Of course we expected to see castles, crowded motorways, stone circles, and all the other things that are mentioned in the tourist literature, but these are some of the little things that took me by surprise (although some of them are fairly obvious, with hindsight):
2. Road signs directing football traffic. In one town, the signs even directed "home traffic" and "away traffic" in opposite directions. I guess they have them enter the stadium at opposite ends and try to keep them apart to save fights.
3. No personalised plates on cars. At least, I thought there were no personalised plates until I met my cousin , and she turned up with a plate that said A13 and then the last three letters were her first name. Apparently the plates have to stick to a fairly strict format, which takes most of the fun out of it. No HIHOAG or REDQT or MYTAXI or K9DOC or D8LESS
4. Cottages that weren't. When I think of a "cottage", I imagine a wee one storeyed one or two bedroomed house set in a garden. In Britain the villages are very compact, with houses nestled right up to each other, and with their front doorsteps right on the footpath. They are labelled "cottage" even though they are usually two storeys high.
It took me a while to realise that they do actually have gardens - they have quite big long backyards, you just don't see them from the street.
5. Which is probably the reason for no 5 - blooming baskets everywhere. We do have hanging baskets in New Zealand, but not nearly as many, probably because we tend to grow things in the ground more. In the cities in the UK, spare dirt is at a premium, hence the hanging baskets. Being late summer, they were probably at their best when we visited.
6. Jet trails. I expected more traffic on the ground, but it didn't occur to me that there would also be more traffic in the sky. I've never seen so many jet trails in one place.
7. Laundry detergent. I was surprised to find there was no cold water laundry detergent, and no cold water setting on the washing machines. Instead, consumers are advised to save power by washing at 30 degrees C. Most people in New Zealand wash in cold water to save power (but we make up for it by spending far too much on heating, because our houses aren't well insulated or double glazed, unless they are very new).