My Upside-down Summer

I’m English and I’m a June baby, which means I was born in summer. Believe it or not the English summer can be quite lovely. Yes, it’s overcast a lot of the time, but it’s not overly humid. I remember with great fondness the sunny birthdays of my childhood, running around on the grainy, over-exposed grass and splashing about in the paddling pool.

Montana walk

On a summer bush walk in New Zealand

Summer in New Zealand really is quite different. For starters, it’s on the opposite side of the year, so now my birthday is in winter and Christmas is in summer, which is just wrong!

Living in New Zealand, I feel the approach of summer with a small sense of dread. You see, summer in New Zealand is humid. It’s hot – the sort of heat that makes your brain go all drowsy – and all you can hear is the drone of cicadas. You can’t leave the house without putting sunscreen on, (and you sweat it off anyway,) and the mosquitoes – argh!

I much prefer spring and autumn. They’re warm and sunny without being scorching. In fact, if you’re thinking of coming for a holiday in New Zealand, you might want to consider coming in spring or autumn instead of summer. It rains a bit more, but it’s not bad. Besides, it’s cheaper to hire a campervan then anyway.

A blossoming pohutukawa tree in Kaikoura

A blossoming pohutukawa tree in Kaikoura

Oh, I don’t want to sound like I’m grouching. New Zealand’s summers are still a lot nicer than England’s, and, having been to Australia on holiday, I can say that New Zealand’s summers are nowhere near as bad as Australia’s!

The New Zealand summer has come to mean something special to me, and I’m sure I’ll miss it when I go on my ‘Big O.E.’ in Europe next year. Summer in New Zealand means beaches, barbecues and bush walks, (which, come to think of it, I’m sure is what it means in other countries too,) but it also, rather bizarrely, means Christmas shopping and parties with fireworks.

I’ll write more about Christmas in New Zealand next week, when I’m more into the spirit of the thing, (because it’s somehow hard to get into the spirit of Christmas when it’s over 30°C outside and your cat is stretched out on the kitchen tiles trying to keep cool,) but now I’m concentrating on summer itself – insofar as one can concentrate in this heat.

A New Zealand summer means cold beers and crisp white wines. It means going up to a friend’s family’s bach (beach house) and vegging. It means the deep, bright red of the pohutukawa blossoms and deep, bright blue of the crystal-clear sea. It means tanned surfer guys and ice-cream; campervans and jandals. (Jandals is Kiwi slang for the flip-flops that every Kiwi wears everywhere.) It means the infamous togs-undies ad. Here it is for non-New Zealanders – well worth a watch:

Okay, maybe I’m a bit harsh when I talk about New Zealand comedy – that advert is funny!

Most of all, summer means a break from school, which is ridiculous because I’m twenty-two and I’ve been out of university and in the real world for over a year now. I wonder how long it will take for that association to fade from my consciousness?

Aaand that’s it. I can’t write anymore. It’s too hot and the cicadas are too invasive.

Beach 1

The summery view from a friend’s family’s bach in the Coromandel


One thought on “My Upside-down Summer

  1. Wow! What a summer! Most definitely an upside down summer 🙂


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