I’m sat on the train between Nürnberg and München with last nights fake blood under my fingernails and a bag of Lebkuchen to keep me company. Last time I was in München I encountered a few wild Kiwis and, despite the bad weather, had a pleasant evening of German Bier with them. I’ve recently had a rant about German backpacker culture, and now I think it’s time I take a few shots from my bullshit sniper at half of my own culture. I think the Kiwis get around as much as the Germans do, we are just fewer in number and harder to unearth. Here’s how you can find a Kiwi in foreign lands from some racist giveaway signs;
1 – the backpack – while the Germans will always be rocking a Deuter or an Offsprey bag, the Kiwi will almost always have either a Kathmandu or Macpac. If you approach somebody with a Macpac you will most likely find yourself in the company of the elusive Kiwi, but be warned, Australians are also bearers of Kathmandu equipment and so approach with caution.
2 – clothing – again, if you see somebody wearing Macpac they’re almost definitely a Kiwi. Kathmandu also, but once more, be careful not to find yourself on the receiving end of an Australian accent. Kiwis will usually be underdressed in cold weather as we don’t feel it like the Europeans do, and because our attitude is “yeah nah it’ll do bro” and we would prefer to quietly freeze than to show any signs of weakness. Quite often, if their clothing isn’t Macpac or Kathmandu it will be sporting some New Zealand graphics of kiwi birds, korus or mountains and have the words “New Zealand” or “Aotearoa” plastered all over it. We are proud of our culture and literally wear it on our sleeves, and we are not subtle about it.
3 – greenstone/ponamu – this is essentially jade which has been carved in New Zealand into Maori shapes with significant meanings from our superstitious natives. Every Kiwi owns a piece – I own two, and if you see somebody wearing some, at the very least they have been to New Zealand. I genuinely recently saw somebody in Southampton, England, wearing a piece from the same carver that I use back in the motherland. They weren’t Kiwi but we traded a few stories. The Maoris believe it absorbs our essence, but they also believe that Mt Tongariro and Mt Taranaki will come together one day and crush everything between them and that once the two mountains had a love affair, so I don’t know if I should listen to them.
4 – flat white – much like the Germans complaining about the quality of bread all over the world, the Kiwis will be complaining about coffee. Back home we have hundreds of individual coffee shops all serving perfectly made coffee which we will criticise and complain about until we discover our personal perfect cup salted with the tears of an overworked and under appreciated barista. Other countries may have completely awesome espresso shots, but if you can’t paint a picture of the roof of Sistine Chapel on top of your flat white it’s wrong bro! And if you can, we will still find something wrong with it and make you want to kill yourself with abuse. We are proud inventors of instant coffee and the great flat white, and any Australian who tries to take credit for this will end up face down in the nearest reservoir. Coffee culture is huge to us, and we will impose it upon your society.
5 – English – while we may excel in coffee and bungee jumping, something we really suck at is languages and what’s more, we are in denial about it. We will try to properly pronounce everything in its native tongue and fail consistently. We will pretend to be cultured because of our ancestry, but really know nothing about anything. Also, New Zenglish is something quite odd – it’s like English in a weird accent with some very weird slang. “Yeah nah I’m sporting these gumboots because my jandals done got munted in a long drop. Not bad eh?” is a perfectly normal sentence to me (just don’t ask how what happened in the long drop to destroy the jandals). When two Kiwis find each other in a foreign country, they will love each other unconditionally and probably get drunk and confuse all the locals with all of their funny words.
6 – modest pride – much like our criminal brothers we are very proud of our little corner of paradise, the difference is that they will impose it on you without you even asking, and you’ll only get our enthusiasm from us if you invite us to be enthusiastic. If ever you tell us you’ve been the Land of the Long White Cloud, we will want to know all about your stories and where you’ve been with abnormal specificity. We will tell you all about our home towns and where the nearest Lord Of The Rings filming location to it is, and that once we took a poo in the woods there. Be careful, once you’ve started that conversation you best hope you have a lot of beer in your glass left because you will be there for a long time.
7 – beer – when not complaining about coffee, the true travelling Kiwi is a beer drinker, and the true travelling Kiwi will have a beer with anybody willing to offer their company and a good story. While we are very much a wine nation, beer is just easier. Beer is the best. Beer will never break your heart.
We are very warm and enthusiastic people once you get to know us. We are often outgoing and crazy people because we spend our lives isolated on a little island far from everything and everyone to chain us to normality. The best thing about Kiwis, at least in my opinion, is our big open minds. We come from a mixing pot of every culture from every corner of the world (and we all know which cultures we are personally descended from and will have a soft spot for those countries) and so therefore we are a bit of everything and very accepting of this (except when coffee is involved). Such a huge percentage of our population is living abroad or travelling at any moment in time to fuel our adventurer desires but we will always know our home.
– Tom @ indieroad