Well, I can say with confidence that New Zealand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I haven’t even seen much of it yet. I’ve never seen so many different shades of green or such clear water. This first week has been spent recovering from jet lag, doing yoga and attempting to meditate, learning to drive on the lefthand side of the road (successfully!), fishing (unsuccessfully), setting up a bank account, trying to understand how the sport of cricket works, picnicking, and going to the beach. I’ve gotten a sunburn, seen a bird eat an eel, enjoyed some quality time with a boogie board, kicked a soccer ball, set up a mini Christmas tree, watched a baby praying mantis walk across a counter, and explored the streets of Hamilton by bike. I’ve eaten fish and chips, fresh kiwis, boysenberries, chicken flavoured potato chips, Waikato Draught beer, local honey, and more avocados than I’d like to admit. Life is good! In other news, I’m pretty positive Lorde was on my flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. Cool!
Hamilton, on the North Island, is a nice little town with a cute farmers market and beautiful gardens, but the best part about it is that it’s only a short, incredibly scenic drive to the small surf town of Raglan–my new favourite spot. The seemingly endless black sand beaches are hot under your feet but so beautiful. I slid down sand dunes and saw a group of people riding horses along the shore, played in the waves and watched people learn to surf. Personally, I have not taken on that battle yet but if I hang around here for much longer it will probably have to happen, and I’m sure that will be an amusing story to report.
I can already tell that the pace of life in New Zealand is different than in the U.S., and for me that’s a welcome change. Something about it seems more relaxed. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but I’m determined to discover New Zealand’s recipe for happy and helpful people. Everyone I’ve come in contact with here has been so friendly and welcoming! I have a hunch that it has something to do with the unparalleled natural beauty of the place, but I’m sure it involves other things as well. I’m excited to learn about how the country works. I did learn that prostitution is legal here, which I found very surprising. But I also learned that parents can get up to 20 hours of free childcare a week for children of a certain age. So, there’s that! It’s easy to see that New Zealand is full of fascinating things to uncover, and I can’t wait.
Wishing everyone a very merry kiwi Christmas.