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Hold up, are New Zealand and Iceland actually the same place?

new zealand iceland

The other day I was on a mission of hike near Wanaka when I made friends with a Canadian at the summit.

We ended up climbing down the track together for a couple of hours chatting away about New Zealand, travel, and life, you know, the usual. It’s so easy to meet people in New Zealand, I love it!

One place we had in common was Iceland – he was there recently and I was there last summer with Tiny Iceland. Talking about our favorite spots, he eventually took the words out of my mouth telling me that sometimes New Zealand reminds him of Iceland.

I had been thinking the same exact thing for the past year!

new zealand iceland

While of course many things are different, like we don’t believe in elves here in New Zealand or have the midnight sun and I’m sure Icelanders think hobbits are weird and wouldn’t know what to make of a moa, in fact, New Zealand and Iceland have a lot of things in common, like a lot.

But in spite of being located on complete opposite sides of the planet, I’ve started to wonder – are New Zealand and Iceland actually the same place?

I had jotted down here and there in my notebooks whenever I would notice something similar but I was savoring my “profound” discovery and waiting until I finished my Iceland Challenge posts before sharing it with you all.


new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

1. Crazy landscapes

Probably the most obvious of them all, it’s a bit freaky how similar Iceland and New Zealand look. In some ways. In others, they are wildly different.

I think it comes from the fact that they are both so remote, both islands and literally at opposite ends of the world, and have been less effected by people and development but also have become so dramatically shaped due to crazy weather and climates.

Jagged peaks, enormous glaciers, volcanic steam, Iceland and New Zealand have them all.

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

I think I first starting noticing similarities with all of the geothermal activity in both places. Iceland has volcanoes, New Zealand has volcanoes. They both have freaky colored steamy lakes and geysers and of course a sense of impending doom and devastation if one of the many volcanoes blows its tops.

They are both countries filled with big views and more waterfalls than you could ever want and every landscape is a postcard.

Actually, I think that’s why I love them both so much. Beautiful and volatile.

new zealand iceland

2. No people

I’m just throwing this out there but I think that both Iceland and New Zealand are so unpopulated because they are literally at the end of the world.

While Iceland is actually quite close to Europe and the US (3 hours to London or 4 hours to Boston) it’s basically at the North Pole with very extreme long winters and just a quick summer. New Zealand has a more balanced climate but it’s literally a bajillion hours of hellish flying to get to unless you live in Australia. Of course I am speaking from an American perspective.

If you come to either, it’s because you really, really want to.

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

This is great for 2 reasons – both countries are seriously unpopulated and both are pretty much the best-kept secrets in the entire world.

Iceland population – 323,000. New Zealand population – 4 million. (New Zealand is a lot bigger than Iceland though so it evens out a bit).

In both countries you oftentimes feel like you have the place to yourself, touristy sites are usually uncrowded and on road trips you can drive for a long time and not see anyone. It’s awesome!

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

3. They are universally loved

There are only two countries in the world where I never (or rarely) hear a negative comment about – New Zealand and Iceland.

In fact, both places usually rank extremely high on people’s bucketlists or travel dream destinations of places to visit, especially if you are into visiting countries with wicked landscapes.

But the best part? Iceland and New Zealand are the only two countries where I’ve met travelers who not only love them wholeheartedly, but they also go back to them! I find that the most impressive statistic of them all considering how remote, expensive and challenging to get to that they are. That to me speaks volumes of how awesome New Zealand and Iceland are.

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

4. Expensive as hell

Of course, perfection and beauty come at a price.

New Zealand and Iceland can be horrendously expensive. I have a running joke here that my bank account balance just drops and drops for no reason – where does it go?

No matter what I buy at the grocery store, it’s $100 (cherry tomatoes were $7.99 today!) and I’ve gotten used to spending $5 for a cup of a coffee and I don’t blink an eye at a $90 for a private room in a hostel. Every little thing costs so much more than it does anywhere else in the world.

Yeah I get that a lot of things are imported or are out of season, but NZ does a great job of jacking up prices of things they have in abundance like lamb, wine and fish.

new zealand iceland

Same goes for Iceland. On my road trip I think we ate 3 proper meals in restaurants and then lived off of $3 gas station hot dogs for the rest of the trip.

Oh man.

That being said, if you want to come, don’t be deterred, there are plenty of ways to visit NZ or Iceland on the cheap. Hitchhiking is safe and common in both places, there are cheap buses, old car rentals and campervan relocation options, couchsurfing and AirBnB. Camping or cooking your own meals is common and working on farms or HelpX are the norm.

I meet broke backpackers making it work all the time – it goes back to the old adage, if you want it bad enough, work for it. But that’s a story for another day.

new zealand iceland

5. Northern and Southern Lights

While many people have learned that while winter in Iceland isn’t the most ideal time to visit, if you are intrepid enough to journey over during the dark long months, you might be rewarded with seeing the Northern Lights.

How cool is that?

While New Zealand doesn’t have the same level of long dark winters (thank god) on the bottom of the South Island you can get glimpses of the Southern Lights in winter, and not too infrequently either – it’s actually pretty common! Nobody really talks about it that much because, because let’s face it, nobody goes down there.

new zealand iceland

The Southern Lights by Trey Ratcliff via Stuck in Customs

new zealand iceland

The Northern Lights via Tiny Iceland

6. Hardy folk

Sometimes I like to think both New Zealand and Iceland are the last frontiers of the world, both originally empty lands settled by adventurous seafaring people.

Neither place are easy to live in so the people there have become strong, and for lack of a better word, hardy.

I feel so happy I have gotten to live in New Zealand for many reasons, but mostly because I know it’s made me tougher and stronger, even when I didn’t want it to.

Same goes for Iceland. You gotta want it to love it.

If there was ever a zombie apocalypse, I’d want to be in Iceland or New Zealand.

new zealand iceland

7. Still not super touristy

One of my favorite things about New Zealand and Iceland are that they are still not super touristy places to explore. It is really easy to get off the beaten path, have unique experiences and get lost and explore without running into huge tour buses or massive groups of people.

However, that is changing, and it’s changing fast.

One thing I’ve noticed in both places is that tourism has boomed over the past 5 years, like seriously boomed, thanks in part to Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings showing off both locations, but also they’ve just become more popular spots to visit. That inherently means more people coming.

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

However, I’ve noticed an alarming trend in both New Zealand and Iceland. Despite the fact that more people are coming every year, the tourism infrastructure around it hasn’t really been growing or been developed enough to keep up with it.

In fact, I’ve noticed especially in New Zealand a kind of attitude that they aren’t going to change things because A. it’s what’s worked in the past and B. because they don’t want to make it easier for tourists in certain places.

While I want both spots to remain a secret more than anyone, that is a really stupid way to look at things, and it is going to cause a lot of accidents in the future because right now both places are operating off of the whole “don’t be a dumbass and everything will ok” mentality.

new zealand iceland

I think there are plenty of ways to make things safer without blowing up the beautiful landscape or bringing in boatloads more tourists.

I wish both countries would improve their roads now that they are being trafficked a lot more, especially by big cumbersome campervans, and I really wish there were more designated pull off areas for photos with clear signs in advance so people just don’t pull over on the side of the highway. And don’t even get me started on the landslides in New Zealand, so terrifying.

Usually it takes an accident for people to start paying attention, like kids crossing behind a warning sign and getting killed by falling ice at Fox Glacier or falling off a waterfall at Milford Sound. I remember visiting popular Dettifoss in Iceland, the scariest waterfall in the world and there wasn’t even a fence or barricade on the edge. That is a major accident waiting to happen.

My point is just that if more people are going to be coming to these places then there needs to be a more solid infrastructure around it IMO.

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

8. Sheep!

Another obvious tie between New Zealand and Iceland is sheep! Oh how I love sheep!

While they are fenced in on the farms in New Zealand, in Iceland in summer they are left free to roam the lands until they are herded up in the autumn.

So cute and great wool!

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

9. Drinking culture

I don’t know how to phrase this in a politically correct way (which doesn’t usually stop me) so I’ll say it anyway. Iceland and New Zealand drink a fuckton of alcohol.

I know I am being a bit taboo talking about this, but like with all things, that doesn’t usually stop me so I’ll share anyways. While I grew up thinking the US has a serious drinking culture, let me just put it out there, NZ and Iceland put us to shame.

Like neither place really has the casual beer or two with friends, it’s more like drinking into oblivion, even on a Tuesday. They can and WILL drink you under the table.

new zealand iceland

So why on earth do kiwis and Icelanders drink like college freshmen?

Beer was banned in Iceland until 1989 – which meant they grew up drinking the strong stuff. Why waste your time with beer when you can have brennivín aka the Black Death? Because beer was banned for so long Iceland didn’t really have a bar or casual pub culture which meant drinking was taken seriously on the weekends. Probably the long dark winters didn’t help much, after all what else is there to do? Who knows.

Same but different here in New Zealand.

new zealand iceland

Likewise there is a serious drinking culture here in New Zealand but one that is being actively addressed. I remember first noticing it when I moved to Wellington and I was out with friends at a nice bar. One of the girls wanted to order two drinks at once or something, and the bartender said no.

Um, isn’t that the point of a bar? Seriously confused, my friends then explained that New Zealand has a binge drinking problem, so there have been a lot of laws that have come out trying to fix it including monitoring drunk people and closing bars earlier and earlier.

One of which is that bars seriously watch and limit how much alcohol people consume AND have no qualms about throwing drunk people out or letting tipsy people in. I have yet to figure out why exactly people drink heaps here, but trust me, I’ll get to the bottom of it soon. Any ideas?

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

10. Friendliest people

As if New Zealand and Iceland weren’t such fascinating places already with the most beautiful landscapes in the world, they are both also home to the friendliest, nicest people in the world.

I am not exaggerating.

They are places where everyone says hello and everyone is willing to lend a hand if you’re in help, it certainly makes for a great atmosphere. They are also very safe places to travel with little to no crime, making them perfect spots for solo travelers like me. Small town mentality nationwide. I love it!

So now I guess the question is how do I figure out how to split my time between New Zealand and Iceland?

What do you think? Am I crazy? Have you ever noticed that two very different countries are strikingly similar? Would you like to visit New Zealand or Iceland one day?

new zealand iceland

new zealand iceland

117 Responses to Hold up, are New Zealand and Iceland actually the same place?

  1. Brittany Ruth November 6, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    Loved this post. If New Zealand is anything like Icleand then I want to visit. I love Iceland. Not sure if I can do the endless plane ride to NZ though.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      It’s worth it, take some sleeping pills haha

  2. Grace B November 6, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    As an Aussie who visited NZ first, my immediate thought when I went to Iceland was, “This is a lot like New Zealand!” Totally agree, love this post!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      It’s the same isn’t it?

  3. De'Jav November 6, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Great post I haven’t visited either but both are on my list. I’ve always heard great things about both places which you’ve mentioned living in Aussie the people are friendly for sure and easy to talk to.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      I love places with friendly people!

  4. Colorado Gal November 6, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    I’ve yet to visit NZ but it’s at the top of my list– especially since Iceland is still the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      It’s just as pretty and a bit more diverse!

  5. Ed Rex November 6, 2014 at 3:54 am #

    Ah New Zealand and Iceland, my two favourite countries.

    You’re right on the mark with your points. The biggest things for me is No People! No one spoiling the wondrous landscapes in these gorgeous countries.

    Hmm, I better look at flights now…

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Love people free places!

  6. BSails November 6, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    Interesting… I’ve been many time to New Zealand but last year took an opportunity for a short week-end in Iceland. Had that same impression… Iceland, somehow, reminded me a lot of New Zealand.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Very similar spots!

  7. Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki November 6, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    I have heard many times from people how alike Iceland and NZ are. I am bummed I didn’t get the chance to visit NZ when I was in Australia but love living in Iceland and traveling around!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      woah you live in Iceland! I am jealous!

  8. Rose November 6, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    You made me look up some statistics – density per square mile for New Zealand is 39 and for Iceland 8. Quite low for both. I think parts of New Zealand look a lot like Montana too.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      seriously low, you can go for miles and not see another car or person here, it’s crazy!

    • Sasha @ The Curious Zephyr November 8, 2014 at 12:26 am #

      Yesssss that’s what my whole family thought when we visited NZ …. undeniable similarities between its landscape and that of the West! Which we all loved. So I guess that means I’ll love Iceland!

  9. Karen @ Lots of Sheep November 6, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    Ah this explains everything…lived in New Zealand for a year, and all of a sudden Iceland is at the top of my bucket list.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      It’s true! I hope you get to visit soon!

  10. Hannah M November 6, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    These two countries have been my first solo travel destinations – in fact, I only recently returned from Iceland and had the same thoughts. Friendly people, beautiful scenery, and sheep indeed!

    I think the question of access and safety you bring up is a good one as well. Here in Washington State the discussion on accessible wilderness is also a current issue. Well maintained, easy to access trails are becoming overused – so do you put resources into making access easier to hopefully spread people out, or leave those trails to be more rugged for a select few who can reach them? Its more than just that of course, but an interesting dialogue.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Yeah I think the trails here are fine, DOC does an amazing job in NZ, I was speaking more for safety at really popular tourist sites like waterfalls or the glaciers

  11. Carolann November 6, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    I loved reading this. I’m heading to New Zealand next year and I think Iceland will have to be after that! Thanks Liz for such unique posts and great insights 🙂

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Cool! You’re going to love it!

  12. Chelsea November 6, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    I would love to see a guest post from someone who has needed to find work during their working holiday in New Zealand. I am leaving in January and that is the part I am most worried about. You were the one who inspired me to go on this adventure so thanks for everything!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      great idea, thanks!

    • Jubal August 23, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

      It’s not too hard if you are flexible with your expectations. If it’s still available, and you are American, get a BUNAC visa instead of a working holiday. It frees you up to work at a greater variety of jobs. You have to get it in the US, I think. It costs more, but it is worth it. I wish I would have done it, but I did a working holiday, thinking I could save myself some cash. You can work at almost any job on BUNAC, regardless if it’s “temporary.”. “Temporary” in NZ means it’s the jobs the locals don’t want to do(temp agencies, vineyard laborer, bartenders) It gives tourists money to spend in NZ, while helping with a lack of local labor. Pretty win-win. BUNAC is the way to go though.

      I found work easily in vineyards. The hostels can hook you up. I actually made more than I made in my low-wage area of the US, about 17 dollars (US) an hour once I got used to the work. It’s hellish, back-breaking work and expect to feel very sore for a week or two once you start, but it’s fairly stress-free and a good workout. It’s piecemeal, and I wouldn’t expect to make that much at first.

      I also worked at some temp agencies. They suck and expect you to have a car most of the time, but you got to survive somehow. Fortunately, you pay for hostels by the week, so you can start out with very little money and work your way into having enough cash to move on to your next adventure very easily.

      You may find some office (severely limited options compared to home and is usually temp work) or bar jobs too. I’d rather work in the outdoors, never being one for traditional jobs.

      I know it’s too late for you, but other people may have a similar question.

  13. Petra @ The Global Couple November 6, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    This post is great! I am from NZ but haven’t been to Iceland, but your photos make them look like the same place – for some of them it was hard to pick which was which (not so much with the iceberg photos though!).

    Iceland is somewhere I’d love to visit one day, but perhaps after I’ve been to more places that are a whole lot different to NZ first! 🙂

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      There are icebergs in New Zealand too, down in the Hooker Valley in front of Mt. Cook, I don’t have a good pic yet but hopefully soon!

  14. Hugo Cura November 6, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Completely agree with you overall. I have been to both (4 weeks in NZ and 2 in Iceland) and both trips were motivated by the stunning landscapes and nature the countries provide. It’s hard to decide which one is better, but would probably go with NZ. Very close call though. The fact that I’ a cheap 3h flight away also makes it easier for me to go to Iceland again,

    I did find some minor differences in terms of tourism infrastructures. I believe NZ is more prepared and the work the DOC does is admirable, to say the least. Plus the companies doing activities are by far in greater number (expensive also). Iceland is also a bit more remote in certain partially inhabited areas like the west fjords (not to mention the highlands). Roads are rough and you can’t really find a super market after 6pm. Not complaining here, as this makes it unique and a perfect place to explore without crowds.

    More could be discussed, but I’ll keep it short.

    Definitely will be back in both countries 🙂

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      I know what you mean, I could keep going on that topic but cut myself off. DOC is awesome here I was thinking more for pull offs in popular spots on the road and barriers at popular tourist spots

      • Hugo Cura November 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

        Yes, agreed. Some safety features are needed, as long as they are not very intrusive to what’s there.

        Also, DOC’s blog is pretty awesome. Really like the insights on the work they do, interviews, etc.

        • Liz November 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

          DOC is so awesome!

  15. cheeesefries November 6, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    I have the wanderlust bad and want to see everything, buuuttt both Iceland and New Zealand are the first places that I’ve wanted to return to immediately. They are the magic.

    Personally, I enjoyed that Dettifoss has no barrier in front of it. I hate hate hate when people (my fellow Americans) go about things with a “if it was dangerous, someone would have stopped me” attitude. I wish that people would be their own risk managers rather than be dumb, get hurt and sue people. With that said, I certainly appreciated the dangerous sulfuric air warning signs in the low lying areas of the Tongariro crossing, so I guess I’m torn between the two methods.

    Do you have any plans to go to Tasmania? It looks quite similar to New Zealand too.

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Yeah I am torn too, but I think it’s only a matter of time before someone flies over the side of Dettifoss and plenty of other areas in NZ and Iceland. I just think barricades would be better in the really popular places where tour buses go. But it’s a fine line to walk that’s for sure

      • Jaine December 31, 2014 at 11:26 am #

        Barriers are intrusive and expensive and don’t always work, the death you refer to at Fox Glacier was when a young man ignored the warning sign and climbed over the barrier. When does personal responsiblity come into play? Roading is extremely costly and we simply don’t have a big enough population to pay for it.

        Glad you like it here (New Zealand) and yeah, DOC rules 🙂

        • Liz January 1, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

          DOC is the best.

  16. Rebecca November 6, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I have also been to both and totally agree. I have since also been to Alaska and you can add that place to match up a lot of these comparisons as well.

    When I showed my mom my pictures from Iceland, she was like, “Looks just like Alaska”. And I totally agree! And you don’t even need a passport!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      I really want to go to Alaska!

  17. Gemma November 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    A lot of my friends compare New Zealand and Canada, so it’s interesting to read about the similarities between NZ and Iceland.

    I’ve been to Iceland and absolutely loved the craziness of the landscape. New Zealand is on my wishlist, but as you say, it’s a little tricky to get to so I’d have to be really committed!


    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      It’s really similar! I need to explore more of Canada!

  18. Leonie November 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    I cant wait to go to New Zealand in January

    Leonie ♥

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      You’re gonna love it!

  19. Katie @ The World on my Necklace November 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Two of my favourite countries. I would also ass British Columbia, Canada into the mix, very similar to New Zealand South Island in particular and one of my favourite spots in the world. I am heading to Alaska next summer and so excited for more of the super green, mountain landscapes

  20. Trudy November 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Love your pictures – absolutely beautiful! We are heading out on a round-trip tour of South Island at New Year’s, can’t believe I’ve lived in NZ nearly 30 years and still hardly seen the South Island! Time to change that. I don’t agree with you on the barrier thing though (sorry!) -it seems to me that no matter how many barriers or signs you put up, there will always be some idiot who goes around it and gets hurt. The Fox Glacier one is a classic – there was a sign up saying not to proceed past that point, but they did and got killed. And our roads are improving gradually! Everyone says South Island roads are actually a lot better than North Island, straighter and less traffic. Can’t wait to see!

    • Liz November 6, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      Ah that’s exciting! The South Island is so amazing! Just wait til you get on the roads down here on the holidays though, you’ll change your mind about signs and stuff after watching people being complete idiots. Depends on where you go but the roads down here are pretty gnarly. Fox and Franz glaciers have good warnings now about people who’ve died there but I think they weren’t there before that accident. even now it’s just a little bit of rope, considering how dangerous glaciers can be, I think it should be more substantial. Mostly I just wish there were more designated turn off areas in the popular spots for pics on the roads in the south island, you’ll see people just pull halfway over on and off the road to take pics, it’s so dangerous.

  21. Nick November 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Wow! You have successfully made me super homesick, thanks for that 😛 Apart from my homeland, Iceland is at the top of my list for our next trip.. Great article.

  22. Megan November 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    every time i see you post a pic from NZ it reminds me SOOO much of norway. 🙂

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      I know! Especially the fiords I bet! I need to visit there soon!

  23. Christa November 7, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    I agree. I love both these countries and the people in both countries are great. If I was in my 20’s I’d try to immigrate to one of them!

    Iceland and New Zealand should officially become Sister Countries (is there such a thing?). They could add Ireland to the mix too – another favourite place of mine.

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Definitely should haha

  24. Kasia November 7, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    I love this post! I’ve not been to Iceland (yet), but judging how much I love home (NZ), I’m pretty certain I’m going to fall head over heels for Iceland when I finally get there one day. There’s also nothing better than the people-less areas back home, and they’re not hard to find basically everywhere in the country. Aww man, I love NZ! I’m having serious NZ withdrawals, luckily I’m home for Christmas. The next 6 weeks can’t go by faster!

    Kasia 🙂

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:13 am #


  25. Rich - RichyFeet November 7, 2014 at 3:10 am #

    Haha good point! As soon as I read the title I thought “she’s got a point” – maybe it’s a big cover up! 😉

  26. Carmen November 7, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    I am planning on going to Iceland next year and I’m really looking forward to it. As with you, NZ has been on my list since the first LOTR movie, but I haven’t made it there yet (being a Swiss from Zurich it’s not quite around the corner). This autumn we were in Norway for 2 weeks of outdorr/hiking holidays and we thought it was a lot like Switzerland: mountains and f**king expensive, but without all the crowds that you see in Switzerland 🙂
    Keep the posts coming – I love reading them 🙂

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Yeah I think Norway and Switzerland are similar to NZ because of the mountains and fiords, I love them both!

  27. Jenna November 7, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    I was in Iceland for a road trip a year ago (Iceland in October is AMAZING, despite what you might think) and we absolutely fell in love. We talk about going back all the time. My husband and I have one-way tickets to NZ at the end of December and I already know we’re going to love it! We’ve actually commented to each other before that it seems like the two places have a lot in common. Gosh, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      Exciting! You’re going to love it here!

  28. NZ Muse November 7, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Honestly, from day 1 I was saying the same thing – Iceland is like NZ’s soul sister on the other side of the world. The people/culture, the landscapes… (more on that here: Felt right at home there, minus the freezing cold!

    • Liz November 7, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Glad you noticed too! I thought for a while it was just me haha

  29. Amanda November 7, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    You are definitely NOT crazy – there ARE a ton of similarities between Iceland and New Zealand – probably why they are two of my favorite countries! I actually half-wrote a post once about how Wellington and Reykjavik are basically the same city, just on opposite ends of the world.

    • Liz November 8, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      OMG yes you’re right about that too!

  30. Melanie November 7, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    We are Kiwis living in Finland and plan to visit Iceland. Looking at your photos a trip to Iceland may help with my homesickness for hot pools!

    • Liz November 8, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      cool! You’re going to love Iceland, it’s like home, but different 😀 lots of hot pools!

  31. Jess November 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    This is awesome 😀 I’m lucky enough to live in Australia so NZ isn’t too far to go (still expensive though), but that means being further away from Iceland… Definitely on my travel list for next time I make it to Europe!

  32. Claudia November 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    You could try following the example of the godwits and spend half the year in each hhemisphere

    • Liz November 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

      I hope to do that one day!

  33. Soffia November 9, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    NZ is on top of my bucket list & I really want to live there one day, mainly because of the LOTR or maybe because I’m an Icelandic person? Who knows, but I can tell you one thing, we sure do love hobbits! 😉

    • Liz November 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      haha come over then!

  34. Marika November 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Aaaand, you just made me miss Iceland. And start planning my trip to New Zealand!

    • Liz November 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      woot woot, get it together girlie!

  35. Amy November 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    “but NZ does a great job of jacking up prices of things they have in abundance like lamb, wine and fish.” —– I think the same here in Australia. I pay 50% more to buy in-season Australian-grown fruit in Australia, than I do in England for the same products that are out of season and have flown halfway round the world!

    Your pictures are stunning. I don’t comment much here, but just wanted to say what an awesome job you’re doing. Normally I only read for inspiration on places I’m dying to visit, but I have very little interest in visiting New Zealand. Nothing against it, I’m just more beaches-and-temples than hiking and mountains. Yet your awesome photography and engaging ‘voice’ keep me coming back.

    • Liz November 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      wahoo that’s what I like to hear, thank you!

  36. Rebecca Williams November 10, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Fab article! My boyfriend and I visited Iceland last New Year (and LOVED it!), and we’re heading to New Zealand this summer – looking forward to comparing the two now! Also, fair play with the photos – they’re stunning :o)

    • Liz November 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      thank you!

  37. Mette November 11, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    I did not find Iceland expensive, cheaper than Sweden for most things. What do you compare with? Compared to most European countries it not that bad, especially considering the remote location.

    • Liz November 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      omg you must be kidding haha. I’m sure it’s not expensive compared to sweden because Scandinavia is really really expensive. Trust me, the rest of europe and the rest of the world find Iceland super expensive.

  38. goodnightandtravelwell November 12, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    omg… We want to visit both New Zeland and Iceland and after this post it will be harder to pic only one in the future 🙂
    Really really wonderful photos by the way 🙂

    • Liz November 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      thank you!

  39. Victoria@ The British Berliner November 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    New Zealand and Iceland? Yes please!

    Both countries are places of stunning isolated beauty and I hope to visit them both. Iceland probably sooner rather than New Zealand, as one needs a bit more time to appreciate the lovely country. As a British person, it gladdens my heart when other island countries begin to get visitors, as both these countries have had, and continue to have, populations that are rapidly dwindling. It’s nice to see them back up there. Thank you Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings LOL! 🙂

  40. Chamintha November 16, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    Gorgeous posts on NZ Liz!!! In the midst of planning a NZ trip for early next year – must have a quick chat with you at the tbc conference next week in SL..

  41. Upasna November 24, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Absolutely stunning! Makes me want to pack my bags right this moment, and get on a plane to either! And ooh that picture of the Southern Lights… Poetic!

    • Liz November 26, 2014 at 12:10 am #

      It’s amazing isn’t it?

  42. Danni @Leftnleavin November 25, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    I absolutely adored Iceland. We are hoping to go New Zealand in month ten of our ten month trip! I’m so excited we are hoping to do a multi-day hike. Know any good ones?
    Awesome pictures and post.

    • Liz November 26, 2014 at 12:09 am #

      Um heaps! Check out New Zealand’s great walks for ideas!

  43. Annemarie November 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Love your remark about people coming back to New Zealand – this is our second visit to New Zealand (the flight took forever, again), and I still feel like we’ve only barely scratched the surface. Seriously thinking about applying for a working holiday visa so we can come back again 🙂

    Never been to Iceland, but it’s on my bucket list now!

  44. Travel Gals November 28, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Love New Zealand! I loved my Milford Track 4 day trip with ultimate hikes too!

  45. Sabine December 1, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    he^y Liz,

    first of all: amazing blog! Just a qucik question: How could you extend your stay in NZ?

  46. Fabian December 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more! I came to NZ this June and will be leaving this week for another adventure, but i couldn’t help to notice that during my stay, even after i first set my foot here i found it extremely similar to Iceland! Backpacked around Iceland 2 summers ago and i find especially the look on the mountains and valleys very similar

    • Liz December 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      very similar!

  47. Hannah December 18, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    I live in New Zealand and I’m so happy to read this!! I agree with pretty much all that you have to say! Also, drinking age in NZ is 18 whereas in the USA it’s 21- it’s the young people (18-21ish) year olds that created the ‘drinking culture’ stigma because their the ones you see out getting drunk causing trouble!

  48. Steph December 20, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    I’m going to NZ in a few weeks on a spontaneous trip and I’m so excited. What do you mean about “campervan relocation options”? I’m interested!

    • Liz December 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      sometimes you can get a cheap or free rental to move the van back for the company, like from queenstown to auckland in 5 days

  49. Emma December 24, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Love this!

    New Zealand is home (although currently living in London) and Iceland is top of the list for next year so I am a little bit excited to see the similarities to my own beautiful country when I get there!

    I’ve heard so many amazing things about Iceland I can’t wait to experience it for myself!

    Emma x

    • Liz December 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

      Ah and it’s so cheap and easy to get to from London! Enjoy!

  50. Abhay Singh December 27, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Only a writer, a poet, a traveller and a child can define The beauty of nature .Famous Poet William Wordsworth has define ‘The Beauty of Nature’ as a small child “Lucy” in his poetry “Lucy Gray” and famous Hindi poet Jayshankar Prashad has define in the character of “Manu” and “Shraddha” in his famous book “Kamayani”.Thank you for sharing such post….You have proved the role of writer to defining the beauty of Nature.God bless you,best of for writing…

    • Liz December 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

      thanks I think 😛

  51. Luca December 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    …I am a tour guide and half my family is from Iceland.
    I have been living in NZ for 10 years and have often talked to my clients about how similar these two places are.
    Enjoy New Zealand !!!

    • Liz December 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm #


  52. Inga Heida January 3, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Happy New Year! I totally agree! I´m an Icelander and when I came to New Zealand it felt like home and a country that I would like to live in .. but it is too far away from my home country 🙂

    • Liz January 3, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      cool, that makes me happy to hear!

  53. Rod January 14, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Hi, I was in Patagonia and in SO many places I kept asking myself, am I in New Zealand?? Patagonia shares a glaciated, wet, fiord-filled west side and a dry east side. Like NZL, It has plenty of big, blue east side lakes and many with icebergs. Lots of trails with suspension bridges and trout filled streams.

    And volcanoes. We were on the Argentina/Chile border when one of them erupted! They closed the border after we passed.

    I made friends with a lot of Dutch folks in Patagonia that was in November. The following summer they e-mailed me and said, “Let’s go to New Zealand and see!” So a plan was hatched, and we met at the Christchurch airport. Not only that, I know a kayak designer in Christchurch and some Mexican nationals who are kayak guides on the South Island.

    With places to go and people to see, off we went. The biggest differences were that the lakes and glaciers in Patagonia dwarf their New Zealand counterparts. For example, the Perito Merino glacier is 16 stories high at its mouth and several miles wide. New Zealand’s Lake Wakapitu is 112sq miles and huge but Argentina’s Lago Argentino is 566sq miles!

    I found the food in Patagonia’s Argentina side sorely lacking, whereas New Zealand was much easier on the palette.

    I guess I need to do a blog post comparing NZL to Patagonia!

    Another big difference is political stability. NZL is very stable and predictable. When we were at an airport in Patagonia the airline went on strike and we were stranded. But that only led to another story. Unlike American flag airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas treated us to a big Argentinian style feast each evening we were stuck.

    • Liz January 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

      Patagonia is near the top of my list!

  54. Jubal August 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    I thought New Zealand was a lot like Montana in the US. Excluding the ocean, we are a lot like. We both are isolated, known for our alcohol(beer because we can’t grow grapes well here), friendliness, we like our weed(believe me, “spots?” is a very dangerous question, and there’s a beer called Bongwater in MT), we have crazy mountains and a calderra(Lake Taupo was the last one to erupt and Glacier/Yellowstone), a popular resort town(whitefish and queenstown), dangerous roads, a serious case of brain drain(most of our best and brightest leave for better prospects in Seattle, or in NZ’s case, Sydney. There is next to no money to be made in either place), a movie which brought tourists(LoTR and A River Runs Through It), famous fly fishing, adventure sports, mental health issues, a frontier outlook/heartiness, people not from the area help drive up house prices by moving in and changing the place, hot springs, ranching culture, a pretty, mountainous side and a more stark dry side, it’s not unheard of for people to die in the woods in both places, and a thriving arts community.

    There were some obvious differences: New Zealand has oceans and seafood. More variety in vegetation in NZ, a complete lack of insulation of any kind in NZ buildings, but our winters are much colder, Gun culture/fanaticism is slightly more prevalent in MT, Native Americans here are sadly treated much worse and are way less respected than Maoris, and both have substance abuse issues.

    • Jubal August 23, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

      and cows outnumber people in Montana just like sheep in NZ

  55. Kristin January 13, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

    Great post! I absolutely love New Zealand. Of all the countries I’ve been, NZ has the most stunning landscapes and down to earth, friendly people, not to mention so many fun, adventurous ways to experience it all. Iceland is next on my list because of the scenery, culture and adventure! Now I have to go! 🙂

  56. Gita May 29, 2016 at 4:08 am #

    I ran across this post because I was watching Top of the Lake, which reminded me of…Iceland. I had the privilege of spending 3 weeks in Iceland in the mid 90’s and I have never forgotten it’s deep beauty. I can’t wait to visit NZ.

  57. Shaun June 24, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    I’m from NZ and have visited Iceland 3 times, and whilst living abroad (England mainly) it became my favourite place in the world (outside of NZ of course.) I call it the northern hemisphere NZ or maybe NZ is the southern hemisphere version of Iceland, but either way I totally agree with your observations, so much so I’m going to give a go at living in Iceland for a while later this year…

  58. Luke July 15, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    My partner and I are from nz and looking into moving to iceland, does anyone have any idea how that would be done?

  59. Sara July 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    I went to Iceland last summer for a week and while the country is absolutely breathtaking we had a bit of bad luck which tainted my memories of our trip. My best friend who was the driver for the trip got a stomach bug right before the trip so she was sick during most of the trip which really restricted how much hiking and adventuring we could do. We had also chosen to drive and camp and while I am by no means an experienced camper I thought I had thought of everything we could possibly need during the trip… except for one tiny detail. How freaking cold and windy it gets at night! So our sleeping bags were too thin and we definitely needed warmer clothing. I remember trying to fall asleep shaking with chattering teeth, I thought I was going to freeze to death. I survived though, so lesson learned though, bring meds in case of sudden illness and a-l-w-a-y-s check the temperature of location your visiting (both high and lows) especially if camping. A thicker sleeping bag would have made such a big difference 😀

  60. Jannelle October 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    Where you that girl on House Hunters International

    • Liz October 16, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

      haha yup!

  61. Kelly Anderson November 20, 2016 at 2:08 am #

    Great post! I love your blog.


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