Lizzie and I lived in Wellington, New Zealand for 8 months. And while the weather in Wellington has a mixed reputation, you can’t beat it on a good day! We made some amazing friends who are without doubt what we miss most about the country. But here is a selection of slightly more specific things we do and don’t miss from our time in New Zealand.
1. Gail the X-Trail
Ravishing red and packed with 2001’s smartest features, Gail was our companion throughout our New Zealand adventures. She allowed us to explore so much of the country on weekend trips, where we freedom camped and slept in the back. When everything about a new place is exciting to visit, we needed the perfect car to take us all over, and Gail was exactly that.
2. Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed the country’s borders and initiated a full lockdown when the country had only 100 Covid cases. The lockdown lasted 11 weeks. Since then things have, for the most part, been completely back to normal. Bars and clubs are open, sports stadiums are full and you can travel domestically. Seeing our friends enjoying freedom during their summer while we are in our third full lockdown in the UK makes me miss Jacinda.
3. Oikos Hellenic Cuisine
It feels like forever since I’ve been able to sit inside a restaurant for dinner. And the restaurant I miss the most is Oikos (EE-kos). Just down the road from our house in Wellington was the most amazing Greek restaurant. With slow-cooked lamb, halloumi and their own local wines, we went for any and all occasions. And at the start of lockdown, we rescued an ice cream tub full of taramasalata to sustain our Greek needs.
1. The Roads
The natural geography and sparsely populated nature of New Zealand means it isn’t possible to have multi-lane highways in most places. Truthfully, there are some incredible roads that take you to some very remote places. But when State Highway 1, which runs the length of both islands, is a single lane road that goes through the middle of every town along the way, I was often left dreaming of a wide motorway.
2. The Time Difference
With a time difference of 11-13 hours depending on the time of year, catching up with friends and family becomes a hard task. During Lockdown 1, back when people had the energy for Zoom quizzes and Friday beers, it was an odd experience to set your alarm early to watch your friends crack into their fourth tin. Pre-Covid, the time difference also made watching the Premier League and 6 Nations tricky.
3. The Sausages
New Zealand is a country that loves its meat. But for some reason, they just make rubbish sausages. They’re weirdly spongy and don’t taste of anything. And it’s not just the cheap ones. If you pay for premium sausages, they might have a bit more flavour, but you still feel like you’re munching on a sponge. While I wanted to love a sausage sizzle, New Zealand needs to pick its game up.
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