Quiz nights in New Zealand are quite a thing. Most pubs will have them on one of the midweek nights. In general they’re great nights. Its more about having a nice meal and meet some friends whilst having something to do. The prize is most of the time something fairly negligible like a $50 bar tab.
As a non-kiwi going to a quiz night in New Zealand, no matter how good your English is, is quite a daunting affair. Firstly a New Zealand accent takes a while to get used to. It is, to say the least, different. I was lucky to have worked with a few kiwi’s before I came to NZ. Not only did they introduce me to pineapple lumps, a chocolate covered chewy pineapple flavoured sweet, they also got me used to some quirky kiwi vocabulary. I was prepared with words like tiki-touring (lazy drive around whilst sightseeing with no particular end goal), togs ( swim gear), bach (holiday home) and tramping (hiking). And of course I’d been warned about the ‘e’ and ‘I’ switch. So when asked for a pin, I knew they wanted to use my pen and when somebody at a reception told me to go to the left, I realised pretty quickly I had to take the lift.
What I hadn’t realised is that half of the vowels are not pronounced at all, and that a lot of the conversation, in a pub especially, is about the national obsession, rugby. And not so much about the game, but about the players, who knows who, past clubs, girlfriends, clothes, haircuts and other gossip that you’d only know if you, well, are a kiwi really. And a good pub quiz reflects this interest of its main customers of course. So for me that meant that besides not understanding the quiz master, I had absolutely no idea what most of the questions were about anyway!
But in good Kiwi fashion, no worries. Participation is more important than winning*!
* Warning : this notion becomes invalid when talking about the All Blacks
Feijoas, pronounced feejowa, are everywhere at the moment. Large baskets of them appear on the office kitchen table almost every day and they don’t last long. People love them.
When going to NZ you expect the dark green hairy kiwifruit to be the national fruit obsession. And yes kiwifruit does indeed have its place here. But the real folk hero is the Feijoa.
I had not seen or heard of Feijoas until I got to New Zealand in Autumn. I had no idea what it was when somebody offered one to me. I have not looked back since though and join the national admiration of this lovely fruit. It’s a fruit that does have some South American origin from a long time ago and since it got here the kiwi’s have embraced it as their own.
The trees and hedges grow amazingly well in the moderate NZ climate and if you have a garden there will be a feijoa tree in it.
It is hard to explain what a feijoa tastes like. Its a strong but at the same time quite soft sweet taste and smell. It can be quite an overpowering taste. Most kiwis are especially proud of the feijoa vodka. It is a real NZ icon, and if you have never tasted feijoa before, I would not recommend staring with this Vodka!
It’s not unsurprisingly that of all fruits NZ has taken so much to the Feijoa. It fits so well with the kiwi’s. From the outside it looks nothing special, just green and egg shaped. But when you look a little further, once you cut it in half, it as got a beautifully designed pattern with this unexpected taste. A fruit worthy of being another Kiwi.
When you get to NZ leave your jackets and ties at home and be prepared for a friendly relaxed and very casual attitude. To everything! Casual is very much the norm, which from a practical Dutch point of view is great!
You will notice it when you get through customs at Auckland Airport where you’ll get a smile and a ‘welcome to new Zealand’ instead of the scary looks and grumpy words you get crossing some other borders.
One kiwi favourite pastime is having a BBQ with some friends – a very casual one of course! Everybody ‘brings a plate’ ( your own meat or a salad), some beers and hangs out on the deck or the back garden. You probably end up playing some cricket or toss a rugby ball around.
In the city you may see some suit wearing guys and girls and when you do, you’re probably near the area where the legal firms and financial institutions are situated. For some reason they hang on to the belief that to be taken serious you have to be in an uncomfortable suit. In most other organisations something’s up when you wear a tie. Or a jacket.
And you’ll notice lots of bare feet. You’ll se it everywhere: kids going to school in an otherwise mandatory school uniform, in supermarkets, at the petrol station. This has nothing to do with shoes not being affordable, it’s the kiwi way. Kick your shoes of when you can!
And keep this casual culture in mind when you go out for dinner. Don’t worry about suits and ties, you will most likely be overdressed if you do . The rule on many establishments is not around ‘must wear a tie’ but more to let people know it would be appreciated if they wear at least some shoes!