March 9th, 2007


Some things I've noticed in NZ

At many informal restaurants you go up to the counter to order your food and pay when you order it. They give you some of your order (not the cooked part) to take back to your table and a holder with a table number to be used to ID yourself. Then you find a table and sit down. The cutlery and napkins are sometimes found somewhere in the back or the side as are bottles of tap water that are stored in a help-yourself fridge. When your food is ready a server brings it to your table and you often see the server wandering around looking for the ID number corresponding to an order.

The people behind the counter tend to completely ignore you while they are still handling another customer's order and this can occasionally take a while when there is difficulty with the credit-card/EFT-POS machine. So if you have a simple question to ask you just wait. On the other hand this is a lot better than what happens when the person handling your request stops to do something else or answer the phone.

They have this design replacement for twist-off bottle caps that seems works like what we usually find on cans - as in this user icon. And then today on the ferry to the North Island we had bottle of juice that had a screw-on cap with the lift-up thingee you often find on water bottles that allows you to open it with your mouth and thus drink with one hand. But when doing that no liquid came out. It turns out there was an extra seal like those you find in pill bottles so the screw off cap had to be removed first. The person at the next table clued me in to that feature.

The newspaper uses a fair amount of slang - a headline had mozzies referring to some mosquitos, cats were called moggies, the term stand-down for quitting or resigning is often used and then I saw the term dob-in in an article (maybe this was a letter to the editor) about some high-school kids who skipped school at lunch time (not allowed) to watch the Boobs-on-Bikes parade which was occurring to help advertise the Erotica show at the Convention center. There is also a campaign to make spanking kids by parents illegal that has gotten a lot of reaction in the press.

While walking through Nelson (northern city in the South Island near the Abel Tasman park), we encountered the following marquee. I wonder what it really was. There was a door leading upstairs under the marquee next door to a furniture store that occupied most of the space.

A kind of yoga? food? some kind of rug?

eMobile zebra

In the paper today there was a picture of a new all electric car - the eMobile Zebra shown at some auto show in Italy.

A very interesting form of zebra - I'm sure there will much discussion about this between Timothy, our zebra, and Paul, our leopard.

A bit of research found that there is a battery called a Zebra. I also read there would be a tiger and leopard version so I guess this was just poor reporting.

Cape Foulwind

We went quite far north on the West Coast of the South Island back a few days ago on Monday (Sunday for most readers). In fact we went as far as you can go by car. On the way back we stopped at Cape Foulwind, so called by Captain Cook when he encountered lots of it. It was pretty calm when we were there. We went for a walk to a lookout and on the way back encountered some of these on the path:

Needless to say there are lots of sheep in New Zealand and we've eaten parts of them quite a few times - no not these ones.

Nearby there was another lookout where you could see a seal colony. They were pretty far away and these brown and grey creatures were sitting on brown and grey rocks. There were some small pups - this one was feeding - and some of the seals were swimming. Before people came to New Zealand there were no mammals - a reason why so many flightless birds survived. But perhaps these seal ancestors were there but I guess that doesn't quite count.


The ferry crossing

The ferry from the South to North Island (Picton to Wellington) takes 3 hours. The water was extremely calm yesterday (mar 8) during the afternoon. You'd hardly know you were on a boat from the motion. It was sunny and the views were nice. The first hour is through narrow waters and then it crosses the open Cook Strait. After that it snakes past some rocks and into the quite busy Wellington harbor.

Checking in was easy except that I had copied an extra digit in the reservation number so it took a bit of time before they found my reservation. The B&B in Nelson had a computer but no printer and no access for my laptop so I couldn't print the info when I made the reservation. Car rental in NZ works by your returning your car before you get on the ferry and then getting another one when you arrive at the other side but it is treated as one reservation. There was also a minor snafu with the reservation since the checkin person in Picton apparently had cancelled the reservation by error so it took a bit of extra time.

These passengers were probably in for a bit of trouble soon after they arrived.