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New Zealand: Short Vignettes about the New Zealand

Red flowers at Parnell Rose Garden

One of the first things we noticed about New Zealand was the fresh air. We breathed in deeply and felt exhilarated. It smelled so good, and we were still in Auckland. On the Auckland Explorer Bus tour, we decided to visit the Parnell Rose Gardens. We could smell the roses as we stepped off the bus. While smokers, and the rare black smoke vehicle, can change the air quality for the worse, we were overjoyed to be able to experience clean air for most of our trip to New Zealand.

New Zealand Money

New Zealand’s money has a slick texture that is kind of stiff. It’s clear that it’s made from something other than what the U.S. uses. I asked the women at the bank where we exchanged money, and she said that New Zealand currency is made from polyurethane. If it gets wet, you just have to wipe it off; there’s no damage to the money at all.

Eating out in the Afternoon

Finding a place to eat gets tricky around 3:30 in the afternoon when many cafes stop serving and some restaurants haven’t opened for dinner. Usually it just takes a little more walking, settling for a higher-priced meal, or ducking into a dairy (convenience store) for a hot pie.

Tiritiri Matangi’s Jumping Spider

When we sat down to eat at the Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Sanctuary, I opened my bag and pulled out what we had packed. I put my arms on the table and noticed a spider running along the top. It ran back and forth along the edge, sometimes disappearing to the underside.

The birds tweeted and sang. Some flew close to our table. “You better stay close spider.” He turned to face me. “Those birds may try to eat you.” He hid under the table. He came back up and we talked. I pulled my backpack from the ground and began to put things away.

The spider must have thought I was okay for a human because he crouched down, wiggled his butt and sprang onto my backpack. I screeched and fell back. Then I brushed him off the pack. He fell to the ground and walked away. I felt a little bad. After all, we were just becoming friends, but I couldn’t overcome my fear to make this friendship work.

The Fern Trees of Tiritiri Matangi

The tree ferns on Tiritiri Matangi grow up like trees. They are hollow on the inside, so when they get to tall, they die because they aren’t able to provide water to the upper reaches to stay alive. This height is more or less uniform among the plants. There must be a reason why they don’t just stop growing before they reach that height. (If you purchase my book “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly” from Amazon or from this website, I will give $1 of the proceeds to Tiritiri Matangi Island for their work with New Zealand’s native species including Little Blue Penguins.)

Wellington Cable Cars

You can take a cable car in Wellington from the downtown area up the hill to the botanic garden and a stop for Zealandia. However, this form of travel isn’t limited to public transportation. Some homes have their own cable cars, and it’s the only way they can get supplies to their homes.

Rotorua’s Atmosphere

Going from the wind and storm of Wellington, Rotorua was warm and full of birdsong. People warned us about the smell of sulfur in the air, but it came and went without any rhyme or reason. Is sulfur in the air healthy? Does it smell fresher than other pollutants? I’m not sure, but it definitely was interesting. Rotorua did have its own storms. I told Jenya that New Zealand doesn’t have many thunderstorms, and 20 minutes later, the lightning and thunder rained down on us in our hot tub.

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