Guest Post: Life in the land of the long white cloud

Guest Post: Life in the land of the long white cloud

Just when I got back from New Zealand I started to think how the real life in New Zealand is? Not that I would like to move there permanently but one month in NZ allowed me to reflect a bit on that. Few weeks later one of the posts on NZ got a nice comment from Esther (founder and editor of NZMuse Blog) and after a short exchange of emails she agreed to write a post. This is a guest post from her. Esther is a New Zealander herself I thought this is a very good idea to ask her about life in New Zealand. Here is what she wrote about it.

Life in the land of the long white cloud

Among other things, they call New Zealand “Godzone”, as in “God’s own”. People who’ve never been here have idyllic images of an island paradise. Having been around the world and back, I can confirm that my country is far from perfect, but indeed, we’re lucky to have what we have here.

Franz Josef village, West Coast

Franz Josef village, West Coast

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. Everything is expensive here. We are so far away from the rest of the world (being such an isolated country, reading news about other parts of the globe actually feels kind of surreal and distant, though less so now that I’ve been to some of those places) that everything costs a lot, from clothing to food to electronics. Yup, even the stuff we produce. Our lamb and dairy, for example, is sometimes cheaper overseas – and we export all the best stuff. And don’t get me started on the price/quality of housing. Plus, it’s also expensive to get here or fly out, thanks to the tyranny of distance.

Public garden in Wanaka

Public garden in Wanaka, very early morning

Public transport sucks. And in some places, it’s non-existent. That comes with being such a small and sparsely populated nation. If you’re visiting, it’s best to get your own wheels. It can also be kind of boring here, especially if you’re not outdoorsy. There isn’t a ton of culture here, and while we have a lot of great Asian food, cuisines from other countries can be hard, if not impossible, to find.

Typical NZ house, Queenstown

Typical NZ house, Queenstown

Aside from these things, I’m a big fan of New Zealand, especially as a destination to visit. I love the chilled out culture we have. Barbecues. Road trips. Days at the beach. Running around barefoot at school. We get four weeks of leave a year, plus 11 public holidays, and while there are some industries where you do have to work long hours, generally you can have a pretty good work-life balance here. I love that travel is such a key part of our culture. It’s a rite of passage to travel overseas in your 20s. Travel is valued and admired. I love passing another campervan and waving in comradeship. I love that tourists flood the country every summer and winter and I love seeing backpackers on Queen St. I love that people are generally friendly and welcoming.

Lake Dunstan

Lake Dunstan

I love that it’s relatively clean and safe. Now, we’re not 100% Pure or as green as we’d like to think, but on an international scale, we’re doing reasonably well. And while I’ve been burgled multiple times, violent crime is pretty low – I’m not worried about getting mugged or shot here.

I love that it’s fairly egalitarian. I’m not going to lie, there is poverty here, including the worst kind – child poverty, which most likely relates to our sadly high proportion of child abuse – especially in smaller, dying towns. And there are racists here and there, as in every other country. But we are a country of immigrants, and a very young country (only a couple hundred years old) and having visited many other countries I can pretty confidently say that our problems with integration and inequality barely register on the global scale of things. I also appreciate our public healthcare and welfare.

Tasman Sea, West Coast

Tasman Sea, West Coast

I love the nature that’s all around us. New Zealand has a wide array of landscapes – almost anything you can imagine – and they are never more than a short drive or flight away. It’s the beauty of being a small country.

More about life in New Zealand is here: Living in New Zealand by Esther.

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko
  • Lisa @ Gone With The Family

    I have always thought that New Zealand looks incredibly beautiful and I hope to have the opportunity to visit some day! The downside is that it takes so long to get there from North America!

    • Sibil

      it’s easier than from Europe

  • hikebiketravel

    I can imagine that it could be a tough though beautiful place to live in especially with such high prices.
    I think the country from the tourist’s perspective is a total delight; when I was there for 3 months a long time ago I hitchhiked everywhere and met some of the friendliest people on the planet. My husband has never been so I think might be in our future again one day – which is fine with me as there are still loads of things I’d like to do and see.

    • Well, I can tell you this: they are still friendliest people on the planet!

  • Jeff Titelius

    What a wonderful insider’s look at this country oh so far away! Indeed very sad to hear about the poverty but all nations suffer from this affliction and many others, and I hope some day all are wiped out forever on the face of this planet. With so much knowledge, wealth and wisdom, we have it within ourselves to rid the world and move on to a better place. Perhaps one day that dream will come true for all.

    • Thanks Jeff for this comment. It is fascinating to hear about far far away places, isn;t it? Especially if you asked locals to tell their story. I totally agree – poverty is everywhere and it’s important to remember this.

  • Love this perspective of NZ. You know, I never considered that your location would make you feel isolated but that isolation probably creates a strong sense of nationalism too.

    It’s interesting that your own products are more expensive at home. We import most of our dairy products from you. For the longest time, the only butter I knew was Anchor. It’s still my favorite.

    • Fishy economy. Who understands this?

    • eemusings (NZMuse)

      Our dairy products are awesome. Nothing like NZ milk. There’s some pretty great cheese in Europe though.

      • Andrew Mleczko

        Totally agree. Kiwi milk is awesome.

  • It was very expensive but so worth it! I really enjoyed by 5.5 weeks there exploring everything the country had to offer. People were so friendly and chilled, it was a joy to experience, after living in London for so long. :)

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed New Zealand. It is a wonderful place to spend your holiday in.

  • I spent part of my honeymoon in Auckland years ago and the surrounding areas and loved it. I know there was so much more we didn’t get to do and see and we’d love to go back. I love this local perspective and it’s definitely eye opening in regards to the standard of living. What a gorgeous country and so full of friendly people.

    • Auckland is still on my list of places to visit. And after Esther’s post I definitely want to go there! Thanks for this comment Mary!

  • I have never been to New Zealand but it has been on the top of my list for ever. The nature is just incredibly beautiful from what I heard.

  • Sophie’s World

    I lived in New Zealand with my kids for 6 months about ten years ago. So much to like about it, the only thing we found challenging was getting to know people. The friends we did make were immigrants from the UK and other parts of Europe who experienced the same. Can’t really complain, though. I’m Norwegian, and we’re probably not that easy to get to know, either. :)

    • Getting know the locals is pretty challenging, I think. Norway seams to be the hardest ;-)