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June 13, 2011 · 5 comments

It’s common knowledge amongst Australians that our Kiwi brothers are a bunch of sheep-shaggers. Just ask anyone, they’ll tell you. Bloody sheep-shaggers.

We have no proof, of course, but since when has that been a problem? It’s a ready-made insult, and one we won’t easily let go of.

So it’s a bit of a shock when you travel to South Africa. I was on a dive boat there recently with a bunch of Aussies when the Afrikaans skipper took a quick look around. “Geez,” he said, “we’ve got a lot sheep-shaggers on here.”

“Huh? We’re all Australians, mate.”

“Ja, I know. Sheep-shaggers.”

Turns out, Saffas think of Australians as the merino molesters and have a whole bunch of jokes about us, whereas we’d always been of the belief that it was the Kiwis.

Anyway, it’s a dumb argument. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say none of us are actually guilty of bothering the livestock.

But it does go some way to explaining the answer I’ve been getting from a lot of people to something I’m pondering at the moment: What are the quintessential Kiwi experiences for travellers?

I’m trying to come up with a list of must-do Kiwi experiences, the things that make the country what it is, and the people what they are. We’re talking things like learning to make pavlova, finding a kiwi in the wild, going bungee-jumping, learning the haka, going to a hangi, eating a cheese roll

Disappointingly, however, the answer I’ve had most often from the people I’ve asked has been: “Shag a sheep.”

I reckon we can do better than that.

What’s this all about? I can’t really say, but it looks like I’m going to be heading to New Zealand for an extended period of time soon, and I’m trying to set myself a good list of quintessentially Kiwi challenges to achieve (and write about) during my time there.

I will go bungee-jumping. I will find a kiwi. I might even apologise for the underarm incident.

And I’d very much appreciate any suggestions you might have. As long as they have nothing to do with sheep.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Natasha June 24, 2011 at 6:41 am

I was recently in New Zealand and did some tramping – I think this is one of the quintessential kiwi past-times. Every kiwi I met does this. And I see why, so many great hikes, so much great scenery. I didn’t do anything strenuous but the hike to Mt Cook was wonderful. Forget bungey jumping – that’s for tourists.

Oh, and eat a savoury muffin or a home-made meat pie – hate to say, but I think the kiwi’s do this better. You’ll find these rustic looking but delicious pies in most cafes; you’ll soon forget those horrible production-line pies.

tanya June 29, 2011 at 12:11 am

My memories of my kidhood are crinkle cut hot chips in newspaper and k-bars that you can lose your teeth on. If they are still there when you get there (Invercargill) – go for it!

Brett Hutley June 29, 2011 at 4:03 am

My quintessentially kiwi memories are of sailing and fishing. Diving and catching crayfish and cooking them up on a BBQ on the beach. Camping in the Coromandel. Catch the ferry to the South Island. Drive around the South Island having a seafood lunch with white wine in the vineyards. Skiing Queenstown.

Brian August 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Of course the first port of call must be Rotorua. I have been there 3 times already, last time taking my teenage kids and it is still impressive. Boiling pools, geysers erupting in the air, smell of sulfur in the air, steam floating above creeks, it is like being on another planet. Highly recommended.

Tara October 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

My mind quickly returned to my home town and the night I went out with a bunch of drunken shearers. Great memory brought on by a great article! Thanks for that!

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