NZ: about kiwis and sheep

First of all Kiwis don’t like Aussies.

And Aussies don’t like Kiwis.

It’s actually pretty offensive when Aussie’s call Kiwis “Kiwis”, but Aussies get offended once Kiwis call them “Aussies” too.

I asked one Australian lady on the New Zealand flight whether she would fancy any milk in her tea. She looked at me surprised and said “milk? We don’t really drink tea with milk in Australia. Only kiwis do”.

If you’re a bit confused, and still don’t know what do I talk about, let me clear it up.

Ladies and gents, this is KIWI. I know you thought it’s small green and tasty, but it’s not. It has feathers, big nose and it’s not suitable for vegetarians.

What’s the relation between this small funny thing and the New Zealand? Let me ask you what is the first think that comes to your mind when you think of Australia. Is it big, jumping and carrying a bag with its baby on a belly? I guess I got it right. Basically as much as kangaroo means Australia, kiwi means New Zealand. Or probably even more, because I’ve never heard anybody calling Aussie people “kangaroos”. That would be actually quite funny: “you know Kiwis drink tea with milk, but kangaroos just don’t”.

I hope this post hasn’t offended any sheep so far. Because sheep means New Zealand just as much. The Sheepland. The Promised Land of the Sheep. Everywhere you go, there’s some sheep randomly hanging out with its sheep friends, buying fridge magnets and postcards with sheep. There are sheep key rings, and sheep t-shirts too.

Okay, I’ve overdone it a little but. Beside tourists shops full of sheep souvenirs, you’re not going to see any of that. You’re not gonna see a sheep in the Auckland shopping mall, neither on the street. It is a stereotype. Just as much as people will associate Russians with vodka, England with tea, they assume that every New Zealander is a sheppard. And how New Zealanders laugh at this stereotype and turn it into touristic catch-up phrase only proves what an amazing, self-distanced and relaxed nation they are.

People in New Zealand wear relaxed clothes and do relaxed things. The houses look more cosy, shop assistants are more friendly. There are no Ferrari cars driving in Auckland, even though it’s ranked as the third city on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, among the cities such as Zurich, Geneva, Vienna. The difference between these cities and Auckland is that New Zealand simply doesn’t seem to care about the surveys. Nobody seems to be bothered whether the city goes up or down in the survey, nobody seems to care about Ferrari car and Chanel bags. Luis Vuitton store is just next doors to the tiny souvenir shop. People know how to enjoy their life and the life is good: there’s no point in making too much fuss about it. There are small dodgy looking weed shops just next to the noodle stores, there are parks, there are seagulls and the ocean. Nothing seems forced, everything looks a bit slow, a bit like it was taking its time. New Zealand feels a bit like it could be the philosophy of how to live your life.

This calm and relaxed atmosphere does not match very well with the extreme entertainments it has to offer. Stuff like bungee jumping, jumping from the tallest tower in the country, throwing yourself up to some 400 meters high in the metal ball are the things that people seem to be doing for fun. There is one particular picture that comes to my mind when I think about this funny relation between relaxed and extreme. The two friends of mine, the other crew I went to the town with, got in one of these crazy machines that sends you up to the sky and back. The picture I hold in my mind is the guy in his casual home clothes with two massive grocery bags in both hands looking up at my friends being thrown on some 400 meters up. He doesn’t seem impressed at all, he looks more like he was reading the ingredients on his muesli pack, he just stops for a second, looks up, and goes back home, or wherever people with hands full of grocery bags go. The reason why this particular shot comes to my head every time I think of New Zealand is because, this is exactly how New Zealand feels like.

It is a crazy, amazing place. You can see the Vulcanos from almost everywhere you go. It has the most beautiful islands on the world, places where penguins just cross the roads as it was the most normal thing on the world. If you feel a bit down, you can jump from the highest tower and stay alive. It’s where they shot “The Lord of The Ring”. Basically, it is a magical place. But just like the man in his too big flip flops carrying the potatoes and beer back from the grocery store, nobody makes too much fuss about it. Nobody is going to build there a new Burji Khalifa, if you know what I mean.

What I can say is, I love New Zealand and I love its people. Even when sometimes their accent makes me absolutely clueless. It is not the kind of place where I would take my family on the dream trip to shock them. It will not surprise you with “the biggest, the richest”, it is not a kind of place that would impress everybody. If you love Ferrari and starve yourself for a Chanel bag you’re probably not going to like it. Actually it’s going to bore you to death.

But it is okay too.

P.S. Have a look at this too: The 25 hardest things about living in the New Zealand. It’s pretty fun.

 



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