ANZAC Day in New Zealand

If you travel New Zealand, you will soon notice that we have some of the longest shopping hours of the civilized world. Most supermarkets are open 7 days,  in larger centers usually from about 6am to 2am.  Now it wasn’t always so, and you don’t have to be ancient to remember when everything shut down on a Saturday afternoon, there was one late night a week, and nothing was open on a Sunday i.e. much like Perth, Australia is these days!

However if you are travelling in the country April you will come across 2.5 days where the whole places is closed:Good Friday and Easter Sunday may be familiar to you. But the 25th April is ANZAC Day. Its pretty much our equivalent of Armistice Day in the UK or Memorial Day in the US. ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps which was the name for the force sent from these parts to support the UK in World War 1. Every town in New Zealand has a memorial to the men who died in Europe (in both world wars) and other wars. (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan).

ANZAC Day, near Nelson

ANZAC Day Parade, Richmond, near Nelson, New Zealand

Traditionally there is a dawn service, and you will still find these in all the bigger cities. However in rural New Zealand the parades tend to be a little later in the day – I snapped this parade when we had to wait for the parade to pass at around 9:30am, the service was probably due for 10am. I suspect the later time is to accommodate the advancing age of many of the “diggers” who still march.

For a while the term “ANZACs” basically applied to any New Zealand service man (yes they were all men then) who had served in war. The terms fallen out of use a bit now though. You can also eat Anzacs. An Anzac biscuit is a rather tasty, chewy biscuit made of mainly rolled oats and butter.

For the visitor ANZAC Day will mean reduced public transport services (maybe a Sunday timetable), no shops open before 1pm except for corner stores (dairies), petrol stations and similar. Some but not all attractions will not open before 1pm – worth checking in advance.

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