Good morning! I'm not in a rush this morning so decided to write a proper blog about our time here so far and what we have seen of New Zealand. We've been here for about 6 days I think, and feel like we've been here for weeks and weeks - but in a good way!
New Zealand is a really beautiful place! On the drive up here it was basically just hills and sheep, and the little villages looked like something out of old England or the setting for the film 'The Notebook' if you've seen that. But when we got to Tauranga it all changed. There's still fields and sheep here but the most beautiful thing by far is Mount Maunganui. You can walk round it and right up to it or see it from a distance, but it looks amazing! Also the harbour and the sea here is really clean and the water is really nice blue colour - it almost doesn't look real. But it means wherever you go you have a nice view of something!
The people here are, in general, really really friendly! There's kind of 2 types of people here - the Maoris and then people who aren't maoris! So that includes Kiwis who have lived here all their lives and then ex-pats who've moved here, there's actually loads of people who have moved into New Zealand from elsewhere. But most people here are really smiley and all Lydia's friends who i've met so far have been really welcoming and nice to me, which is good. Shopkeepers and stuff are really helpful too, like yesterday in the clothes shop the girl was really wanting to help me and she would get different sizes and things without rolling her eyes and being annoyed like some are at home!
The Kiwi accent still confuses me here... Their vowel sounds are different to ours, so like instead of saying 'twenty' it sounds like 'twinty', so all the time i have to concentrate and think 'what are they trying to say?!' which can get confusing! They also say loads of words differently so i have to work out what they mean. Sandals are jandals, crisps are chips, chips are 'hot chips', sweets are lollies, lollies are lollypops, chicks are girls and mean means great! You can see how i get confused, and that's only a little example. But it is actually fascinating being surrounded by people who speak so differently to us, and they love to hear our 'English accents' because they think it's hilarious!
Also the Kiwi way of life is very different to most people's in the UK. They are very outdoors-type people and so practically live outside. Houses are for practicality and not enjoying spending time in them. So most people don't care if their furniture's a bit scruffy or their sofa doesn't match the curtains - they would rather spend their money on a top of the range surf board than a new carpet, that kind of thing! So it's really interesting here. Apparently in the summer people basically live outside and only go inside to sleep, if that!
Houses here are actually very different too, surprise surprise! The streets don't really have houses built alongside each other, houses are arranged behind each other - so some people have a very short drive and others a really long one! Also no two houses are the same - everyone's really different and unlike any others near it. I think that's because a lot of people self build and there doesn't seem to be any huge housing businesses like at home, only businesses who build blocks of apartments and that kind of thing. Loads of houses are really really pretty though and look like something you'd see on 'Grand Designs'. The ones on the seafront use loads of glass and that kind of material! Loads of houses make the outside look really quirky, so we don't really know how practical they are inside. All the houses have verandas and balconies as well, they call them decks, so they look pretty! This house is gorgeous and looks just like a gingerbread house or a fairytale house from the outside.
The winter weather is odd here too. Its always kind of cold outside but the sun often shines and makes it a bit warmer. We had a storm yesterday though with loads of thunder and lightning and the rain was lashing it down! Not quite a monsoon like in Nepal but certainly not a light shower.
That's it for general stuff about New Zealand, but I have to tell you all something funny that happened to us (me) recently. When Dad set off to go to the South Island, i made him take my phone so he could ring us and we could check he was okay! The only problem then was, I had no way of telling the time because i had been using my phone. So when i was waking up in the morning in Lydia's room, i had no clock and couldn't work out what time it was. So yesterday when we went into town, I bought a cheap alarm clock from a shop. When we got it home it looked a bit plasticky but was working so i set the right time and left it in Lydia's room. When i looked at it a few hours later it had only changed about an hour. So i changed it to the right time and hoped for the best. An hour and a half later it had only moved 15 minutes. Lydia took the battery out and put it back in again, it seemed to be working. At about 3.15am the STUPID clock decided to start the alarm!! It was so loud and annoying it woke both me and Lydia up - but we didn't know how to shut it up! We were pressing all the buttons and it was just getting louder, so eventually we just took the back off and took the batteries out. So this morning Lydia had left me a phone instead of the stupid, rubbish clock so i could tell the time. But i will not be using the clock again!!
Right i must go and make some breakfast now, so speak soon and look after yourselves.
Lots of love,