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

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 too love new Zealand, your blog certainly painted a picture of the way it is. I am travelling back next year for the Lions 2017 tour travelling with Lions Rugby Travel. even there is so much competitiveness on this event and despite the New Zealanders passion for Rugby a warm welcome is always guaranteed – so is a slow internet!

      Sounds like a fun time! I remember I was there for the Lions tour back in 2005 – everyone was SO into it!

    I agree with Norman’s first comment 100%. NZ is amazingly functional, friendly and safe. Free, welcoming and beautiful. We have our minor annoyances as does every place you are lucky enough to visit. The major annoyance for me is how far away from the rest of the world NZ is. But, that in it’s self is a great thing.

    I am a kiwi who lives in South East Asia. Thailand is my home for now. I also love NZ and miss the place very much. I hope to get back there for a few days this year. I am saddened by all the talk of racism. I have spent more than 50 years in NZ and while I have seen or heard the occasional offhand silly “racist” comment from people or machines I think NZ is a shining example of a multicultural country. The Maori are great people. The Maori are NZ. I am lucky to count a great number of them as kind friends and I am Whanau to them. Any criticism regarding racism is misguided in my opinion. While we have our issues as all peoples do, I think the social situation in NZ is amazingly good. I think compared to may other places I have visited NZ has got it about right in this area. As for the internet, yes, I agree. Shockingly bad. Not because of geography, but because of monopoly. Please Love NZ and check out the Catlins if you have time. You will be amazed.

      Again, I can only speak from my personal experiences (and from living with university-aged Kiwis, which probably aren’t fully representative of NZ culture as a whole). I’m not saying racism is a huge problem in NZ (it’s probably worse in Australia and the US), but it’s definitely still there! Then again, I don’t think you’ll find any country on earth that doesn’t have a slight issue with it. NZ is still an amazing country!

        Yes, you are quite correct of course. There is some racism in NZ. Sad but true. I think the racism is now more a lot of negative feeling towards the large numbers of newly arrived Asian Immigrants. I hope this will pass. I think so. Many of the new people here are well heeled Asians and pushing up property prices which has caused a lot of resentment. I think this will sort it’s self out over time. From my perspective I think the Asian influence has improved NZ. At least Auckland. Auckland feels like a bigger, more interesting and more cosmopolitan city because of this change. My opinion is unlikely to be mainstream though since I don’t live in NZ at the moment. I have moved into their space. But, these are small social issues that as you say, all nations deal with. Overall NZ is amazing. I’m looking forward to my time back there soon. Taupo, Auckland and Queenstown for a short time.

    Really, really defensive. They get unpleasant even if you comment about something that’s true, like the lack of bus information in Wellington. Touchy!

    Just landed in NZ a week ago and I must say the internet is decent now a days and free in many hostels!

      Still a far cry from how great it is in Europe or the US, though! I was just there again in November, and hotels still charge you for (very slow) wifi by the megabyte!

    I think new Zealanders are very proud of their country, but don’t always see it as others do. These comments cover a range of sentiments about NZ, some good and some bad. We obviously have some areas to improve in, and not everyone likes us. Fair enough.
    New Zealand does have its fair share of problems, and in that I guess it is not unique. The great thing about NZ is that its free and welcoming, and people can travel around in safety and see everything the country has to offer. I have travelled to other countries and have never found one I did not like, although there were things about individual countries that I certainly did not like.
    Travelling has made me more aware of the beauty and safety of New Zealand and our connections to the world.
    It’s great that so many people travel here, and experience NZ, and share their experiences. NZ can only improve if we take on board the criticisms that people offer, while at the same time working to preserve all the good things.
    Thanks for your honesty everyone. Do not feel that the criticsm are resented. You are our mirror, and we need to see our real selves and the country in the reflections you provide.

      Thank you for the great comment, Norman!

    At the moment new zealand is one of the most popular countries ,mainly because of it’s emense beauty.You can see a viriety of landscapes in such a short distance.however it sad to see that people keep comparing Australia with New Zealand and down grade Australia when most have only seen the east coast of Australia .The best way to see Australia is off road and then you will see the real beauty of Australia.People don’t have enough time to explore Australia and ten to stick to the popular tourist spots.Anyway this blog is about New zealand and not Australia and is a country that most people love and Australia is so lucky to be so close to New Zealand.

      I definitely agree with you – you really can’t compare Australia to New Zealand! I’ve been to Australia, but it was only for a week, and I only visited Sydney and Perth. So I definitely can’t say I’ve “seen” it. I’m hoping to go back for about a month next year to see as much as I can!

    So glad to see this post and the other comments. Just got back from a two week visit to NZ; can’t wait to go back! Almost every experience my family and I had – from a great lunch at a winery on Waiheke Island near Auckland to the cruise of Milford Sound was an absolute pleasure. I can truly say that New Zealand is the one place I’ve been that I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Loved the people overall. Wellington was awesome in terms of scenery and food – loved the Cable car and the view. And the food! Great coffee and cafe culture. Loved the meat pies in NZ as well. Didn’t find the internet that bad at all. Drove all over and couldn’t get over the awesome west coast of South Island. The windy roads and hairpin bends were a bit scary at times but man, the scenery is worth it! Absolutely captivating. Loved getting there on premium economy on Air NZ. We’re from Toronto so it’s a 5 hour flight to California (San Francisco / LA), a three hour layover and then 11 hours to Auckland. Totally appreciate your comment about NZ having taken hold of your heart – mine too!

      Beware: New Zealand is always going to be calling to you from now on! (But, in my opinion that’s not a bad thing. 😉 )

    I lived in NZ for 10 years. I return every year from the UK to see my family. I love the fact theres more sunshine than Yorkshire (about 99 per cent more) and I’m addicted to Wellington’s coffee culture. I bought a sea kayak when I first arrived in NZ and happily paddled around the coast.
    But I went back t England every other year and finally went back to the UK.

    I have no interest whatsoever in rugby. It bores me into the ground.
    I like trees (not scrappy bush) and I love the UK seasons, the changes.
    I missed the sarcastic, cynical British humour. Despite Kiwis speaking a variety of English, they are more foreign than a German or Italian.
    Gentle light is beautiful. Harsh raking sun I had enough of.
    I love travelling and NZ is way too far from anywhere, with expensive international flights. I’ve just been from the UK to Moscow- return price 45 pounds. On a flight from Wellington that would barely get you to Christchurch.
    By european standards there is only city and a few towns in NZ.
    I worked for a few months in Dunedin. After that, I started planning my escape.:) I now live in London and the Yorkshire Dales – And twice a year fly to massive ancient cities filled with vibrant culture. Sorry NZ.

      I totally understand! New Zealand is SO isolated from the rest of the world that it’s not the ideal place to live if you like to travel abroad a lot!

    Hey there was pretty good reading your take on new zealand. Regardless of what anyone says the internet still sucks massively (price wise, speed isnt so bad) then again it doesnt really feel like an important issue to me. I’d rather be outside enjoying myself then being on the net. Not sure if anyones mentioned it but auckland and wellington have had metro train services for years. Where wellingtons is targeted at the greater metropolitan area and outer suburbs brittomart in auckland is a complete rail service that goes everywhere you could think of. I’d agree with the racism thing. Being a country with a small population has made a big percentage of the population xenophobic when it comes to immigration. Doesnt help that the government is constantly selling off huge chunks of land to foreign investors and mnc’s.

      Haha, it was driving me nuts that hotels in NZ STILL charge you for Internet AND then also limit how much you can use. As someone who works online (and works while traveling), this was maddening!

      But, I of course forgive New Zealand – it’s still my favorite country in the world!

    Hahaha! There’s not much things you hate about New Zealand… I was curious to see what it could be. Internet, of course. The thing I hate the most there is that I cannot stay there forever! It’s a paradise. I’m currently writing an article about my trip there, and just thinking about it makes me want to go again. I miss the kiwis so much!

      Haha, well it’s hard to hate your favorite place in the world! I, too, wish I could stay forever!

    Kia ora – Yay finally….. a blog that says good thing about my home…. I was worried that all blogs had the we hate Americans…and we’re rude and just downright awful.

    Thank you thank you.


      You clearly aren’t reading the right blogs! 😉 I’ve met plenty of amazing and friendly New Zealanders during my time spent traveling in the country – I LOVE NZ and will be back again soon!

        Woohoo!!!! And I’ll look forward to my first ever trip to th USA in under 17 days 🙂

        Again thank you

    As a kiwi it is nice to see a balanced post about New Zealand. Spot on. Although I have lived here my whole life and it is really funny to see the endless comments about the internet. It is expensive and capped mostly, but it seems really obscure that it would be that big of an issue! To be honest … out of all the things on this list the one I dont agree with so much is that Auckland is a positive, it is almost like a separate country that is angry and rushed, but once you leave the city, life is pretty great. Wellington is an awesome city to visit and live (if you can get used to the wind). Also as a note to prospective visitors – Get involved with the locals to get to know the awesome places that aren’t well advertised! (See Nikau Caves)

      Thanks for the great comment, Siobhan!

      Haha, I’m sure the Internet comments ARE funny to someone who has lived in NZ all their life. But, when you travel to so many places in the world and have no issues finding cheap, free, unlimited Internet everywhere from Romania to Vietnam, it’s a bit of a shock to the system to get to NZ! 😉

      Thanks for the Nikau Caves tip…

    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.

      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.

        The rest of New Zealand hates Auckland too.

    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 🙂

      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!

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