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 theΒ New Zealand accent.Β 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. 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

      Thanks for the support, Paul!

    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.

      Hahaha, fair enough, Jack. You should come to Ohio if you want to experience boring. πŸ˜‰

    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

      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.

        Dont stress it aye! You were right on the money. Dont worry about the people that get all riled up, you wrote a really quality piece, evidenced by how many comments and reads it still gets today.

        Aroha Nui

    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.

      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!

    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’.

      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.

    I am a kiwi, lived here all my life πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜€ 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.

      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.

    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 πŸ™‚

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

    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

      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.

    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 πŸ™‚

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

    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. πŸ™‚

      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.

    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

    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 πŸ™‚
    Let me know if you are in Europe anytime, I’d love to pick you brain about travel and photography

    Graeme

      Thanks so much, Graeme!

      And I plan to be back in Europe this summer/fall!

    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 πŸ™‚

    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!

      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!

    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.

      But was the crappy Internet in those other countries free? Lol, that’s the real question! πŸ˜‰

    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

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