Waving flag on masks.
Josh Martin is a Kiwi journalist based in London.
OPINION: Where have you been hiding, Kiwi friends? Night buses, hostels, lookouts, surf beaches, and must-do activities have been devoid of Antipodean twangs and vowel nibbling for far too long. And now you’ve come out of the bubble and you’re making up for lost time because we had almost forgotten you.
Luckily, even in these Covid times, there are telltale signs of the less-spotted Kiwi traveler.
Waving the flag on the masks
The dead gift. From Auckland Airport to the world, you are there to remind us that the virus is everywhere. You take care of your health, our health and the claims department of your travel insurance company. So thank you for that. Long after my masks have been thrown away, and I’ve forgotten the fogged up goggles and the rub marks behind my ears, you roll vaxxed and your mouth and nose covered ready to dish out a helping of guilt and shame to the hordes mask -free faces.
* Souvenir shops should have died in the pandemic
* Welcome back to the global fight against tourism, New Zealand. you are late
* Saving money or splurging on vacation? What to buy cheap on and when to spend big on to get the most out of your travels
But on the fifth or sixth day of the holiday, cloth coverings and hospital-grade N95 masks seem to be conveniently left in your hotel rooms and restaurants. This is funny.
Forms, vaccine certificates, travel insurance certificates online and in person
You can never be too careful, can you? And given that the number of Kiwis fluent in a foreign language is extremely small, you better still wave a wad of official-looking documents, QR codes and vaccine certificates printed and on your phone to wave at anyone who looks official. from a distance.
These are still officially required in some destinations, but the numbers are dwindling. And you always see a hint of desperation in the eyes of the little Antipodean traveler when the stern-looking border guard or medical paper holder waves them through without asking questions. Prevention is better than cure, huh?
Still in awe of modern public transport
Thailand. India. Portugal. Italy. Germany. Vietnam. France. Japan. Great Britain. New York. China. Malaysia. Bosnia (Bosnia?!) all have superior public transport links to little old New Zealand. I guess it’s no wonder that any New Zealander, who’s probably owned two or three cars at least before their first trip abroad, rightly celebrates the moment when they can travel from one point A to point B with relative ease, speed and cost. No need to tie your self-esteem to gas prices when it’s that simple. It can be done!
Thrown by the tipping culture
I hate tips. Not because I’m cheap (although I’m that too), but there is something in the New Zealand psyche that rightly finds that tipping runs counter to our egalitarian values: it seems deeply unfair to subsidize the wages of service workers so blatantly . Should a worker’s salary be left up to the generosity of whoever walks through the door that day? Can’t minimum wages and fairer contracts just be legislated?
There’s something that aggravates the server-client relationship when you realize that the cheerful smiles, quick service, conversation, and general accommodation comes down to squeezing you 20% or 15% instead of 10% on top of the food and drink bill. It’s made more confusing by different toggle labels across borders.
Many Western European restaurants will put a small cover per person on the bill, the US requires at least 10% more, but south of the border it is not required. Japanese hosts would be appalled at being tipped, but a sneaky 12.5% ’discretionary’ service charge has become the norm in London (but rarely elsewhere in the UK). It’s a minefield.
Value oriented and budget conscious – don’t call us cheap
Blame the runaway inflation across the world. Blame our high-cost, low-wage economy for making saving more and more difficult. Blame the still weak New Zealand dollar. Either way, New Zealanders on vacation can’t or don’t spend the money. That’s even though dining out, bars, flights, and hotel or villa stays can be relatively cheaper compared to home.
Maybe I call it being value-conscious, but I’ll hear a Kiwi accent more often on long-distance buses, free walking tours, hiking, or exploring cafes and bars around hostels and backpacker areas than beach clubs with bottle service (“pay to go to the beach? No way!”), five-star hotel foyers or Michelin restaurants. You save flashy poses and huge credit card bills for those ostentatious Aussies and Americans, and I respect that. I will see you in foreign supermarkets drooling over the discounts compared to us.
And rightly so. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was with my first anti-jet lag caffeine hit in Rome (standing up of course). I ended up ordering – in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and sloppy French – a double espresso with a little milk on the side to try and come up with something appetizing. Order a latte or cappuccino and you’ll end up with a pint of milk.
The situation has been improving since the bad old days. I think when I came to London in 2014 there were only a handful of good cafes. Still held by Antipodians. Kiwis on vacation rightly seek them out and wonder why chains like Starbucks, Tim Horton’s or Costa Coffee can thrive. pagans.