Since August of last year, Amy has been living in New Zealand while I've been holding down the fort back home in Canada with Roxie. I made one trip over there last fall, and she was back for Christmas, but I wanted to make one more trip over before she came home. Having toured the North island on my previous trip, we set our sights on seeing some of the South island on this one.
One of the nice things about flying to New Zealand from Victoria is that it gives you time to catch up on most of a season of Supernatural (if you were behind like me.) I made sure not to squander that opportunity. Additionally, Amy was travelling back from Ottawa, so we got to meet in Vancouver and fly together.
After settling into Wellington and catching up on e-mails, I decided it was time to do some important math: I needed to know what mental math was required to convert menu prices in New Zealand to the equivalent Canadian menu prices. New Zealand tends to have a higher overall cost of living, but I didn't have an easy way to understand menu prices compared to what I'm used to.
The New Zealand dollar is worth about 90 cents Canadian these days, but it's not simply a matter of accounting for the conversion. You also need to consider that there's no tipping in New Zealand, whereas in Canada it's customary to tip 18-20% at bars and restaurants.
It turns out that those numbers work out really nicely. You need to multiply by 0.9 to account for the conversion, but then divide by 1.2 to account for tipping (assuming a 20% tip here.) Conveniently, 0.9 divided by 1.2 is 0.75. To estimate what a menu price in New Zealand would be if you saw it on a menu in Canada, you just take 25% off.
With that very important math completed, I was then ready to go drink some beers, fully aware of how much more or less expensive they were than back home. (No surprise here: they are slightly more expensive.)
Over the next few days we ate good food, drank some tasty beers, and caught up with our friends in Wellington before hopping on a plane for Christchurch.
Christchurch is a beautiful city that was tragically hit by an earthquake in 2011, and the evidence of this is still apparent eight years later. As we explored the city we noticed both the abundance of new buildings compared to other cities we'd been to in New Zealand, but also the occasional partially destroyed buildings that hadn't been dealt with yet.
A friends of ours was kind enough to show us around the city, filling us in on the significance of the different landmarks, both the historic ones and the new developments since the earthquake.
We also got to spend time in the beautiful art gallery as well as the Canterbury Museum.
After a full day of that, we bussed to Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo is an absolutely gorgeous lake, flanked by mountains, with a tiny tourist town of the same name on its shore. One of the main tourist attractions, beside the beautiful view, is a tiny stone church on the shore called The Church of the Good Shepherd. Built in 1935, the tiny church offers interdominational services to this day.
We spent our day in Tekapo visiting the church, seeing the dog statue dedicated to the collies of James Mackenzie (who was the first european to discover the basin), and taking lots of pictures. In the evening we took a tour of the night sky, peering into telescopes, exploring the constellations of the southern hemisphere. The tour finished with a float in a hot pool, looking up at the Milky Way with a guide talking us through the significance of everything we could see.
After Tekapo, we continued our bus travels on to Queenstown. If you're from the West coast of Canada, Queenstown is easy to explain: it's New Zealand's version of Banff. It's a relatively small city (though huge compared to Tekapo) full of adventure tourism opportunities. With only one full day to explore the city, we went up the gondola, and took a short cruise on the lake in the historic steamship.
We flew back to Wellington the next day to finish off the trip by visiting Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. I found Gallipoli: The scale of our war particularly fascinating. It retells the famous Gallipoli campaign in World War I which is considered by some as beginning of Australia and New Zealand's national consciousness. It's commemorated on ANZAC Day every April 25th in Australia and New Zealand, the biggest commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those countries, akin to Remembrance Day here in Canada. The exhibit features massive dioramas showing New Zealanders who served in the campaign — but at almost 2.5 times actual size. It was really visually impressive and a great way to learn about this important moment in the country's history.
By this point, I was missing Roxie too much, so it seemed like a good time to come home. 🇳🇿✈️🇨🇦
P.S. I'll be posting a photo album in the not-to-distant future. Stay tuned!