Many people dream of getting that leap of faith, packing their lives and moving to New Zealand. As a foreigner who has spent a long time in the Land of the Long White Cloud, I can tell you that the journey can be quite bumpy sometimes - but it is very good and truly worth it. Here are some of my personal issues about life in this Pacific nation.
New Zealanders love their sport
Confession time: I am not a sporty person. In New Zealand, that can be an obstacle when it comes to finding that one something in common with local people - cause for the reason that everyone is involved in some sporting activity. It is ingrained in Kiwi's mind since childhood, getting active and being part of the sports team is very important. As the national sport, rugby is a favorite choice for many New Zealanders; Although others like netball, soccer/football (New Zealand used before) and cricket are also quite popular.
It’s perfectly fine to walk barefoot in some places
In many towns and cities, nobody can do anything if someone walks into the supermarket with no shoes on. I've also seen children walking to school with bare feet (by choice, not because they had no shoes to start with) and I knew many school-aged children don't wear any running shoes/ sneakers in the PE classes - not even in winter! Also, many New Zealanders will be offended if you don't take off your shoes when you enter their house and everyone is fine with sports flip-flops (or "jandals") like everyday wear.
New Zealand has a lot of world-renowned figures
I'm not just talking about people likes Peter Jackson, Russell Crowe, Rachel Hunter, Lorde and Taika Waititi, to name some of the celebrities born in Kiwi that we know and admire. New Zealand has also brought us a lot of people to change the world: like Nobel Prize winning physicist Ernest Rutherford and the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary. The country is also known for its pioneering victories in women's suffrage, peaceful resistance among different historical milestones.
Most public holidays are crammed into the first part of the year
Coming from a place with lots of public holidays scattered throughout the year, New Zealand's lack of national and religious days was quite difficult to get used to. You’ve got New Year's Day in January, Waitangi Day in February, a few regional anniversaries before Easter, ANZAC Day in April, Queen's birthday in June and Labor Day in January. That's it. Although fair, bigger cities like Auckland and Wellington have fair festivals and events in the winter to make up for the "holiday limbo" leading up to Christmas.
It might not be "100% Pure" but it’s pretty pristine
You may have heard New Zealand's "100% pure" tourist slogan before. Although it doesn't entirely true, Kiwis has a good thing here. For example, you can still drink water right from the tap in most places. Not only that, these beaches are world class, the roads are quite beautiful, nature is always well within reach, and there are a series of lakes, rivers, waterfalls waiting to take your breath.
New Zealanders don’t appreciate their young history as much as they should
On reflection, I think most of my knowledge of New Zealand history comes from personal research. Despite it's true that this country doesn't have a thousand-year legacy that many parts of Europe do, New Zealand's history is fascinating. If there are any Kiwis who read this, I encourage you to revisit your origins - from pre-Maori history right through to colonization and beyond. Looking at the development of local cuisine (like hangi or the traditional ‘meat and three veg' dinner) is a good starting point; ditto for having to look at the story behind heritage buildings is still a part of our lives today.
Even though the locals are friendly, they take a while to warm up to you
To be fair, integrating into any society isn't easy. Of course, there are some barriers that all migrants face while they are trying to find their position in New Zealand: employers are more likely to favour candidates with local experience; some towns and cities may initially appear quite cliquey at first, and Kiwis often takes a moment to open up to strangers.
Don't misunderstand me; New Zealanders are an extremely hospitable and friendly bunch. Just that deep down, they are also quite reserved. My main advice for anyone trying to settle down is to find a common interest (like joining a sports team; we have reached the full circle!) and be patient as they lower their guard to get to know you. For some, this can be easier said than done - language students tend to struggle to connect with Kiwis at first because of the obvious communication barrier - but I promise everything will work for a long run.