I haven’t been to New Zealand for a holiday neither would I call myself an expat living in New Zealand. I think, after 12 years (and counting) in the country, it’s safe to say, I’m a Kiwi!
New Zealand is home to me, but when asked by my friend to write a feature on it for her travel blog – something that should have been incredibly easy for someone who calls it home – I found myself a little lost on the ‘angle’ for my content. After all, when you’re settled in, it’s hard to look at things beyond the regular 9 to 5 job, grocery shopping, household chores and the occasional socialising, as a traveller or ‘newbee’ (defined below) might. As I walked down memory lane, pondering over 12 years’ worth of memories, my initial experiences as someone right off-the-boat stood out the most.
So, if you’re migrating, leaving on that O.E or just passing by briefly, here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Kiwi land:
I’ll admit, this one threw me off. It had me feeling like a muppet but I eventually had it sussed out.
- Aotearoa is New Zealand in Maori – the indigenous language.
- ‘Kia Ora’ is Hello.
- ‘Newbee’ refers to someone new, a first timer.
- If you’re heading to the beach, don’t forget your ‘togs’ (swimsuit) and ‘jandals’ (slippers).
- When told to ‘bring a plate’ to an event, make sure there’s food on it to share.
- ‘Yeah….nah” – a bit of a hard one: it technically means no, but could also mean maybe.
- If its ‘pissing down’, you’ll need an umbrella, it’s raining.
- In Maori, ‘WH’ has the same sound as ‘F’, as in ‘Whakapapa’ – I’ll leave you to pronounce that.
- A ‘bush walk’ is a hike.
- A ‘sausage sizzle’ is an event, most often a fundraiser, where you’d be served a sausage on a slice of bread folded over.
- When referring to a website, ‘dub dub dub’ is www.
- When noting a phone number ‘Oh’ is zero, 0.
There isn’t a place as versatile as New Zealand. From the most scenic road trips to skiing, hiking, camping, lazy beach days, Kauri trails, surfing, breath-taking sceneries, food and wine – New Zealand has it all at its very best. Being a small country, a car and 20 days could be all you need to take in the breadth and depth of its beauty. Here are a few recommendations (the list is not exhaustive):
- Cape Reinga: The northern most point of the North Island where the Pacific Ocean on the West meets the Tasman Sea on the East
- Auckland City: Like Bombay is to India, Auckland is to New Zealand
- Rotorua: Just for the Culture
- Waitomo Caves: Famous for its glow-worm magic
- Waiheke Island: Food and wine
- Hawke’s Bay: This covers Napier, Gisborne and a quaint little town called Havelock North and it features the best wine and local produce in New Zealand
- Whakapapa: A skier’s paradise, this is a popular winter destination
- The Tongariro Crossing: A hiker’s true test
- Nelson: The untouched beauty of the Abel Tasman National Park – A UNESCO world heritage site
- Akaroa: The French twist to Colonial New Zealand
- Lake Tekapo: The Southern Lights (if the stars will it)
Residing in New Zealand:
- The local libraries: A free service offered through the local regional Councils across the country, the libraries will become your best friend as a new immigrant in NZ. From free English classes to workshops on drafting an NZ style CV and tips for job applications, the library is the best place to start acclimatising.
- TradeMe: An online retail platform for all your first and second hand wants and needs including finding a place to stay.
- Networking: Getting a job is more about who you know in New Zealand rather than what you know.
- Weather watch: The weather is unpredictable. Be prepared to experience four seasons in a day.
- Night/Community Classes: Offered by the state or public schools in each suburb, a variety of classes across various subject areas like cooking, sewing, dancing, languages etc. are covered at costs that don’t dent the wallet.
As a 16-year-old, New Zealand wasn’t a choice. It literally happened to me as the by-product of my mum’s decision to migrate and I am glad it did. I’ve met some of my best friends here, celebrated numerous milestones and have some of my fondest memories from here. It taught me to be independent and it gave me an exposure and education that surpasses any classroom.
The writer of this Guest Blog – Tarika Asthana and I go back a long way. In fact, it is difficult to remember a time in my life when she wasn’t a part of it. We met in 1998, as fellow 3rdgrade boarders in St. Mary’s Convent, Nainital. Since then, we have played in many school orchestras (With me on the guitar and Tarika on the piano – she was a star!), sang in one-too-many choirs, attended many mandatory rosaries and masses, competed against each other on the track, stood by each other against our biggest basketball rivals (and won!) and have pretty much spent the best days of our lives in each other’s company at the best place – St. Mary’s Convent, Nainital aka Ramnee.
As is the norm, life changed after high school. Tarika moved to New Zealand and pursued a degree in Pharmacy. Over the last 7 years, she worked in multiple pharmaceutical areas across New Zealand and later in Brisbane, Australia. When not at work, Tarika loves a good workout and enjoys reading. The kitchen is her first happy place (apart from the places where she finds herself in the presence of paws and fur). The next would be – the plane, train, bus or cab getting her to her travel destinations and the third would be the destination itself. Not sure when the love affair with travelling started, but it has persisted. Travelling to her has always been about the education through the exposure. It is about exploring the food, the culture and the people. Most of all, it is about being the local tourist.
Nearly 20 countries and 14 years later, she found herself back where it all began – India. Travelling through India has always been on the to-do list and in December 2019, she travelled back to India with semi-permanent intentions. She spent the first three months of 2020 between family and travelling through Rajasthan and Uttarakhand with a brief stop in Varanasi. Since then, she been dealing with itchy feet while in lockdown in Delhi.
1. I often do a hashtag #search on social media(Instagram & Facebook) for places, activities, shopping and restaurants. You get to ‘see’ what you’re in for and you might also come across options not mentioned elsewhere.
2. I prefer going local.No matter where you are, the local recommendations are the best. Be it for places to visit, restaurants to eat at or shopping. I’ve received some of the best recommendations from the Airbnb hosts I’ve stayed with and they weren’t popular touristy things.
3. I’m not much of a shopper but I love to shop when I travel. I prefer buying things that can be used (versus shelf souvenirs) and that are made locally.
4. Plan at least 1 day in your trip for a cultural experience– it could be a traditional cooking class, or learning a craft like pottery or carving. Ideally, it should be an activity unique to the destination you’re at.
5. If time permits, plan a day to volunteer your services in the place where you are– it could be at a store, an animal shelter or at a co-op.