I can bear in mind the primary second I felt like a real kiwi prefer it was yesterday. Whether or not or not it’s one thing to be publicly pleased with is one other matter fully.
However I digress.
Let me set the scene: I used to be making the journey between Wanaka and Queenstown over the Crown Vary, New Zealand’s highest public entry street and one among my common commutes.
Nonetheless getting used to the mountain switchbacks and hairpin turns, having solely moved to the South Island lower than a yr earlier, I used to be taking it sluggish and cautious. Impulsively out of the nook of my eye I might see an extended and thin furry creature dart throughout the street forward of me into my lane.
And with out pondering twice, I didn’t swerve, and promptly ran it over. On goal. Thunk thunk. Smooshed. Lifeless as a doornail. Roadkill.
What savagery is that this?! When did I develop into an individual that runs over cute fluffy animals ? What has New Zealand carried out to me?
Nicely, there’s a story behind the insanity, let me let you know. I encourage you to learn on in case you have not already clicked off this story, unfollowed me and determined I’m a monster.
Enable me to elucidate. So I’ve been residing in New Zealand as an American expat for nearly 5 years. 5 stunning, wild and fulfilling years which have taken me on a journey I might have by no means imagined.
Whereas we will all measure our years in recollections and milestones, in experiences and friendships, for me I may rely my time in New Zealand in one other method. All these occasions I mentioned or did one thing, and although too myself, wow, I’ve gone completely kiwi.
Just like while you notice you say one thing that solely your mother does, and also you assume to your self in an epiphany second, holy shit, I’m turning into my mom. It’s identical to that.
However on this case, my mother is Aotearoa, land of the lengthy white cloud, flat whites and unreasonably priced avocados.
Listed below are ten of my most memorable moments when you realize you’re kiwi when. Now, for all these kiwis screaming at me proper now, go for gold. Do your worst. Now are all these the usual by which we should always measure kiwi-ness worldwide? No method. However are they my requirements? Yeah no. Possibly.
1. Let me clarify the roadkill factor
Now we have a saying in New Zealand, “a great possum is a useless possum.”
How on earth did I’m going from being the vegetarian hippy lady who cried unconsolably for half a day when she by accident ran over a squirrel in highschool to the fashionable woman who proudly claimed that she’s run over two stoats and 4 possums on her new Zealand residency utility?
Let me supply a (considerably) transient rationalization.
Since transferring to New Zealand, I’ve develop into a passionate conservationist working to guard the native birds right here.
New Zealand was one of many final locations on earth settled by people about 1000 years in the past. Earlier than people arrived (Māori Polynesians after which white Europeans), New Zealand had no mammals besides a bat, it was a land of solely birds.
And a number of the most unimaginable birds too, just like the world’s greatest eagle. A veritable Jurassic Park, there have been hundreds of distinctive creatures, many birds who advanced to not have the ability to fly, since their solely predators had been solely different birds. In reality there have been so many birds that when Captain Cook dinner anchored off New Zealand, the daybreak refrain of the birds was described as deafening.
Then people got here and introduced destruction, as we’re so good at doing. Between searching the birds to extinction, we additionally introduced horrible critters like rats, feral cats, possums (rattling Australia), rabbits, and the worst of all, stoats, that are like weasels and kill something and every part.
Stoats are public enemy primary in New Zealand. Sneaky and arduous to catch, they’re opportunistic killers, they usually destroy chook populations earlier than you possibly can blink.
And what did these furry creatures do? Instantly devastate the chook populations, which had no protection towards mammals. Many species went extinct or got here to the brink of extinction rapidly earlier than we lastly bought our act collectively and have spent the previous many years making an attempt to guard them and convey again the New Zealand of yesteryear.
Now there’s a large second inside the authorities and all conservation trusts to eliminate all these bird-killing mammals in an initiative referred to as Predator Free 2050.
Meaning with a purpose to save these uncommon birds, there’s plenty of killing, to place it bluntly. Between pest management, poison drops and trapping, kiwis are keen about defending their wildlife and meaning a reasonably thorough bloodbath of mammals.
With my work in conservation, I’ve frolicked with these arduous employees, setting entice traces, cleansing traps of useless stoats and rotting possums (yuck!), and inspiring locals to arrange easy pest management to assist carry again the birds in their very own backyards. And the day I knew I actually belonged right here was after I made no effort to keep away from hitting a pest.
Who am I?
2. “Gone for a hoon, mate.”
On one among my New Zealand excursions final yr, I used to be sitting with the ladies within the Abel Tasman Nationwide Park after a day of journey. Most of them had opted to go for a kayak and full day climbing within the nationwide park. Since I had carried out this numerous occasions, I ended up catching up with my mates Naked Kiwi and Wildboy within the morning, and gone for a mellow kayak the place we had essentially the most unimaginable dolphin encounter.
Over pizzas within the night we swapped tales of the day, and when requested what I bought as much as, I replied with out pondering, “I simply went for a hoon within the park with mates.”
I used to be met with clean stares. “What the hell’s a ‘hoon’?”
Hoon (definition) verb: to have interaction in mischief in a automobile. The efficiency of different acts resembling burnouts, donuts, fishtails, or the deliberate lack of management of a automobile. Being a hooligan.
Not solely had I gone full kiwi, I’d additionally gone redneck kiwi.
three. Increase my hobbit ft
“You may’t get your residency till you possibly can stroll kilometers barefoot,” each Brando and Kyle yelled again to me, as I scampered to maintain up with them as we hiked a part of the Abel Tasman monitor on that very same kayaking journey.
When you’ve ever frolicked in New Zealand, particularly in summer time, you realize this to be true. Sneakers are non-obligatory.
It’s not unusual to see individuals wander round city and within the outlets shoeless, particularly on sizzling days or close to the seashores, and I’ve bought mates right here who I’ve by no means seen put on footwear.
I’m nonetheless engaged on it. Ouch ouch ouch.
four. Marmite + butter = bliss
I really owe my love for vegemite to my Australian enterprise associate Lauren Tub, which has since advanced right into a love for the (higher) kiwi model of vegemite: marmite.
After I first moved right here, I made the traditional rookie mistake of smearing vegemite on a slice of toast as if it had been nutella.
Don’t be tricked. This darkish brown yeasty unfold couldn’t be farther from chocolate. After that horrifying mouthful that made me gag for ages, I vowed to by no means to the touch the stuff once more till Lauren confirmed me the sunshine three years later.
You solely use the tiniest little bit of vegemite, in regards to the dimension of your pinky nail, and also you unfold it on toast the place you’ve already unfold a pleasant layer of butter. Put a really skinny layer of vegemite or marmite on prime.
Increase, it’s scrumptious.
5. Be a tidy kiwi
Of all my favourite kiwi traits I’ve picked up, I prefer to assume my favourite is taking care of the land, in all respects.
I grew up in city east coast America, land of infinite strip malls and 7-elevens. Air pollution is kinda our jam.
It didn’t take lengthy for it actually to hit house for me how clear and tidy New Zealand is, one thing I’ve adopted since transferring right here. Not that I used to be a littering individual earlier than in any respect, however I undoubtedly ignored garbage on the bottom. Now I discover that I usually decide up different’s individuals’s garbage after I see it.
Additionally, saying the phrase “garbage.” Full kiwi over right here.
6. Journey is within the blood, together with being plain outdated powerful
What can I say, New Zealand is the land of being hardcore and of chasing journey. I imply, would you count on something much less from the nation that invented bungy leaping and whose nationwide pastime is leaping off issues and “performing some bombs, bro?”
New Zealand is one other world, an idyllic pasture of free-range youngsters roaming the land barefoot and in shorts all yr spherical, the place the most important crime at the very least down south the place I reside, are mailbox thieves and folks stealing cash out of the honesty packing containers from native eggs.
I haven’t determine it out precisely but, however they breed them powerful right here.
Maybe its the dearth of central heating or the spillover from the entire frontier perspective of the previous, however of us are hardy right here and simply make me appear to be a wuss. I can nonetheless bear in mind the primary time taking a pal on a reasonable hike right here which I discovered simple however I suppose wasn’t in actuality, and after an hour of whining I instantly replied with a great outdated, ” you’ll be proper, harden the fuck up.”
7. Hokey Pokey ice-cream is god’s reward to New Zealand
New Zealand has invented one of the best ice-cream taste on earth : hokey pokey.
Nicely, I assume they invented it, as I haven’t seen it anyplace else on my travels.
Hokey Pokey consists of plain outdated vanilla ice-cream combined in with bits of honeycomb toffee, and it’s my private kryptonite. I’ve, on multiple event, sat down with an entire bucket of it and a giant spoon on a lonely night at house, and eaten virtually the entire thing earlier than I had the energy to chuck it within the garbage bin.
See what I did there? Garbage bin? Go on, America, reject my citizenship now.
eight. He’s a great c***, eh?
I actually don’t have any protection for this. The 4 letter “c” swear phrase that begins with a “c” and ends with a “t,” which is extremely taboo and offensive in America, is definitely slightly frequent in Australia and New Zealand, and infrequently utilized in an endearing, crass type of method. Exhibits you what sort of individuals I hang around with right here.
So this one time, I used to be house within the States for the vacations a number of years again watching a film with my household, and with out occupied with it, I mentioned out loud, “wow, what a c***.”
Lifeless silence for much too lengthy earlier than my little sister lastly says “Liz-zie!!!” Fairly shocked and offended. Word to self, cultural distinction. Greatest keep away from the “c” phrase.
9. Making an effort to pronounce Māori phrases accurately and be extra respectful
I’m positive this gained’t be highly regarded however there are many kiwis who don’t give a hoot about this one. However for me, I consider that is actually vital. As a foreigner right here, it doesn’t take lengthy to essentially decide up on the controversial vibes, normally amongst Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent). That is such a sensitive topic that I’ve usually averted up to now, not out of eager to keep away from it, however slightly, solely wanting to speak about it within the correct and proper method, educated and non-offensive.
It’s been child steps for me, as outsider who didn’t develop up right here and who isn’t nuanced in all elements of Māori life and tradition in modern-day New Zealand, however it’s one thing I’ve been engaged on and am planning to share much more of down the street right here.
Between simply turning 30 and in addition acquired my New Zealand residency and my greatest pal right here is Māori, and gifted me essentially the most beautiful pounamu (jade greenstone) pendant; sporting it as a reminder to myself to search out my energy (kia kaha, Liz, keep sturdy) and to work on being extra respectful and inclusive of Māori tradition and phrases in my work. I’ve so much deliberate down the monitor, however for now I’m slowly engaged on studying extra phrases and meanings and never being afraid to make use of them right here.
I clearly might be doing so much higher, however I’m making an attempt.
And the primary steps I’ve discovered are simply making an effort to say Māori phrases and place names accurately, and construct in Te Reo phrases that can be utilized in day by day life.
10. Kiwi dip is alternative as!
New Zealand’s favourite celebration snack is home made onion dip, and in true kiwi trend, it’s a type of wham bam one cease store meals that anybody can whip up. Constructed from mixing a can of lowered cream with one from one packet of maggi onion soup combine, it seems and sounds revolting.
After I first noticed it being made and promptly devoured by locals at a pal’s bbq, I used to be torn between eager to gag in horror and transfixed in awe – how might such a bastardized bbq traditional enthrall so many?
Then I attempted it, and beloved it, and tried not to consider the entire can of cream bit, and possibly ate an entire bowl.
LOCAL FOR LIFE!
Hopefully I haven’t painted New Zealand to be a cute animal murdering nation of rogue adventurers…or is it? Actually, I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this wild and tiny nation on the fringe of the world, even when my vocabulary and private gown has decidedly gone downhill since transferring right here. I’ve embraced it.
And there are many issues I can’t do but: like I can’t throw a gumboot very far, and I don’t perceive (or give a crap) in regards to the rugby or cricket. I’m an absolute DIY failure, and I can’t repair something: I instantly ask for assist when one thing breaks. I additionally don’t love meat pies. SACRILEGE! Although drunk Liz doesn’t appear to thoughts a great outdated mince and cheese pie at 3am. I may be a lot hardier.
However as this mellow nation has taught me, it’s good as gold. Proper as rain. She’ll be proper. No wakas.
Have you ever been to New Zealand? Are you a kiwi or an expat right here or overseas? How’d I’d do? Mistake me for a neighborhood but? Share!