Although there are some quaint old cinemas, where the person who sells the ticket also sells the popcorn, these are sadly disappearing with the advent of the multi screen cinemas which are popping up in all the main cities.
A few years ago people waited months for the top films to reach New Zealand. Now they seem to be on release in the cities at practically the same time, and in some cases even earlier, than in England. You will, however, wait longer for the films in the small towns.
The music scene is very limited and as ardent viewers of ‘Top of the Pops’ we miss knowing what is in the charts. British and American music is mostly played on the radio as New Zealand is not renowned for producing many famous pop stars.
Girls do not seem to pass through such an intense phase of having pop groups as their idols and are far more likely to be able to name the entire women’s netball team. There are no real pop charts to follow and no such thing as a ‘number one’.
Up until the mid seventies, as a result of New Zealand licensing laws, the pubs closed at 6 pm each evening. When men came out of work at five, they went straight to the pub and drank as much as they could before six, when the pubs were closed and swilled down with a hose. Those days, known as ‘the six o’clock swill’ are thankfully now dead and gone.
The new pubs, or taverns as they are known, are becoming very popular and these are often quite plush and very similar to those back home. You might stumble upon the older type of establishment here and there and if they show a “TAB” sign, it means there is a betting shop on the premises and you can have a drink and bet on a horse at the same time!
Restaurants cater for every taste and pocket and it is worth asking around to get a place recommended to you. Even that is no guarantee, as eating out can be a bit of a ‘hit and miss’ affair. The food can be mediocre, as can the service at times.
There are many family restaurants that offer inexpensive roasts. The upmarket hotel can be a good place to enjoy relatively inexpensive drinks in very nice surroundings and they often carry a reasonably priced menu. Every type of ethnic restaurant can be found and pavement cafes are becoming increasingly popular.
McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut are all represented. It is interesting to note that McDonalds has only been in the South Island since 1990.
Outside many cafes and restaurants you will see the sign BYO or Bring your Own. This means you can take your own wine with you and is a very common thing to do. It obviously reduces the cost of going out and you quickly get used to it. I must admit I was a bit taken aback when I first saw a woman sit down at a restaurant table, produce a 3 litre carton of cheap plonk, and put it in the middle of the table.
Big stars seem to make it ‘down under’ and normally come to Auckland and Wellington and often include Christchurch and Dunedin in their tour as well. Mega stars only seem to get as far as Australia and possibly Auckland.