Things I Love (and Hate) About New Zealand

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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…

Lupins at 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.

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.

Queenstown, 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, Kaikoura, Nelson, Wanaka…

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
The Takahe bird

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, both against native people and more recent immigrants. 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 against certain nationalities, which I often personally witnessed while living with university students in Wellington and traveling around New Zealand. 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, but I don't care. New Zealanders CAN be very racist and very unaccepting of other cultures, just like people in my own country are. This is my opinion, based on my personal experiences living with Kiwi university students for 5 months in Wellington and traveling around the country on multiple occasions over the span of more than 10 years. 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.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate New Zealand Bucket List

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

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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144 Comments on “Things I Love (and Hate) About New Zealand

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  1. I have lived in NZ for 15 months. I think there is subtle racism in NZ, people talk a lot about Asian immigrants but nobody would discuss about immigrants from South Africa just because they’re white.
    Kiwis appear to be nice in front of you but behind you they backbite. Another point, I found many kiwis are narrow-minded and the only thing they care about is Australia. On the other hand, I also found kiwis friendly to some extent but most of them remain aloof.
    Again, it is beautiful country but toxic people

    This post is actually really cool and honest, as a maori I can (hopefully inoffensively) say that the racism part really caught my eye… Not many people tend to bring it up and often brush over it with the “you have it better than…”
    We do have many amazing places and sights to see but as a person who looks like a represent of maori, it’s a lot more awkward to travel, I remember going to the north shore and orewa with my dad on a trip and simply put, getting started at by all the local folk (mainly Caucasian… Sorry guys), it was like being a freak on the loose, even little kids were pointing and whispering to their parents who were just as curious as to why I would be in their Mac Donald’s ?
    It’s here there and everywhere in the world I guess

      It IS everywhere in the world; doesn’t matter where I’ve traveled, there’s always some form of racism present. It’s just reality, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t call it out!

    we immigrated to NZ 15 years ago the biggest mistake of my life, i absolutely dont like the attitude of the NZ’landers, they cant handle the truth at all, nice country but the people no thanks.

    I’m an educated widely travelled white new zealander and yes there is racism here, institutional and casual racism, toward maori, asian, polynesian people. This is mostly coming from white new zealanders. These people are just extremely ignorant. Lets face it there are alot of unsophisicated people in new zealand. We are so cut off that unless you actively educate yourself through extensive travel and education, you wind up being a bit narrow minded and provincial. This what I personally find so irritating about the place at times. But you learn to live with it, and most places, outside of large stimulating metropoli harbour a provincial mindset.
    On the upside people are friendly and genuinely care about others.

      It’s certainly not an issue unique just to New Zealand – you find the same thing just about everywhere. But I do think it’s worth acknowledging.

    I love NZ so much, I’ve visited eight times. But of course that is easy from Australia, a couple of hours away. Racism? Yes I noticed it, especially in Taupo when I was called a f$&#% white sl&# by a local. I don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe took her parking spot? Yelled out at the top of her lungs too. Probably the only bad human experience I have had in NZ. One most memorable occasion was spending time with an indigenous local who gave us a great insight into local history and his family’s story over the generations. I could move to New Zealand in a heartbeat, earthquakes and all!

      Lucky you living so close! The flight from the US is so much longer. 🙁

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