Worthing versus New Zealand’s South Island

You thought I’d forgotten about you didncha? Of course I hadn’t, it’s just we’ve been on the south island of New Zealand for the past couple of months so we’ve all had to wait until now for the opportunity to write the blog, but I got on it as soon as we left the south island.

Oh my gawd, I think that's the Worthing Versus the world guy!

Oh my gawd, I think that's the Worthing Versus the world guy!

You might have heard my interview with the BBC where I said New Zealand had me worried, but has the south island scored a better score than the 41 points needed to propel it to the top of the leaderboard? Let’s find out! 

1. Is the weather better than Brighton?

Like Australia, we’re here in summer so we expected every day to be like this

Sunny times

Beer and sunshine - happy days

which makes me feel like this

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!

But, like Australia, New Zealand also gave us a fair share of days like this

So wet I had wear a wax raincoat. The shame!

So wet I had to wear a wax anorak. The shame!

which made me feel like this

Seconds after getting poured on in Greymouth

Seconds after getting poured on in Greymouth

The weather in New Zealand is the most changeable of any weather I have ever experienced. You never know what to expect, but we got some good advice from locals – in Christchurch we were advised not to plan our days in advance but write a list of all the things we wanted to do, then in the morning stick your head out of the window and pick the most appropriate activity for the weather that day. Top tip that.

In Dunedin we were warned that no matter how sunny it looks, always take a brolly and a jumper because it won’t say nice for long. Another top tip.

We had days like this where it was too hot to move.

Check out those backpack-induced shoulder muscles

Check out those backpack-induced shoulder muscles

and days like this where it was freezing and you really had to wrap up.

Proof it is possible to look sexy in an anorak

Proof it is possible to look sexy in an anorak

OK, so that second one was on a glacier, but you get the idea. The weather was all over the shop.

I’m from England, so I’m used to changeable weather or a summer that’s not as hot as you thought it was going to be, but if I can get that at home, why travel to other side of the world for it – 5 points

2. Proximity and quality of the seaside (a pier must be present for full points here)

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that the title of this post is Worthing versus New Zealand’s South Island, that last word being a clue as to the sea’s proximity – it’s everywhere! And I’ll tell you what, in places New Zealand has coastlines to rival Britain’s south coast.

Caught sucking my thumb again

Caught sucking my thumb again

And even though sometimes the coastline is a bit more rugged and scary than along Marine Parade it still has a real charm to it.

Different beach, different kind of fun

Different beach, different kind of fun

I got in the water a few times, even though it was bloody freezing. At Abel Tasman however I was clambering up the side of an island I had waded out to when suddenly the cliff face attacked two of my favourite toes which meant I had to swim back to shore with a limp which is more difficult than it sounds! Still, at least a seagull will have a nice lunch with the bits of skin I left behind on the island.

Since being on the radio and in the paper, this blog has been brought to the attention of government departments and tourist offices around the world. New Zealand was no exception to this and they knew they had to be quick to act in order to get maximum points on Worthing Versus the World. Don’t believe me? Other than a blatant attempt to curry favour with me, how else can you explain this?

This is Brighton Pier in New Brighton just outside Christchurch. I kid you not.

This is Brighton Pier in New Brighton just outside Christchurch. I kid you not.

The thing is, although I do have to admit this qualifies as pier, it’s not exactly a fine example. Unless you’re looking for a fine example of a completely rubbish, pointless, ugly, concrete pier built with the sole intention of getting points in a highly popular world-renowned blog, probably soon to be published as a book and subsequently developed into a feature film starring Justin Timberlake and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Lots of lovely sea and varied coastlines gets top points, but I have to chop a couple off for that pier I’m afraid – 8 points

3. Local delicacies and quality of food

If When I am elected Mayor of Worthing it will be on one principle borrowed from New Zealand, and one principle alone.

A hot pie in every corner shop

It’s brilliant! Every single corner shop and even some off-licences have a little pie oven like you see at fish and chip shops back home, full of hot lovely pies. Sometimes you strike gold and find one that has pies, sausage rolls, spring rolls and lasagne!

Yes, lasagne. It’s not lasagne like you I know it though, it’s lasagne as you and I know it, covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. It’s so confusing – it sounds so completely wrong but at the same time sounds so completely right.

Well I can exclusvely reveal to you dear reader that it is exactly as it sounds. Deep-fried lasagne has the perfect harmony of rightness and wrongness that makes it appropriate for every occasion. It was thanks to a deep-fried lasagne that had been kept warm in a corner shop’s oven for who-knows-how-long that I was able to make it to the top of the world’s steepest street.

Only deep-fried lasagne gets you to this point

Only deep-fried lasagne gets you to this point

So actually maybe I’ll adapt my mayoral manifesto to read

A hot pie and deep-fried lasagne in every corner shop

You’d vote for me wouldn’t you?

Shop in Dunedin

Pie shop in Dunedin

Some people might want more than pies, sausage rolls and breadcrumbed lasagne dipped in hot oil, but not me – 10 points

4. Friendliness and attractiveness of the locals

While we’ve been here we’ve had more than a few brushes with locals – some we stayed with, some we did voluntary work for, some we allowed to drive us around vineyards and get us drunk – and all were lovely. Genuinely decent and nice people and it’s been a real pleasure so far meeting the Kiwis.

My best fact about NZ-people is that every single one of them knows loads about wind. One of the first things any Kiwi will say upon meeting you it’s “That’s a hell of a Norwester coming through at the moment eh Gav?” to which the correct response is always “yes”.

Everyone here knows which direction the wind is coming from (a Norwester is a north-westerly wind apparently), how long it’s going to be blowing and which direction it’s going to blow in after that. It’s amazing! Not just amazing that they all know, but that they all care – back home we just say “It’s a bit windy today innit?” to which the correct response is always “Can we talk about something more interesting than the weather please” but these guys love that stuff with a passion.

Suffering the effects of a Norwester, or was it a southerly - who cares? Every Kiwi on the planet, that's who!

Suffering the effects of a Norwester, or was it a southerly - who cares? Every Kiwi on the planet, that's who!

Another great thing about Kiwis are their TV adverts. There’s one all about going in the garden and cleaning your deck where the man comes on and says “Isn’t it about time you cleaned your deck?” and then his wife comes in and says “Boys and their decks” but because of the Kiwi accent it all sounds a little rude. Makes me crack up every time.

Nice people with bad-joke advertising. You can’t beat it – 10 points.

5. Availability and quality of real ale

This blog is great. It gives me the perfect reason to say to Mrs Wife as we walk past a pub “Hey Mrs Wife, we need to go in here and sample the beer for that Worthing Versus the World blog” and there’s only one answer she can ever give.

“Do they do wine?”

But this being New Zealand it’s thankfully never a problem. In fact, thanks to some weird cosmic mix-up the glasses of wine are often bigger then the pints of beer I get.

They call this a pint. This is a pint.

They call this a pint. This is a pint.

They call this a pint. It is not a pint.

They call this a pint. This is not a pint.

Yes, in New Zealand a pint isn’t usually a measure of volume, but more like asking for a beer in the biggest glass you have. Sometimes that is a pint glass, but pretty often it’s a sort of small flute thing closer to the schooner I lambasted in Australia. Well, at least Australians didn’t call it a pint!

Conversely the wines you get are mahoosive, often filled to the brim (which can make the trip from bar to table more precarious than usual). At home the wife and I finish our respective pint and glass of wine at exactly the same time, but trying to do that here often meant I was left with a hammered wife before I had managed to get an actual pint of liquid down me. We quickly learned to adjust our drinking rates according to the size of portions dished up at each establishment.

Despite the issue with a glass of wine meaning a pint of wine and a pint of beer meaning a glass of beer, I did find a range of beers to love – Monteiths. They have a range of different beers, and they’re pretty much all good. Here’s my top ten in reverse order (please play the top of the pops theme tune in your head).

10 – Golden ale. A bit fizzy and wishy washy for me.

9 – There is no 9, 8 or 7 as they only do 6 beers.

6- Pilsner. The first Monteiths I ever had (in Oz weirdly), and a lager I can enjoy (which is even more weird).

5 – Celtic red beer. A deep, bitter, smooth ale for a rainy Sunday.

4 – Black. A proper chocolatey stout without the over-bitter aftertaste you sometimes get.

3 – Original ale. Nice IPA style beer with a slightly bitter twang at the end.

2 – Radler. Just missing out on the top spot it’s this lemon and limey lagery number. Radler is German for shandy, but this is brewed to full strength. A real man’s lager top, great for a hot day.

1 – Summer ale. My favourite of the range is this seasonal special with subtle ginger flavours. I can drink a bottle down in one quite happily, or savour one for almost ten whole minutes if I’m in a more formal environment.

They also do a crushed apple cider and a pear version too, but I’m not that kind of guy. Well, I am a little bit that sort of guy – I tried the apple one and it was pretty nice.

Thumbs up all round

Thumbs up all round

The love I had for Monteiths was tarnished slightly when we took a 6 hour bus ride to the crappest place in the whole of New Zealand (possibly the world) to go to their factory, but I’ve written about that elsewhere, so won’t get back into that again now.

Pouring a 'pint' of my own

Pouring a 'pint' of my own

We also got to go into a couple of bars to get an over-priced pint of London Pride

London Pride in Christchurch

London Pride in Christchurch - it cost ten dollars, but at least it's a pint!

and we even saw some proper bottles of proper ales in a supermarket one day

Stroking the nectar

Stroking the nectar

so all is not lost! Plus, you have to love a country that’ll let you drive around in this mean machine.

Beer 4 me?

Beer 4 me?

I’m docking a point for the inconsistent sizing of the booze, and another for the dodgy brewery tour, but I really do love the Monteiths a whole lot – 8 points

So the South Island has done pretty well, scoring 41 points to boink itself up to equal first on the leaderboard. It just goes to show that one dodgy pier or misrepresenting a pint of beer can cost you the top spot in Worthing versus the World. I wonder if the north island will do better. This is literally the only website where you can find out so stay tuned!

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