100 Things I Love About New Zealand

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Back in February 2019, I booked a six-week trip to New Zealand from where I was at the time in Brisbane, Australia. The return date was originally set for March 30th so I could continue traveling in Australia.

Those original six weeks very quickly turned into an open-ended adventure. I felt it right away from the moment I landed, the magic of New Zealand held me fast in her grasp. And it hasn't faded one bit in all this time.

I spent the first month on a bus trip around the South Island, ending up in tiny Kaikoura. It was there that I realized that I wasn't ready to leave New Zealand so I made the conscious decision to skip my return flight and extend my trip by another six weeks.

Well, that plan didn't last long either and instead, I applied for a working holiday visa that allowed me to work for a year to supplement my travels. The day my visa arrived I walked straight into the first restaurant I found in Kaikoura and got a job.

The year passed quickly during which time I met Nico and together we went on a roadtrip around the South Island, filling in the gaps that the bus tour couldn't provide. I traveled from New Zealand to countries in Asia and the Pacific, always returning to this new country I called home. We lived and worked in Wellington, the capital city, for six months and we bought a van.

At the end of my one-year working visa, the COVID-19 crisis was amping up in the world. We got stuck in New Zealand and had our visitor visas extended by another six months. We used our time after mandatory nationwide lock down to go on another roadtrip around the North Island. It wasn't until borders began to reopen (not New Zealand's) and flights began to resume that we were finally able to leave to New Zealand in September 2020 to begin our next adventure.

I planned to come to New Zealand for 40 days. I stayed for 568.

And during that time I fell head over heels in love with this country. Here's 100 of the countless reasons why:

  1. New Zealanders are more commonly known as kiwis.
  2. They also grow kiwis and the native bird is also a kiwi.
  3. The world's only white kiwi lives here.
  4. The mountains. Oh god, the mountains.
  5. The winding roads, with each one more beautiful than the last.
  6. The sheer pride in being a New Zealande- wait, a kiwi.
  7. The "she'll be right" attitude - aka the most laidback casual vibe of all time.
  8. The fact that literally everyone is nice. Most of the time.
  9. The fact that it's normal to go barefoot in all shops because you've got to leave your muddy gumboots outside.
  10. Whittaker's chocolate.
  11. The whole idea of freedom camping and the fact that this country is literally the ultimate roadtrip destination.
  12. The fact that New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, way back in 1893.
  13. Abortion is legal here, as is gay marriage.
  14. The Treaty of Waitangi, essentially New Zealand's founding document, was co-signed between the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs. Indigenous rights were ingrained in the fibre of this country, right from the get go.
  15. In fact, the Māori culture is wonderfully prominent in the day-to-day culture here.
  16. The Māori name for New Zealand is Aoetearoa which means 'land of the long white cloud.'
  17. The thousands of kilometres of spectacular hiking.
  18. The friendly green and yellow Department of Conservation signs.
  19. The fact that the official government building and website is called The Beehive because it looks like a beehive and they're all busy bees.
  20. Jacinda Ardern. That is all.
  21. The most photographed tree in the world, #ThatWanakaTree, lives here. It's rad.
  22. Narnia was filmed here.
  23. Lord of the Rings was filmed here.
  24. You can visit the real life Hobbiton movie set and run around like a wild hobbit.
  25. You can also hike past Mount Doom. It's called Mount Ngauruhoe in real life.
  26. There are 60 million sheep in New Zealand and just 5 million humans.
  27. In fact, just 5% of New Zealand’s population is human; the rest are animals.
  28. The tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere lives in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand.
  29. There's also a volcano in the middle of Auckland.
  30. There's actually a lot of volcanoes in New Zealand. They're all cool.
  31. Pak'n Save.
  32. There are more than 10,000 protected areas covering more than 8.6 million hectares. That's a whopping 32% of New Zealand. A whole third of the country is protected. GO NZ!
  33. There are no animals in New Zealand that want to kill you - sorry Australia - including zero snakes of any kind. Wahoo!
  34. The Haka is epic and moving.
  35. Wellington is one of the best cities I have ever lived in.
  36. Wellington is so windy that the buses literally have tourism ads about the wind and they've even nicknamed this city 'Windy Welly.'
  37. "Yeah nah" which means exactly what it says.
  38. Dolphins. Everywhere.
  39. You can even swim with the dolphins. I did and I cried.
  40. Te Papa Museum, the country's national museum, is free and incredible. I bought a little kiwi there. Not a real bird, don't worry.
  41. You can watch the first sunrise in the entire WORLD from East Cape.
  42. You can smell stinky geysers that just naturally come bubbling up out of the ground in Rotorua.
  43. The world's only alpine parrot lives here, the kea.
  44. The world's largest parrot also lives here, the kakapo.
  45. You can spot the Southern Cross in the night sky.
  46. Every single time we pull over for car problems, someone pulls over to help.
  47. I've literally cried because the landscape is so beautiful. Multiple times.
  48. There's whales. I've seen them.
  49. The op-shopping culture is extreme. It's an art. It's a sport. It's a way of life. I'm obsessed.
  50. The time we got stuck on the road waiting for the sheep to pass on the road around us.
  51. The other time we got stuck because of the cows. And then a pair had cow sex in the middle of the road in front of our car.
  52. The outstanding Air New Zealand safety videos. Absolutely unparalleled.
  53. The way the country came together after the Christchurch shootings.
  54. The way the country came together after the White Island volcanic explosions.
  55. The way the country came together to unite against COVID-19.
  56. When the country when into lock down, all temporary visas were extended by six months to let us stay put during the global crisis.
  57. The Easter Bunny was considered an essential worker during the COVID-19 lock down.
  58. And then, we successfully eliminated COVID-19 and, from June 8, 2020, were able to go back to a completely normal life within the borders.
  59. And when COVID-19 returned on August 11, 2020, we rallied together as a country for a second time.
  60. There's caves of glow worms dotted around the country.
  61. Wellington has a mascot - a fluffy cat called Mittens, also known as His Royal Floofiness. He even has keys to the city, given to him in an official ceremony.
  62. "Chur bro."
  63. That kiwi twang. I love it.
  64. Sunset from the top of Mount Victoria.
  65. Sunset from literally anywhere.
  66. The bluest water in Lake Pukaki. Also in Lake Tekapo. Also every lake.
  67. The glaciers here are breathtaking.
  68. Franz Josef Glacier and neighbouring Fox Glacier are two of just three glaciers in the entire world to feed directly into a rainforest.
  69. Have I mentioned the mountains? Because I can't even comprehend how much I love them.
  70. Speaking of mountains, famous climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to ever summit Mount Everest, was a kiwi.
  71. Other cool things kiwis did first? Sir Ernest Rutherford, the guy who discovered the proton, was a kiwi, too.
  72. There's only one native mammal to New Zealand and it's a bat.
  73. More than 70% of the birds in New Zealand are only found in New Zealand. And 90% of fish and insects. So cool.
  74. The movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
  75. There's so many lighthouses and they always have the best views.
  76. You can cruise around Milford Sound, often called the eighth Wonder of the World.
  77. The Brooklyn Wind Turbine in Wellington produces enough power in a year to power 110 homes.
  78. Barely anyone owns a tumble dryer - air drying is the way to go.
  79. Even though the recycling system isn't so great (yet), they really are trying hard to be eco-friendly.
  80. There's so many zero waste stores bubbling up all around the country. The mindset is refreshing.
  81. All the Little Free Libraries where you can exchange books for free.
  82. The free bins at hostels - you never know what you'll find.
  83. Hostels, in general.
  84. The fact that avocados can cost 99 cents one day and $7.99 the next. You just never know.
  85. The Pams brand. They sell pretty much everything and 90% of our grocery cart is Pams. We love Pams.
  86. It's one of the safest countries in the world (second only to Iceland, according to the Global Peace Index).
  87. The police don't even carry guns here.
  88. They launch rockets from the Mahia peninsula. This is very, very cool.
  89. No one owns an umbrella. It's just too windy.
  90. A 'cuppa' is the delightful way of saying a cup of tea. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
  91. Everyone talks about the weather but it's okay because actually the weather is great here and it's fun to talk about. Somehow.
  92. New Zealand is about the same size as the United Kingdom, however, New Zealand has about 5 million people versus the UK's 67 million. Yeah, it's pretty quiet here.
  93. Due to this small population and there being lots of farmland instead of big cities, the night skies here are exceptionally clear. You'll be able to see stars from almost everywhere.
  94. In fact, the world's largest dark sky reserve is right here in New Zealand near Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
  95. The world's longest place name is also here: Taumatawhakatangi - Hangakoauaotamatea - Pokaiwhenuakitanatahu. It goes by Taumata for short.
  96. There's even a self-declared republic here - the Republic of Whangamomona. They offer passports to prove you've visited.
  97. At no point in New Zealand are you ever more than just 128km from the sea.
  98. Okay, this one's totally random but New Zealand happens to have more Scottish pipe bands per capita than any other country in the world. We used to hear them play every weekend in Wellington.
  99. It's where I met Nico.
  100. It's always going to be one of my homes.

I'll love you forever, New Zealand. See you soon.


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