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Archive for the ‘Miss?… or THIS!’ Category


Here in New Zealand, I’ve noticed that there are no diners, or ‘family restaurants’. I do actually miss those. Places like Denny’s or Perkins, or IHOP, or sit down places with a huge menu where you can order ‘family food’…or evem places like Chipotle’s, or Panera Bread… Restaurant chains over here are limited to McDonalds, Burger King, Hardee’s (called Carl’s Junior here), Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway, all of which have smaller menus compared to the US. There are sit down restaurants that are not fast food, where you can get Indian, or Thai, or Meditteranian, or Italian, or Pizza, etc… But Diners and Family Restaurants kind of don’t exist. The sit down restaurants are not chains… which I think is cool. More small business owners can have their own place and get business.

The thing that kind of replaces the Diner though is the Cafe….. but really only in quantity, not anything else. But, I know what you’re thinking. Cafe’s sell coffee. Yes, but cafe’s here are not like Starbucks (NZ doesn’t really have that either). The cafe’s are not chains and are literally everywhere…. I would probably be able to safely estimate there being at least 30-40 of them in the city of Palmerston North (around 100,000 population), probably one on every corner in the down town city. They are small little restaurants where you can get coffee, but also lunch, and dinner food, and smoothies, and salads, and desserts, but on a smaller menu.

The price is not diner in resemblance at all though. You usually would pay around $20-30 NZ dollars for a meal, which would be around $15-25 US dollars. And that meal would just barely fill up a larger person if they were only medium hungry. No leftovers really at any restaurants here in NZ. The portion sizes are much smaller, for more money. But, the presentation is pretty nice. It’s very popular for people to go to a cafe for lunch, or catch up with a friend, or a work meeting etc… It’s really hard to explain completely, and it also took me a while to really grasp this difference between NZ and the US.

interior-1

Diner

8782955

Cafe

 

 

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I’ve got another two comparisons ready for Miss! or THIS!

First is the water situation that I have noticed in New Zealand. In the States, you can count on their being a drinking fountain in just about every public venue. Not the case in New Zealand. If you want water, you better bring your own, or bring money to buy your own. Finding a drinking fountain out side a bathroom is a rare and glorious thing here. Strangely, I have yet to buy a proper drink bottle to carry my needed hydration and try to fill up before I leave the house. Oh yes, and reusable water bottles are called ‘drink bottles’ quite often here.

The thing that I’ve noticed that they do have though is nearly every single toilet I have seen during my month stay in New Zealand has two buttons on it. No handle, but a duo button. If you have traveled through Chicago and stopped at one of the Oasis rest stops you may be familiar with the function. Press the special handle up and you get half a flush; press the handle down, and you get a full flush. Same function here. There is a half flush and full flush button.

Both of these differences probably save the country a lot of water. New Zealand is rather environmentally conscious. I personally don’t think I could choose between these two things. I would want both.

One thing I found kind of awkward at first, and still stumble over it sometimes, is that if you need to relieve yourself, it isn’t very common that people will say, ‘I need to use the restroom, or bathroom’, They will say, ‘I need to use the toilet’, or ‘Where is the toilet?’ Personally, I find this a bit blunt. Of course what I really want when I go to the restroom, is the toilet. But, I don’t want to announce to the world that I will actually be using one. I like to keep it a bit more ambiguous. But, if you say restroom or bathroom here, it will be taken as such, a bathroom is for taking a bath, and a restroom, is well… it doesn’t really may sense.

drinking fountain vs two flush toilet

Another difference here is the fashion of how Christmas is celebrated. I am accustomed to having Christmas with snow, and cold, and early evenings. This can be very beautiful, but I’m usually ready for the snow to be gone after New Years. So, I kind of like the difference found here. Last week I went with some friends to see some houses lit up for the holidays and got to walk through their twinkly garden in full bloom. It does seem a bit strange to have the iconic Christmas decorations strewn about with their snow-ready gear, amidst the greenery and warm weather. I don’t really like the commercial aspect of this, but I do greatly appreciate the nice weather.

New Zealanders associate Christmas with having a Barbie (Barbecue) and going to the beach, swimming, and spending time out in the sun with shades and sun hats. It’s summer after all. I even saw some wrapping paper that had the words, ‘Christmas, Summer, Beach, Fun,’ written all over it. It’s kind of interesting. We’ll see how much I like this difference when winter comes around and there is nothing to celebrate during the deary darkness and cold. I will have my birthday at least.

christmas in winter versus summer

We also have what is called the New Zealand Christmas tree, or Pohutukawa tree, which is an actual living tree that is native to New Zealand. It blooms in December and people often will say something like, “The Pohutukawa’s are blooming early this year. We’re going to have a nice summer.” When in full bloom the tree is absolutely gorgeous!

Pohutukawa Tree

Pohutukawa Flower

I’ve been taking full advantage of the nice weather and the holidays. Last weekend I went up with friends to see the wind farm that is iconic for Palmy. Also, Yesterday I went swimming at a river near here with some friends and had so much fun. I even tried some cliff jumping. 🙂 As last time, be sure to click the lower right hand corner to view the video as full screen and then press escape to return to normal once it’s finished.

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This is the first post of many from a new installment to the blog. In ‘Miss?… or THIS!’ I will be examining things that I have noticed to be missing in New Zealand and that I very well may miss and then looking to see what similar things I’ve found while in the country that I find to be similar to the things that are missing.

I know the title may sound a bit cheesy… but I thought it would be fun. 🙂

So, our first missing item in New Zealand is not really completely gone, but are very sparse and are so hugely replaced by something else that I thought I had to include them here. They are dandelions. In the midwest, dandelions are vehemently present in many lawns. I personally think, and always have, that they are a beautiful addition to springtime and summer. This is to the chagrin of my grade-school teachers years ago, when I would collect them and blow their seeds all about the school property, perpetually continuing the saga of dandelion ancestry into the future.

Well, I have seen a few lonely dandelions hiding here and there, but they are completely superseded by… daisies! Oh the joy… For little daisies are far more whimsical that dandelions. I made a comment about them to my house mate the other day and found that they are similarly overlooked as an uneventful weed, being mowed over as quickly as possible when trying to make a good impression. But I still love them, and am thankful to see them everyday. It would be a hard choice to pick only one of the two, but I think I’d have to go with the more whimsical daisy.

Another item that is missing from New Zealand are Robins. Robins are the friendly birds of summer, with their characteristic song heard first in the early morning hours. I miss their red bellies and their cheeky disposition.

While the bird that most closely reminds me of Robins are not actually native to New Zealand, I hadn’t really thought about the Robin being missing until I noticed the behavior of these creatures. They are simple black birds, native to Europe. They are not like any black bird I’ve seen in the US though. They are fatter and are just as cheeky as any Robin. They hop about, looking for worms. The males are black  orange beaks and with a yellowish orange color around their eyes, while the females are a dark dingy brown with a faint speckling on their breast. I was watching one the other day from my bedroom window. She was sitting on the fence looking about when all of a sudden, she flew up and out, right into the window! It gave me quite the startle. She was fine, flying back to her perch on the fence, but I wonder what she had been thinking when she did that, because she clearly should have seen me in the room. I’ll never know… Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing Robins, despite their possible New Zealand counterpart.

Another bird that is not native to New Zealand that is living in my backyard is the Welcome Swallow. There is a family of them that like to sit out on the laundry line, waiting to be fed by their parents. They are so adorable, with their wobbly countenance.

Most of the birds I’ve seen are not native to New Zealand. I hope to see some natives soon.

To wrap up this post, I would just like to say, please check out the new pictures I’ve posted. Just click the ‘more photos’ on the right hand side of this blog, (after you click the title if reading this in an email). Some things that I’ve done since I’ve been here are:

1. Drive a stick shift car, on the left side of the road, only being honked at once and stalling about 20 times. (I’m learning! there is progress…)

2. Went grocery shopping. Things are more expensive here, but not too bad. Thinking in dollars per kilogram is interesting…

3. Found an ‘op shop’ (second hand store in NZ) that was actually called ‘goodwill’ and bought a delightful navy skirt for $5 ($4.11 US)

4. Purchased a sewing machine for $120 ($100 US) on Trademe, which is a NZ version of Ebay.

5. Planted two tomato (pronounced tom-ah-to here) plants and some parsley plants.

6. Got a library card and checked out three books.

7. Set up a mobile phone with a great summer deal they are doing right now.

8. Dried my laundry on the line.

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