'Tis the Season for Plaids, Browns, and Tweed...
October 16, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

It is autumn in the U.S., but I am visiting New Zealand next month, where it will be spring. This is my first time to the southern hemisphere, and I'm wondering what I will encounter! Do they even know that it's pumpkin spice latte season there?

Fall and spring are very different seasons to me. Even though the weather is similar, I am more likely to wear corduroy in the fall and florals in the spring, boots in the fall and flats in the spring.

So the idea of leaving fall in the US and vacationing for two weeks in spring weather is kind of an exciting switch-up, and I really don't know how to make that switch!

I'm a little worried that what I will pack will feel out of place for the season. I'd like to ask if I should switch up what I'm packing, and try to pack for spring, but honestly the corduroy pants fit now and I'll probably bring them anyway. But if you have any insights on this, or how to switch things up, let me know!

Do international retail clothing stores bring out their 2013 Spring collections in the southern hemisphere, just six months later? Are they the same displays and clothes, or are they different? Does Starbucks hype the pumpkin spice lattes, hot chocolates, and salted caramel stuff right now, or do they put it out in April and May? (I know pumpkin is mostly an American thing.)
Or is there something special or different about spring flavors that I should look out for while I'm there?
posted by aabbbiee to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just came back to the UK from two weeks in Australia. I think you'll actually find more influence from northern hemisphere Spring 2014 collections in stores in Australia and New Zealand right now than Spring 2013. Winter gear has mostly been cleaned out through recent sales. People appear to be in full on "omg finally warm weather!" mode, so maxi dresses and other more springy things are being worn than fall cords or boots.

I dressed for spring for most of my trip but my long haul flight outfit involves leggings and boots, so I had to trek around Sydney dressed for fall for a day before heading home. I didn't particularly care about anyone judging me sartorially, but fortunately for me that day was only about 15 deg C (it had been high 30s the day before) so everyone briefly retreated to colder weather wear and I felt less out of place.

I did not go to any Starbucks while there so I cannot speak to the presence or not of the PSL and related autumnal drinks. Though those only came out in UK Starbucks on 1 October (and this is only year 2 of their existence in the UK) and weren't even advertised or on menus (maybe they are by now, haven't been to one yet) so I highly doubt our Aussie and Kiwi friends see the campaigns we're used to in the US regardless of what time of the year the PSL is out.
posted by olinerd at 11:43 AM on October 16, 2013

First, you'll hardly see a Starbucks. There are plenty of small cafes where you will get much better coffee and wonderful food, so it's not really a downside. I've never seen pumpkin anything in NZ except soup (born there, lived there 25 years, visit 2x a year). Hot chocolates are available everywhere, all year round. Salted caramel would also be a year round thing. They don't really do Halloween.

In terms of seasons, there's not really enough distinction between late winter / early spring for New Zealanders to make a big fuss about the seasonal change and people don't tend to dress differently for the seasons. Nobody is going to look at you funny for wearing cords, dark colors, lots of layers, or florals and little cardigans if that's what floats your boat.

Layers will work for you, as depending on where you are going you'll experience freezing winds, warm sunshine and pouring rain all in the same day. So take the cords, but take some dresses/florals for warmer days and a warm coat for evenings, and if you're going to the mountains or very far south, a hat and scarf wouldn't go amiss. Boots are always fine, you'll want a pair of flats and maybe some sandals if it's going to be warm.

In terms of what you should look out for: the aforementioned small cafes and restaurants are going to be serving the kind of amazing fresh, seasonal food that you just don't find in most cities in the US. There are practically no chain restaurants other than fast food places, so take advantage of the variety and check out the local cuisine wherever you go. The seafood will be particularly good. Enjoy!
posted by yogalemon at 11:51 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Are they the same displays and clothes, or are they different? Does Starbucks hype the pumpkin spice lattes, hot chocolates, and salted caramel stuff right now,

So Starbucks does do this in the southern hemisphere. It's hilarious, because in some places, *right* when it gets hot, they put up the Christmasy decorations that say "Try a Delicious Peppermint Mocha!" They serve the drinks in the red Christmas-themed cups and so on.

The real acknowledgement of the fact that it's the middle of summer that they make is they serve *iced* versions of all the fall/winter seasonal drinks. Iced pumpkin spiced latte. Iced peppermint mocha. Iced eggnog latte. They also, IIRC, have a "red cups" equivalent for the clear cups ice drinks are sold in but I'm not 100% sure.

A lot of places in the southern hemisphere, or even in the tropics, still use the same Christmas iconography of snow and fireplaces and pine trees even though they make no sense there. I guess it's because all of that imagery is so much a part of the Christmas tradition. It's hilarious though to see people walking down the shopping street of their towns, all sweaty, wearing shorts and sandals, and the stores have hung giant lit-up white snowflakes from the lights.

You can check it out on Youtube. Pull up a Christmas special from Argentina or Brazil. They still have snow and sleighs and so on. Maybe they think Santa Claus lives at the North Pole so this stuff represents Santa?
posted by jeb at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is spring. It is spring. It is not fall. Forget about fall. There will be no retail globalisation-induced evidence of fall to be seen. It is spring. When you get around to Christmas in the middle of summer, that's a whole other thing, but spring and fall are not involved.

Like olinerd, when in Australia I found that I saw trends from the next season, not the last season. Australia and New Zealand have different big retail brands, so no, you will not see the same clothes or displays. It will all be different. The UK is a heavier influence than America.

Enjoy the change!
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:06 PM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Does Starbucks hype the pumpkin spice lattes, hot chocolates, and salted caramel stuff right now, or do they put it out in April and May?

Um, no? I mean, maybe in actual Starbucks if you can find one but I don't know anyone who would ever buy one. Overly flavoured coffee in general isn't popular in NZ and pumpkin is a savoury vegetable, the idea of putting it anywhere except roasted besides the meat is just utterly weird. Whereas really excellent coffee in general is easily found all over the place but it's probably going to be different to what you expect (espresso based, not filter coffee). Salted caramel might be a thing but I've never tried it in any form. Very nice hot chocolate is to be found all over alongside that espresso, but again I have no idea how different it might be (it's not filled with sugary flavourings for a start).

Do international retail clothing stores bring out their 2013 Spring collections in the southern hemisphere, just six months later?

Um, no again? A lot of the clothing stores you're used aren't going to exist in NZ. Instead most of the clothes shops are either NZ or Australian owned and the local fashion industry is pretty humming if you go to the right places. Clothes in general are likely to be a lot more monochrome than you're used to. Black or dark coloured teeshirts are a wardrobe staple for many. When I moved to Ireland and went into the standard UK high street stores everything was so bright and horribly coloured, I'm still getting used to it two years later. NZers do have a lot of US brands like Levis or whatever, so it's not going to be all weird or anything. But really, you're probably going to look like an American tourist regardless of what you wear so might as well just wear what you like and embrace it.

What you do wear will be largely dictated by the weather, which is going to depend on where you're actually going. NZ is quite long north to south so the climate varies quite a bit. But in general spring is wet, windy, and variable, although usually mild in temperature, so I agree that layers is the way to go. Clothing also tends to be more conservative in some parts compared with others, there is definitely regional variation in what the locals wear (and how much they comment on what other's wear). So If we knew your actual locations maybe we could give more specific advice?

Or is there something special or different about spring flavors that I should look out for while I'm there?

For food, the fruit and vegetables available are excellent so I'd be looking out for anything seasonal and fresh. Late spring is when we welcome back the berries and stone fruit and you may be there for the new season lamb and beef too. These are the things I miss the most from NZ. Personally I'm not a fan of seafood but yeah, there's good stuff to be found there too if you are. People working in the hospitality industry in NZ are very often friendly and super approachable so definitely ask about what's good for the season at restaurants or whatever, they'll happily guide you to the best, freshest flavours. Forget sweet pumpkin and sugary drinks and whatever you're used to from home, there's all kinds of new things waiting to delight you.
posted by shelleycat at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh also, we call it autumn. Fall isn't a season at all in New Zealand.
posted by shelleycat at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Which part/s of New Zealand are you going to? In Auckland, it will be mild to warmish, with random showers. In Wellington, you might get some brilliantly sunny days and some rainy ones, but either way it will be breezy and cold. In Queenstown it will be crisp, cold and often sunny.

Bring a good rain jacket, warm layers, and springy dresses with cardigans to wear over the top. Consider bringing tights to wear under your dresses as well. There will definitely be opportunities to wear cords.

New Zealanders do not celebrate, decorate or wear/eat special things for autumn the way Americans do, and the same goes for spring. Spring here means daffodils, but unfortunately I think you'll miss those.

And, as with others above, I implore you to forget Starbucks altogether while you are here, and visit some of our many thousands of excellent independent cafes! We have some of the best coffee in the world - I kid you not. And the local drink you should try is called a "flat white". Keep in mind that a double shot is standard in Wellington, around the rest of the country it varies.
posted by reshet at 1:11 PM on October 16, 2013

Drink some awesome NZ wine, have lots of milk shakes, NZ milk/milk shakes are the best in the world. Eat lamb, fish, kumara chips. Forget weird questions about "fall". Check the temps of where you're going, NZ can be cold. If you're going to frock it up throw in some tights.

I think I saw a Starbucks in Auckland once. In 1999. Forget that. Drink flat whites instead.
posted by jujulalia at 1:40 PM on October 16, 2013

Response by poster: We'll be in Auckland then Rotorua for a few days, then we fly to Queenstown and spend the rest of the trip in the mountains/far south. Then we're going over to Australia and visiting a friend in Brisbane for a weekend before we fly home.

Thanks for your answers! It wasn't that I was asking because I was worried about Starbucks availability; I was more interested in how international corporations that do seasonal stuff (like clothes or pumpkin spice whatevers) handle the difference between the hemispheres. Winter/summer differences are far more obvious and stand out, but spring/fall differences are less so since the temperatures are really very similar. That difference is mostly emotional/cultural.

Really, my clothes don't vary a whole lot in reality, and it won't be that hard to leave the obviously wintery stuff behind for the trip. It's not like I walk around in themed sweaters.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:42 PM on October 16, 2013

Be aware that Brisbane will be bloody hot: like around 100 fahrenheit hot when you are there...
posted by smoke at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm an American living in Sydney, and at least one of the two major chain grocery stores has a teeny tiny Halloween display. They have Christmas stuff out too, and much more of it (but not nearly as much as you'd see in the US at a Safeway). There is no Thanksgiving stuff.

Easter candy comes in autmn colored wrappers here, and instead of an autumn themed county fair, they have an Easter Show (amounts to the same thing).

Have fun, and stress for San Francisco weather ;-)
posted by jrobin276 at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2013

New Zealand Starbucks did the pumpkin spice latte one year - I think six or seven years ago. It did not sell well, and hasn't been repeated since. And yep, they put it out around October, so there wasn't an attempt to sync it with the season.
posted by Paragon at 3:16 PM on October 16, 2013

Bring sunscreen and/or season-appropriate long sleeves. Wear one or both any time you go outside. Me and my partner are outdoor people from California and after we went for a half-hour walk on the north island when it was drizzling outside, we came inside and realized we had gotten a wee bit burnt. They are SO not kidding when they say there's a hole in the ozone layer. Sunscreen.
posted by aniola at 10:09 PM on October 16, 2013

Response by poster: We have returned from the trip and had a fabulous time.

I definitely had my eyes open for the differences, but they weren't too hard to spot. The temperatures were pretty much the same as when we left mid-Missouri, but everything in New Zealand was green and blooming. It was gorgeous, of course! We had amazing food and drinks all over the country, and I think we were only forced to go to one chain restaurant (we had an early flight and nothing else was open).

And yet the stores were covered in Christmas merchandise and playing Christmas music, even in early-mid November! Christmas sales advertised. We saw lots of imported Christmas stuff, like the "snowy gingerbread house kits" but they were shelved right next to the Summer Fruit chocolate box. And there were lots of ornaments with Santa in sunglasses or Santa on a surfboard.

NZ was chilly, most of the time. I was glad to have layers. However, I didn't need and regretted hauling along a wool parka because I wore it only once, in the mountains, and I would have been fine without it (except for our ride to/from the airport in Missouri, where it was needed both ways). I had fleece jackets and a thin rain jacket, and those did really well for 95% of the trip.

Brisbane was really humid. Not 100 degrees, but it was bad enough that I was glad I had a skirt, and that the rain jacket was light because storms kept coming through while we were out and about.

In general, there were lots of real differences and similarities.

We had a great trip and would love to go back someday!!
posted by aabbbiee at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

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