Huge thanks to Sarah Von of Yes and Yes, for bringing her positivity, wit and adventurous spirit to Lovelorn Unicorn today!
Now, I’m not a real kiwi. I’m only an honorary one, having spent a year and a half there earning my M.A. at VUW. But I would be honored to someday call myself a New Zealander and I really can’t stop singing the praises of Aotearoa to anyone that will listen. There are approximately a million reasons you should visit the land of the long white cloud, but I’ll try to limit myself to ten.
1. The total and complete lack of bullshit
A Kiwi will not tell you that your outfit is cute when it’s not. They will not suggest getting a drink together and then forget about it. They will not screen your calls and avoid you but then come to your wedding for the open bar. The average New Zealanders’ candor and lack of pretense is fantastic, refreshing and kind of makes you want to ask the entire country for their input on that new guy you’re seeing.
2. The shocking and ethereal beauty
Everybody knows that New Zealand is gorgeous, right? I mean, they filmed a movie based in a fantasy world there. But New Zealand occasionally seems to lose track of how amazing it is – like that girl that got hot over the Summer and hasn’t figured it out yet. The mountains that surround the highway leaving Wellington (just your average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill Kiwi mountains) would warrant huge “Scenic Overlook” signs in any other country.
Do you have a soul mate city? My heart is divided between Berlin and Wellington, and I think the latter might be winning. It’s the cultural and governmental capitol of the country, it’s got more cafes per capita than NYC, great boutiques, hip citizens and you can walk nearly everywhere. Really, it’s enough to make you look past the hurricane-level winds.
4. You might see Jemaine and Bret
For realz? I saw Mr. Flight of The Conchords himself *twice*: once behind me in line for a movie and once eating a corn dog in the food court of Reading Cinema. And these funny men aren’t the only ones you’ll spot! With Peter Jackson in town, you’ll surely see other famous folks, and since it’s such a compact city you might just run into rockers who are hanging out after their show. My former flatmate saw Fergie on two separate occasions, all tiny and eyelinered and trying to hide in her hoodie.
Vogels is the best bread you’ll ever eat – half English muffin and half wholewheat treat, it’s perfect covered in butter and a paper thin slice of smoked cheddar. You’ll also love Frank soda and pavlova, the kiwi dessert that’s the love child of a meringue and angel food cake. Kiwi cuisine is some of the most delicious you’ll ever try – fresh, diverse and interesting. I cannot, however, vouch for the whitebait. I’m afraid that’s an acquired taste I will not be acquiring.
Hitchhiking is not recommended in America. Or Canada. Or really? Most countries. And to say that it’s ‘recommended’ in New Zealand might be something of a stretch, but this little country is safe enough, and traveler-centered enough, that hitchhiking with a friend is totally doable. A kiwi friend of mine spent her 18th Summer hitching her way around the South Island and picking cherries!
7. A crazy diverse population
New Zealand is home to only four and a half million people but a large percentage of those people were born elsewhere. The streets of Auckland and Wellington are lined with Malaysian, Indian and Chinese restaurants and you’ll hear every language under the sun at the Sunday veggie market. The country seems to a great job of integrating all these cultures; Wellington hosts a great Chinese New Year’s party and the country does a great job of acknowledging Waitangi Day.
8. The Cultural Phenomena of the O.E.
In America, you’re considered a world traveler after a three-month study abroad program in an English speaking country. Or if you’re *really* intrepid, maybe you spent a summer backpacking around Western Europe after you graduated. But kiwis? The travel bug is so thoroughly ingrained in New Zealand culture that they’ve got a proper name for it: ‘The Overseas Experience.’ Travel agencies tout even offer O.E.s as packages – to the Americas and Southeast Asia and obscure Eastern European countries. Instead of viewing travel as a questionable hole in your resume, employers view globe trotting as valuable life experience. Imagine that!
9. Kiwi Ingenuity
Is something broken? There’s a good chance that any good kiwi can fix it, and they can probably fix it a roll of 8 gauge wire. There will be little fussing, no complaining and there probably won’t be any self congratulation when it’s fixed, but it’ll be fixed nonetheless. Kiwis are some of the most capable, inventive and simultaneously modest people I’ve ever met. They climbed Mt. Everest and broke the land speed record, you know!
10. New Zealander English
For the first month that I lived in New Zealand, I spent a good portion of my time concentrating on the mouths of the Kiwis that spoke to me and smiling and nodding when I had no idea what they were saying. Eventually I caught onto the fact that ‘cuppa’ was a cup of tea, ‘sussed’ meant ‘to figure out,’ ‘pissed’ meant drunk (rather than angry) and ‘shout’ meant buying drinks for everyone, not yelling. I’m afraid I may have had an embarrassing interlude in which a professor asked me who shouted in America for birthdays and I primly told him that we didn’t usually celebrate by yelling at each other. But I later came to love Kiwi English and now I’m very much that annoying American who’s always going on about my ‘flatmates’ and ‘uni’.
Why do you love New Zealand?