We spent a couple of days just relaxing at my aunt and uncle’s place in a suburb of Auckland, which gave me time to catch up with myself and feel like I’d arrived in this new place.
My first impressions of New Zealand were mainly regarding the weather (well I am British after all!), birdsong and trees.
I now realise why friends who had visited NZ were a bit quiet regarding the weather here when I asked about it. It’s not that it’s bad. It just defies description. Within an hour you experience brisk, blustery wind, then squalls of rain that might last for 10 minutes, then the sun will come out and make it look and feel like a glorious summer’s day, replete with blue sky and fluffy clouds.
In England, when the weather becomes overcast as it does here, you have this looming sense of doom that the day will be irredeemably grim. Here, you have exactly the same sort of weather, but you can pretty much guarantee that it will all have cleared away within about half an hour (though it reserves the right to cloud over again before too long). Perhaps this contributes to the kiwis’ optimistic disposition?
So now it’s supposedly spring here, and we’ve seen some lovely blossom trees out and plenty of lambs to prove it. But we have also experienced a lot of rain, a nip in the air, and while travelling south even some snow! (I have to keep reminding myself that travelling south takes us closer to Antarctica, which is really not that far away, relatively.) Oh, and when the sun has come out (which it has done often) it’s incredibly glaringly bright here, apparently due to the lack of ozone layer. You see what I mean? Defies description.
The trees I’ve already spoken about a bit. Tree ferns make lovely star shapes among the pines and other trees that cover hillsides here and there all over NZ. As we’ve begun driving south, we’ve seen lots of plantations of pine trees and logging trucks. Wood is a major industry here. The pines are not native, and are fast growing, so they’re easy come, easy go, I guess.
The birdsong. Well, the tuis (“tooees”), which are quite common throughout, sound like something from a sci fi movie or fantasy paradise land. Their song has a massive pitch range and sound like a more melodious type of R2D2. They also look like they’re from paradise, with dark blue black iridescent feathers and a curious pom pom of white feathers by their throat. Other NZ birds I’ve seen include fan tails and an NZ kingfisher, who likes to sit on my aunt and uncle’s garden fence while occasionally diving down to fetch grubs from the compost area below. And we keep hearing a very distinctive twittering birdsong that none of us have been able to identify yet. If I’m ever quick enough I’ll get a photo or some video of any of these wonderful creatures to post up. Blackbirds are also in evidence here, and magpies (with more white on them than black here) and hawks gliding over the roads and fields. And several types of gull too. (I won’t tell you what my uncle calls them. He’s not a fan! 😆)
Relaxation is a central value of most kiwis. Here are my aunt and uncle demonstrating how to do it. Cheers!