1. As you stop in any cafe, or restaurant....the mighty fine folks of New Zealand will run up and serve you some of their best tap water....usually chilled. I thought after ten to fifteen occasions....it was an awful kind gesture, and they must have been awful proud of their tap water. On the whole of the idea, I will admit that it was pretty fair water, without any funny taste (as you would expect in most US cities. I should also note that if you ever ran through that bottle that they brought out, they'd rush up to give you a whole second bottle.....free.
2. At some point in Auckland, I turned a corner in the morning and here was a cafe that was serving up pancakes smothered with bacon and bananas on top. Being from Alabama, I could not pass up this opportunity.
I will say that it's the best way of mixing everything possible onto one single plate. You probably got enough calories to sustain you for 90-percent of the day. Course, it did end up ranging in the $12 USD range....coffee extra.
You might also note 'The Law" sign above it, which typically laid out the NZ standard that if you even hint or act like you are drunk....they cut you off from further alcohol. They are a bit dedicated on that stance....mostly because folks do enjoy consuming beer.
3. Throughout NZ, folks typically have ribs on their menu. So I sat down on the 2nd day in Auckland, and had some of the finest ribs of my life, with a tangy sauce on the side. By the last day of the trip, I had tried at least six different plates of ribs.
I will note this as well....an average menu will have only eight items on it....with two items being fish of some type, then lamb, ribs, and the rest are beef dishes of some type.
4. Generally, NZ folks drink beer to substantial portions. In the one pub that I stopped in, they even offered up a 'beer research fund' jar at the counter, for tips.
The typical food menu would go to two pages max, but the typical drink menu would go to four pages.....which says a good bit over various offerings.
Bad beer? Out of the twenty-five-odd beers I tried, I would suggest that the one that mixed in a hefty amount of ginger was the only way that I would disqualify.
5. Virtually, every NZ guy will claim he's an expert on a hundred things. I stopped one evening and stayed in a 'cabin' overlooking a 500-ft cliff. It was a bed and breakfast deal, and the guy had put a ton of effort into the view, the cabin and the semi-rustic nature of the 'cabin'.
The fact that it was barely 20 foot away from the edge of this cliff....did weigh on my mind a good bit. The view? Worth a million. The thing was, all around was brush, and it looked awful snaky. But in NZ, there are no snakes.
So you laid down and could hear the waves hitting the beach below and it put you to sleep awful fast. As for this being a great idea? All it was....was a steel capsule-like container, with some handy-man add-ons, and some plastic covering to prevent the breeze from hitting you.
6. No matter where you go on the north isle, there are hundreds of reminders of volcanic activity. Near the center of the isle is the chief volcano.
Naturally, down at the base of the volcano....they put up a fancy four-star hotel back in the late 1920s, and folks come from around the world to hang out there.
It's an odd hotel because it's got the old world cinema operation in the basement. There's a fancy ballroom in the middle, and the place looks like something out of the 1930s.
The thing about the volcano and the hotel....it's all in the middle of nowhere. There's one single gas station for about sixty miles. You feel like you are in the middle of some lost civilization.
7. I turned a corner in Queenstown, and here was this interesting bar....called the 'Ice Bar'. They keep the temperature below -5 (Cel). So, yeah, it is awful cold. I didn't venture in (a regret).
It would be interesting to ask how long a guy sits there (they provide some kinda parka for the experience). Then I'd be asking about the alcohol affect and the temperature. It's probably not the kind of place you'd want to spend more than two hours.
8. While in NZ, I was introduced to something they call the 'Blueberry Bomb'.
Roughly $7 USD, it's a giant smoothie, and is advertised as all-natural, without extra sugar (it's got enough to start with anyway.
Calories? They are careful to make it confusing. After consuming my 5th one.....I got around to figuring out the big container was in the range of 850 calories. I guess it was meant for two or three days. Yeah, I was consuming one every single morning.
If you can take one of these.....toss it into the freezer at your hotel for an hour, and then guzzle it down....the sugar fix hits you and you feel all happy and chilled.
It's probably something that you'd best not get addicted to.....for the calorie reason.
9. At some point in my stay in Queenstown, I took a day-trip out to some remote area of the region, which overlooked the lake.
It was a small town situation, and we stopped at a city park, with a WW I memorial.
There's roughy twenty-five names carved up on the memorial....the guys who didn't come back.
When you look over this small village....the population in 1914 probably didn't exceed more than a thousand, and twenty-five lost souls did amount to an awful lot of the local character.
It's one of those things that you look at for a good ten minutes and realize the impact of the war, and the burden on folks after the war. Still today, they likely remember the event.
10. As you travel on public transport (trains and buses), you tend to see various signs....letting you know that destruction is a thing which can get into trouble....to include vandelism and spray-painting.
New Zealand folks are pretty serious about this. Their threat?
You could end up with three months in prison and $2,000 NZD in fines. A hefty deal.
The thing is....after a while, you notice that there isn't any graffiti around on trains, like you see in Germany or France. Nor do you see damage on buses.
I'm guessing that after putting a few folks in jail for a month or two.....folks realized the cops were serious and this stupid stuff stopped.
After walking around, you tend to notice a limited number of radicals or criminals. I think the judges are pretty serious about real jail time, and it has a positive influence on society.