New Zealand offers more than mountains and middle earth. In the third installment of our new weekly series, we bring the sights, sounds, aromas and colors of Aotearoa to your door. Let us revive your lock.
What is one of the special things about vacation? We think a lot of the fun is immersing yourself in another culture. And just because we cannot leave the country now does not mean that other countries cannot come to you! Every week we help you enjoy the fundamental culture of some of our favorite countries – all from the comfort of your own home. From food and drink to music and art, it’s ideal to bring fresh sights, sounds and flavors to your home.
This week we are swapping the hemispheres for the lush green valleys and crystal blue waters of New Zealand. Kia Ora!
Pacific Rim cuisine
The oceanic coasts of New Zealand supply the country with an almost inexhaustible range of different seafood. From crayfish oysters and mussels with green lips to simple old fish and chips (pronounced “fush and chups” on site), there is no square meter of the two seas that cannot offer a fresh culinary specialty.
If you want to try a traditional delicacy, there is nothing more local than a hāngī in Aotearoa (that’s the name of the Māori for New Zealand). A pit party that boils in the ground. It may not sound appetizing, but the dish is an ingenious combination of the country’s geothermal properties combined with its local products. Steamed smoky lamb or fish with lots of local vegetables (Kumara is not negotiable) is a hearty burst of taste that warms your body and hugs your heart. Why not with the long, warm summer nights ahead of us? Try it yourself?
Something to drink?
Let’s uncork the fact that New Zealand is one of the ten largest wine producers in the world. This is incredible for a country with less than 5 million inhabitants. There are numerous wineries on the north and south islands of the country. The geographic conditioning of each region offers the country a variety of grapes and aromas. The best known is Marlborough, where a popular Sauvignon Blanc is made, known for its refreshing, sparkling punch. Grab a bottle for under a Tens.
The country is not afraid of breweries, and at the same time a multitude of beers are bubbling all over the country. From more established companies like DBs Tui to smaller craft outfits like Tuatara (named after the local reptile), there is always a light beer on hand to satisfy the most demanding taste buds.
Horror, hobbits and cheerfulness: New Zealand on the screen
New Zealand will always have the distinction of being the first big screen in Middle-earth, and it’s largely due to the vision of one man, the multi-award-winning director Peter Jackson. Sure, you saw Lord of the rings, but for a broader career overview, look for his earlier, more native work: splatter comedies like Bad taste and Brain dead, on his own doorstep in the windy capital of Wellington.
If your stomach isn’t up to the atrocities, Taika Waititi’s quirky comedy will soften your soul. The much praised director of Thor: Ragnarok and JoJo Rabbit cut his film teeth in his home. Check out hearty, delicious dishes like Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What we do in the shade, the latter very much Spine tap of vampire comedies.
Niki Caro offers for a more moving immersion into the kiwi culture Whale rider is a beautiful, delicate representation of the family life of Māori. At the other end of the scale is the hard blow Once upon a time there were warriors by Bond director Lee Tamahori. It is a brutal representation of pride, patriarchy and poverty that is as effective as it is unshakable.
Call of the Kiwis – the sounds of New Zealand
New Zealand is a small country with a great sound and proud of its musical heritage. Her most famous act, Flight of the Conchords, is more often associated with the comedy program of the same name. The duo’s dead humor consists of Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie and captures the dry humor and laconic nature of their home country. Experience their musical parodies in the HBO sitcom.
Another duo whose pipes have given New Zealand countless hits are the Brothers Finn, the songwriting backbone of Crowded House and Split Enz, but if you’re looking for something more cosmopolitan, try the laconic funk of Fat Freddy’s Drop. Their Acid Jazz Pop Fusion is a cultural melting pot of influences and styles and has defied the drawer for over two decades and thrilled the fans.
If all of this is too populist for your sensitivity, then both Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s gentle soprano and classic singer Hayley Westernra add a touch of class to the land of the long white cloud.
The written word
New Zealand’s literary scene is small but dedicated. Only a handful of well-known authors have prevailed internationally. Among them is Keri Hulme, whose Māori love story The bone people won the Booker Prize. On similar topics, Witi Ihimaeras Whale rider managed to overcome its cultural roots, although it was inextricably linked to its country’s heritage.
If you are looking for a reliable historical account of the last country in the world that has been settled by humanity, you will not read any better than The penguin story of New Zealand. Though somewhat undercut by its prosaic title, it is a carefully researched and fascinating glimpse into the emergence of this young country, written by leading New Zealand historian Michael King.
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