Do as the New Zealand people do

Do as the New Zealand people do

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When we’re in a new country we like to blend in as much as possible. But in reality (and we all know it), almost everything you do screams ‘tourist’. So here are a few tips to act as the New Zealand people so that you at least get the illusion of belonging. 😉

Score some possum roadkill

By scoring some roadkill I don’t mean that you should scrape some leftover animal of the tarmac and put it on the grill. No, apparently you aren’t a real New Zealander until you have run over a possum with your car. And it doesn’t seem that difficult to me; almost every mile you see a dead possum on the road.

Possums were introduced to New Zealand in the 1800’s for the fur trade; one of the worst mistakes for New Zealand in hindsight. The fur trade didn’t take off but the possum was there to stay. Nowadays there are many possums to be found in New Zealand (estimates are around 30 million) and they eat about everything they can get their paws on. Feasting on native birds and plants, they have a huge negative impact on the different ecosystems of the country. They have become one of the most hated animals by the New Zealand people.

It is even said that many New Zealanders swerve their car to hit a possum when they see one. Is that why the roads are littered with them? So, if you see one popping up in front of your car at night, don’t brake and defenitely don’t pull any dangerous maneouvres to evade them. Just run over it and the New Zealand people will thank you!

(I didn’t add a picture, you’re welcome…)

Eat a meat pie

England has brought many things to its former colony New Zealand. From driving at the left side of the road to the New Zealand money that still has a picture of the Queen of England on it.

Another great thing that the English brought with them and stuck is the English meat pie. Readily available in every supermarket, restaurant and gas station, these delicious calorie bombs in a buttery crust are difficult to miss and even more difficult to resist!

They are great for lunch, so I suggest you try some. I know we did, multiple times!

Eating a minced meat pie in New Zealand

Eat spaghetti on toast

Another thing the New Zealand people share with the English is their love for spaghetti on toast. The New Zealand supermarkets spend whole shelves on cans of spaghetti in sauce, ready to heat. They have regular spaghetti in tomato sauce, spaghetti in tomato sauce with cheese, spaghetti with sausages and probably some more varieties I can’t remember. They really do take their spaghetti on toast seriously!

So after seeing supermarkets full of these cans, I obviously wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I bought the spaghetti extra cheese and during lunch I tackled that canned baby! Sandra didn’t try (her argument being: “spaghetti on toast, yuck…”) so I ate it all by myself.

The verdict? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really tasty either. I wouldn’t go for seconds, I guess.

Eating spaghetti on toast in New Zealand

Get gasoline wherever you can

It’s probably a no-brainer, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Always make sure you have enough gas in your tank. “Well, duh!” you might think. But there are actually two reasons why you could find yourself frantically watching at the red light of your fuelgauge before the engine starts sputtering and dying on you.

First, there aren’t a lot of gas stations. Many are in the towns but in the rural areas they may be hard to come by. So my advice would be to always check your gas gauge when driving through a town. And if there’s a sign: “last gas station for the next 80 KM”, defenitely make sure that you have enough. We preferred to get gas where it was the cheapest (who wouldn’t), but sometimes you don’t have a choice to buy at a more expensive place.

Second, you will probably use more fuel than you think. New Zealand is a mountainous area and revving the engine to get you uphill costs a lot of gas. That makes it a lot harder to estimate (at least for us) how far a full tank of gas will get you.

We once had to head back to town (about a 20 minute drive) because we weren’t sure if we would make it to the next gas station. Eventually it turned out we would’ve made it to the next one, but better safe than sorry!

Take a hike!

New Zealand is THE country to get your hike fix! From very short (as short as 5 minutes) to multiple-day hikes and from easy wheelchair accessible trails to difficult technical trails, New Zealand has hikes for everyone.

The New Zealand Department of Conversation (DoC) has set out trails all over New Zealand that are conveniently indicated by big green signs that state the name of the trail and how long it will take you. Usually the trails are to a scenic viewpoint such as a waterfall or through a valley, so they are never boring!

And these trails are literally everywhere. I think you can’t drive half an hour in New Zealand without at seeing a sign to indicate the start of a trail.

And if a sign says that you can’t leave the trail, please stay on the trail! New Zealand has some very frail ecosystems and the New Zealand people are doing everything to preserve and restore those ecosystems. Don’t be that tourist that goes ‘off-road’ and crushes those rare plants or scares rare animals out of hiding.

Do as the New Zealand people do and take a hike!

Wave at the stop/go guy (or girl)

There is a lot of road in New Zealand, which means there are also a lot of road works in New Zealand. You’re just driving somewhere in the middle of nowhere, minding your own business. You haven’t seen another car in over half an hour. Then suddenly, you turn a corner and there it is; a roadblock. Many of those roadworks mean that they close of half of the road only allowing one-way traffic over the open lane. They sometimes use traffic lights to guide the traffic.

Most of the times, however, there are roadworkers holding up a sign that says either ‘go’ or ‘stop’. All of those roadworkers (with maybe a few exceptions) seem to really enjoy their jobs and wave at every passing car. Waving back doesn’t cost you anything and shows appreciation for their work, if you ask me. Also, waving back just fits with the friendly spirit of the New Zealand people.

One of the friendliest New Zealand people: the stop-go guy

Collect a line of NZ cars while driving

Ok, this really isn’t something most New Zealanders do. But it’s something almost all New Zealand tourists do. While driving our campervan we regularly found ourselves collecting a large line of cars behind us. We also often joined an already existing queue of slow driving cars with a tourist car at the front.

The New Zealanders just seem to be much more confident navigating the curvy roads while taking speed signs as a mere suggestion. In addition, campervans do not have the power those locals’ trucks have. So uphill you’re going to lose it anyways.

Make sure you don’t hold up the traffic too much and let faster cars pass whenever possible.

Drive carefully when it's wet in New Zealand

So there you have it! I’m sure there are a lot more things that make you a true New Zealander, but these were some of the things that we experienced during our travels in New Zealand.

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