10 things to get used to in New Zealand

It’s easy to get caught up in the bureaucracy of immigration. Visas, employment, and shipping arrangements are each their own world of minutiae. As a result, it’s easy to overlook the obvious things: what is life actually like in your new country?  Here are a few shortcuts to get you up to speed when you step off the plane.

  • Weather. It’s no coincidence that the famous kiwi band Crowded House wrote a song called “Four Seasons in One Day.” It’s not that the weather is bad. It’s just that there can be an awful lot of it, in rapid succession. That said, summer often sees lovely big, high pressure systems that bring warm, calm sunshine for days on end.
  • Houses. Lots of our houses are made of timber, especially the older ones. Some people from other countries struggle with that. But wood is good! It’s a natural insulator of heat and noise, and it’s good for the environment, because it stores the carbon that it absorbed before it was harvested. Plus it has natural good looks!
  • Kia ora! That’s what you say when you bump into someone you know, or agree with what someone says. Like “G’day!” or “Hi!” or “I agree” or “Hear! Hear!”. Sing out these two little words and everyone will know that everything’s ok. Check out how these young experts nail it with smiling ease.
  • The land of milk lamb and honey craft beer. In addition to our famous dairy sector, New Zealand produces a world-leading range of high quality, artisanal ingredients. Wherever you live in the country, there’s a culinary paradise awaiting you in a nearby weekend farmers’ market.
  • The sea. There’s a point in the South Island which is 120 km from the sea, and that’s as far from the sea as you can get. New Zealand has the 10th longest coastline in the world, and also, one of the nicest! So it’s good to know that one in three Auckland homes has a boat.
  • Mountains. If you don’t like the sea, you can get on a mountain! There are many to choose from, all over the country, from the volcanoes of the North to the vast ranges of the South. Whether you climb up them, ski down them or just look at them, you’re going to love them. We know we do.
  • Christmas. Here in the southern hemisphere, we celebrate the yuletide in the middle of summer. So if turkey and pudding with brandy butter aren’t your idea of a summertime lunch, you won’t be alone. Many of us make it a summer feast instead, with dazzling salads, seafood and strawberries.
  • Halloween. This is slowly catching on in New Zealand, but you’ll have to get used to welcoming in the lightness, not the darkness. Ironically, Halloween comes a month after daylight savings starts. Guy Fawkes night comes a couple of weeks later, which means you have to wait around till nine o’clock at night before it’s dark enough to let your fireworks off.
  • Parks. These cover about a third of the country, and you really have to make the effort to get into them, because they’re wonderful. They provide a stunning backdrop to both life in New Zealand, and the national psyche. That is, we love the outdoors.
  • Health. Some people get insurance, some don’t. New Zealand’s health system is almost as well subsidised as the NHS in UK. So a trip to the GP costs an adult about fifty bucks, but almost nothing for children. Dentists aren’t subsidised, but kids’ get basic treatment for free through schools.


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