New Zealand Kia Ora

Read about Leslie's reminisces on her trip to New Zealand and musings on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reader Contribution by Leslie C. Mcmanus
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by Leslie C. McManus
Overlooking the city of Queenstown, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu at dusk. Mountain ranges and hill country dominate much of the landscape throughout New Zealand.
As this issue of Farm Collector goes to press in early April, we find ourselves facing a world transformed by a global pandemic. Already we marvel at things we once took for granted: going to the office, going to a restaurant, going on a trip.

Another thing we once took for granted: our memories of travel. After glorious trips or ordinary ones, once we return home and stow the luggage in the attic, it almost seems as if memories of the trip are stashed there as well. But travel pays unique dividends. This spring, memories of past trips are a much-needed diversion.

Now more than ever, it would do us all good to become armchair travelers. Please allow me to go first as I recount the highlights of a trip of a lifetime, the Farm Collector tour to New Zealand in January.

In retrospect, given the course of this year’s events, it seems somewhere between a dream and a miracle that such a trip was made at all, let alone that it was such a complete success. Moreover, the country saw extreme weather both before we arrived and after we departed. While we were there, it was like paradise.

When traveling, it is important to master at least a bit of the local lingo. Our tour guide and coach driver in New Zealand were patient instructors, each morning calling out to us, “Kia ora!” (Be well!). The phrase is part of the Maori language, one of New Zealand’s official languages (although English is the nation’s predominant language).

We picked up a few other phrases. After long days of touring, some of us became positively knackered (weary). We occasionally found ourselves in the wop-wops (middle of nowhere). Usage became tricky: a New Zealander is a kiwi, a specific endangered bird is a kiwi and a fuzzy-coated fruit is a kiwi. When we bought fruit at a produce stand, we wished we had a chilly bin (cooler) to stash it in.

But often we were just plain speechless. The friendly, welcoming people, beautiful scenery, lovely weather, enthusiastic collectors, the carefully protected environment and the ridiculously tasty ice cream sometimes left us without words. When in doubt, I fell back on, “Kia ora!” Today, working from home and staying at home, it is my most heartfelt greeting to every one of you. Take good care, and Kia ora!  FC

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