road, as well as walking and biking on paths on the left side. With all the tourists, this can make hiking and biking very interesting, no one knows which side to be on. Sometimes, it feels like your playing chicken.

We have found rare cell service. Our wifi experience here is worse than Thailand, easily. But, that may be the price to pay for this raw natural beauty, and if so, it’s worth it.
Houses here seem to be very practical. Don’t get me wrong, they might be as Pinterest-worthy decorated as others, but they are rarely overly large or elaborate. We have only seen one large, mini mansion during our entire stay. The windows do not have screens, and we have not needed air conditioning yet! The only place bugs have been a problem was in the Fjordlands with the sand fly. The hottest it has been was about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Most evenings you need a sweater for the chill. This is one of our favorite houses at a vineyard that we stayed at for a night:

The Seasons are the opposite of ours:

Spring – September, October, November.
Summer – December, January, February.
Autumn – March, April, May.
Winter – June, July, August.

Road side or take away places often serve meat pies (in pic) and quiche. Fish and chips and bangers and mash are also common meals, clearly immigrating from Britain.

Possibly due to a large amount of Asian immigrants and tourist, the toilets all have a sign indicating the importance of putting your toilet paper in the toilet and not in the garbage can. In Southeast Asia, you found the opposite. Trash is called Rubbish here.

Camper vans are very common on the roads in NZ. Freedom camping is also allowed here, which means you can camp anywhere as long as your vehicle is self-contained and you pack out your waste. But, as you can imagine, many people don’t do this correctly; and a lot of New Zealanders seem to be turning against this idea.

They are very serious about protecting the natural beauty of the country, as well as the native species. This was quite notable at customs when we purchased our visa and entered the country. Chris will post more on this later.

We have noticed they say, “No Worries” a lot.

Rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand, we also saw a lot o soccer, cricket, and golf.


In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give all women the right to vote. Katherine Wilson “Kate” Sheppard is on their 10 dollar note. You can tell too that they really value women as equals. Sexism just seems to be less common than in the USA and especially other places. I find it is much less common for women to wear makeup and very common for them to function independently. This is just an observation, but Ella and I have noticed.

Sir Edmund Hillary was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He made his first major climb in 1939, reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier, which Chris and Ella climbed!! They are very proud of him here!

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