First Impressions of NZ


Photo of Cape Palliser Lighthouse at dawn, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Flying into Wellington, New Zealand two years ago for the first time, I felt like I had been dropped onto another planet. On the final descent from Auckland to Wellington, my head was glued out the window. I saw hills covered with strangely shaped trees and houses, all unique and different, built all over sides and tops of the hills. All this was very close to the coastline and white-capped waves in the blue sea. I really did feel like I had boarded a plane in NYC and landed on another planet after my 24 hour trip.

“Idyllic” is what popped into my head. A week earlier an American friend of mine had used that word when he was picturing New Zealand from what he’s seen and heard (not having been here). Life seems simpler here-- people still drop by a friend or neighbor’s house without calling first, homemade baking just seems to happen, and nature is not as spoiled by human actions.

Here’s a definition:

Idyllic: adj. 1. Blissfully peaceful and happy. 2. of or like an idyll  idyllically adv.
Idyll: n. 1. A short description in verse or prose of a picturesque scene, or incident, esp. in rustic life 2. An episode suitable for such treatment, usu. a love story idyllist n idyllize
--The Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English


Nature here is of another dimension. Trees and birds are plentiful—many kinds and ones I’ve never seen before. Walking down the streets of Khandallah, a suburb of Wellington, listening to a tui (bird with a distinct call) sing and cluck, is enough to make me smile.

What stands out to me about New Zealand is that people are naturally close to nature. On the extreme, you have adventure sports and adrenaline tourism.  The bungee jump was invented in NZ. That should say it all. If you’re up for it you can try anything from skydiving, glacier hiking and ice climbing to some of the best left-handed surf in the world. In the everyday sphere is the fact that New Zealand has traditionally been an agricultural society. Many Kiwis take pride in their farming roots.  My husband, among others who have migrated to the capital, grew up on a 2,200+ acre cattle farm. On the weekends many Kiwis are taking walks in what they called “bush” (forested parks) or they are out riding their bicycles.

Two years later, I still enjoy the uniqueness of terrain and trees and birds. I’m finding myself getting used to it but the newness has worn off… only slightly.  For a further insight into the New Zealand psyche click here.

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