Five things about New Zealand that surprised me.

  1. Its population is smaller than greater Chicago and every bit as polite.
  2. Its land area is about the same as Colorado, if Colorado were cut into 2 big and many smaller pieces and stretched and shaped into the space between Maine and the Carolinas
  3. Radio New Zealand National combines the eclectic best of old US network radio, the BBC, the ABC, and public radio, sounding at times like a big market local US station circa 1970 with all the time a story deserves and more.
  4. A six-week-long national election campaign (that ended as widely predicted for months, with National, the incumbent party, expanding its majority in Parliament) can be considered too long and too nasty, with much hand wringing about dirty politics and concern about the future of the nation.
  5. Place names that start with "wh" (Whangaparaoa) are pronounced with a soft f (sounds like fonn guh puh ROW uh).