Follow Me Through New Zealand – What’s changed in the last 25 years?
Greetings from the north island of New Zealand! For the next five weeks, my husband, Larry and I are traveling through this amazing country. However, this is not our first time. Surprisingly for us, it is our third time!
We discovered the north island of New Zealand twenty-five years ago when we came here for a portion of our honeymoon. Then, ten years later we spent two weeks in the south island. Outside of sentimentality, what is so special about this country?
New Zealand is a small country consisting of 2 main islands with a total of only four million people. Rolling, green hills dotted with sheep and cattle predominates the landscape. That and very friendly, helpful people make this country a very easy place to experience and maneuver. However, has anything changed in the last 25 years since we first visited this country? Absolutely! The following summarizes some of the changes.
- The population has increased from 3 million to 4 million. The additional million has come from immigration – especially from countries such as India and Asia. So there is a lot more diversity in cultures than there was 25 years ago.
- The diversity in cultures has made the culinary landscape more interesting and sophisticated– meat pies and simple lamb dishes have made way for other cuisine including Asian, Indian, Italian, Continental, etc. Additionally, you can now get great coffee! Twenty five years ago, hot tea with milk was the morning caffeinated drink of choice. If you wanted coffee, you had to settle for instant! Now, small, independent coffee-bars, prevail!
- The population of sheep has decreased from 70 million to 30 million. What has taken their place? More cattle and more vineyards!
- If you love wine like I do, this is paradise found! New Zealand has become a major wine producing country. Vineyards abound. And the wine is wonderful! (more about that, in a later blog!)
- From my vantage point, New Zealand has embraced its ancestral heritage. The Maori people are the ancient ancestors of New Zealand. While that was known twenty-five years ago, I get a sense that it is more celebrated and frankly, more exploited today, from a tourism point of view.
- All of these changes have also changed what is sold in souvenir shops. Twenty-five years ago everyone was trying to sell tourists wool sweaters, sheep-skin rugs and car seat covers. Today, its Maori carvings made from the coveted Kauri (pronounced Cody) tree.