One thing of which New Zealanders are very proud is the fact that there are no poisonous plants here, and no animals that can kill you. There are no snakes, no poisonous spiders, and no wild cats. On occasion, you'll hear about wild boars out in the bush, but that's it.
Well, while this information would normally put travellers mind's at ease, what they don't tell you is that every bug here is HUGE. We aren't kidding. We showed you the weta already, but you should know that the mosquitoes here have legs that could easily be compared to the size of your whole palm.
In addition (and this is the part where you laugh at us more than you have been), does anyone remember the cicada infestation of Washington, DC last summer? When the whole city was an inch deep in really large, clumsy insects that, even though they can't bite/sting you, crunch when you step on them and are so gross that you can't go outside for fear of inhaling one? Well, it's not every 17 years they show their ugly little heads, here. In NZ, it's every year.
When we got back from the vineyard, we left the next morning to go replenish the fridge. The second we exited the house, we were yelling to each other to be heard over the incessant buzzing and clicking of these enormous insects. Until one flew (or rather, BONKed) into Baby G's face. It was pretty bad shopping trip after that, and we only had to go 15 feet out the door for it to be frustratingly gross.
Don't get us wrong. We so far LOVE New Zealand and everything it has to offer. We've made lifelong friends of our flatmates and some other people we've met in our travels. We've been treated kindly, and will look forward to repaying the favor should any of our new friends find their way to the New York area in the coming year. We do, however, believe that since none of the bugs are actually harmful to you, Kiwis may have been desensitized to the actual size of the bug. So, from two Yanks to you Kiwis: Just 'cuz it don't hurt, don't mean it ain't REALLY STARTLING.
Did you know the spiders they used in Arachnophobia were actually shipped over from New Zealand because they were the right size, but non-harmful to the actors? Do you REMEMBER the movie? 'Nuff said.