New Zealand said, “Yanks, put up your dukes
It’s all of us, not just the kooks,
We’ll show you no fear,
Don’t park your boat here,
Unless you promise no nukes.
Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places. Just back from a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the United States, right now I’m in Wellington, New Zealand, getting things squared away to start work next week.
New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance caused a diplomatic re-alignment in the 1980’s. Prior to the US insistence on not disclosing presence or absence of nuclear weapons on board ships, New Zealand counted America as her major ally, and even sent troops to Viet Nam. Since then, the Kiwis have looked to Australia and other Pacific countries. Australia dominates the import and export markets though the US comes in third and second, respectively.
The country’s most exported products come from dairy farms; petroleum and its by-products comprise the chief imports.
Gasoline here goes for $1.5NZ per liter, the equivalent of $6US per gallon. As I’ve only been in Wellington city center, I don’t have a sense of how much people walk or cycle for their transportation outside urban areas, but here in the New Zealand capitol pedestrians rule.
Currently $1NZ is worth about $.75US, and goods are priced and packaged metrically. Fruit comes by the kilogram (2.2 pounds); cheese, olives, chocolates and other delicacies by the hundred grams (3.3 ounces).
Food costs a lot more here than it does in Iowa, and serving sizes in restaurants run smaller. Not surprisingly, the population in Wellington seems a lot leaner than in Sioux City. In terms of build, they look more like they descended from rugby players than from football players, and I can’t help but wondering if national sports preference doesn’t constitute a sort of selective breeding program.
Whereas in Sioux City, our most expensive dining has been sushi, we’ve found it the least expensive in Wellington, and we’ve been able to eat well on the equivalent of $5US per person for carry-out (in the local parlance, takeaway). A breakfast of coffee, two eggs, toast and hash browns goes for $10US.
High quality smoked salmon (the equivalent of American lox) finds its way onto most breakfast menus as a side-order.
GST (goods and services tax) comes built into the price, and most service people don’t expect a tip.
The cyclists we’ve seen, excluding the obvious tourists on rentals riding up and down the waterfront, include commuters in business attire and racers with helmets and close-fitting clothing.
Within the last century, the city reclaimed land from the bay and built out onto what had been harbor, much like San Francisco. And, much like San Francisco, a major fault line runs through the area and produces several thousand earthquakes a year.
Wellington resembles San Francisco as well in the steepness of the surrounding country. Beautiful homes cling to cliffs, with stunning views of the harbor. Four-hundred and fifty private cable car systems provide access. One public cable car system transports people from the city center to Victoria University and elite homes in the heights above.
Wellington’s weather, windy most of the time, year round between 12C and 22C (52F and 72F). They never have snow or frost, but rain, wind, and fog come and go; in between the air is gloriously clear.
Tags: Australia, breakfast, cable car, cycling, dairy, diplomatic realignment, export, fault line, Goods, Goods and Services Tax, GST, import, lox, nuclear-free, petroleum gasoline, restaurant, rugby, San Francisco, smoked salmon, Victoria University, weather