Christchurch Travel Blog

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I’ve been asked by many people, “What are the differences between Australia and New Zealand?” Well, in NZ so many things are different from Australia, yet so many are the same. The accent is sort of the same, but the pure vowels (a, e and i) have shifted down a step, eg "step" becomes "stip". I’ve noticed that the older people (over 80’s) don’t have the thuhck (thick) accents of the young people. I sometimes think that the NZ accent is evolving to make it further from the Australian. They have a few words of their own like “chilly bins” (eskies), “jandals” (thongs) and “baches” (weekenders).

Like Australia, New Zealanders have “utes” (pickup trucks), “yakka” (hard work), “chooks” (chickens), “lollies” (sweets), “cockies” (farmers), “whitebait” (smelt), and “mutton birds” (short-tailed shearwaters). They even call remote places “Wop-Wop”, which sounds close to Australia’s “Woop Woop”! Garage is pronounced “garridge”. Two words I hadn’t heard before were “munted” (prevented) and “pinged” (caught). They don’t seem to make so many spelling mistakes in their signs, and are more particular about not using American spellings such as “authorized”. Nowhere did I see “alternate” where they mean “alternative”. They have some Americanisms though, such as “cell phones” and “take out”.

I was intrigued that they had “No Cruising Zones”, so I had to ask. The police have had to crack down on boy racers driving around the central business district showing off their cars and being a general nuisance. We call it “hooning” or “doing blockies”. These “cruisers” sometimes pour diesel onto the road and spin their wheels to produce flames. You can see the results on the “tarseal” (bitumen). Since the earthquake they have not been a problem.

The people are polite and helpful and the children thank the driver when they get off the bus. Petrol is over $2 a gallon, bananas (from Ecuador) $2-3 kilo. (I just had to buy some). Local fruit and vegies are generally cheaper, but other food items are more expensive, like canned fish. I was surprised that cheese was so expensive in a country renowned for being the world’s biggest exporter of dairy products. I went to a “Countdown” supermarket and it was the same branding as Woolworths; colour scheme, uniforms, marketing, and rewards system. Even the logo is the same – an apple peel arranged into a letter W (for Woolworths) that to me looks like a map of Australia! The houses are neat and imaginative, and the streets are clean, but rough from the earthquake.

The landscape is spectacular. Everywhere you look is a good view. The grass is green, the rivers always flow, and are clean and blue. The hills are steep. The mountains are high. The forests are huge. The plains are extensive. The farms are big.

The people were so friendly. I had no trouble hitching around the country. I was frequently offered hospitality. I used BBH hostels, which ranged in price from $20 to $36. I stayed in motels and in on-site vans, the most expensive costing me $117, with no facilities. I travelled by Intercity bus but they weren't always convenient so I hitched.

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photo by: Fulla