The Mailman Drives a Moped: quirks in Kiwi-land

Only two more weeks of work left in Wanaka!! Before we depart, I thought I’d record, for posterity’s sake, what it’s like here.

The Luggate Hotel (synonymous with "Pub") where I work a few times a week. (It's owned by the owners of the Bullock Bar where I also work).

My favorite thing about the town, of course, is the scenery. It’s a bustling, picturesque tourist hub. I couldn’t pull 70-hour work weeks for months on end in a city and stay reasonably sane. I need greenery, water, snow capped peaks, etc. I love waking up and spending my days under the watchful eyes of the “Wanaka Woman” – the town’s dominant ridgeline.

The "Wanaka Woman" watching over the town - I think she looks sort of like a regal mummy with her arms folded over her chest. But you can imagine what the popular opinion is.

The summer weather, by central Otago* standards, has been terribly “cold” and “rainy.” These terms attempt to express that it’s been more like 70’s and often overcast, than high 80’s and blazing sun. Because I gave up my summer to work when work is plentiful and placed my bet on a fantastic fall, I am a bit relieved. So far, it’s the right choice. Now fingers crossed for a warm autumn!

*Otago is the area in which we presently live. It’s sort of like a “state,” but NZ doesn’t have states.

Typical Wanaka architecture - so weird!

The architecture, specifically in the neighborhoods, can be quite strange. Apparently the avant garde style of the day is in futuristic materials with classic lines from the 1970’s. The look is very “Jetson’s,” and I can’t say I like it very much! However, wood and stone are also popular and have contributed to many beautiful structures.

One of my favorite Wanaka homes - I think the stones and wood take the edge off the 70's style.

Wanaka, by Kiwi* standards, is a very, very expensive town – one of the most expensive places in the country. Things are astronomically priced, in general. We can’t wait to see our monthly grocery bill plummet when we leave here. It will be interesting to start comparing Wanaka with the rest of New Zealand. To my shock, kiwi fruit — practically the national fruit — is $4 a kilo! A pint of cheap beer here is $6. It’s come to seem quite normal, but I guess it’s similar to the U.S. when considering the difference in minimum wage.
*I’ve said before that New Zealanders call themselves Kiwis, right? After a rare bird found here?

Random Wanaka adorations:

1) The mailman drives a moped. This is so funny to me. There are big vans for packages and the like, but all other mail arrives by moped!

2) No traffic lights! This is a common feature in all of New Zealand. Traffic circles are a cheaper alternative to lights and are used everywhere. It’s also far more common to have yield signs at major intersections. It feels a bit dangerous sometimes, but usually it’s just nice.

3) Pembroke Park — a giant expanse of nothing more than grass just off the six main blocks of town.

4) Bullock Creek — a quaint little stream that regularly cross in my comings and goings.

5) Stubbies! – this isn’t just Wanaka, but all of Southland, I’m told (Southland is equivalent to the Midwest in the states). Stubbies are what they call shorts that are higher than mid-thigh when worn by men. I find it hilarious that all these blue collar men are running around building things, doing construction, managing sewage treatment plants, farming and ranching, acting as plumbers and electricians and engineers while wearing insanely short shorts. I’ve taken to running down the street after them snapping covert photos.


These are the same men who turn up for a “Deer Stalkers Demo” at the bar where I work.   Imagine my mild surprise when I walk into the keg room to find two dead deer on the floor.   By 8 p.m. that night, a stage was set up, a pulley was hung, and the bloody platform was surrounded by a transfixed audience of mostly beer drinking males.   Wanaka!

Clockwise from top left - the deer in the chiller as seen from the bar; the demo; the deer in the chiller as I first encountered them; the aftermath and our new chef who "cooked off" "heaps" of the venison (it was amazing).

Overall, I like Wanaka lots. It would be an amazing place to come as a tourist. It’s a little sleepy from a resident’s perspective. I’m looking forward to being done with work in a few weeks and finally partaking in all the play Wanka has to offer — kayaking, amazing bike trails, wine tasting, glacier hikes, Puzzling World, in-town day hikes, etc. So excited!!

Deer/Elk farms are popular here. This one is by the airport. I drive past each time I work at the Luggate country pub.

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