There are people who know it is situated so far from the rest of the world and often regard it as part of Australia. Some studied something about it at school and have slight memories but even cannot remember its capital (Wellington). Those who do know about Aotearoa (its Māori name) associate it with its humid and rainy weather or with the strong tectonic and volcanic activities only. And, yes, most of us have read about the extreme sports invented there like bungy jumping, jet-boats, sledging, black water (cave) rafting, zorbing, blokart and shweeb riding and so on and so on. Did you get it? Yes, sure. The land of the kiwis, the land of the “long white cloud”.
A great number of interesting facts about New Zealand are described in the most impressive way and with much humour in Izabela Shopova’s book “East – in Eden”. I like her book (a travel and personal-experience novel with lots historic elements) for many reasons. The author immigrated with her family to NZ some years ago and that’s why she is able to describe the country, its lifestyle and traditions from another angle, that of a person coming from a European country, and even from another world.
New Zealand is a mirror world. The left-hand side driving as well as the lack of water mixer taps is a real burden for people coming from Bulgaria. The NZ English language barrier is a great obstacle in the very beginning. The way of building their houses seems shocking to any foreigner in the country (New Zealanders have their houses both built and after that transported as goods from the one end to the other end of the country). Rains and storms are very common there but natives consider them normal and part of their lives. But apart from all these particularities, native people are always smiley, positive & cheerful, take-it-easy people and very friendly, realadventures and great inventors (especially of extreme sports like the abovementioned). Why? Because they are simplykiwis but not a kiwifruit. Here I will open a bracket and say that kiwifruit is native to China but the first commercial cultivation of Chinese gooseberries started in New Zealand in 1937. New Zealanders, actually, aren’t nicknamed after the fruit but after the flightless kiwi bird which is native to the country and its national symbol. The bracket closed.
While describing her personal experience in the country, she cunningly speaks about the discovery of the two islands (the North and the South one) with facts and legends. She starts from the very first explorer Kupe (he was a Polynesian navigator who discovered the uninhabited land of today’s New Zealand for the first time). Then Abel Tasman who is known to be the first European to have discovered NZ (in 1642). Actually, he called that land “Staten Landt” but for some reasons soon after that it was renamed to Nieuw Zeeland/ Nova Zeelandia in Latin (Zeeland was one of two maritime provinces in the Netherlands) by the official Dutch cartographer of that time. And, of course, we all know about Captain James Cook (and his famous ship “Endeveavour”) who sighted New Zealand in 1769. Thus the vast ‘terra australis incognita’ was found, explored and conquered by the Europeans.