It's The People
We're more than halfway through our time in New Zealand. On our last visit at the end of 2007, we split our time between North and South Islands and found South Island much the more spectacular in terms of scenery. This time we are just on North Island. We've revisited a couple of places, but mainly have been to new ones. In doing so we have found that North Island is equally spectacular in its own way, especially when routes take you over the mountains or through river gorges. Most spectacular of all though, are the people. We didn't spend any time in Wellington, and will be only very briefly in Auckland, right at the end of our trip, so I can't speak for the big cities, but rural and smaller town Kiwis are fantastic. There isn't just a hospitality industry here; it's a hospitality culture - from friends of the friends we have stayed with welcoming us into their midst and into their homes as if we too were their lifelong friends, to the lady we met a couple of days ago at her family's jade workshop and shop who, on discovering that we had walked half an hour from the centre of town on a very hot day, immediately offered to drive us back. At this point we hadn't even started browsing and so she had no reason to believe that we would actually spend any money. We did buy some items, and we declined her offer of transport; the beach was nearby so we walked back at - or more precisely, in - the water's edge. I shall remember the Kiwis long after the memory of the places we visited has faded.