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Same same but different.

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Same same but different.

All of the interesting “mother’s meetings” (long conversation in Kiwi speak) with New Zealanders and long car rides with no radio had us talking about our interactions.  While we technically speak the same language, many of the terminologies and axioms of the Kiwis had us chuckling so we started a list of some of the words or phrases that we heard and translated based on our dialect.

  • Jandels= sandals
  • Dairy= convenience store
  • Footpath= sidewalk
  • Lift=elevator
  • Z= pronounced Zed
  • Trading hours= hours of operation (for a store or business)
  • Bottle shop= liquor store
  • Chiller= refrigerator
  • Car park= parking lot
  • Nappy= diaper
  • Sweet as= awesome
  • Ute= SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle)
  • Loo= toilet
  • Give way= yield
  • Blind= hammered
  • Push bike= bicycle
  • For hire= for rent
  • Trousers= pants
  • Macca’s= McDonald’s
  • Flat white= coffee and cream
  • Long black= black coffee
  • Brekky= breakfast
  • Rubbish= trash
  • Rubbish bin= trash can
  • Holiday= vacation
  • Take away= to go (food)
  • Caravan= motorhome
  • Heaps= a lot
  • Ranga= red head (as in orangutan)
  • Stickies= desert wine
  • Tin= can (example- tin of soup)
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There’s not enough time!

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2122.2 km is the distance we covered on the north island of New Zealand over 11 days.  For most places that amount of time in a car would be unbearable.  However, the scenery and landscapes in NZed are so spectacular that the time flies by.  In the span of an hour you can pass cascading waterfalls, cliffs plunging into the sea, never-ending wildflower fields, snowcapped mountains, redwood forests, sprawling vineyards, apple or olive orchards, or dense jungles. The most difficult thing to do is keep your eyes and vehicle on the road.  I was constantly reminded of this as Nug would yell at me “What are you doing?!?  Pay attention!!” more times than I could count.  Of course this always occurred moments before my lackadaisical driving would have careened us over a cliff (by the way those are her PG warnings to me).  Besides the incredible backdrops, the other thing about NZ that blew my mind was how friendly, helpful and welcoming the Kiwis are.  Every motel, hostel, gas station, winery, or grocery store had some Kiwi who would pick us out as foreigners and lead to a 15 minute conversation about our background, what we thought of their country, where we had been in NZed, where we were going, a local opinion on the must do or see places and the unanimous…11 days in their country is not enough time to see what New Zealand has to offer.  Luckily we had no set plan when entering the country because everywhere we went people had reccos that changed our “solid” blueprint.  We were led to boutique wineries, epic farmer’s markets, a stand that had freshly made blueberry frozen yogurt, invited to people’s homes and drinking clubs, told of hotels down the road that may be more in our budget, informed of local organic cheese makers, informed of a local medical honey that would cure my cut foot and invited to go fly fishing for rainbow trout.  These numerous side trips and conversations did help me realize something that I was afraid of from the beginning and that was verified as we were leaving…11 days is not enough time to spend in New Zealand even for 1 island.

The Raglan Kook

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The sun is just starting to peak out from behind the hills.  The water is much colder than I had anticipated.  My wetsuit is a few years old and cold water finds every available seam.  I don’t care because the water is emerald New Zealand green and I am enjoying the board that I shaped back home (with help from Mike at Flyline surfboards.)  Head hight waves are peeling cleanly down the point consistently with a crisp offshore breeze.  It is a beautiful morning and after 2 hours I run back to Solscape to get Nug, eat some breakfast, and pack our things.  I want to get another float in before continuing south so we head back down to Manu Bay.  The waves have turned to poo with an onshore breeze and are fat with the tide.  I am on a mission though so I run up the point and clamor over the rocks to the keyhole to jump off into the lineup to join the 10 or so surfers.  I am still pruny from my first session.  As I leap into the water I feel a tug on my foot.  The combo of barnacle encrusted rock and soggy skin led to me leaving a bit of my epidermis behind.  “Well that hurts but it’s not the end of the world I think.”  After 10 minutes or so a set comes through and everyone starts paddling for the outside.  The girl next to me lets out a shriek and turns straight around to paddle in.  “WTF was that I’m thinking as continue heading to the outside.”  Then I see it but only for a brief moment…a fin 2 feet high is in the wave and heading straight at all of us.  Shit!!!  I pull all my limbs away from the water as if it is boiling.  The fin disappears beneath the surface.  The Japanese guy next to me with dreads down to his belly button looks over at me, “Bruhhh, you see that shark.  It musta been 8 feet minimum.”  He has a painfully forced Kiwi accent.  I look at my back foot and see a crimson river headed down my ankle and calf until it diffuses into the water.  “Why am I such a kook!  How could I blow that jump into the water?!?!”  Now I have really done it!  It is a long couple of minutes (It may have been seconds but it felt like hours!)  as I wait for a wave to catch in and as my over active mind sees something in the water- everywhere I look.  The lineup clears out pretty quickly with the close encounter before l finally get one in.  We are sitting in the parking lot watching the waves, cleaning my foot and looking for signs of this creature when we see the fin again.  It starts jumping and sure enough it is every bit of 8 feet.  However, it is an orca or killer whale (Shamu) rather than a shark.  Either way I was happy to be back at the top of the food chain.

Video from that session and after.

Welcome to NZed

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As we wait to clear New Zealand customs at Auckland International Airport, the clerks go through a shift change.  The large ginger (redhead) that relieves the official in our line has chops that look like flames jumping off of his cheeks.  We plunk down our passports and commence the small talk.  “Whee-are you’s two head’n?” he says.  “We aren’t quite sure yet, we are going to figure it out along the way”, I respond.  He counters, “Huh-ave you’s booked a room er hired a car?”  Nug chimes in, “Not yet, but we will when we get through customs.”  The orangutan jumps on his soapbox, “Do you’s ah-know what wee-ould happen tah me if I pulled thee-at maneuver in thee States?”  Ummmm….no…they always tell us “Welcome home” Nug says while I pinch her so she doesn’t say anything else.  It must have been a rhetorical question because he’s not listening at this point.   “They would puh-ut me on thee next flight back home.”  I see Nug starting to bubble up and I pray that I can keep a lid on my little freckled firecracker of a wife. “Have you’s buh-een to New Zealand before?”   We retort in unison, “Yes, and this is what we did last time!”  He thumps his chest for another 5 minutes before stamping our passports and letting us through.  We spend 15 minutes getting sorted and find a place off site of the airport that will rent a car for half the price of any car rental agency in the Auckland airport.  They pick us up and take us to their office which smells like my armpits if I neglected to shower or wear deodorant for a week.  We get a station wagon riddled with cigarette burns on the seats and as we soon find out (while driving on the highway of course) a thriving spider population.  One pops down in front of my face and I squeal like a 5 year girl while it flails around and Nug yells for me to stay on the road.  I’m able to fend off the attacker successfully as we navigate the Spider-mobile towards Raglan.

The Beginning

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Can you recall an experience that, perhaps inconsequential at the time, with hindsight clearly led you to your current path?  For me it was family cross country camping trips as a little brat.  These trips opened my eyes to all the new things outside of my neighborhood and town.  My crush on traveling grew as I got older and I started focusing on new destinations.  My jaunts became more frequent, further away and for ever longer periods of time.  By the time I met Lianne, my fixation was firmly entrenched and I had to make sure she was on board with it.  Two years ago we had the opportunity to take 3 month leaves from our respective jobs.  I wanted to test Nug out on a longer term trip and see if she had what it takes.  I feel that you can find out the most about who someone really is when you are traveling with them.  We backpacked through Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  Her biggest test came in Lombak.  We had a $3 night room (pancake breakfast and coffee included!) which consisted of candles for light, no electricity, a yoga mat as a bed on a cement/dirt floor, a hole in the ground to deposit your “processed food”, and a bucket shower.  We stayed in this resort for a week and  I even left her alone  a few of the days to surf.  She was a an absolute champ and still had a great time.  One day as she was washing our laundry in a bucket in our bathroom a 6 inch scorpion started trying to box with her.  She was a picture of serenity as I karate kicked the arachnid into eternal rest.   As we left the island (which is absolutely amazing) to go back to Bali, I knew she was “The One”.  Fast forward 2 years and a few more quick trip strikes and we started to get the itch for a longer trip.  I have thrown around the idea of an Australia work visa for years and finally got Nug on board, but “only if we visit Greece and Italy on the way home.”  We were married October 1 and are booked to leave for our expedition on November 13.  As of now we will be in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) for a week, New Zealand for 2 weeks, and Australia for an undetermined amount of time.  We have booked a place in Rarotonga as that will be our honeymoon, but everything else is up in the air.  To quote Lao Tzu, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”