Friday, February 22, 2008

February 17, 2008 - Nelson

Sunday morning we were up bright and early to head over to the Brightwater Wine and Food Festival for a day full of wine, food, and music. We staked out a spot on the lawn under one of the umbrellas provided by the local cancer society. We hid under that umbrella all day, listening to the bands, venturing out into the sizzling sun only to refill our glasses and plates. The intensity of the sun here is something else. It is stronger than anyplace that either of us has ever been. At 6 pm, unless you had a watch on to tell you otherwise, you would swear that it was mid-afternoon.

The highlight of the day for us was late afternoon, as we found ourselves talking to a very drunk group of locals (actually, we're pretty sure that we were the only non-kiwis there; the festival wasn't heavily advertised and we didn't meet any other travelers). If this group was representative, then South Islanders have no desire to live in any other part of the country ("Auckland? It's all shit, it is. This is the real New Zealand."); but, they wouldn't mind moving to Australia where salaries are higher and the cost of living is lower ("Got a mate in Melbourne and a sister in Perth. Thinking about joining em."). It seems that most Kiwis, traditionally a rural, agricultural people, would like to relocate to New Zealand's cities, but they can't afford to because foreigners are driving up New Zealand housing costs. So more and more are moving over seas. The population of New Zealand has been shrinking steadily for the past decade or so.

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