Do you sometimes wonder how life is in New Zealand, that country far away from everything? And how different it is to your country?
I’ve been dreaming of New Zealand since I was a young girl. I knew the scenery was stunning, but that was about it. After eventually living there for a few years, I can tell you: life in New Zealand is pretty damn great. Living in a country is the best way to experience how different it is from other countries. To my surprise there were quite a few differences between New Zealand and the rest of the world.
1. People are SUPER nice
You’ve probably heard this before, but Kiwis are beyond friendly. There are no words for it. People care about you, they want you to be ok, and are interested. I love that people are kind and polite. It is easy to smile to someone, but in the world of today many people like to mind their own business. In New Zealand I didn’t get this feeling.
When I go for a run, people just say hi, even cars passing by. Or there is a nice cashier, bus lady or even people on the street. In Belgium it was more everyone in his or her own world, and you don’t talk to or smile to strangers… I think we should change that!
2. Houses have no central heating
Winter is really cold in New Zealand. Not because of the temperatures, but because of the insulation. Most kiwi houses don’t have a central heating system or double glazed windows.
As a European I can’t imagine being cold inside my home. I’m used to escape the outside cold and to put the heating on inside. In New Zealand I was still cold inside our house, and I even saw the air of my breath. Of course we had a fireplace in the living room, and I ended up using a little, mobile heater in my room too – because it was just too unpleasant. Luckily more and more houses are now installing central heating too!
3. People walk barefoot
Yes, this is true! And I don’t just mean at the beach. I often see people walking barefoot in the supermarket, on the streets or even in restaurants. And these people are from all different background and ages. I once saw a sporty father walking into a restaurant with his three daughters, all with bare feet 🙂 I love how relaxed kiwis are and don’t care.
4. People care less
This closely follows number 3. Most people don’t care. They do what they want and they feel good about it. A great example, besides walking barefoot, is: the onesie. A onesie is a one-piece garment. You could call it a jumpsuit, but it looks more like a pyjama (and often looks ridiculous). Now and then I see people walking around in onesies in supermarkets, on the streets or at parties.
5. Kiwis do not like roundabouts
I am being really nice with this one. I’ve heard many Christchurch residents say: people can’t drive. Which translates itself to dysfunctional roundabouts. I’ve seen drivers wait until the entire roundabout is empty, do dangerous moves, use the wrong indicator, or don’t use any. It has even come to the point that Christchurch City is changing roundabouts back in to traffic lights (not kidding).
6. There are more sheep than people in New Zealand
We all know New Zealand has a lot of nature, and with those wide fields comes a lot of farming. In those fields: lots of sheep! In spring it’s adorable to see all the little lambs bouncing around. Spring is by the way a great time to visit New Zealand!
Did you know that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand. At the moment there are 4.6 million people in New Zealand, and 27.6 million sheep. New Zealanders are outnumbered by their livestock population!
7. There are no dangerous animals
As someone who loves hiking and being outdoors, this is an important one. There are no snakes, bears, lions, wolfs, or other dangerous or deadly animals in New Zealand. There is a tiny exception, which is the Katipo Spider – but it’s very rare to encounter this one.
New Zealand is a land of birds, and all the mammals you find there have been introduced. Luckily the introduced species weren’t dangerous to people, still maintaining the safe image of New Zealand.
8. Kiwis hardly use cash
EFTPOS is embedded in daily life. It’s a bankcard, which you can use for debit or credit payments. It’s super easy and no need to fumble with coins. I know every country has their own bank and credit cards, but I was amazed by how many New Zealanders never or hardly use money.
Cash is seen less and less, and in my opinion this is the future. I’m impressed how New Zealand is very modern by already anticipating this.
9. You get free tap water in restaurants and cafes
I absolutely love New Zealand for this (and all other countries that do this). When tap water is potable in a country, it should be offered for free when going out for dinner or a coffee. It’s something so basic and important, and yet there are countries where this isn’t an option, or where you pay for tap water…
My home country Belgium for example is way behind in this field. Every time I visit a restaurant that doesn’t offer free tap water, I’m biting my tongue. I see people ordering unhealthy fizzy drinks, while if there’s free water, they might not order these crap drinks. The USA and Canada do great as well with free tap water. I wish every country would follow their lead!
10. Free public toilets almost everywhere
This is an important one for the ladies. In New Zealand you’ll find public toilets almost everywhere! You even have a realistic chance of finding free, public toilets in the smallest town. Perfect for when you’re on a road trip and can’t hold it anymore! On top of that, the toilets are very well maintained!
To me, travelling isn’t just about the scenery and activities, but also the differences. Sometimes you get challenged, and sometimes you discover new habits which are way better than yours!
Did I forget anything? Or is there a weird or interesting difference you’ve encountered travelling?