Sandflies are to New Zealand what midges are to Scotland. The fly in the ointment of visiting such beautiful places is pesky insects which have a particular taste for the blood of non-natives.
I read somewhere that there was some scientific (or at least decent anecdotal) evidence that midges prefer to feast on blond women - my personal encounters with midges in the past have generally proven this theory. Either that, or I have very tasty blood and should probably avoid holidays to Transylvania.
We had planned to pick up some insect repellent in New Zealand to save carrying it over from the UK and it was top of our supermarket shopping list. The only trouble was, our first encounter with sandflies happened enroute to said supermarket. When driving from Picton to Nelson we stopped at a beautiful river got lunch and a quick swim. The spot was so beautiful and inviting, and completely deserted - we should probably have taken this as a sign. As soon as we sat down to eat, the sandflies landed. A nice leisurely lunch turned into stuffing our faces whilst frantically doing the 'sandfly dance' (a form of dance that involves trying to keep moving as much as possible whilst swatting at any flies that have dared to land on you), followed by jumping into the river - I have never got into cold water so fast.
Naively, we thought initially we had got off unscathed. It was only when I woke early the next morning, desperate to scratch my feet to shreds that the damage became clear. Thank goodness for bite relief. My feet and ankles were swollen and covered in bites for the next few days, but liberal application of insect repellent and covering up has helped reduce the number of further bites (though MizHB has not been so lucky and currently looks like her legs have developed chicken pox).
So to me at least, the evidence is clear - sandflies also prefer blonds...