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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.

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