I've often said that New Zealand is the Canada of Australia. Let's look at the following parallels:
• New Zealanders hate when they're overseas and people ask them if they're Australian.
• Canadians hate when they're overseas and people ask them if they're American.
• New Zealanders have an amazingly beautiful country with 4 people in it.
• Canadians have an amazingly beautiful country with 8 people in it.
• New Zealanders end lots of sentences with 'eh!'
• Canadians end lots of sentences with 'eh?'
• New Zealanders spend lots of time criticizing Australia and touting their own country, yet 20% of their population lives overseas.
• Canadians spend all their time criticizing America and touting their own country, yet 90% live along the American border.
Lots of Kiwis and Canucks are actually super funny people, but they don't seem to have much of a sense of humor when it comes to Americans or Australians making fun of them. But sometimes they just make it so easy.
I picked this up in a hotel lobby in Queenstown, NZ last month. In their defense, the country's tourism went through the roof after the Lord of the Rings trilogy; how were they to know they inadvertently opened their doors to nerds the world over?
This 'official' Lord of the Rings Tour offers the following adventures:
1. Walking around on grass
2. Eating lunch in a restaurant
3. Hearing lots of information about the Lord of the Rings movies
4. Dressing up like an elf and/or wizard
...all for the low, low price of $170 per person.
If those highlights didn't grab you, read the testimonials:
"4 words: Lord of the Tours." --H.K, United Kingdom
This guy thought that zinger up before he even got off the plane.
"ORCsome scenery, ORCstanding information." --Barb.
Is it bad that I assume Barb is obese?
"We are huge fans of LOTR and your enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the LOTR trilogy made the day so fantastic." -- Jing Man and James Kho
And most disturbingly,
"Thank you for the most incredible day of my life." --D.R.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention their 'weapons trail' which allows you to see their very rare collection of LOTR weapons. Uh. IT'S NOT REAL. The movies were made like 5 years ago--how are the weapons rare? Aren't they just props?
* * *
I've been slack in posting about my trip to New Zealand (unlike Mr Goody Two-Shoes Nick, who seems to blog his life in real time.) We were there for 2 weeks for my sister-in-law's wedding to a very large Kiwi named Anton, who is fantastic, but as I said, huge, and I don't want to make fun of his country because he might hurt me.
New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous. There's no disputing this fact. As one Kiwi declared to me, "Any Christian would agree it's the most beautiful place on Earth." I wasn't sure how to respond to this so I just smiled. Something tells me they don't have many non-Christians there, so I wasn't going to mention my slight case of Atheism, which occasionally tends toward Judaism.
We took a bunch of little day trips all over the South Island. On about Day 3 I declared to husband that I wanted to go on a hike.
"But you've only brought 3 pairs of high heels," he pointed out cautiously.
So I went hiking in my lowest pair of heels.
I tried not to bring up any place outside of New Zealand for fear of the Kiwis getting defensive; I understood the propensity toward it, but sometimes I wanted to point out that I wasn't comparing New Zealand with New York or Melbourne. That would be a pointless endeavor. Instead I learned all I could about the newest country in the world, drank Raro, ate Perky Nanas, and had about 5 cones of Hokey Pokey ice cream. I chased a sheep into a field, struggled to pronounce Maori words, and tried my damndest not to imitate their accents. It's harder than you'd think.