To do or not to do, now that is the question.
For those, throughout the many generations, who have made this young country their home, to do was the answer.
New Zealand is a country that prides itself on doing, as our heritage is intricately tied up in a philosophy of being industrious, innovative, courageous, simple and hardy. Whether of Maori, European, Chinese or other decent, our ancestors arrived in New Zealand through an endurance of long and hard sailings from across the seas in search of a better future and in act by 'doing'. This premise for arrival in New Zealand has shaped the do's and don't's of our culture.
1. Become an explorer - go tramping!
Tramp through remote bush, for no other reason than to feel alive, to embrace the harsh and unpredictable elements, and to feel a sense of accomplishment - all whilst carrying your life in your backpack for those remote days. Pushing the boundaries of one's physical & mental self is a must do in New Zealand and there is no better way to do it than to tramp through our many national parks. Roughing it in a DOC or backcountry hut, with very limited facilities, really does connect you with the ways of the old settlers in New Zealand. The birdsong, the smell of the damp and prehistoric forest, the gushing fresh water rivers, the feeling of the crisp air, whilst reaching points of untouched views, will really make you feel like you were born an explorer. And if hardened tramping isn't quite your thing, then you could opt out for a guided tramp with the variety of commercial companies offering these services, along some of the 'Great Walks'. Guided tramps will helicopter your bags to the serviced huts, where you arrive to the luxury of showers, cooked meals and comfortable rest.
2) Visit one of our diverse beaches and enjoy some delicious kaimoana (seafood)
Make the trip to one of our many diverse beaches. There is something for everyone on the beach. Beaches along the south coasts of both the north and south islands, will usually reveal rocks rugged and raw and trees bent by the southerly winds that blast through the country. The west coast, particularly along the south island, is unpredictable and fierce and full of native bush and birdsong. The north coast along the south island is a picturesque landscape of golden sands and untouched sounds; and along the north island, Cape Reinga will offer you an opportunity to experience maori mythology, where they believe the spirits jump from the headland to return to the underworld by climbing the roots of the 800 year old tree to make their way home to their homeland of Hawaiiki-a-nui. The east coast along the south island runs alongside the southern alp mountain ranges and one can sight whales, seals and or penguins along this route, as well as more rugged coastlines; and along the east coast of the north island, particularly the northern part of the island, one can enjoy warmer climates before venturing to the Coromandel, where sun, peace and relaxation are bountiful around these stunning beaches. I couldn't mention New Zealand beaches without mentioning the delectable and succulent abundance of fresh seafood or kaimoana, which you can readily pick up from a local seafood store or the local fish and chip shop. Chip sandwiches with Watties tomato sauce make the perfect accompaniment to our seafood and are a must for an authentic kiwi trip to the beach.
3. Get amongst the kiwi culture and go camping!
Check out a local camping ground or one of the many freedom camping sites. New Zealand is blessed with safe and enjoyable camping grounds, surrounded by beautiful scenery and usually a trusty watering hole (both the swimming and drinking kind). What ever your stage in life, be it as a young or old family, an adventurous young traveller, or a pondering anthropologist - a camping ground will give you what you're looking for and it is an excellent way to experience kiwi hospitality and culture. No other way will give you such an honest and unique insight into the kiwi summer holiday - all whilst feeling blissfully contented in simplicity, the kind you'll spend years dreaming about whilst stuck in the hustle bustle back home.
The do not's:
1. Avoid a bad attitude to the weather... there is more to life than sun and predictability!
We are a country of four seasons in one day - and that is iconic to our beauty as a country. Make the most of this unpredictable element in New Zealand.
Go crazy in the wind!
Get saturated in the rain!
Feel strong in the cold!
Get baked in the sun!
Who needs to spend money on manufactured sensationalism when you can experience it for free - in true natural and thrilling style. Consider it an opportunity to push your comfort barriers and you'll always have a story to tell: "I remember this time in New Zealand, when we were sunbathing and it started hailing..."
Be prepared for all the elements, especially if you are going into a remote natural area - but most importantly be prepared with that good attitude. As my Dad always said: " there is no such thing as bad weather, just a bad attitude and bad gear"
2. Beware of expectations
Everywhere is different in its own unique way and if you're looking for something you already know about, then you'll miss all the things you're yet to find out... The New Zealand landscape is dramatic but the people are subtle.
3. Forget the rush, slow down
If you rush around you'll miss the subtleties found in the small towns, the quirky graffiti, the moss growing underneath the trees - you'll essentially miss the point. We're a slow nation, and that is how we like it, and that is our charm.