From the very first moments, I knew that my trip to New Zealand was going to be an unforgettable experience. As soon as my flight from LAX entered Auckland airspace, I looked out of my little ice-rimmed window into the most breathtaking sunrise I have ever had the privilege of witnessing.
Breathtaking. A word that I could use endlessly in attempting to describe Land of the Long White Cloud. At least daily – no, scratch that – at least hourly I would find myself pausing, looking around, and trying to grasp the insane natural beauty that was all around me. I kept waiting to find at least one place, one small stretch of road that wasn’t overwhelmingly beautiful or charming. I’ll save you the trouble…it doesn’t exist. Not in my opinion anyway.
Now, I would feel silly attempting to come across as knowledgable when writing about New Zealand of all places, as I happen to be dating a born-and-raised, full-fledged, very proud Kiwi. So instead of moaning on and on about where to go, what to do, what to see, etc., I’m going to attempt to put into words just how awesome it is to experience this amazing country and why I came away from my month there with a renewed sense of pride in my fellow man.
It has a history of being an undercover ethical badass
Not to be dramatic, but in my humble opinion, we should all be trying to be more like New Zealand. In 1893, the Kiwis became the first nation to instate universal suffrage! Especially nowadays, when women’s rights are such a hot topic, why am I just now finding out this little tidbit of information?? Also in keeping with current events, this beautifully left wing country is staunchly against nuclear arms, and no nuclear power stations exist anywhere in New Zealand. Legalized gay marriage, immense amounts of ecological protection, seemingly perpetual peace…take note, rest of the world, NZ is doing it right.
Its almost unrealistically idillic
The whole time I was there, I felt like I was in a real-life, Australasian, tropical/alpine, sheep-filled Norman Rockwell painting. Not only does New Zealand look beautiful, but the people tend to have a beautiful attitude of morality and human decency.
Now, maybe its just my experience – I’m not going off of statistics here – but I found the trustworthiness and the unwary nature of New Zealanders almost humorously evident at times. I was laughed at while going through security in the Dunedin airport as I – in all my American glory – stripped off my shoes, jacket, clothing, dignity, etc., only to be asked kindly to stop holding up the line, as “we don’t make a fuss about all that in our little corner of the world.” Often, I had to be reassured by Liam that all of our belongings – whether they be lying on the beach while we kayaked across the bay or left in our big backpacks waiting for us at the bottom of a mountain trail – would be just fine. Obviously I can’t speak for an entire country full of people, I’m sure there are some jerks, but most people will leave $4 in the unattended box on the side of the road in exchange for fresh feijoas.
We tend to expect the worst in people, and sadly a lot of the time its justified. However, New Zealand allowed me to witness some integrity in humanity and for that I am grateful.
Kiwi patriotism is deep rooted
From an outsider’s perspective, New Zealanders seem to have a lot of pride in their home, and not just because the All Blacks are beasts on the rugby field.(….rugby…pitch?) The people of New Zealand are lucky enough to live and thrive among some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes on our planet, and they are very aware of the responsibility they have to preserve that natural beauty. Even in the havoc that a massive tourism industry like New Zealand’s can wreak, the local hospitality industry seems eager to encourage tourists to keep their country clean and sparkly, and ecotourism is pushed a great deal.
As a huge supporter of global conservation, I was extremely impressed with the efforts taken to minimize the human footprint in New Zealand. Also, as a massive bonus, my strictly vegetarian palate was positively overwhelmed by the amount of vegan restaurants, organic options, and cold-pressed juice joints all over the country. I couldn’t get enough!
Its Middle Earth
I mean, enough said. I ♥ LOTR, and NZ has a great deal of pride in the fact that the world got to see their beautiful country through Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Being in New Zealand brought me a great deal of positivity, and Sam puts it into words beautifully at the end of the Two Towers (I’m such a dork):
“How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? […] in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
In short, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the place. I’m obsessed.
Buy a ticket. Book a flight. Go be humbled by the landscapes. Go find peace in the way that people treat each other. Go challenge yourself – jump off of a bridge or climb to the highest point of a mountain. Go immerse yourself in a beautiful cultural blend of old and new. Go drink way too much wine because its just too good to stop. Go and try not to want to stay forever.
Thank you, New Zealand, for being a light in this world.