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Journal Entries for 2007-01 New Zealand Part I
OVERALL SUMMARY: New Zealand is a great country to visit. It was very tourist friendly. The people were extremely friendly and helpful everywhere we went. There were I-Sites strategically located throughout both islands. There were free Jason maps everywhere with the I-Sites identified. There were also several different publications with B&Bs or motel/hotels listed with tariffs (prices) and amenities. All B&Bs and motels gave us milk for tea and coffee. All of the motels and B&Bs had refrigerators, most with microwave and other cooking facilities as well. This made it really easy to carry milk for breakfast and stuff to make sandwiches. So we were able to carry breakfast and lunch and only had to find places to eat for dinner most of the time. This worked out really great!!! We weren't always in towns with lots of places to eat!!

The major roads were all in great shape (although sometimes narrow and twisty), with great signage. The signs were very similar to what we have here in the USA--same color code even (with brown, green and blue signs). They even had additional yellow signs on the corner sign posts that showed points of interest, churches, hospitals, parks, etc.

We had fun getting used to the different vocabulary, like takeaway, toilets, carpark, accommodation tariffs, refuge islands (enclosed areas in the middle of roads at pedestrian crossings), chemist (pharmacist), dog kennel and cattery, caravan and tourist parks. The bathroom appliances were the most different from what we have here. There is apparently a very serious water shortage, so almost all toilets had two types of flushes with buttons on the top of the tank--a half flush and a full flush. One motel even had a built-in toilet tank. The Kiwis (as they call themselves) are very concerned with global warming. We saw this on the news, in their publications and on advertising signs everywhere. The motel TV leaves a lot to be desired. They advertise for Sky TV which sounds really great, but this was usually only 3-4 channels. Their news was not nearly as full of crime and violence as we have here at home.

We had heard a lot about B&Bs, so we stayed in several in New Zealand. Each one was very different. We learned that if we wanted our own personal bathroom, we needed to look for a B&B with an ensuite bathroom, although sometimes a private bathroom was OK (like the one in Queenstown with 2 bedrooms and a living room area all to ourselves).

It didn't take too long to get used to driving on the "other" side of the road. The roundabouts took longer to get used to. We were really curious about the origin of this (are they right or are we right??), so we looked it up on the Internet when we came home. About a quarter of the world drives on the left, and the countries that do are mostly old British colonies. This strange quirk perplexes the rest of the world; but there is a perfectly good reason. In the past, almost everybody traveled on the left side of the road because that was the most sensible option for feudal, violent societies. Since most people are right-handed, swordsmen preferred to keep to the left in order to have their right arm nearer to an opponent and their scabbard further from him. Moreover, it reduced the chance of the scabbard (worn on the left) hitting other people. Furthermore, a right-handed person finds it easier to mount a horse from the left side of the horse, and it would be very difficult to do otherwise if wearing a sword (which would be worn on the left). It is safer to mount and dismount towards the side of the road, rather than in the middle of traffic, so if one mounts on the left, then the horse should be ridden on the left side of the road. In the late 1700s, however, teamsters in France and the United States began hauling farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver's seat; instead the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. Since he was sitting on the left, he naturally wanted everybody to pass on the left so he could look down and make sure he kept clear of the oncoming wagon�s wheels. Therefore he kept to the right side of the road. Isn't that a great piece of trivia that you really wanted to know about??

There were lots of one-way bridges--even a couple of bridges that were one-way for either cars or trains. There were signs warning the bridge was up ahead, and then a sign indicating which direction had the right-of-way with a bold arrow and a smaller arrow. There were many times we saw road signs with a car slipping followed by "when frosty".

We didn't realize Americans are so spoiled with the variety of salad dressings and ketchup. Most places had only mayonnaise or vinegairette for salad dressings and instead of ketchup they use just plain tomato sauce. Boy, did we miss good old regular Heinz Ketchup!!

The weather was cooler than we expected. In fact we used all of our cold weather clothes at some time or other during our stay in New Zealand. We drove in some really heavy rain, but for the most part it didn't affect our trip.

Almost everywhere we went the electrical outlets were just a few inches above a counter or the floor. This made it very difficult to plug in our adapter. We were always able to work around this though, and used it throughout the trip to power the computer and battery charger (we were constantly charging the camera batteries).

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with the Kiwis.
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