Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

First New Zealand Illness.
February 28, 2008, 9:22 am
Filed under: Happenstance

Cough, cough, sniffle.

Actually, it’s more of a sore throat – and more of a swollen throat, in that sense – and an unquenchable thirst that have me down today.  I am all about experiencing “firsts” of anything in New Zealand, so I suppose I can tick this one off the list. 

If you are the religious type, please pray for a speedy, no-lung-congestion recovery for Sunday morning’s half marathon.


Hooray for Mats.
February 25, 2008, 7:57 pm
Filed under: News from Abroad | Tags:

Mats Sundin has earned the right to use that no-trade clause.  He is all heart and one of the warriors of the NHL.  It is not his fault that he has never ever ever had an all-star calibre left winger during his tenure as Leaf captain.  And for anybody to accuse otherwise…if your employer asked you to trade departments for “the good of the team” in the hopes that everything worked out, would you?  I really don’t think so.

If I was in Mats’ situation, I would do the same thing.  And anyone accusing him of being a coward or sellout or anything less than what he is to this team and that city (he is not a household name in Auckland) will never be so fortunate to face such a quandry.

Hooray for Mats Sundin.

My favourite indie sports blog, Cox Bloc, puts it more eloquently that I do above.  But in my defence, that is their job.  My job is to talk about New Zealand.

Feer Bestival.
February 24, 2008, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Food | Tags:

The rain didn’t slow up much yesterday, but that failed to stop me from attending the 2008 New Zealand Beer Festival at the Ellerslie Racecourse.

The name is self descriptive. Beer, noise, music (not live), portable toilets, fast food, and everybody crammed inside due to the ceaseless rain.

Alternate link.

Alcohol representation included the usual international brands with New Zealand distribution deals (Miller, Carlsberg, Amstel, …), not-all-but-most big New Zealand brewers (Monteith’s, Lion), and a wide range of small brewers that none of my friends had ever heard of.

Everybody was given a ballot to vote for their favourite beer on the day (a People’s Choice Award). I was torn between two choice beers but, much like any election, a decision had to be made. My choice beer of the day was…

Sunshine Brewery‘s Black Magic. It was nicely mild, not too bitter but definitely the heavy finish I want from a stout. The coffee flavour was a nice way to enjoy java without the caffeine fix, too. I think they only sell it in bottles at the liquor stores.

My other choice was the Epic Pale Ale from Epic Brewery. It has won a tonne of awards. There was a lot of flavour in it. Certain pale ales back home should learn something from these guys.

There was a third beer I liked too but not for winning best in show. West Coast Brewery‘s Good Bastards Dark Ale. I’m all for cute branding, but it’s a previous award winner for a reason as well.

There were also $40 t-shirts. I did not buy one.

Alternate link.

A Rainy Day in Auckland.
February 23, 2008, 10:42 am
Filed under: Nothing in Particular | Tags: , ,

It is quite rainy and windy today in Auckland.

Alternate link.

Highlight thus far: my curtains getting sucked out my apartment windows. Oh, how they fluttered against the greasy stucco exterior of my building. How they fluttered…

A Very Silent Night.
February 19, 2008, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

Apparently, there was a single released in New Zealand over Christmas that topped the charts in sales. But nobody could actually hear the song. It is audible only to dogs.

Honest to goodness, I had no idea this even happened.

It is a fundraiser for the New Zealand SPCA and it sounds as though they are working on a licensing agreement to send this non-song worldwide. They even made a music video for it. Those blonde elves are super-hot. And there you have it…

Alternate link.

How I Combat Homesickness.
February 17, 2008, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Establishing | Tags: , , ,

Having just completed another round of successful phone calls home today, I thought I would share a couple of my tips for battling homesickness. It’s surprisingly easy in the Internet age to remain connected. I mean, I have my choice of any Canadian media available to me (including the delightful TV adaptation of Douglas Coupland’s jPod) and even our few food products.

Below is a non-comprehensive list of how I make Canadian magic happen. Feel free to send along your tips as well and I will update the list accordingly:

  • Random $900 flights home.
  • CBC Radio 3.
  • French toast with Steeves’ Maple Syrup from Elgin (pronounced “el-JIN”), New Brunswick.
  • In Flight Safety (also a great cool down band post-run).
  • Putting-hyphens-between-words, which-they-don’t-do-in-New-Zealand.
  • My weekly round of phone calls home to family and friends (called in theme groupings: one week Guelph, one week Barrie, two weeks of planners, …).
  • Downloading TV shows the day after they air back home, including jPod, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Torchwood, Squidbillies, and on occasion Dave Foley’s shows on Super Deluxe.
  • Putting letter zeds into words that have esses in them in New Zealand, such as “memorise” or “realisation.”
  • Teh Facebook.
  • Teh e-mails.
  • My website.

Missing you all…

“My Disposition” or “Auckland’s Perpetual Summer.”
February 14, 2008, 12:18 am
Filed under: Happenstance | Tags: , ,

Question: What is ’25 and sunny’?

I received a few e-mails and photographs (plus one text message) about how much snow and cold we’ve been getting back home this week. Pictures from my Clapperton Street condo show two metre-plus snowbanks, and I know of at least one roof in Ontario that has been shovelled off recently that is not normally needing a shovelling.

One pro of my year in New Zealand is that I get a straight year’s worth of summer (June 2007 to May 2008) with the reverse seasons in our respective hemispheres. True, the con is a straight year’s worth of winter (June 2008 to April 2009) but I won’t want to do much running over the winter of 2009 anyways. From the Canadian end of things, there really isn’t much you can do about minus thirty windchills.

But what about the paradise Auckland summers I often talk about in e-mails back home? Well, Wikipedia is a bit skimpy on record temperatures, but the BBC is not. Here are some weather facts about Auckland:

  • The record high is 32 degrees Celsius, set in December, January and February (Toronto’s is 41, set in July);
  • The record low is a balmy 1 degree Celsius, set in July, August and September (Toronto’s is a delightful -32, set in January and February);
  • The average daily high temperatures range from 13 (July) to 23 degrees (January and February) in Auckland, compared to between -1 (January and February) and 26 (July) in Toronto;
  • Conversely, the average lows range from 8 (July and August) to 16 degrees (January and February) in Auckland, compared to between -9 (January and February) and 15 (July) in Toronto;
  • Auckland has 193 wet days per year (defined as more than 0.25 millimetres of rain, versus Toronto’s 155;
  • Those rainy days bring 1249 millimetres of rain to Auckland (145 millimetres of which falls in July, the greatest month ever), while Toronto gets 821 millimetres per year;
  • Auckland consistently receives between 4 and 7 hours of sunlight each day. Toronto, meanwhile, received between 2 and 9 hours of sunlight per day;
  • I am told Auckland has the most consistent weather of any major city in the world. What defines those two variables above, I do not and cannot possibly know.

Anecdotally, the banner picture above (the former Rotorua Bath House and now the Rotorua Museum of Art and History) was taken in the middle of January, and I received the worst sunburn of my life the week previous. I finally understand why I have so many snowbird relatives.

In case you were looking for a one liner comparison, Auckland is warmer and wetter than Toronto.