DOC staff in visitor centres are knowledgeable characters. They know all about the history of their area, what to do, what to wear, where to go for this and that, and are happy to help visitors plan and prepare for their holidays.
However, from time to time, they do get a few questions they’re just not sure how to answer…. As Kiwis we take what we know about our natural areas, flora and fauna for granted, but to tourists, some things are a lot less obvious. Some questions are legitimate and only funny to us New Zealanders, while others, well… I’ll let you decide. Here’s a list of some real questions our visitor centre staff have been asked over the last few years.
From Nelson Lakes National Park
- What is there to do in Fiji?
- Can I take a shopping trolley on the Abel Tasman Coast Track?
- Where can I get a pedicure?
- I’ve heard there are Roman ruins in the Abel Tasman – can I visit them?
- How long is an annual hut pass valid for?
- I have just heard that native snails are carnivorous. Is it safe to go tramping? Do they bite?
- How long would it take to get to the bottom of the lake in a water taxi?
- Do you have a McDonalds here?
- How long is the 40 minute flight?
From Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre
- I’ve been hearing a bird call… do you know what it is?
- So is the greeting ‘Kia ora’ named after the kea birds?
- Is this made out of real kiwi? (asked by a shopper about a kiwi toy)
- Is that the wind? (asked as the village siren went off)
- The kiwi in the forest—are they tame?
- Can you please tell me what temperature it will be on 13 February? (a phone call received in December)
- Is it named after the captain from Star Wars? (‘it’ being Mount Cook—the reply was “First, no—you are thinking of Captain Kirk from Star Trek, and second, Captain Kirk wasn’t around when Aoraki was named”)
- Have any llamas been squashed on the roads lately, and will they become wild in the park?
- Are there any peanut farms here?
- “You get a lot of earthquakes here don’t you – will there be one today at 1pm? We have a woman on our bus – its her birthday and she has never felt an earthquake.” Funnily enough – we had a shake at 1.05pm!
- The sign says ‘the road is closed’, what does that mean?
- I’m catching the ferry to Stewart Island on 23 of January—will it be raining? (asked by a caller in early September)
- Do you have donkeys here? For the children to ride on?
- Are there any volcanoes here? (asked while standing looking at the volcanic information)
- Are there any postcards of Australia? (No) Oh, why is that?
- Can you tell me about the gondola to the Bruce Mountain Wildlife Centre?
- Is it a good idea to take a car on the Tongariro Crossing?
- Where do I report a dead possum on the road?
- I wish to cycle to the summit of Mount Cook, how far does the road go?
- Can you please tell me the tide differences between here and Los Angeles?
- We are told there is a micro-climate in this area. Where do we find it?
Have you ever been asked a quirky question from a visitor to New Zealand? Comment and share it with us.