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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

"No Worries," Tattoos & Sinful Goodies

My husband and I returned earlier this week from a six-week journey to New Zealand. I'm not sure how I suggested the trip in the first place. But I woke up one morning and announced that if we didn't have the chance to travel further than Mexico, I wanted New Zealand to be the last big hurrah.

Maybe it was the fact that the prime minister of NZ was a woman. (Sadly, she has recently resigned, and who can blame her? She guided the country through one of the most strict policies during the Pandemic and ran out of juice. Call it occupational burnout.)

Or maybe I wanted to see NZ up close and personal after hearing rave reviews from everyone who'd visited what they described as a magical land.

The 18-hour, non-stop flight from Chicago to Auckland was more than I could bear, so we were smart and stopped in Honolulu for a few days before jetting off on what had been winnowed down to a mere nine hours. Surprisingly, I was barely jet lagged and headed right to Auckland's boardwalk along the city's harbor. Little did we know that this would be our last walk for the following three days when Cyclone Gabriella blew into town.

Luckily, our room at the Adina Hotel was more like a studio apartment with a full kitchen, living space, and small eating table, a large bedroom, and a spacious bath. We had enough room to spread out and not drive each other crazy. The rain blew sideways, non-stop; the wind howled, and the sky turned an ominous black.

And so began our trip to New Zealand.

I won't turn this blog into a travelogue (I'll let a writer and photographer duo for National Geographic do the honors), but I will mention several surprises, unexpected perks and annoyances along the way.

If one more person says "No worries," I will knock their block off. What happened to "Not a problem" "Never mind" or "It's okay?" Every damn time I changed my mind when choosing an ice cream flavor or paid with American dollars (I should have taken them all out of my purse), or--I don't know--stuck out my foot and tripped a Kiwi (a person from New Zealand, not a fruit), the light-hearted, saccharine retort was "No worries." I don't know whether this turn-of-phrase has hit America's shores, but the next innocent but annoying person who utters this retort will pay the price and suffer the sins of all of those who came before him/her/them.

And now there are the tattoos. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against tats. In fact, I've often thought of getting a discrete one around my ankle, one that I can easily hide if need be. But there can be too much of a good thing, and New Zealanders have gone nutty, crazy with the ways in which they've adorned their bodies. Now, maybe it's the influence of the Māori (/ˈmaʊri/, Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand. I don't know. But there's no need to go to a museum in NZ (though we did just the same).

Finally, for now, is the ubiquitous array of sweets. Who knew? Kiwis tout their wine and coffee and beer. No one said a word about sweets Like tattoos, it is virtually impossible to walk more than ten or fifteen feet without a bakery or restaurant, or coffee shop that proudly displays cookies, scones, cakes, pies, muffins, chocolate creations, and ice cream. Hell, I was on vacation, so Noom be damned! I ate more goodies in six weeks than I'd partaken of in six years. Well, maybe not six years, but a hell of a lot of time. My Noom or Weight Watcher coach before would have had a coronary. I was probably on the cusp myself.

So, now when I'm looking at photos from New Zealand, I'm munching on a carrot instead of devouring a cookie or a piece of cake.

UPDATE: On another subject completely, I want to encourage you to hop on over to and check out my podcast. Here's what one listener had to say:

So, have a listen and tell your friends. And if so inclined, please write a review on Apple Podcasts. The REVIEW form can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of the Apple Podcast page for "Older Women and Friends." Your support is what encourages me to continue onward.

whakawhetai koe  (I lied. I know two phrases in Maori lingo.)


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