Planning a trip? Don't miss these things!
New Zealand is a beautiful country with gorgeous landscapes. It's no wonder New Zealand's nickname is God's Own Country, or more colloquially, “Godzone'. Many travel guides written about New Zealand are full of great information, but they overlook some of the simple, basic treasures that even the locals can take for granted. Here are seven random gems to make sure you experience when you go to New Zealand.
1) Fizzy Sherbets. They are also known "fizzy buttons", describing the wonderfully tingly and sparkly sensation they produce. They are cheap and totally unlike anything you can buy in America. You are aware of a slight sparkling sensation on your tongue as they slowly fizz. And they are absolutely delicious. They come in multiple sizes, from dime sized, to quarter sized to silver dollar sized. I have searched multiple websites to buy these, but the shipping from Australia or New Zealand is totally prohibitive. You can buy these for $1.28 NZD for 100 grams in common grocery stores like New World and Countdown.
2) The Weka. Newbie tourists might mistake a weka for a kiwi bird, and this will doubtlessly amuse the New Zealanders. The weka is a very different bird than the kiwi, although they are both flightless and brown. Kiwis come out at night, are rare, and much rounder. Wekas are about during the day, are common, and somewhat angular. If you see a brown ground bird, chances are it's a weka. Wekas look somewhat like chickens, but are feisty and curious. Wekas eat just about anything, including frogs, rats, mice, and small birds. This is a rat eating bird! However, they mostly eat plants.
3) Marmite. Marmite is a thick, salty black spread for things like toast and crackers and a fantastic example of acquired taste. Chances are you are not going to like it when you first try it. Especially if somebody tricks you into thinking it is a chocolate spread before you take a bite. However, if you start by mixing small amounts of Marmite with butter, you'll soon develop a taste for it and an appreciation for the rich, savory flavor.
Also, there are few foods that contain as much nutrition and vitamins as Marmite. Marmite is full of B vitamins and several other vitamins. Finally, Australia has a similar spread called Vegemite that you can sometimes find in large grocery stores in America. But Marmite is better.
4) The Dairy. On just about every corner in a typical New Zealand town you’ll find a dairy. Often you can “dairy crawl” by standing in front of one dairy and find another dairy within line-of-sight; walk to that dairy and repeat.
So why is New Zealand processing milk in such huge quantities? They aren’t...the name “dairy” is a misnomer. In America we would call these shops mini-marts or small convenience stores, similar to the stores you often find at gas stations. But they aren’t exactly the same. For instance, dairies will often serve a few flavors of ice cream and might even sell fish and chips. You can find a few boxes of breakfast cereal, light bulbs, oatmeal, laundry detergent, beer, bread, jars of penny candy, some fresh fruit, magazines, meat pies, cigarettes, milk and similar things like that. They carry the basic important things that you would rather make a quick trip instead of finding a larger grocery store. And the prices are not horribly inflated like in American convenience stores.
5) Pineapple Lumps. The brand name of a popular chocolate covered pineapple candy. Pineapple lumps are made of a soft, pineapple flavored center surrounded with a thin layer of chocolate. The center is softer than taffy, but the same consistency. There's a cute commercial that starts, "In the beginning, when the creator was giving out stuff", that you can find on YouTube that reinforces how unique and tasty this candy is to New Zealand. A Kiwi friend recommended I try these frozen and I have to agree that although they are good at room temperature, they are fantastic frozen. I was reminded of a frozen Charleston Chew candy bar when eating these frozen. They become brittle and break off with a wonderful snapping when you bite them. As your mouth warms them up, they regain their chewiness and are delicious.
6) The Kea. The kea is a beautiful, extremely curious alpine parrot. It is also one of the larger parrots. The kea knows no fear and will happily come up to you to get a better look. They will peck and attempt to steal shiny or otherwise interesting objects. This curiosity and cheekiness of the bird makes it hard not to be charmed.
Unfortunately, the kea can be a pest from this same characteristic. Keas have been known to peck the rubber from car windshield wipers and otherwise damage vehicles. I've heard the rumour the they will even peck at the eyes of sheep and blind them, but I don't know how truthful this is.
Since the kea is so charming, you'll find many videos on Youtube of them doing funny, intelligent, and amazing things.
7) Ice Cream. New Zealand ice cream has a rich fullness that is like no other ice cream. Every flavor has this unique attribute that is not easy to describe. The ice cream has a whole body roundness that makes the velvety texture extra smooth and creamy and flavors particularly distinct. I’ve asked my Kiwi friends to account for the difference between American ice cream and New Zealand and I’ve received ranges in answers from, “Our cows eat nuclear free grass” to a higher cream content in the ice cream. I don’t know who to believe, but the ice cream is fantastic.
Kiwis love their ice cream. Nearly every dairy sells a couple of flavors of ice cream year round. And Kiwis are fighting with Australia to be the 2nd largest consumer of ice cream per-capita, behind the United States. Hokie Pokie ice cream is a distinct New Zealand ice cream flavor, which is vanilla ice cream with little balls of sponge toffee spread through-out. It’s a good flavor, because all New Zealand flavors are good, but my favorite flavors are the various fruit flavors and Cookies and Cream. The rich creaminess of these flavors are better than the most expensive ice cream I've enjoyed in the United States.
Even the lowest priced ice cream in New Zealand is fantastic. As a further bonus, the 2 liter ice cream boxes are plastic containers, instead of the cardboard boxes used in America, so you can find various organizational uses for the soon to be empty containers.
Even New Zealanders are surprised when they hear how much foreigners enjoy these simple things. Don't miss these when you visit New Zealand, and let the Kiwis know how fortunate they are to have these things in their every day lives.