Country east of Australia, extending slightly further south than the Australian island of Tasmania. Has an extremely overrated reputation, especially for its physical beauty,
most likely spread by NZers themselves. To hear them speak you'd never know any other country has snow-capped mountains, beaches or fiords. In reality,
it's cities are uninspiring and boring, the landscape is monotonous, it has been horrible deforested, and all that green you see is sheep and dairy pastures, which are very hard on the land. There are mountains in the south, but the lanscape there is nothing compared to many other places in the world, for example southern Patagonia, which extends much further south and is much closer to Antarctica, a fact which would likely be a surprise to most NZers, as they believe they are furthest south. They may not teach much geography there, which would account for their thinking of their country as somehow special.
Very nice beaches, and there are lots of them.
Government: Not a democracy. Led by the ugliest head of state in the world (Helen Clarke). Now there's a superlative that is actually true! Horribly bloated government. MPs take the people's money and live the good life, robbing the citizens of the social services they should be getting. Probably way more corrupt than anyone is willing to admit.
Education: A University education is very expensive and not subsidized by the government, except as low interest loans. Despite a hugely taxed populace, the government provides no real financial aid for University.
Language: Extreme accent. Hard to listen to, hard to understand. Their language is peppered with Australian slang. Hardly any of it is homegrown.
Quality of life: Unless you are rich you can expect: A really small house, usually extremely ugly, unless it's old. No air conditioning. No central heating. No fly screens. Hardly any channels on the TV, unless you get Sky TV, then you pay for hardly any channels. Food is of extremely limited variety. The meat is sometimes of exceptionally poor quality, often tough and tasteless. It's the luck of the draw. Hardly any variety of vegetables. Awful bread. If you love to cook and try new things, would be hard place to live in. The standard size refrigerators are very small compared to the US. So are stoves and ovens. Unless you want to pay alot of money, you cannot own a clothes dryer.
HAS THE HIGHEST CELL PHONE RATES IN THE WORLD.
All electronics are extremely expensive, so you have to make a good salary to enjoy modern technology. Unless you want to pay too much, forget about a really big tv. DVDs are expensive, and there's a limited range.
Salaries are lower than other western countries, and the mostly imported goods are more expensive. The clothes is expensive and it's hard to find non polyester blend items at a reasonable cost.
Unless you pay top dollar, the utility company may turn off your hot water, without warning you first!
Toilets are often kept in narrow rooms, apart from bath or shower, sometimes without enough room for a washbasin.
The only large bookstore in the entire Auckland area is Borders, a recent American import.
Rugby mania is so prevalent, it gives the place an odd feel, as if it really were a caricature of itself.
Governement services: Bloated welfare system, most everything else neglected and substandard.
Diversity of Population: Not really. Lots of Polynesian and Asians, a smattering of Brits and South Africans, and the occasional Eastern European.
The Americas, North and South, have hardly a presence there. Very few Africans.
Auckland: The most boring large city in the world, which is not surprising, being that it's in the most boring country in the world. Culturally backward, like the rest of the country. No particularly interesting architecture. No rich cultural life. Quite dirty and unsafe in it's southern suburbs. Some streets there strongly recall streets in third world countries.
Housing: Has some of the ugliest domestic architecture in the Western World. Older homes are charming enough, but anything built after around 1940 will be ugly as sin, and really small. Unless you're rich. Then it will probably be ugly too, but at least it will be bigger.
Most people do not have attics or basements, so no place to keep your stuff.
Internet: Because posting things to NZ from the outside world costs so much, wonderful things like eBay and Amazon
are virtually unknown here. Online trading sites within the country are a Mickey Mouse version of eBay.
Shopping: Most stores close by 6:00, including shopping malls, and home improvement and hardware stores (except for one day a week). This includes weekends. There are a few exceptions, and they're always full of customers until late.
Wood products are extremely expensive, so people commonly own cheap looking stuff. Kitchen cabinets are made of the same cheap materials used in dentists offices and vet clinics in the US.
Health care: A travesty. Long waiting lists for both routine and necessary procedures. Probably worse than Britain.
Attitude: Racist all around, make up for it with a nauseating PC attitude. Make a bit deal out of "Kiwi ingenuity." What this really means is they have so little in the country, they've often had to make do and improvise.
Terrible and embarrassing inferiority complex.
Country has not progressed much in the last 30 years or so. As the modern Western world is a more comfortable place, full of affordable high end goods, this country is trapped in time, for all the wrong reasons.
Many NZers leave and live in Australia, which is quite understandable.
Culture: TV, slang, dress, etc. all come from Australia.
Media: Few TV channels, substandard newspapers. To get well written intelligent news, must read the foreing papers. NY Times is not really available. Might find an a copy several weeks old selling in the airport for around $12.00 US.
I live in New Zealand, so I should know.
Prices shown in USD.
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