Sometimes I realize when I am talking about New Zealand, I sound EXACTLY like a teenager girl in love.
Well, let’s be honest here, I pretty much am. Swoon!
Never growing up and enthusiastic for everything, I will forever be young and in love with something, and right now it’s New Zealand. Yes, I say it a lot but, I’m SURE this is the one.
Gushing pretty much constantly about the Land of the Long White Cloud, I feel like I am preaching to anyone I meet online and in person about how awesome this random little country in the southern hemisphere is. Because, well, it really is awesome.
I am almost effortlessly happy living here because everything I’ve wished for in a home is here. New Zealand just does some many things, for lack of a better word, better, than the rest of the planet.
Granted, I would be lying if I said New Zealand was perfect. There are some things that they DON’T do better, like prices, lack of accessibility to the rest of the world and of course, 21st century internet which for me is almost a dealbreaker.
That being said, you must know that New Zealand has plenty of other spectacular qualities that cause me to overlook the fact that it has the WORST INTERNET IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
So after a lot of deliberation and serious thinking, I’ve whittled down the list to 10 things that the kiwis just do better.
1. Epic landscapes
There are beautiful places, there are “jaw-droppingly beautiful” places, and then there’s New Zealand.
Alone in its own category, there are few places in the world that can compare with New Zealand’s diverse, wild and untamed beauty. It might be a cliche to say that everywhere here is a postcard, but it’s true. From thundering waterfalls in the Milford Sound, to the rigid volcanoes around Tongariro, the crystal clear waters of the Abel Tasman to the snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps, New Zealand never fails visually to disappoint. Ever.
Cough, cough, unless you’re in Auckland.
This of course means that once you get used to kiwi views, your perception of natural beauty around the world gets warped. Hardcore.
Oh that 10 foot waterfall you hiked 3 hours in the woods to get to back home? That’s something you don’t even stop on the side of the road for here in New Zealand.
I’ve gotten to the point when I’m roadtripping around New Zealand, and I turn a corner and BOOM snowcapped glacier in front of a field of flowers, I’m just like, “seriously, New Zealand?”
Oh and it gets even BETTER when the sun goes down because there is so little light pollution in this part of the world. In fact, around Tekapo in the South Island is a star reserve, and quite possibly the best place to see the stars.
Is there such a thing as too pretty?
2. Social progress
If being pants-shitingly beautiful is not enough, then New Zealand is frequently voted the best country in the world to live.
In fact, according to the recent Social Progress Index this year, New Zealand was just chosen as the number one country in terms of livability with the US lagging behind at number 16. Ooof.
From being completely nuclear free to being the first country to give the women the right to vote, I repeat, New Zealand was the FIRST country in the ENTIRE world to allow women the vote, being socially progressive and forward-thinking is almost inherent in the kiwi identity.
Nope, they don’t have to fight tooth and nail for healthcare or better gun control because they are light years ahead of the rest of us back home. And after being here for 6 months I can safely vouch that New Zealand really is a wonderful place to live.
3. Name things
If I were more emotionally mature, this wouldn’t make the list, but let’s be honest here. I have the mental age of a 13 year old boy, and nothing quite cracks me up on a long road trip than some of the EPIC place names in New Zealand.
Why name a town Springfield when you could name it Waipu? Now go ahead and say it outloud. Why. Poo.
Or name a place Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, the longest place name in the world. Roughly translated, as I understand it means something along the lines of “The summit where Tamatea, the man with knobby knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one,” which in fact, makes me love it EVEN more!
Or how about every time I’m driving around the North Island and pass through the town of Bulls. Or the first time I drove by the Whakapapa ski field. In Māori, “wh” is pronounced as an “f” which makes all the words that begin with “Whaka” all the more exciting to pronounce.
Really I could go on and on but I’ve probably already offended more people than I meant. Sorry!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, kiwis are ACTUALLY the friendliest people in the entire world. Like go out of their way, make sure you’re alright, help you without being asked with a smile on their face all the time.
From the guys who helped me break into my car after I locked the keys inside for an hour at a gas station in Rotorua to the guys who serve me coffee wherever I go in New Zealand to the person I asked for directions everywhere, I am constantly amazed by the consistent kindness of kiwis.
They are also more open and welcoming to foreigners (who make an effort) here than in so many other countries I’ve been to.
It’s like they don’t know how to be mean or rude. And if anything, I am grateful because I feel like I am becoming a much nicer and friendlier version of myself since I moved here.
5. Coffee and brunch
I’ve already waxed poetic about the amazing coffee culture and brunch scene to be found in New Zealand, but it bears repeating because it’s STILL awesome.
There is some really amazing coffee to be had here. But it comes at a price – usually $4 a cup. YIKES.
The amazing coffee culture is usually paired with an equally awesome cafe scene, quirky, fun, minimalist, hip, you name it, you can find it here, usually without wifi.
It’s no coincidence that my favorite cafes also have the best brunches. Bacon eggs benedict, crumbly hot scones and clotted cream or turkish eggs, brunch rarely disappoints in this part of the world.
6. Being Hardcore
No two ways about it, kiwis are made of sterner stuff than the rest of us. If there was a zombie apocalypse tomorrow, I would make sure I’m on team New Zealand.
Whether it’s because of being raised on remote islands at the edge of the world or the fact that the survivor frontier mentality is still going strong, for some reason kiwis are just plain tough.
From the fact that it’s a cold weather climate yet central heating has yet to be invented and double glazing is a luxury (just go put on your ski parka…inside) to the let’s just go off to some remote mountain range for the weekend (because why not) to jumping off bridges into alpine rivers on the side of the road, New Zealand redefines outdoorsy and adventurous.
After all, New Zealand is the country that invented bungee jumping and gave birth to Edmund Hillary.
Forget these trendy Tough Mudder races, New Zealand has it’s own version called the Coast to Coast on the South Island – 140km cycle, 36km run OVER the Southern Alps, and then kayak 67kms.
And don’t get me started on the mountain biking. H.A.R.D.C.O.R.E.
Kelly McGarry is a kiwi, and he’s a beast!
And for being a country that produces so legends, everyone is remarkably chill, nice and unpretentious, makes for a nice change from America and so many other countries.
Back home everything is so fast-paced, frantic and competitive, I didn’t even realize how stressful and grating that is on one’s psyche until I left. That is not the life I want.
I want to live, not have my life revolve around a job. I don’t want to feel like I have to compare myself and my work with other people’s.
I also want to live in a place that’s “easy” and not a hassle, which is definitely the case for New Zealand. My god, compared with living in Spain it’s a piece of cake here. Living in a place where everyone just goes with the flow and is so laid back and chill does wonders for your health.
8. Safety and trust
A few weeks ago two foreign girls hitchhiking in New Zealand were attacked and survived.
It has been all over the news ever since because this NEVER happens here. Ever. New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world, ranked number 3 by the Global Peace Index. I am constantly amazing and skeptical of how safe and trustworthy it is here.
Just the fact that hitchhiking is so common here should be some indication of its safeness. I see hitchhikers in Wanaka every day. I mean hell, this wouldn’t have even made the news back home.
New Zealand is one of those last countries where you can leave your house unlocked and your keys in your car and not blink an eye.
It also helps that there are virtually no dangerous animals or anything either. I love that I can go off in the woods or walk alone at night and not worry about getting eaten by a bear or mountain lion. I mean, there aren’t even snakes here!
I remember the first time I bought gas in New Zealand and I was astonished that didn’t have to pay first. The pumps don’t have credit card machines like back home, and you just go inside and pay when you’re finished! Haven’t had that in living memory back home!
Same goes for fruit and veggie stands on the side of the road, all manned by the honor system.
I feel obligated to include rugby on the list since New Zealand currently has the best rugby team in the world, the All Blacks.
Of course they only thing I know about rugby is that they wear pretty short shorts and all the players are universally hot, so I’m not exactly an authority on the subject.
If I had to guess, I would say their success probably has something to do with the fact that the All Blacks perform the Māori Haka – a traditional war challenge of sorts – before all their games. It is mesmerizing. And if you’re really lucky (ladies), they do it in the rain with their shirts off.
Is it weird that I love all the sheep in New Zealand?
Sometimes I even honk at them if I’m really bored on long road trips, you know, just to keep things exciting.
In the land of 4 million people and 40 million sheep, you are bound to come across these bizarre fluffy white creatures at some point or another.
And if there is one sheep in all the land that does it better than anyone, it was Shrek the Sheep.
A merino sheep near Wanaka, Shrek hid in caves and avoided capture and shearing for 6 years until he was caught. I mean my god, look at him!
You really just can’t top that.
Have you ever been to New Zealand or lived abroad? What are your thoughts? Have you ever been to a country and thought to yourself that they were doing something right, or even better, than what you were used to back home?