It's . . . Kiwi Fruit Country!
The major stop on my first day out of Auckland was at a place called "KiwiFruit Country" near the town of Te Puke
(pronounced "ta pookey," not "tea puke"). KiwiFruit Country is a
combination fruit orchard, museum, and amusement park, where for $5 you can feel
foolish by riding around
in a Kiwi-cart while learning about the kiwifruit. This was definitely my kind
discovered during the ride, kiwifruit originated in China and were first called gooseberries.
They flourished in New
Zealand and came to be associated with this country, hence the name.
Although several other countries, including Chile and the U.S., now grow kiwifruit,
Zealand still exports more kiwifruit than other nation.
I also learned the proper
way to eat the darn things. I had always tried peeling them, which never
worked too well. As I learned, though, it's easier just to slice them in
half and eat them like
little cantaloupe, scooping it out with a spoon. That piece of advice
alone was worth the $5. Altogether, the admission price was definitely
worth the KiwiFruit Country experience.
we finished the interesting tour, I realized that I'm perhaps the only person in the world
who has visited:
world's only Corn Palace (in Mitchell, South Dakota)
world's only Potato Exposition (in Blackfoot, Idaho)
world's only Vinegar Museum (in Roslyn, South Dakota), and now
world's only Kiwifruit Museum
I know that's impressive, but I'm not going to get a swelled head over
Above left: Kiwifruit Country, a combination
guided-tour-and-amusement-park, celebrating -- what else? -- kiwifruit. I
love visiting hokey-yet-informative places like this. Maybe that's because
I consider myself hokey-yet-informative.
Above center: This
is probably the world's largest kiwifruit.
Above right: For $5, you get to take a tour
in a Kiwi-cart. Note how much they look like kiwifruits. Yeah, I
felt like an idiot... but at least they didn't make us wear little
Above left: Riding on the "exciting" Kiwi-cart.
Above center: Our
Kiwifruit guide knew more about Kiwifruit than
anyone I've ever known... poor guy.
Above right: And here's "The Kiwi That Ate
Above left: The girl on the left is just
hanging around (har, har). Actually, it's a mannequin dressed up as a fruit picker. A lot of
college-age kids visit New Zealand in the fall (May-June)
to pick kiwifruit and earn their way around the country.
Above center: "Mr. Kiwifruit" again, demonstrating how
the fruit is sorted. I think he got a little irritated at me always taking
pictures of him. Little did he realize that he's now permanently recorded
in my website for thousands to gawk at. Buwahahahaha...
Above right: The
picking season doesn't start for another few months, so the packing plant was
deserted. In a few months, though, this place will really be hopping.
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It's... Kiwi Fruit Country