It has now been four months (already!) since I landed on New Zealand soil and I still haven’t had time to write my first article. Quite simply because I have not yet had the opportunity to travel in this beautiful country.
So, in the meantime, I decided to write an article about all these little everyday things that I’ve noticed since I arrived in New Zealand and that can really surprise you when you arrive in a new country and discover it.
All are equally surprising, some of them incomprehensible. This article is not intended to “criticize” New Zealand or to compare it with France. These are just observations.
10Insulation Of Houses
I had read a lot about the different Facebook groups that the insulation of houses in New Zealand left something to be desired. It was very cold indoors, especially in winter, that it was humid, etc. Well, let me tell you all this is completely True!
The houses here are built I would say in a “quick and cheap” way. Seriously, when I see the foundations of houses under construction, I think a big storm and everything goes away!
I have the impression that they don’t use large blocks as we do, but only pieces of wood that hold I don’t know how… let a blow of the ax and everything falls! Well, for that, apparently, it’s a question of strength in relation to earthquakes because the wood would be more resistant than cinder blocks.
So, what about the windows, can we talk about them? No PVC here, only thin windows that, even when closed, you get the impression that they are open so much you can hear the outside noise.
Not to mention that they only open upwards and really not much. No windows that open fully and wide to provide good ventilation for the house. I have been living in a house for two months now, and every night when I come home from work, I feel the humidity of the house soaked in the curtains, the carpet… Oh yes, because that’s another thing, it seems that New Zealanders like to use carpet all over the house.
Even in the hallway were, of course, you have to take off your shoes if you don’t want to get dirty. That I don’t understand, haha. In short, there is so much to say about how they build their houses that I will stop there.
9Hot Or Cold Taps
That, I think, is one of the things that shocked me the most (and still shocks me!). I reassure you in advance, not all taps are like that, just the oldest ones. When I arrived in New Zealand, we spent a few nights at a campsite where I discovered these famous taps in the campsite kitchen.
Let me explain: for hot water, you have a tap, and for cold water, you have another one. Two taps for one sink. So, it’s either you burn your hands or you freeze them. Practical, isn’t it?
I would never understand this system. Basically, if you want to wash your hands, it’s either you use hot water and you do it in 5 seconds before the hot water gets hot, or you’re a brave and you wash yourself with frozen water (knowing that in winter, it’s not very pleasant, when you live in a house where it’s super cold! :D).
Then I realized, when I saw a New Zealander washing his dishes, that they filled the sink with hot and cold water (which therefore became warm!). So yes, okay, but that brings me to point number 3.
8You Don’t Rinse Your Dishes
So, this New Zealander, I watched him wash his dishes, having understood the use of hot and cold-water taps. But then I asked myself: but how is he going to rinse his dishes? Which water will he choose? hot, cold? suspense!
Neither one nor the other, he just didn’t rinse it out! Once the dishes have been washed in the sink, they are placed on their side and then directly wiped clean. Well… all right.
For me, it’s quite shocking, because when you wash something, whether it’s your dishes, your clothes, your body or even your teeth, well… you rinse them! Otherwise, it stays greasy, it’s dirty, in short, a question of hygiene and logic.
But well, apparently, it’s not just New Zealanders, my darling British did the same thing before meeting me because apparently, it’s the same in the United Kingdom.
7New Zealanders Are Never Cold
I seriously believe that kiwis (another name given to New Zealanders) are a kind of mutant that does not feel the cold. Even in winter, when it’s very early in the morning when you wear your big winter jacket, they… they’re wearing shorts and T-shirts. Normal.
Even in winter, they walk barefoot in the street. Well, the fact that they walk barefoot didn’t shock me because after spending two years in Australia where everyone walks barefoot everywhere, and you too end up doing the same thing… I was used to that. But walking barefoot in the street, when he’s doing what, barely 5°c outside, no, I don’t understand: D.
6No ID? No Alcohol!
Well, this is like in France, if you are a minor, you may be asked for your identity card if you want to buy alcohol. But here, if you shop with say 3 other people and you want to buy a bottle of wine for yourself alone, if the 3 other people don’t have their ID cards to prove that they are old enough to buy alcohol and even if this alcohol is not for them, well… you can say goodbye to your bottle of wine! Isn’t that great?
Apparently, this is because “a minor may ask someone over the age of majority to buy alcohol for him or her”. Yes, but that’s completely ridiculous because if you wanted to buy alcohol while you were minor, I don’t think you would go into the store with the person you asked for it, knowing perfectly well that you would be asked for your identity card!
No, you would wait outside wisely while waiting for the person to do you this service:). So, this law is completely stupid and boring. Especially when, like me, you’re up in the air and every time you want to buy alcohol, you forget your card or that of your darling (y). And this is also the case in Australia.
When you do your shopping, here you are given dozens of plastic bags for each race. And on top of that, we classify your purchases according to their categories. Example: if you have a package of frozen vegetables, this package will end up alone in a plastic bag.
If you have fresh fruit/vegetables, they will go in another plastic bag. The same goes for your hygiene products, even if you only have a cream and a shower gel, the cashier will use another plastic bag for them.
Here, you don’t mix, well yes… otherwise it’s not practical when you store at home. No, seriously, I think that’s really exaggerated. I think New Zealand is not very ecological and doesn’t care much about the environment. Sad and disappointing… I already knew that point, so it wasn’t something that shocked me when I arrived because once again, it’s the same thing in Australia.
But after spending 9 months in France between these two trips, I had rehabilitated myself to the French system where you have to have your own bags or pay 15 cents to have one and I had “forgotten” a little bit about the Australian and New Zealand system.
Apparently, Countdown, one of the country’s leading food stores, has decided to stop plastic bags and switch to reusable bags from the end of 2018. Hallelujah! Hopefully, the other channels will follow.
Pack’n’save is a food store chain. One of the best stores in terms of choice, quality and price. We do our shopping there as much as possible. As a result, I couldn’t help but talk about how it goes at the checkout in this store. Basically, you have your caddy with your groceries in it, then you put them on the mat.
And instead of moving forward and reusing your cadis to put your shopping back in, you must use another cadis in front of you, left by the previous customer. Thus, you yourself leave your cadis behind you which will serve the customer after you.
All this for what? Because the crates do not have this part where you put your groceries after they have been scanned, because the cashiers themselves at the end of the carpet, pack your groceries and put them directly into your cart.
It’s cool but really not very practical and pretty weird. In addition to that, if you don’t have bags, (the only store in New Zealand that doesn’t give away plastic bags at will), the cashiers will store your products directly in your cart, and all this, in very good order.
At my job, in a packing shed, there is this man in his fifties, who every time he meets me, throws an eyebrow raise at me, while I simply say “good morning” to him with a smile. But no answer from him. Just this raising of eyebrows.
So, since I started work, I have asked myself this question almost every day: why does he throw this eyebrow-raising at me? Why did this simple gesture seem so harsh and rude to me? And above all, why did he not answer me?
So, I asked Google. And Google told me that this movement simply replaces a “hello” and that it is a greeting for New Zealanders. And knowing that, I realized how many Kiwis do it. So, when you have no idea of this meaning, at first you can really feel stupid and completely ignored, but once you know it, you get used to it:).
2Many Adults Live In Shared Accommodation
I noticed while doing my research for a flat, that many adults were looking for roommates – roommate in English -. And when I say “adults”, I’m not talking about young people, students or not, in their twenties and thirties, no.
I am talking about adults in their thirties who have children. For example, the owner of our small studio lives with her 15-year-old daughter and two roommates. Besides that, she still has a partner who doesn’t live with her, just like her two roommates.
It’s a rather strange situation, especially when you have children (and worse, teenagers!), I think it’s quite tricky to live with other people, for you and for them. Ditto for privacy… personally, after a certain age, I know that I would like to have my own home and my own privacy.
I think (well, I’m sure!) that if many New Zealanders live like that, it’s to pay less rent because rents are quite high here. So, it’s a good arrangement, but for my part, it would only be for a short period of time because I couldn’t live like that all my life.
1Remove Empty Plates From The Restaurant
I end with the discovery find most shocking. Well, I must admit that I made this after my healthy discovery in Australia when I was in the restaurant with my darling, then a second time with my cousin.
But here they do the same thing, and since it was something that really shocked me, I had to talk about it here. In short, let me put you in a situation: you are in a restaurant with one or more other people. You eat, chat, enjoy.
Then the person in front of you finishes his plate. This person eats rather quickly whereas you, you are rather very slow to eat (let’s say you are only halfway through your meal). Well, it doesn’t matter, you’re used to it after all… Until the waiter comes to clear your partner’s plate, just five minutes later, faster than lightning.
What! You are still eating, your plate is still full, the waiter may well see that you are still eating and yet he/she is still clearing the plate in front of yours. But as a certain Cyprian would say… WHY?!! As a result, you find yourself as alone, still at the table with your plate half full, as if you were eating alone. Which, let’s face it, can make you look pretty strange.
Well, it’s not that bad, is it? Of course, I amplify the thing, but it had bothered me a little -beaucoup- when it happened to me, twice. Especially when you’re in front of people who eat very fast and it takes you 30 minutes to swallow a rump!
And here are the ten things that have surprised, shocked and impressed me the most since I arrived in New Zealand. For some I’ve gotten used to it, for others, I still don’t understand and probably never will (big up to the hot and cold-water taps! no seriously what the hell. And what surprised you the most in New Zealand? Tell me everything in the commentary