It’s easy for a young person to feel suffocated in New Zealand. I, like so many before me, couldn’t wait to get out and see the rest of the world. I spent three months travelling through eight different countries last year. Yes, it was exhausting and yes, we really needed more time in each place, but it was exactly the breath of fresh air I needed. By the end of it, I had a new appreciation for New Zealand; a new understanding of why I love it so much.
Here are just 10 reasons why I love New Zealand:
1) It’s relatively safe.
New Zealand came in third on the latest Global Peace Index, after Iceland and Denmark. Also, you don’t have to worry about pickpockets, which was a relief after travelling through Europe.
2) It’s relatively uncorrupt.
New Zealand came in second on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, after Denmark. Yes, some of our politicians might occasionally get involved in something ‘dirty’, but – face it – you’re not in danger of having your family shot if you speak out against them.
3) It’s relatively uncrowded.
New Zealand has a population density of just 17 per square kilometre – compare that with the UK’s 257, or Germany’s 235. It was actually a relief to get back here after being in Europe; relaxing not to have to queue for ages everywhere, or fight through traffic.
4) It’s got EFTPOS.
For me, Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale was something I never thought about until I missed it. Most people in New Zealand use it as a matter of course; we have become a population unused to carrying cash around, which, thinking about it, is probably why we don’t tip.
5) It’s got grass verges.
My family all come from the sort of working-class, Victorian-built areas of England that have narrow pavements crammed between brick houses and grey roads, with no sign of greenery to be had. That’s only romantically nostalgic up to a certain point.
6) It’s unpretentious.
You may remember – or not, seeing as it was over thirteen years ago – that New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, was treated rather rudely by the British media for daring to wear trousers to a state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. This miffed me somewhat, even though I am British and don’t at all mind the royals. Seriously, anyone who thinks like that can f**k off. I love that New Zealanders aren’t snobs.
7) It’s laidback.
New Zealanders live life at a peaceful pace. There are fewer “jobsworths” here.
8) It’s got a temperate climate.
New Zealand is neither too hot nor too cold. It’s got less of the miserable, chilling sort of rain than the UK, but still enough rain to keep it green. It’s a climate that smiles on the great outdoors.
9) It’s got bloody good food.
I still thought this after eating the best pizza of my life in a small family restaurant in Tivoli, near Rome. What’s so great about New Zealand’s food is it’s an absolute fusion of European, Maori and Asian cuisine, with the freshest of seafood and the finest of wine thrown in.
10) It’s got an astonishing amount – not to mention an amazing range – of incredibly beautiful scenery for such a small country.
“Is it true that in New Zealand you can go skiing in the mountains and swimming at the beach in the same day?” a guy in Germany asked us. Why, I suppose it is.