What is living in New Zealand like? Well, in many ways New Zealand feels a lot like the U.S. They speak English, they drive everywhere, they have big supermarkets, they watch a lot of the same television shows... But there are definitely some differences that I've noticed over these first few months of living here.
Being a commonwealth of the United Kingdom, there is a large influence on New Zealand by the Brits. This is evident in a lot of things ranging from a love of tea time, to the spelling of certain words, to driving on the left. Now that it's nearing Christmas time, the stores are full of Christmas puddings and mince pies.
Limited Wireless Internet
Probably the first thing that I noticed about New Zealand is the limited wireless access. Traveling around the country during the first month and a half here, we'd arrive at a hostel and be handed a tiny slip of paper that had an access code that would connect us to 100 MB of wireless internet. 100 MB each or sometimes, if we were lucky, 500 MB each. This really threw me for a loop. Everywhere else I'd ever stayed in the world, I was given the wifi password and all I had to do was log in to access the web for as long as I wanted. Here in New Zealand it's standard to be given only enough to maybe send a few emails - never enough to settle in and watch an episode on Netflix or upload more than a few pictures at a time. There is unlimited wifi available, you just have to pay quite a bit for it. We have been to a few hostels with free & unlimited wifi, but those are few and far between.
"Hokey Pokey" Desserts
When a candy bar or tub of ice cream here in New Zealand says "hokey pokey" on it, buy it. Hokey pokey basically means "filled with crunchy bits that taste like honey." It's really, really good. And very popular in the candy and ice cream aisles of the grocery store.
New Zealand is a huge backpacking destination, especially for European tourists. This means that even the tiniest towns have hostels - or as they're called here, "Backpackers."
I know that the fern is probably the most symbolic plant in New Zealand. In fact, the country has over 200 species of ferns, many of which occur nowhere else. However, if there's one plant that I've seen everywhere no matter what the climate or terrain, it's the cabbage tree.
Wood Stoves & Laundry Lines
With only one or two exceptions, every home and/or hostel that we've stayed in has a wood stove for heating. And every single place has a laundry line. Places with driers are in the minority - something we've found to be true almost everywhere we've been outside the U.S.
Heaps of Slang
"Yeah, nah, I think heaps of togs and jandals go on sale before the summertime. Sweet as, she'll be right."