I really like New Zealand. I thought it was a beautiful place with great sailing, super nice people, good wine, and good food -- all the things a man could want. Here are a few observations and learnings, some big, some trivial, in no particular order:
- New Zealanders call themselves kiwis. Before the trip I wasn't sure if this was considered offensive to New Zealanders. Apparently not all.
- Kiwis don't really salt their food. Both Grandhi and I found ourselves dumping salt on everything we ate. Since Grandhi lives in India, I'm confident this isn't just an American taste thing.
- Kiwis have a great "can do" attitude. My new friend Nigel described this as a national habit of "punching above our weight". They are extraordinarily proud (rightfully so) when they play on the world stage as an equal like in the Americas Cup or with Michael Campbell (US Open winner).
- The flip side to this Kiwi Attitude is a funny sense of being an underdog to Australia and the US. They are smaller for sure. It's kind of like being the little brother.
- Everyone was super friendly. I got numerous offers to go out, see rugby, etc. It was interesting though that Auckland seemed more friendly than Wellington. When I ran in Auckland, other joggers said hello. No one in Wellington did.
- There was almost no good whisky in the bars. This might be a deal breaker. I can't live on Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. Thank goodness for Highland Park.
- I like the Kiwi sense of humor. As everyone knows, their national rugby team is the "All Blacks". So, what's the nickname of the men's national basketball team? The "Tall Blacks". Naturally.
- Kiwis (the fruit) were named as a marketing ploy. They were originally called "Chinese gooseberries" in New Zealand. When NZ started to export them, they wanted a better name. Ironically, I did not eat any kiwifruit while in New Zealand. This was a huge oversight on my part.
- I also did not try a feijoa, a local fruit in the guava family. I did, however, have feijoa vodka from 42 Below (a local vodka), so that must count a little. It was pretty good.
I really can't wait to get back to NZ and see more of the country, hopefully with the family. It really is a special place.