Three months ago, I flew to New Zealand from my home base in New York City. I've lived in NY all my life, and have been trying to escape the city since before I knew I was in one. So when I decided to travel across hemispheres for a more down-to-earth pace (and some warmer weather), it was quite obviously a confusing transition.
Everywhere I went, I seemed to meet everyone and anyone except New Zealanders. I began to question: Do these people even exist? Is this nation a hallucination? Have I entered the Twilight Zone?
Experiences that have prompted these questions, respectively: I could walk blocks without physically bumping into someone, or even seeing someone. I had not met anyone from New Zealand, nor identified a uniting accent. By my third week, I had swum with dolphins and entered bike shops where little elf boys, no older then eight, fixed equipment. So, if anything, all clues signaled that I was at the North Pole.
A week later on the polar express, I would learn from a Uni class brimmed with Americans, that one third of Aucklanders are not from New Zealand. And while this should have acted as clarity, it only provided me with more bewilderment.
As I talked about it with my American flatmates, it dawned on me, New York was no different, and likewise, it is a city, with people from all over the world, hoping for opportunity. But, I had another question left unanswered: Where did all the people go? Was this not the biggest city in NZ? I looked in the libraries, then the bars and I even checked behind the cafes. Several weeks into my stay, I asked an American friend of mine living in NZ what the deal was. He told me, “They’re on holiday.”
So I sat and waited, two months, till holidays ended. But now that holiday is over, I can’t tell if there are more people, or a more assimilated me. Whatever the case, I have come to terms with the idea that NZers live a double life; they hibernate all day, and all weeknights, and only appear on the weekend nights, by following the trail to Steinlager and bad cover bands. To which I have decided to stop questioning, stop going to bars that promote cover bands, and start enjoying the warmth, bush, fresh air and the normal pace of a society not submerged by Gotham.