I live in the most beautiful place in the world. I truly believe that!
Still I live in a country that is very far away from it all and just can’t give you all the amenities that you are used to and may want. If you decide to live in New Zealand, you have to make some sacrifices. But don’t you have to make them anywhere in this world. Everybody who has left their home country has left it for a reason. The country they have settled to was also chosen for a reason. So don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE New Zealand. But today I am going beyond the sugar coating and give you an idea of the things in New Zealand that piss-me-off (pardon me) the most!!
I know this is not really usual for a tourism columnist to write about the bad things in a country. Still I believe that in a relationship, between a person and a land, it is better to know where you are at. In fact I believe that counts for any kind of relationship. So here’s the deal with New Zealand.
First you need to know that New Zealand is very remote. If you think Australia is a remote country, well we’re even further off. We have a very small population of only 4 million people, in a country that has the size of Germany or Britain. So everything is far away in New Zealand! Things take ages to get here and you pay a lot of money for imported good. Basically everything that is made in Europe and thus cheap in Europe is expensive here. E.g for the popular Italian chocolate spread you pay around 9 NZ dollars for a normal sized glass. But good to know for all chocoholics, you can get it here 🙂
Let me start with the public transport system, if you can even call it that. It is almost non-existent. I once calculated that it would take me about 4 hrs. to get to work on public transport. It’s about a 30 min car ride. Lucky that I have a car! I did try the buses in Auckland at some point but gave up fairly quickly, as I did stand at a stop for hours. The train system in Auckland is alright. The trains are fairly modern and almost on time. Yet the train system is so minimalistic that you can’t even catch a train to the Airport. Auckland’s train system ends about 10 kms north of the Airport area. A little fact that is good to know when traveling toward Auckland Airport. That implies that you did in fact find the train station. The train stations in Auckland are tiny. Our biggest train station, Auckland Britomart, is less than a quarter of the size of Münster (my hometown) central station. For traveling in the rest of the country there are some tourism busses that travel from town to town, usually once a day. If you miss a bus you are left with the most reliable public transport in this country. Hitchhiking! J Keep in mind: A happy hitchhiker holds up both thumbs!
Another thing that I see as a sacrifice is the slow internet and the lack of technical development in general. In New Zealand we have broadband connections and it is impossible to get a home internet plan with no data limit. It is good to know that when you are travelling the free internet along the way, is usually really really slow. So slow that it takes you about 2 minutes to load an email. Now you may think that I am exaggerating because I am used to fast European internet. But sadly I am not. To be honest, I experienced internet in Central America, and the speed of internet over there is not really slower than over in New Zealand. But again, it makes it easier to get rid of those nasty internet addictions we all have. 🙂
Ok guys, the next on is a though one, I still don’t know how I manage to live without. But New Zealand has NO EBAY! It is simply non-existent. Instead they have a similar trading website that is only known in New Zealand. On that website everybody in New Zealand sells their boats, cars, houses and junk. That platform is not really as reliable as eBay, there are no secure payment options and the person that “bought” a product is not actually obligated to buy it nor has guarantee that they will ever receive it. So “eBay” in New Zealand is a bit like putting stuff in the newspaper and then going to people’s house to look at it. You bring some cash in case you want to buy it and then you negotiate a price on side. I have actually seen a lot of Auckland and met many people that way J
New Zealand has a lot of nature, as nice as that is; it also brings bugs with it. The nastiest ones in NZ are the so called SANDFLIES, they look like little fruit flies but bite you like mosquitos. It is really a challenge to go to a remote beach in New Zealand without wearing you tropical strength mosquito repellent (the only thing that helps with sand-flies)
Now that you’re already slapping some mossy repellent on don’t forget your Sunscreen, as the UV in NZ in extremely high. Everybody who has visited me in New Zealand got sunburn on their first day. As in Europe there are many choices for sunscreen strengths, starting from coverage as low as 2, thorough to 6 and 8. In New Zealand’s shops you have the choice between 30, 50 or Sun blocker. If that’s does not already give you a clue, you will know the day after your fist day in the Sun when you are embracing the Lobster-Look J
Now that you see what the downside of living in New Zealand is, you may understand why I love this country so much. Because that is it! I have nothing else to complain about paying too much for chocolate spread, some bugs, too much sunshine, or waiting for a bus come or a website to load. LUCKY ME