|View from the bar stool|
|View of the Bar and Brewery|
Auckland New Zealand
tel +64 9 373 5396
email - info @shakespeare.nz
Scenery wise, New Zealand lives up to its reputation, though I didn't do the South of the South Island which is apparently the prettier part in Natural Wonder terms. This should happen next year via a cruise that does all the major Sounds and ends up back in Auckland. But there certainly seemed acres of open space along the route that the bus took from Hawera to Auckland. And some stunning vistas and landscapes - Mount Fuji like cones caked with snow suddenly popping up from behind a hill, all impressive and impassive and dominating in their presence.
The people I encountered were mostly from across the services sector, though I was also able to interact with "real" people in "real" places. There seem to be a preponderance of females in senior positions in the business sectors that I encountered - wineries, hotels, restaurants, stores, driving the bus. My cousin runs a Sports Chiropractor Surgery with hubby, and a brilliant fish and chip shop in Wellington equally operated by an enterprising 20 something girl with fire in her eyes and originating from somewhere in the sub continent. For some reason it just seemed noticeable. Perhaps it is just that New Zealand doesn't seem to pay that much attention to differences to the genders; if you can do it and you have a fire under your butt to achieve it then all power to your ambitions and dreams. Amen to that.
I found there is both a warmth and a distance in the people, seemingly dependent upon how remote you are from large urban centres. People in cities are pretty much the same the world over - always on the move, save for the crusties living rough and panhandling their ways through life. Though now most city folk have a nose in a phone through which all the important stuff comes to advise, inform or distract. The more remote are keen to strike up a conversation and suddenly you have their whole life history and they have yours. Confidence of a stranger kind of thing - you are sharing bits about yourself you haven't raked over for decades. My driver from Blenheim to Picton, and a lady on the bus from Wellington to Hawera - they seemed able to draw out old, old memories to share as a story to keep the flow going. I remember reading years ago that the greater the distance between homesteads then the more critical it becomes to maximise human contact when it happens. Yet there is little in what we might term as social mixing in the boonies. Families will come together for sports and daytime events, but once the sun puts up the shutters for the night then so apparently do people close their front doors. And so do the pubs - well, pub singular; I was in the mood for a nightcap beer at my "hotel" in Hawera and got there at 9.30pm to find the bar closed. This is apparently just the way it is. The people close early.
I also observed a small element of "redneck" in Hawera where I was at a breakfast shared with some of the male "rustics" of the town. They seemed to be having a whingefest sharing feelings of being ignored by the Government but still getting their wallets squeezed via increasingly inadequate pensions. Well, at least one of them was holding this particular court with presumably his regular breakfast mates. I was earwigging all this; they must get variations of the same tirade every morning, all wallowing in the same misery. Reminded me of my pub days in Wales; there would always be someone bemoaning their lot. Also been there. Managed to escape.
So.... overall, I would gladly go back to Marlborough, Wellington, Taranaki and Auckland. The food, wines, people and places are definitely worth a return should the occasion arise. Not always cheap, but there is value in terms of freshness and expertise in the food and wine and growing senses of adventure in the cuisine. You can maybe cut corners in accommodation (or get amazingly lucky with bus fares), but overall you get what you pay for and the differences are not that large. March was an excellent time to visit weather wise, and apparently high summer can get brutal.
And that is it. Great memories for me, some unforgettable experiences, some fabulous eats and drinks, and a record of it chalked uphere to eternity (assuming the servers keep running!). Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the ride, and maybe see you somewhere in the world!!