There’s the big things you notice straight away – accents; different phrases or names for things and currency. This is as much as the average visitor will have to learn in order to get by.
Then as you start to entrench yourself into everyday life, there’s more mundane things – IRD (Tax File Number); WOF (Warrant of Fitness – not to be confused with an actual service and vehicle check. It’s a basic tick and flick that says the car is allowed on the road, regardless of how crap it may drive); KiwiSaver (as far as I can tell, just about the only superannuation in existence here); ISP (so many companies offering great deals and not a monopoliser in sight. The kiwi version of Telstra is Spark and if my business dealings with them are anything to go by, they are the complete opposite of their Aussie counterparts. Quick, efficient, helpful, get the job done.)
Then comes the little things … like posting a package.
Now, in Australia the general rule is you post stuff from an Australia Post office. If you’re in a particularly small town, you do it from an agent (usually part of the corner store/pub/service station). If you live in a particularly large city, you may do it from an Australia Post Shop. However it’s done, it’s usually quite obviously going from Australia Post.
In New Zealand, this is not necessarily the case. My saga began last week as, birthday present in plastic bag, I took a whole lunch hour to do what I could have completed in 15 minutes … if I’d known what I didn’t know.
I first dropped into a Whitcoulls (NZ’s answer to Angus & Robertson) and grabbed some wrapping paper, sticky tape and a birthday card that was:
(a) suitably funny; and
(b) suitably appropriate to send from a mother to a son.
Not as easy as you would think.
So this task took a little longer than expected but still left me with 45 minutes to walk to the only post office I could seem to find in the city. Weird. Only one? But sure, ok. Let’s do this.
Off I trotted. It wasn’t too far and besides, I had Pokémon Go to keep me occupied for the walk. I got there and the seeds of doubt started. It was large, yes, but seemed to be mainly mailboxes. Inside, there was just an outlet with a few parcel bags … and I noted with increasing worry that they were only for local NZ mailing.
Regardless, I wrapped the present and wrote in the card and took my place in the line. Turns out the Paper Plus outlet (like a NewsExpress) does international mailing … and there was one just across the road from where I work. Great.
So off I went, retracing my steps and sure enough, if I’d only known I could have done the whole job in 15 minutes tops – including picking a card and wrapping paper!
I came back to work with a minute to spare and told my story to one of my co-workers. His reply? “So, what you’re saying is New Zealand is too efficient?”
Yes. Yes it is.