A Letter to New Zealand

Hometown 

The  UK

 

To New Zealand

Hello there, just a quick to note to say I landed and arrived back in one piece, oh who am I trying to fool I desperately miss you and long to see and spend time together once again. I hope Mt Taranaki is doing well and is still behaving I did see him on the way back to Auckland and waved but I doubt he saw me as he had his blanket of snow on him. I hear that his cousins Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu are all behaving themselves and have yet to let off any steam unlike old White Island that is getting his temper back. Well I hope they are missing me as much as I am them. 

That reminds me how is Aoraki doing? Has he got any smaller since I left? I suppose he will never shrink down to his brother height Mt Tasman any time soon but if he keep shaking then more than snow and ice are going to fall. Are people still using his nickname of Mt Cook I always felt strange using it around him. He truly a wonderful sight to spend time with and I feel I may miss him the most out of all the mountains, his home was so peaceful and still. I only meant to see him for the afternoon but we just hit off and a week later I had to wave goodbye.

I hear that Northland is having a spot of bother with a little bit of wind, I really hope it isn’t too serious, while I spent little time with her up there I did love the beaches and coves which reminds me I never got to pay a visit to Abel Tasman before I left I hear that she was pretty shaken up over the recent storm that hit her and Nelson Lakes quite hard. Now he was a character and gent, never a dull moment walking the track in his company and while the views might not have  been as impressive as old grandfather Routeburn or Milford the vistas were reward enough if not then the weather certainly was. 

Have you heard anything from Wellington, I feel that she should have been in contact either by Skype or email. Even the odd ‘like’ from her on Facebook would be nice but I’ve heard nothing and lets face it, I did spend most of my time with her so feel quite abandoned. She had such a wonderful personality so vivid and wild a real sense of humour but she’s probably busy. I always liked that about her, she would never stop always had something going on. I hope ChristChurch is still on the mend when I saw him he was still down in the dumps and as for Queenstown the less said about him and Auckland the better, sometimes you just know you aren’t going to get on and take an instant dislike. I tried with Auckland I really did, but QT I knew from the off. 

Anyway I hope you’re keeping well I promise I will be back. There was so many of your family I never visited or spent enough time with. Next time when I’m over I promise I’ll spend more time with little Wanaka and pray he doesn’t go the same way of his older brother QT, and hopefully Nelson will still be up for partying hard. You really were such a kind and generous host. You had such a fresh way of doing stuff, sometimes a little old and outdated but somehow it felt right and it seemed to work. Nothing was ever a hassle and there was never a rush and for that I have to say thank you.

Oh well I will leave you to carry on being awesome but thank you once again New Zealand for being a really great wonderful host. To say I enjoyed and will be treasuring my time I spent with you and your family does not even begin to cover it. 

Chur’s Bro

The Road to The Land with the Long White Cloud

Maybe I should explain the title, or maybe not. Wigan is well known for it’s pies but lets be honest anyone who know’s anything about New Zealand and I’m not calling my self an expert but I am able after eight months to speak with some authority on the subject of this land that Wigan as nothing on the residents of these three Islands. (North/South/Stewart)

Yes my friends, after several months it’s time to write about the parallels and differences of my two favorite nations. I have once already jotted down some comparisons and given you the delighted reader an opportunity to see what is so wonderful about this nation but now I am about to do it all again and with an outlook of what I will miss but also look forward to on my return.

Pies, pies and more pies. New Zealand puts Britain to shame when it comes to these tasty treats. Breakfast, after pub snack, or just a meal you will find anyone and everyone grabbing a pie at some point during the day and why not… they do after all have a lot to choose from and most it will seem come with cheese. If you think the North has the taste for ‘Pie’ then you really have not seen what a true nation addicted to this warm parcel of meat, veg, cheese really is. Every shop or so it appears has a hot cabinet filled with pies, imagine W H Smiths, or your corner shop selling hot pies. Maybe you would like to buy a book or some shoes, well why not buy a pie as well. Yes my friends, NZ has the loving of pies tied up more than Wigan.

Off course the way of life is what you come for, the place is so relaxed and it seems that you can’t go throughout the day without talking to a random stranger. North of the Watford gap has the reputation of being friendly but really compared to some of the towns I’ve frequented then the North of England seems like the London Underground compared to Kiwi life. You need to pop out and buy some milk or bread you need to allow at least an hour as you will end up talking to everyone you meet and being that the places (Auckland excluded) are small the chances of bumping into some one isn’t even in the bookmakers interest to put odds on it.

Off course lets be honest there are downsides, the T.V is pretty shit and has not really improved over the years, most shows are imported and the several free stations stop broadcasting any watchable stuff by 2am, and then its over to infomercials until the afternoon when ‘Come Dine’ and ’30 Minute Make Over’ begin. It’s like they’ve just purchased ITV 3’s entire back catalogue. The brands you would have grown up with and love are not in the supermarkets, NZ seem to have their own brands. Heinz is replaced with Watties, that were brought out by the mega beans giant some years back but the market for NZ products and loyalty is so strong that they kept the branding. Imagine that in England when Europe changes our brands to tie in with the global market. Jif would never have become Cif and we would still be munching on Opal Fruits.

Everything in the supermarket is from New Zealand, all apples, oranges, pineapples are all grown here, fish is all caught from the coast and sold in the markets, off course the supermarkets do have monopolies like the UK and you can draw direct links with which supermarkets over here correspond with the the UK ones, and while food it costly, you can go to Sunday food markets and walk away with fruit and veg for the week all for under five bucks. There is no money to help farmers out, they are all businessmen here and survive on their own profit and not subsidies which explains why many have started to move into dairy farming from sheep which in itself is no cheap conversion.

The political system is like any other and being that it is based on ours this is one of the biggest comparisons, all be it there are several parties and its more of a democracy than the shambles that is currently crowded around the statute book situated in Westminster. Were talking about a country that moved its capital on the basis that it was not located centrally to everyone… UK could take a note of this.

Off course, the road is the king here, but with the equivalent of the greyhounds running a good service if not just for the tourists you can get to many locations even if they are remote by our standards, over here they would be buzzing important economic centers of commerce.  The train network seemed to arrive to late to make any kind of impact, but still remains to transport heavy goods and tourist on some of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, going where the road can not, as it cuts through the Southern Alps and volcanic wildness of this almost pre-historic landscape.

The same issues affect the young, with it taking an average Kiwi 7 years to save a deposit for a house and the lack of affordable housing is not getting any better. Employment opportunities are not equal across the country and like the UK the very North finds it self with high unemployment and little industry. For some their is a keen aspiration to leave and head to Oz, for many they prefer to stay paying some what high tax, but what seems to be slightly more equal than our own. While I can’t comment on benefits the opinion is they do exist, but like our own, there is not enough money going to those who really need it.

The banking is just amazing, as in just under three months on $600 I have earnt $2.46 interest on my savings and when I use my card, the money leaves my account straight away, off course if I wish to have postal statements or different accounts or a debit card I have bank fee’s to pay but if I go over drawn by $20 I’m not fined. Back in England I get free accounts but I would never have come close to being paid that kind of interest.  Eftpos is such a big thing over here, it’s like plastic cash that everyone uses it to pay for papers to cars, all you need to do is remember to select your account all be it Cheque, Savings or Credit and a night in the local bar can soon add up.

Sure there are poor people, but they seem to sit on the street with a sign asking for funds, rather than bothering you selling a shitty rag or asking for their bus fare.

When I first arrived I would never say I had a culture shock, or was surprised by many things, but spending time here and living as a Kiwi, I would say that looking back I have got use to the way of life and forgotten how life runs in the UK, I know that the way I’m living now is different and sometimes I will have a flash back to Britain thinking ‘I wouldn’t be able to do a big shop at 8pm on a Sunday in a supermarket’ or trying to work out what I had used my debit card for and thus what payments were waiting to show up on my account. The idea that the high street is like those we had, a place for electricals, clothes and so on. Sure NZ is slowly changing and is becoming more Europe with supermarkets selling more than just food. In fact the very idea of our ‘High Street’ is a notion I have had to explain to several people.

I know I’m going to miss this place, which is why I’m determined to remain, or at the very least make a promise to return. Like George Orwell, with The Road to Wigan Pier, I have been both shocked, amazed, in love and confused by my time in New Zealand, but unlike his essay I don’t think New Zealand needs to change anything about it’s self.

Just the Packing

Big news, I am one step closer.

I have my bag. All £150.00 of empty bag ready to be filled with clothes, shoes, books and what ever else a traveller may need.

That is all I have left to do. That and sell my stuff.

It is now 89 days until I fly and really can not wait. I am still shitting it but really can not wait. All that is left is to pack then I am on my way. I am questioning whether I should organise my leaving party or leave it to chance that my good friends will have this under control at the danger of not having a send off.

Oh well off to look at pictures and find more NZ subjects to follow on Twitter.

I’ve Done It!

Well I couldn’t for one be bothered to read past posts, so I am sorry if this has already been recorded in the world of cyber space but at the moment I am so bored that I don’t mind repeating myself, if in fact I am actually doing that, I am not too sure. Like I say I have not looked at past entries so this could be a complete original post or as I started to fear as I put fingers to keyboard a complete copy of old news.

So what is it? I hear you cry. Patience reader I will inform when I am ready. Today is a lazy day. I can’t be bothered with anything. No running, no getting up. If truth is known I am still in bed and the afternoon news is about to come on. Lazy! Well yes. But that was not my intention. Oh no I wanted to walk in Snowdonia but my friend had very kindly mixed up the dates and doubled booked. I only know this information has I texted him to see if he was still up for it and to arrange a time to meet, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

My other friend sounds like he is a little off with me. Maybe because I never invited him but he seems to be wrapped up in his kid and partner (not that I blame him for that… but he has become a little distance)

So on this day where I want to hit the bottle, forget all my worries and eat masses of bad fatty stuff and feel altogether sorry for myself I thought I would cheer myself up with spreading my news. I am now finally off to New Zealand. I got the tickets for the flight, sorted out my travel for the first two months and have started planning. If truth be known I am bricking it but at the same time can not wait. I often think that if I had got my act together and not wasted time thinking I wanted to run in a 10K and Marathon I could have been on the plane at the end of March and say goodbye to all this crap that is in my life. (I delayed the trip to run in both Manchester Races)

I still don’t know why I am doing it? To travel? Thats not really me. To have a holiday? I have always wanted to see NZ. Or is the real reason to pack up and start again. After all what is in the UK? Some friends that I don’t really see. Some closer friends who are too busy with their own lives, work front that is dry… so why not make a new start…

Some people have said that I might not come back, others are still in shock that I am going. For me I am in both camps. I really can not wait to get away…