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From time to time, I get asked, “So why New Zealand?

People are curious as to why I’m so passionate about this little South Pacific country. They want to know what it is about this place that I love so much. And while I can gush about it forever, I realize that I’ve never actually written about all the reasons I love New Zealand.

So let me count the ways…

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

But wait. While there is indeed a lot to love about New Zealand, it’s by no means perfect (though it certainly can appear that way!). Just like a spouse or significant other whom you love, New Zealand also has its faults, and I’ve gotten to know those over the years, too.

So while I could just focus on the good, I also want to acknowledge the not-so-good.

Here, then, are all the reasons I love — and hate — New Zealand:

I LOVE New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery. For such a small country, it really does pack a punch. Nearly every type of landscape is represented here, from beaches to rolling hills to volcanic deserts to mountains to temperate rainforests. You can hop in a car, drive for an hour or two, and feel like you’re on a completely different planet. Other countries around the world may have diverse landscapes, but I’ve yet to find one that takes my breath away quite like New Zealand.

TranzAlpine, New Zealand

I LOVE New Zealand’s great towns and cities. This country has great scenery, but it also has surprisingly great towns. There’s big, cosmopolitan Auckland, character-filled Wellington, resilient Christchurch, and beautiful Queenstown, just to name a few. And that’s not taking into account the great small towns like Taupo, Rotorua, Dunedin, Nelson…

I LOVE how eco-conscious New Zealand is. Electric trolley buses. Half-flush options on toilets. And more scenic preserves than you can shake a stick at. New Zealand is clearly aware of what is has to offer, and is also aware that steps need to be taken to preserve it for future generations.

Wellington Buses, New Zealand

Wellington buses

I HATE how far away New Zealand is from everything. While some might say that this is a good thing — that NZ is probably the least likely country to ever be targeted by a nuclear missile, for example — it’s not exactly easy to get to. Perhaps the country is so eco-friendly because they realize how huge the carbon footprint is of any visitor flying in from… well, anywhere. I love you, NZ, but I do not love that it takes me roughly 24 hours of travel time to get to you, and such a long haul flight.

I LOVE Air New Zealand. I suppose that if I’m going to be stuck on a 12-hour flight, there could be worse airlines to be stuck on. I’ve always found the flight crew on Air NZ flights to be friendly and helpful, and the airline certainly has a good sense of humor. They also are highly involved in social media, which I love.

Air New Zealand

LAX to AKL

I HATE New Zealand’s lack of good Internet. Perhaps this could just be chalked up to NZ being so far away from everything (Australia suffers from a similar plight), but good luck finding a strong, cheap Internet connection in this country. One would think that a modern, developed country like New Zealand would be up-to-date on things like wifi. But it’s not so. Internet here is often slow, and never free. The ridiculous prices for wifi in hotels and hostels might be my biggest pet peeve about New Zealand.

I LOVE how easy it is to travel in New Zealand. Crappy wifi aside, it’s really quite easy to travel around NZ. Domestic flights are cheap, you can score bus tickets for as little as $1, and the country has a great hostel system. Or, of course, you could rent/buy a campervan and see New Zealand on your own terms, too.

Magic Bus, New Zealand

Ride the Magic Bus!

I LOVE New Zealand’s cool native fauna. Despite being close in proximity to Australia, the Land of Things That Can Nastily Kill You, New Zealand lucked out with its native animal life. Devoid of poisonous bugs, venomous snakes, or deadly jellyfish, New Zealand was gifted with mostly adorable flightless birds. The only mammal native to this country is actually a small bat, so many of the native bird species evolved without the ability to fly, since they had no natural predators. Unfortunately, many of these birds are now endangered (or even extinct), thanks to introduced mammals that the Europeans brought over — which I hate.

Takahe, Kapiti Island, New Zealand

I LOVE the New Zealand accent. Some people find the Kiwi accent annoying. But this weird jumble of British, Scottish, Australian, and who knows what else is actually one of my favorite accents in the world.

I LOVE New Zealand’s Maori heritage. The South Pacific is full of interesting native cultures, and NZ is no different. The country largely embraces its Maori heritage, with cultural offerings all over the country, “Maori language week” once a year on TV, and an officially bicultural existence, with Maori being one of the country’s official languages. The NZ national rugby team, the All Blacks, even performs a Maori haka (war dance) before each match.

Maori Haka

Kids learning a haka in Rotorua

I HATE the racism present in New Zealand. People don’t often like to talk about it, especially since the country makes such an effort to be bicultural, but there’s a lot of racism here. Maori are usually the ones who are unemployed and underrepresented, whether it’s in the government or in New Zealand television and film. And this is often coupled by not-so-subtle racism, which I often personally witnessed while living with university students in Wellington. As much as I would love to pretend not to notice it, the truth is that it’s still there, just like in every other country around the world.

*Note: I’ve had a lot of people blast me for this one in the comments. I mean “rampant” here in the same way that I think racism is “rampant” in the U.S., or any other developed country with multiple minorities. This is my opinion, based on my personal experiences living with Kiwi university students for 5 months in Wellington. The point of my blog is not to sugarcoat things; I’m going to tell it like it is, even if some people don’t like the things I’m telling. Do I think racism is a huge problem in NZ and that you should avoid going there? Certainly not! I’m just making note that it IS there. No place is perfect.

I LOVE the people in New Zealand. Don’t let the above comment lead you to believe that I don’t love the people in NZ, though. Because I do. I really do. They are, overall, some of the warmest, friendliest people I have ever met, and they seem to truly enjoy chatting with travelers.

I LOVE the “no worries” attitude in New Zealand. Overall, Kiwis have a pretty good attitude. Here, people don’t obsess over working themselves to death in order to make a few extra dollars — they work enough so that they can enjoy their beautiful country and their families on the weekends. Life moves at a slower pace in this part of the world, and the “no worries” attitude that is so engrained in NZ society is one of my favorite things about this country. It’s what I think changed me the most after having lived there for a few months. Now, of course, if something urgently needs to be done, this could easily turn into a “hate”…

Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand

Sunset on Paraparaumu Beach

And, lastly…

I HATE the fact that I never want to leave New Zealand. Every time I visit this country, it gets harder and harder to leave. I actually cried last time I had to say goodbye. There’s just something about New Zealand that has taken hold of my heart. And I don’t think it’s ever going to let go.

——

Have you ever been to New Zealand? If so, what did you love and hate about the country?

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102 Responses to Things I Love (and Hate) About New Zealand

  1. Rob says:

    Excellent post.

    Funny.. having been there and a lot of other places I don’t find it to be far away. My house to the B&B in Auckland was 24 hours last time. About the same as a cheap ticket with annoying layovers to Europe, and not as bad as Thailand.

    If you allocate about full day to get anywhere when traveling from home then it’s all good. No worries :)

    The racism was clear to me too. I noticed it when I was out walking around and would stop and chat with people. The Maori not in tourism jobs were visibly surprised that I’d just stop and speak with them. They’re accustomed to being ignored.

    For me the food was a mix between very good and very negative. Of course, as a vegetarian that’s true most places but it seemed a little worse in NZ this time. Other friends, carnivores, have also observed that NZ food is mostly so-so… Too much English heritage, I’m thinking. The ethnic (Thai, Indian, etc..) food can be pretty great, though.

    The expensive and slow internet service drove me crazy. It was a lesson in how accustomed we’ve become to being always connected. To be fair, their mobile phone network is pretty great. I didn’t try using a smartphone so maybe the phone network is expensive too..

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Rob! And thanks for sharing your own input.

      I was almost going to include the food in this, but, like you said, it’s really kind of hit or miss. I agree, though, that the ethnic food is often top-notch, especially in places like Wellington, where there’s lots of it.

    • Anna says:

      I live here and we actually have free Internet now so…

    • Connaire says:

      Woah… the Maori people are “accustomed to being ingnored?” I’m sorry you saw it that way but, as a New Zealander, I find that really offensive. Most kiwis wouldn’t go to a Maori show because we are already accustomed to it. The people they would be ignored by would be tourists, not local New Zealanders. I admit that older generations still harbour racist tendencies (a throw-back from the late colonisation of New Zealand), however, the new generation is becoming a more tolerant and accepting culture. The recent legalisation of gay-marriage speaks to this. Sorry if this sounds angry but I am very passionate about race relations, being a teacher at a multicultural high school. The other thing about New Zealanders is that we are fiercely protective of our national identity :)

  2. James Cook says:

    We hated the internet over there as well! So expensive.
    James Cook recently posted..Sightsee Melbourne For FREE

    • DangerousBiz says:

      The Internet really is one of the worst things about NZ! Very frustrating for someone who runs a blog and is addicted to social media!

  3. Leah says:

    I love this post. Although I only have spent three weeks in New Zealand, I had a heavy heart when I had to leave. It’s not just one thing that’s great about New Zealand, it’s all the great things rolled into one. It makes looking past the few negatives pretty easy. I hope to go back within the next five years if not sooner. The best thing New Zealand gave me was the knowledge that places like that are real and not just in my imagination.
    Leah recently posted..Frame by Frame: An Anatomy of a Bungy Jump

    • DangerousBiz says:

      You’ve clearly been just as enchanted by New Zealand as I was the first time, Leah! It’s a pretty easy country to fall in love with though, I think. I hope you make it back there soon!

  4. Amanda, first of all – I’m sold. ;-) Second, I can’t help but wonder if you’ve visited my hometown Vancouver – I think there are a few similarities, especially with the things you love, and it’s a wae bit closer than hopping across the big western pond. Third, the accent is all about the transposition of vowels: big sounds like ‘bug’, which of course brings up the whole issue of “Beached Az”. Finally, I’m not digging the lack of fast inexpensive reliable internet, but then again, it is a country of two very large islands all there on its own in the south Pacific, isn’t it? Thanks again for your post!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..Fri(day) Fotos Festive theme

    • Rob says:

      Henry:

      I too am originally Canadian and found the NZ accents fun and easy. The real trick is to dig out the hints of original accent in immigrant Kiwis. I was particularly pleased one day to find the Irish in the speech of a gal who’d been in NZ for years!

      My brother lives on Quadra Island and if I had to compare BC and NZ I’d say they are similar in some ways but surprisingly different in others. I’d say NZ is gentler, even in the mountains. Much as my Colorado mountains differ so dramatically from the CDN rockies. The one good thing in NZ is the lack of things that want to eat you or kill you by accident. :)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I think you were sold long ago, Henry! ;)

      And I have actually visited Vancouver! But it was a very brief visit, and I didn’t see much beyond the inside of the Convention Center. I’m definitely planning to go back someday, though. From what I saw, I can definitely see some of the similarities to NZ! (Though I’m sure Vancouver has a much better Internet situation! Haha.)

  5. The slow and expensive Internet drove me absolutely crazy! But the scenery & the people made up for it. Great post!
    Angie Orth of Angie Away recently posted..A Visit with C.S. Lewis in Oxford

  6. Karina says:

    Yay! I’m glad you love New Zealand so! I’ve lived here for 13 years now and can’t imagine myself anywhere else. Everything you’ve written is so justified and as a kiwi I agree with it all!

    Another reason why I love New Zealand, and especially the North Island, is that you’re never too far away from the ocean or a lake. It’s extra great during summer!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Lucky you, calling NZ home! I’d love to move there myself someday.

      And good point on being close to the water! That’s very true, especially in the north island, where there aren’t any mountains to worry about. I think that also partially fits into NZ being so easy to get around — you can get to a lot of great places in a relatively short amount of time!

  7. I totally understand. I feel the same with the UK! There are some any things I hate about it, but somehow every time I have to leave it’s like I leave a little peace of my heart there.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yup, that’s exactly how I feel about NZ! Though I definitely love more things about it than I hate. I already can’t wait to go back.

  8. I keep on hearing about how great NZ is. It’s great to hear what’s not so great. I hear the public transportation systems within the cities aren’t that great either. For example no metro or anything like that because of the lack of population. I didn’t know about the racism. How do they feel about asians? :-\
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Staying Healthy: Vaccines & Medications

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Every country has it’s faults, and I think it would be almost irresponsible of me to keep going on about how fantastic NZ is without also acknowledging some of its faults. (Though it still IS fantastic!)

      But you’re right about the transportation – there are no metros or anything like that. Auckland and Wellington do at least have a nice bus system, though. But most cities just aren’t large enough to support anything more.

      And, with NZ being so close to Asia, I think most Kiwis are perfectly used to seeing Asians there. :) On the whole, people in NZ are incredibly friendly. So I wouldn’t worry!

  9. You have impeccable timing.. We leave for NZ in 10 days! Planning to spend an entire month in NZ so I’m sure we’ll have our own love/hate relationship with NZ to write. Though I doubt you’ll ever get to see it if the internet is that shitty. Is it really that bad?! Bummer. Haha. Hoping more LOVE than HATE on this trip. =) Great post!
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Staying Healthy: Vaccines & Medications

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Oh, I guarantee there will be more love than hate!! :) And I’ll look forward to reading your posts on it!

      And the Internet isn’t HORRIBLE… but it IS expensive, and often slow. But I suppose it’s best to know about it going in!

  10. Kirk Richmond says:

    As a BROWN NZer, with a white father and Fijian mother, I can assure that this “racism” you speak of is not actually, racism at all. It is culturism, where the majority of New Zealanders, including many Maori, are sick of the culture prevalent in the Maori culture, which is one of entitlement. Many Maori work extremely hard to make a better life; however, as is always the case, it’s only the minority that have been the catalyst for what you see as “racism”. They feel that as the indigenous people (although in actual fact the Maoris are not indigenous to NZ, having cannabilised the original settlers) they are entitled to ownership of the sea, the foreshore, and the land with ALL the infrastructure brought here by the “Pakeha” (Maori term for the white man- Meaning WHITE PIG, who’s racist now??). This is the reason you see this “racism”.

    As for the comment that we have retained too much of the English heritage, well that could possibly be due to the fact that we were settled by the English, a connection which is still very strong today. As a chef that has been around the world, I can assure that the variety of options in NZ is vast. We thank you for loving our country despite the things that irk you; however, I (and it’s only my opinion) think that a lot of what you have spoken about is true, when looking at the surface, but there are underlying causes for much of what you see or experience. as for the internet thing… 100% right hahaha, but hey we still get things done and keep up with the rest of the world.. Imagine what Kiwis could do if we had same internet capabilities as the rest of the world… Loved your article despite what I said, just wanted to enlighten people as to what they think is rampant racism… I love New Zealand and all its people… And we welcome you anytime, with our funny accent and flightless birds…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks so so much for the insight, Kirk. I really do appreciate it. I realize that the “racism” issue is much more complex than I made it out to be, and I think you’ve done a much better job explaining it than I could. I’ve spent a total of about 6 months in NZ over the past few years, and that’s the only reason I felt comfortable writing this post — I don’t think I would have been able to put it together after only a few weeks there. But, as you’ve pointed out, there are underlying factors that influence a lot of things that are probably difficult to fully understand without living there for a long time. Though, it’s not really any different than some of the issues my own country faces, when you think about it.

      Again, thanks! And I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

    • Kiwi Girl in Ireland says:

      As a kiwi girl too I think your post is bang on about the culture!
      And as for the slow internet, I’ve travelled the world and couldn’t tell you about the internet in most places because it wasn’t even in the top ten of complaints. If our bad internet is the biggest complaint I think that’s wonderful lol. Great post!

      • DangerousBiz says:

        Haha, you’re so right! When the Internet speed is the thing the most people complain about, it clearly isn’t so bad!

    • Delma says:

      Whoa Kirk Richmond, man have you got this sooooo wrong. May I suggest you enrol in an educational program that will teach you some facts about Maori!! You obviously have some major issues Pakeha does not mean White Pig, It means light skinned or “ghostly”. Maori are the original inhabitants of NZ, once again your ignorance is on display. If you are talking about Moriori they settled in the Chatham Islands not NZ and yes maori did raid and kill them on occassion (and eat them as was the custom of that time – including in the Fijian culture). Their mass destruction however was at the hand of whalers and sailors with an estimated 80,000 dying from disease.
      I think your points in the first paragraph clearly show these readers the true extent of ignorance that exists in this country that can be construed as racisim. Arohanui

  11. I would like to hear more about your experience with rampant racism. Seems a bit odd to me, I lived there for 16 years and certainly didn’t feel this was the case.

    The Maori are probably the best treated indigenous culture going around. Was there a certain experience or city that made you come to that conclusion?
    Wayne – Solo Junket recently posted..Being prepared and open for change

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m not saying Maori aren’t treated well — I agree that they generally are, especially when it comes to the government. But, like in any other country, there are plenty of remarks that often seemed a bit off-color to me, especially by some of the younger students I was always around while living in Wellington. Nothing worse than what I grew up hearing living near an urban city in Ohio, but still there nonetheless. I’ve talked to a lot of other people who have traveled around NZ that have mentioned noticing this, too. Maybe it’s more prevalent in the younger generation, though.

      I’m not saying it’s a huge issue, but I think it’s still worth noting that NZ has some social issues just like everywhere else in the world.

  12. Ryan Brown says:

    I am just starting to just barely tap into how awesome New Zealand is but I have had a blast so far, even though I have spent a couple weeks just in Auckland. The Northland was stunning and I can’t wait to head down south but I am here for a year and I have plenty of time. I do see your point about the racism though, and it is really unfortunate. I had a phenomenal time attending my first Hāngi and learning about the culture. Thanks for the post!
    Ryan Brown recently posted..5 Eats for $5 In Auckland

    • DangerousBiz says:

      So glad to hear you’re loving NZ so far, Ryan! I think the country only gets better (at least scenery-wise) the further south you go!

      And I’m glad you attended a hangi! A great way to learn more about Maori culture. Pity though that you’ve noticed some of the not-so-nice bits about NZ too.

  13. Ali says:

    You & I were talking about the internet/wifi here the other day. It’s ridiculous. It finally started working decently in my hostel, but I still can’t believe how much I had to pay for it (here & in Oz). I was at a cafe the other day that gave out wifi passwords that were only good for a certain amount of data or whatever, lasted about an hour to an hour and a half of blogging, tweeting, emailing, etc. Although I have seen a network called CBD Free Wifi when I’m in the middle of Wellington but I haven’t tried it b/c you have to pick an advertisement thing that seemed weird.

    Also, it feels like winter here! It’s crazy!
    Ali recently posted..Cooking Class for One in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yeah, NZ Internet is plagued with that whole limited data thing. Even when you live there, you are allotted only so much usage per month, otherwise your Internet slows down and you are charged more. But go ahead and try that free wifi that you find downtown — Wellington (and some other NZ cities) are giving free wifi in well-trafficked areas a try. They installed free wifi all along the waterfront not too long ago.

      And it feels like winter? That’s odd! It should be warming up by now. Then again, it doesn’t seem like winter at all here in Ohio yet, so who knows. The weather has been all messed up everywhere this year, it seems!

  14. Arti says:

    Oh! New Zealand is so so beautiful! I have heard so much about it and seen on the television. Would love to visit it one day.
    Beautiful post, loved it.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. And the best part is that it’s 10 times better in person than it looks in photos. :) I hope you do get to visit someday!

  15. Anna says:

    New Zealand sounds so exotic. I Hope one day I will visit it:) I like spending time being far form Europe and exploring other completely different cultures:)

  16. Vi says:

    “I HATE how far away New Zealand is from everything.”
    That is main reason why l left NZ, otherwise I probably would stay there for ever :)
    Vi recently posted..Travel luggage scales

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yes, it does make it hard to travel elsewhere – or to visit family if they aren’t also in NZ. I’d love to move to NZ someday, but I don’t think my parents would like it too much! ;)

  17. Like you with NZ, I hate how far Oz is from everything! Such a pitfall! ;) Great post/roundup!
    Brooke vs. the World recently posted..I am a Blogger, and I am Powerful: On Bloggers, Brands and Fear

  18. you seems to have a great time in NZ…one of my travel wishlist…nice post you shared here..
    Ruby Travelling recently posted..Interesting Places To Visit in Queensland, Australia

  19. Rebecca says:

    Totally agree with the biggest suck factor on how far it is from everything!!

    Totally disagree on the internet being a downside! These people have their priorities straight and it’s NOT with their head stuck in their phone or at work or on a computer:-). I love that the internet is shite, makes me want to use it less, which is a good thing.

    I LOVE the fauna compared to Australia. You know, none of these places were ever attached to each other, hence such a difference. Even the North and South Islands have little in common as the South came up from Antarctica and the North floated down from Polynesia.

    Love your comparisons posts:-)
    Rebecca recently posted..Random Weekend: Book: Hitching Rides with Buddha

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Well I definitely agree that kiwis have their priorities straight when it comes to work and disconnecting. But, as a travel blogger, the Internet situation there is most definitely a downside! ;) Though, I have a feeling if I ever moved there, I’d probably adapt quite quickly. The “no worries” attitude rubs off so easily!

      And yes, it’s amazing how different the flora and fauna is in NZ as compared to Australia. Like you pointed out, though, it does make sense when you think about it. But I’ll take NZ’s furry and feathered inhabitants over the beasties that call OZ home any day!

  20. Andrea says:

    Agree with all of these! The internet was crazy slow and expensive…Australia isn’t much better for that, of course.
    Andrea recently posted..5 Reasons to Visit Jordan Now

  21. Deepika says:

    Hi,
    This blog worries me.. I’m an Indian girl and I will be traveling in New Zealand for a month in Feb ..
    I understand that when you speak of racism you are referring to the maoris but I am going to face it too ? This s going to be my first solo trip abroad and that in itself is making me a little jittery.. And now the racism issue..
    Hmmm…
    I absolutely love your blog by the way.. !

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Oh please don’t let this worry you, Deepika! I don’t think you’ll need to fret about this at all. New Zealanders are very friendly and welcoming, especially to visitors. You’ll have a great time!

  22. [...] gives her loves and hates about New Zealand (short hint: the loves greatly outweigh the hates!) and does the [...]

  23. My partner and I just spend the last year living and blogging about New Zealand! Such a great place…but ya… the internet thing definitely annoyed us! Its so hard to be a travelling blogger in NZ!
    Jade – OurOyster.com recently posted..Midweek Snapshot – Snow on tree – December 2010

    • DangerousBiz says:

      SO true. If ever I move to NZ permanently, I have a feeling my travel blogging would suffer – both from lack of good Internet, and because there’s so many better things to be doing than sitting in front of a computer! ;)

  24. Sam says:

    As a Kiwi, but currently living overseas I found your post really interesting. Have to admit I was a little shocked to see you write that racism is rampant in NZ; I would tend to disagree (with the word ‘rampant’) but on the other hand I know I base most of my experience with people in Auckland.
    Sam recently posted..Photos from Southern Utah & Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Perhaps “rampant” wasn’t the right word; another Kiwi pointed it out as being perhaps a bit extreme. I think “widespread” is perhaps more of what I meant. But it’s by no means an all-consuming or huge issue. I was just trying to point out that it’s there, just like it is in just about every country around the world. It’s one flaw that is seemingly inescapable, no matter where you go.

  25. I love Air New Zealand, too! I haven’t actually flown to New Zealand before, but my flight on that airline from LAX to London was phenomenal. The internet issue is the pits, though, and its mainly why we’ve avoided New Zealand thus far – working from the road does having its limitations. But it seems like a good place for an actual vacation when we can handle being unplugged for a few weeks.
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Best Travel Photos from 2011

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I wish AirNZ flew more places… I would definitely fly with them more often if I could!

      And you don’t have to be completely unplugged in New Zealand… it’s just a little bit tougher (and more expensive) to be constantly plugged in. It is getting slightly better, but the improvements are kind of like the pace of life there — a bit slow. :)

  26. Aaron says:

    I’m a naturalized Australian who’s lived in America & Australia and visited NZ. My favourite place in NZ is Bay of Islands. How did you write a whole article on NZ without a sheep joke?

    I don’t think there is a significant race problem in NZ. There are about 3 full-blooded Maori’s left yet the Maori culture survived. Compare that to the American Indians or even the Aboriginal culture in Australia. One of the reasons for this is that Polynesians were far more advanced. They settled tiny islands all over the South Pacific in hollow log canoes. That always amazes me. Imagine loading up the canoe with the wife and kids and paddling off into the ocean to find a new island over the horizon that may or may not be there.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Oh, I’ve included plenty of sheep jokes in many of my other NZ posts. ;)

      And I’m not sure the racism problem is connected to the Maori culture surviving. It certainly has been well-preserved, but that’s not necessarily related to the types of off-color comments I would hear there. It’s not nearly as bad as in Australia or the U.S., though!

  27. Dayna says:

    This post was so interesting, I have never been there (mostly because I HATE that it is so far away as well)! I’d be very interested to learn a bit more about the Maori culture, which I was introduced to by a really interesting poi spinner I met once, it sounded pretty amazing. Thanks for touching on the great and the not-so-great so I know what to expect!
    Dayna recently posted..A Very Romanian Christmas

    • DangerousBiz says:

      The Maori culture is really interesting, and there are plenty of places to learn more about it in NZ (Rotorua has some of the best cultural offerings). I’m glad you liked this post, and I hope it’s convinced you to look past how far away New Zealand is and start thinking about going there!

  28. Andrew says:

    Did the long long haul flights back and forth. Ugh nasty and won’t be doing it that way again. And really the internet is truly awful. Ashamedly so. Though we were lucky and found a place in Dunedin as well as one in Auckland with free if a bit iffy WiFi.
    The scenery is gorgeous but I really like the sense of humor. I went in to a shop to ask about a pharmacy. I asked if there was one around. He said “yes”. This would be where normal people would give directions, I had to ask again. And like you link the Air NZ sense of humor was great. One flight the flight attendant talked about the no smoking rule by saying if you want to smoke please step out on the wing, if you can light it you can smoke it there. And rows 13-20 will be getting full breakfast on a plane with only 11 rows. :) It helped the anxiety I feel when being on an airplane.

    We had a great trip and do not regret going. More stuff coming on GT soon.
    Andrew recently posted..Indie Travel Challenge – Week 2 : Indie Traveler

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Glad to hear you guys had a great trip, despite the long flights and iffy wi-fi. In my opinion, a small price to pay for the amazingness of everything else in the country!

      I agree that the sense of humor there is great. Goes hand-in-hand with the laid-back attitude, I think — they don’t take anything too too seriously.

  29. [...] Transportation As noted by New Zealand addicted Amanda Williams over at A Dangerous Business travel blog, this country also rocks bio-diesel transportation and [...]

  30. KiwiBruce says:

    Great post! As a travelling Kiwi who has spent half his life overseas, there are three NZ secrets that shouldn’t be secret:
    1. Best motorbike ride IN THE WORLD: Down the west coast of the South Island, across the Alps via Haast Pass and up to Queenstown. 3 days. But do it in summer!
    2. Best RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: Hike at least one of the Great Walks. Or (just as good but different), do the 4-day Round the Mountain tramp round Mt Taranaki. Or (completely different because its tough) tramp the Northern Crossing of the rugged Tararuas (that will sort the men from the boys!)

    There’s good & bad in every country. NZ is cold in winter and never really tropical, but you can still safely drink from virtually every river and hike for weeks through true untouched wilderness, a rare thing overseas.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      There definitely is good and bad in every country. Though the good definitely outweighs the bad for me in NZ!

  31. Cynthia says:

    Hello, thank you for sharing all these!! I love too much NZ and I wish. I could go back there next year, I miss that beautiful country!!
    Enjoy your travels!!
    Cynthia

  32. Cam says:

    Great post, I am a New Zealander that works overseas a lot. I have worked it Turkey, Australia, Greece, Africa and the Solomon’s and I have to say our internet was superior to those countries! just shows how bad theirs must be! Hope you all come back for a visit, sing out when you get here I will put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea.

  33. Lou says:

    Hi DangerousBiz,

    Thank you for this article! My boyfriend and I went to NZ for 7 weeks recently and loved it. We stayed with my boyfriends Aunt and Uncle in Christchurch and took lots of road trips to different places on the south island. Since returning we have come to realise that we would love to live in NZ. After doing some research I came across a website that basically has all the reasons to hate NZ and why it’s such a horrible place to live. Then I came across your article that is much more balanced and has restored my faith in NZ! Time to crack on with the visas :-)

    And someone made a fair point. If the internet is on the list as being a draw back to NZ, I think I’ll cope!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Well I’m glad you found my post, Lou, and that you didn’t completely write NZ off after that negative website. Good luck with the visas!

  34. Graeme says:

    Love your blog,

    I’ve only found it in the last few days and have enjoyed the read. You are welcome back in New Zealand anytime :-)
    Let me know if you are in Europe anytime, I’d love to pick you brain about travel and photography

    Graeme

  35. Graeme says:

    By the way, the government are investing in a new internet system around the country that will drastically improve everyones coverage and speed, making us one of the best places for public access in the world. Just another thing to love.

    g

  36. Ivan says:

    What an awesome post!! Love it!
    New Zealand is truly a great place, whether you are visiting or living. We immigrated to NZ 8 years ago and love every moment (yes, there are the negatives too but I think the positives outweigh the negatives by far). For those who would like free information on everything Middle-Earth, from immigration, cost of living, employment etc. have a look at http://www.sa2nz.com – I did it for family and friends who kept on asking for info and I kept repeating myself, so no need to anymore. :)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I agree that the positives BY FAR outweigh the negatives in New Zealand. I’d love to call it home for a while myself someday!

      And thanks for the link – I’ll definitely check it out.

  37. I can’t believe that when I first arrived in New Zealand I was so negative about the whole country. Having spent the previous 2 years living and travelling Australia I kind of begrudged coming to NZ but I was so, so wrong. Now, 9 months on, I absolutely love it here! The scenery, the people, how easy it is to get around, the fact that there always seems to be something going on…I just love it so much and I know when I have to leave I’m going to be the same – crying! Great post Amanda :)
    Beverley | Pack Your Passport recently posted..That Time I Wasn’t Allowed Back On a Plane in Singapore

    • DangerousBiz says:

      It really is a special country. No matter how many others I visit, NZ somehow still always remains at the top of my list.

  38. Paul says:

    Re “I LOVE how eco-conscious New Zealand is”, I’m not sure we are.
    NZ being clean and green is a myth. We are just as dirty and polluting as everyone else, if not worse. FYI the tourism board claims the “100% Pure NZ” marketing campaign is not an environmental claim. See
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/8397477/Eco-activist-slams-100-campaign

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Perhaps it just feels like NZ is more eco-friendly because it’s less-populated than anywhere I’ve ever lived? I don’t know. Living there, I did definitely see plenty of things to make me think the country was more eco-conscious than where I’m from.

  39. Jewel says:

    Hi Amanda, we’ve been living in NZ for 2 years now. Great post and I found myself smiling and agreeing while reading. Yes NZ is a special place with special people, for us we feel that we found a home here. I found your blog months before moving to New Zealand and find it very helpful. Btw, Ultra Fast Internet is now here in Timaru, South Island :)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Good to hear the Internet is getting better! And I’m also really glad to hear that my posts helped you out!

  40. Virginia says:

    I am a kiwi, lived here all my life :) From Feilding (Most beautiful town in NZ 15 years running) Loved your review. I think sometimes I can take for granted the amazing country I live in, however, when I have returned from being oversees I have always been blown away by how beautiful NZ really is! :D I wonder if you have ever done some tramps? I did the Abel Tasman and Queens Charlotte a few summers ago and it was breath taking. As for the racism, as with any country you are going to find racism however I am surprised by how much you identified NZ to be particularly racist. If you look at our history you will notice that we are one of the only countries that consciously thought of our natives rights when trying to amalgamate both cultures during colonization, with our Treaty of Waitangi. I think NZ’s example in this respect should be the norm of how countries treat their native people, however look at Australia, USA and SA and a different example emerges. The NZ government has made a conscious effort to alleviate injustices which did occur, providing compensation, giving back iwi (tribal) land, plus in our parliament there are permanent Maori seats assigned meaning our native people’s voice is always heard. In retrospect maybe this is where these racist or separatist ideals tourists feel come from? Because we put such emphasis on ensuring our Maori people have their rights, it may be in a sense creating a divide due to the opportunities they are given over other groups within society. Definitely an issue which we are consciously trying to improve. Our country is also not afraid to create discussion around this issue, having held debates and prime time dialogues about it generating NZ public interest. Therefore, in regards to other countries I think we have been very accepting, fair and all-encompassing in our actions as a country towards our natives something whilst studying NZ history I found very admirable.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks for your very thoughtful comment, Virginia. I think the only reason that the race issue was one I really noticed was because, while living in New Zealand, I was taking a few media courses. And a lot of our discussions were centered around the race issues. That, coupled with some interactions I had with Kiwi university students, led me to include that in this list. I’m not saying NZ has a problem with racism more than other countries do – I’m just acknowledging that it’s there, just like in most countries.

  41. Simon says:

    As a Kiwi, the strangest thing to read in your entire post was the accusation of culturally embedded racism. That’s simply mental.
    One thing which really struck me when I left NZ, was the insidious unspoken racism prevalent outside my country. The unintegrated communies. The divisions between races & religions. The otherness of anyone outside your given ethnicity. It was odd and jarring.
    In NZ, everyone just seems to get on with it.
    Yes, New Zealanders are probably the first people in the world to acknowledge someone’s race – as we come from an extremely multicultural country. (Not just bicultural. ) But the acknowledgement is rarely if ever based in ‘hatred’ or intollerence. Kiwis will, with race, as they do of EVERY other facet of life, simply call a spade a spade.
    It’s less about feining ‘Colour-Blindness’ so much as it’s ‘ Colour-GenuinelyCouldntGiveAShit-ness’.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Sorry if you found it strange, but I think I AM calling a spade a spade in this post and sharing MY (an outsider’s) observations. Like I’ve replied to other commenters, I can only base my judgements on my personal experiences – many of them with university students in Wellington. I’m sure they differ from your experiences.

  42. Alikiwi says:

    As a kiwi who has been travelling for over a year I was pleased to see how much you love NZ. Very excited to be heading home in a little over a month. Travelling all these countries has made me appreciate my country even more. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve travelled 30 countries in the last year and a half and yet have only been to the South Island once in my life. I think the thing that bothers me the most about the “rampant racism” comment is that fellow commenters and other viewers of the site are getting the wrong image of New Zealand. It is even putting people of coming to NZ as they now view us as racists when really it’s the same if not tamer than most parts of the world I have travelled.Thanks for the blog and hope you come back soon. Sweet as bro.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      New Zealand is indeed a very special place, and I can’t wait to get back there myself! Hopefully I’ll be able to sometime in the next year.

      As for the racism comment, I’ve had other (non-New Zealanders) agree with me about it. It’s staying in the post simply because it’s something I witnessed. If you read the bit, though, you should realize that I’m not singling NZ out, but simply noting that there are race issues there just like everywhere else in the world. If I was writing a post called “Things I Love and Hate About Romania” I would definitely add in that I hate that the country is quite anti-gay. Would that perhaps turn people off of visiting? Maybe. But the point of my blog is to be honest about my experiences, and I’m not about to change that!

  43. Native Kiwi says:

    Kia Ora Amanda

    Awesome post, really enjoyed it, so have my friends who are journeying to NZ in a few days.
    Regarding the racism factor, as a Native Kiwi I completely agree with your comments.
    Maori and Polynesian peoples (which is a term meaning many nesian people, which to me seems a bit racist in its amalgamation of several different people groups) are always under-represented in positive stats and vice versa. People often forget that whether or not there is a problem with racism in a country can only be affirmed or denied by those who espouse it. The racism comes from a lack of knowledge regarding our colonial past by all parties, and it is the least favourite facet of my country.

    Aroha Atu E Hoa, thanks for a great post, hope to have you in NZ again

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks so much for your comment – and for agreeing with me on the racism thing. I think a lot of people misunderstand what I mean by “racism” here – racism doesn’t have to be overt (though I’ve experienced a bit of that in NZ, too); it can be more subtle, like native people being underrepresented/underserved in government, education, pop culture, etc. And I definitely saw THAT in NZ.

  44. Jack says:

    It’s so interesting seeing other people write about New Zealand from a different cultural perspective. For me New Zealand has always been pretty, and boring. Now that I have traveled, its stunning…but still boring haha.

  45. Paul says:

    Its terrible that is a section of small minded people that have given you hassle about your thoughts on racism in NZ. They are complete and utter morons for doing so. A fresh pair of eyes sees things differently and for you to have an opinion is your prerogative. End of story.
    I’m glad you can brag about the place you have grown to love

  46. becs says:

    Thanks for the post, it was a nice read. I’ve lived in NZ for nearly 2 years now.. I moved here from Australia. I enjoyed the first 6 months of travelling and exploring (which I’m sure we enjoy no matter where we are travelling) but haven’t really enjoyed myself ever since so was looking for something positive to spice up my mood. I find NZ quite different from how you described in many respects. I don’t find the people warm, friendly or laid back. The only people ive met fitting that description aren’t from here originally. I find kiwis to be very closed minded and quite reserves. Also very backwards and behind the times in their thinking. Compared to the Gold coast where I was brought up, people have no idea about the environment and couldn’t care less for eco friendly products etc. Most people I meet havent travelled passed their home town and some of these people are now in their 40s. No world experience or even experience in other parts of their own country. Ive heard people mention ‘culture shock’ when flying 2 hrs to the next city. Because of this people have the same group of friends they went to kindergarten with and are very clicky and unwelcoming. I find people to be very judgemental and caught up on looks.. I never worr makeup until I was here because you are treated less if you dont. Plus you need to dress up just to go to the supermarket. I much prefer the laid back beach culture of the Gold Coast where everyone is your friend and life isn’t such a rate race. I also dont feel safe walking alone in auckland as there are often attacks on women. I miss being able to go for a walk or ride at any time of dag and feel safe. Plus its not light until after 7am in winter which is awful!
    NZ is beautiful to visit.. but not to live. I agree with an earlier comment, it is quite boring and I think its due to being a very indoorsy culture because its cold and dark so early. Give me a beachy surfy lifestyle any day :)

    • Amanda says:

      Interesting perspective! Just goes to show that everyone has a different experience. My experience living in Wellington sounds much different from your experience living in Auckland!

  47. allan says:

    Becs must having been having a really bad day when she wrote her comment. Either that or the Auckland she now lives in is getting to her. I’m a Kiwi and have lived/travelled overseas extensively – mainly to mountain areas but also for the culture/history of the cities and rural areas. I’ve never had a bad experience anywhere – even in countries such as Ethiopia, Peru, Bolivia and Kenya where safety considerations have to be dealt with. Many times I’ve been humbled by the lives of others and more and more I feel truly grateful for being able and privileged to to see so much of the world. As a person who has recently returned to NZ to live and work, I’m proud to say that it’s not just the great scenery but the great diversity here. Imagine all the “stuff” that makes up the human contribution here – bundle it up and put it into a large city like Sydney (I lived there for some years). Sydney has (job opportunities etc aside) excellent beaches, a good climate, and (I’m told) a prettty good night-life which many Sydney residents enjoy. It also has much the same population as NZ . But it has a lot less diversity of human impact , which is the nature of cities overall I guess. As for the comment that Kiwis hardly travel – what rubbish! We are amongst the most travelled people in the world – we have to in order to get anywhere. And in doing this travel we’ve encountered many cultures of the world. And I don’t mean simply going to Bali and lying on a beach. I’ve met Kiwis in the most far-reaching places. Kiwis also have a sense of humour that may rub up against some people. “Call a spade a spade” is part of that humour. Travel south of Auckland (or north as well) and you’ll meet Kiwis who know of Aucklanders who have travelled extensively overseas and never been to the South Island. Auckland represents much of the New Zealand I know but only a small fraction of what exists. LA is not the US I travelled in, London is not England (I do rather like London though) and Sydney is not the Australia I know. As for the internet. This blog started years ago. Things have moved on since then.

    • Becs says:

      Thanks for your comment Allan. I guess we all have a very different view depending on our experience. I too have travelled Ethiopia, various parts of Europe (not being Paris & Venice but being the hidden gems, alps and coasts you rarely hear of), various pacific islands (again, not fiji or rarotonga but have hiked and hitched rides with the locals, adventuring and following our nose), various Asian countries and have explored much of Australia and top to bottom of NZ. I still stand by what I was saying, & have spoken to many others who have moved here who have all had the same experience. We have all found kiwis un-travelled, clicky and unfriendly. It seems you have met like-minded people, but we have not. It could be the same anywhere, I guess that’s luck of the draw. And wherever your home is, you will identify with and more likely meet like-minded people. The culture and the vibe of Auckland is in my view depressing compared to anywhere I have been before, and while NZ is absolutely beautiful and incredible in a lot of respects, I feel Auckland lets it down. I will come back to visit but not to live. We’re all allowed to have our points of view and share our experience, and of course we will all have a very different experience to one another.

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