New Zealand – North Island
“I don’t think I have EVER seen a teenager voluntarily put rubbish in a litter bin before!” exclaimed Sally as she watched yet another young person wend their way across the parking lot to dump the packaging they were carrying in the bin. And it is true, young people here do seem to be generally much more conscious of their environment than their UK counterparts and generally a lot more polite too. There will always be exceptions of course, such as the person who had to sidestep the bin in order to get to the toilet so they could stuff the debris from their picnic down the urinal – which just goes to prove that stereotyping a national characteristic is a dangerous sport.
Before we left England a friend advised us to record our first impressions of things that were different to home, as after a while you forget and they become the norm. So what else is different?
The most obvious is the lack of people! We are currently on the ‘crowded’ North Island of New Zealand where three quarters of the total population are ‘huddled together’, but when you realise that the entire population of New Zealand (4.6 million people) is less than one tenth that of the UK (and a quarter of them live in Auckland) you appreciate just how crowded an island we come from. To put some context to that you need to know too that the total land mass of New Zealand is a bit larger than that of the UK.
Of course if you talk to the locals they bemoan the influx of people, the crowded roads (mostly camper vans!) and the general decline in social standards over the last thirty or forty years – but as they say even nostalgia is not what it used to be. The trouble with the past is that you judge it from the perspective of the present and I guess even war (if you were on the ‘winning’ side) can be viewed positively once you know you and your loved ones survived the conflict and were able to rebuild your lives.
Another difference is undoubtedly the ever pervading threat of seismic activity. Tsunami warning signs are prevalent along the coast and I have just received a test message on my phone from the government which would be used in the event of an emergency to advise us of impending calamity. Pity the UK government doesn’t have a similar system for Brexit alerts.
And what about the UFOs you ask? We were approached by a very hairy cyclist who, on discovering we were from London, wanted us to warn all our family and friends that the Northern hemisphere will be the scene of a nuclear conflict by the end of January next year, and he had documentary evidence to prove it based on information provided by UFOs. He offered to show us his folder which he carried in his voluminous rucksack. We declined his offer, but he wanted us to let you know that you need to get yourselves down to New Zealand to escape the consequences as we will be safe down here. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Of course he might have been a maverick employee of the New Zealand Tourist Board drumming up business in his free time. 😁
Finally here are a few more pictures from our travels. The visit to the edge of the crater of the volcano on White Island was stunning – thank goodness we were supplied with breathing masks.
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