Have you ever heard of a Kiwi? I’m not talking about the fruit….Or the bird for that matter. I’m talking about the people. A Kiwi is another word for a person who comes from New Zealand. Anyone who classifies themselves as a New Zealander is called a Kiwi.
I better mention, before I go any further, that I am a Kiwi. A proud Kiwi! I even wear a ring on my finger which is made from a New Zealand 5c coin from the year I was born. It’s a symbol of my home, of where I’ve come from. I have a mixture of French and Welsh heritage somewhere in my bloodlines but I, like my parents, was born and raised in New Zealand. New Zealand is, and always will be home, but for the last two months I’ve been creating a new home in the city that never sleeps – New York City.
Over the next week I will be posting a series of posts about my adventures in the Big Apple, I will write about things that I saw, people I’ve met and places I’ve traveled. Follow along, if you like, I’d love to have you along for the ride.
So, where was I? Ah yes, whoever said that Kiwi’s couldn’t fly was clearly wrong!
New Zealand is a beautiful country. The pictures you’ve seen, and the things you’ve heard about the stunning scenery? It’s all true. We have sprawling green fields, snowcapped mountains, lush green forests, beautiful lakes and incredible beaches. It’s only now that I’ve left that I realize just how stunning New Zealand really is. We also have a lot of sheep, I’m not going to deny, there are more sheep than people. The population of New Zealand sits roughly at 4 million. That’s less than the population of New York City in an entire country! But we’re a staunch and loyal bunch. We love our country, we love our rugby and we love our summers!
As New Zealand is so small, it’s not hard to head to another part of the country for the weekend. It only takes 80 minutes to fly from Auckland (near the top of the North Island) to Christchurch (middle of the South Island). During the summer I have always tried to get away from the cities for weekends to the beaches or prime walking spots, such as Rangitoto Island, an old volcano in the middle of Auckland Harbor, or Piha to walk the lush forest areas. During the winter I love escaping to the lake areas where there are great ski fields like Queenstown and Taupo or Hanmer Springs or Rotorua with it’s thermal hot springs. As you can see, i’m a loyal member of the New Zealand fan club. I haven’t always been, in fact I couldn’t wait to get out and see the world. But it’s like that old saying – you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Now that i’m gone, I see exactly what I had, and as much as i’m loving New York and America, I really do miss my homeland.
I used to think New Zealand winters got very cold. Turns out I was wrong. New York winters are cold! The lowest temperature the most southern parts of New Zealand gets in the winter is 14°F (-10°C), and that doesn’t happen all that often, but could be as warm as 59°F (15°C) in the winter. Don’t get me wrong, this is still cold and if you’re in the south you’re going to need thermals! But I’ve never had to wear layers before. Currently i’m wearing about five layers on the top. In New Zealand I rarely wore more than a long sleeved-tee and a jumper in the winter months! Needless to say I didn’t own the appropriate clothes for the New York winter! In the warmer months (November – March) the average temperature ranges from 68-86°F (20-30°C). Just the right temperature – not too hot but not too cold either. The New Zealand winters are typically spent making the most of the numerous ski fields while the summers are spent at the beach and having regular BBQ’s.
Generally, most Kiwi’s love summer. I am no exception. It’s my favorite time of the year. I spend a lot of time outside, climbing the hills, going to the beach, walking through forests and visiting waterfalls. Therefore it was an incredibly hard decision to leave my beloved summer behind and make the move to New York, just as the Northern Hemisphere entered winter! Keeping in mind I had just had a long and cold (what I used to believe was cold) winter, and I wasn’t super keen on repeating it, but the adventures to be had overseas were too hard to ignore, especially as I had a serious case of ‘itchy feet’
“Itchy feet” is a term commonly used in New Zealand for people wanting to travel/explore the world, and this is what eventually got me, along with my partner in crime, Jesse, to America. I will tell you all about it in my next post.
Have you guys ever heard the term Kiwi? A lot of people I’ve come across think I’m talking about the fruit (which we actually call kiwifruit). Have you visited New Zealand, or plan to in the near future?
Read more at PART II