We met up with Ken and Les in Wellington had some of Tash’s mum’s delicious scones (Stu decided to do scientific testing of the Great Scone Debate re the order of jam and cream, and came to the *wrong* conclusion, risking life and limb!), and a last meal out altogether also with Tash’s folks, I had some last strokey time with King Fred the cat and the next morning Ken and Les and I drove north back up to Auckland.
On the drive back we stopped at Lake Taupo again and this time I went for a swim in it. The largest lake. It had to be done!
Here are some general observations about NZ that I haven’t fitted in anywhere else:
The Rugby World Cup was on while I was there. This is the national sport, really, and is called “footie” (as opposed to “soccer”, which means football in English terms). Everyone loves the All Blacks! They feature in the current Air New Zealand flight safety video. Apparently currently, the coaches for the footie teams from Japan, Ireland, Wales (and Scotland) as well as New Zealand are all kiwis. England beat the All Blacks just after I’d left to fly to Melbourne. Perhaps it’s better I wasn’t still around!! I felt quite sad about it really though.
Apparently you don’t have to pay at all for local phone calls here, so people often ring and chat more often and for longer, fostering a sense of community, at least among the pre-social media generation.
There are concierges at many of the petrol pumps to help you, and packers in most supermarkets as well as the checkout staff. Nobody asks whether you want help with your packing, they just do it, all the while chatting away with you about the footie, the weather, whatever.
I have the general impression that most people talk to you and pass the time of day still, often saying not only, “Hi” but also “How are you?” And waiting for and expecting a response, and listening to it. But it’s not that people interfere. If you don’t particularly want to talk, that’s all ok too. It’s really a very hospitable place.
Goodbye New Zealand. I hope we meet again before too long 💕🙏