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  #1  
Old 02-22-2009, 10:30 AM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
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The good and bad things about living in New Zealand.

I see that New Zealand needs people, not quite in the same way that Mars Needs Women http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060672/ which is probably good. For people, not Martians. According to their immigration site, I could almost certainly get in and it looks like I could get hired to do more or less the same thing I do now.

Anybody care to share opinions on the country? Particularly how life there compares to the USA, although any opinion would be helpful. I'm intrigued by New Zealand's high rankings with regard to freedom (individual and economic), quality of life, prosperity, and environmental preservation/sustainability. How do these translate into everyday life? The official website makes it seem so nice, but how can you tell for sure? Everything I know about it comes from Lord of the Rings, Flight of the Conchords, and nature documentaries. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2009, 10:48 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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It seems a great place from my holidays there but I have to wonder, because the reason New Zealand needs people is that most young New Zealanders seem to live in Australia. So maybe you should just bypass the middleman.
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2009, 03:30 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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I lived there for three years and enjoyed it immensely. I can't comment on how it compares with the US.
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  #4  
Old 02-22-2009, 03:42 PM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is offline
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My name probably indicates my bias.

I used to work with an American in Auckland, and she told me that the big changes for her were:
(a) Kiwi's are quietly friendly people, they take a while to get to know you and can seem quite distant at first
(b) There is a much smaller range of products available and shopping centres close around 8/9pm
(c) There is a much smaller range of food available at the supermarket

Like any country, New Zealand is incredibly diverse and you will find a different culture depending on where you are.

You have the biggest city of Auckland which is very cosmopolitan and a melting pot of Caucasians, Maori, Pacific Islanders, Indian, Asian and more. I lived here for ten years and it's a particularly fantastic place if you are in to water sports. This is also a place where you can be a bit alternative and it has a thriving arts and music scene.

Then you have the capital city Wellington which has a huge arts and culture scene. It's known as the Windy City, which will give you an insight into its climate! This is where parliament is situated (naturally, it's the capital city) and there are also a lot of head offices here. So it's an interesting mix of professionals and arty types.

In the South Island, the largest city is Christchurch which is the most English of NZ's cities. I was raised here and lived here for twenty years. I only went back for a couple of weeks each year at the most so I can't really comment on what it's like to live there now. Except one thing hasn't changed - Christchurch drivers are the most bloody-minded drivers around.

Then you have smaller towns dotted around the North and South Island, but mostly around the North. A large portion of the South Island is taken up with the Southern Alps and national parks.

Any thoughts on where you'd be likely to live? Because that would help me (and the other kiwis on this board) give you more information.
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  #5  
Old 02-22-2009, 03:57 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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To be fair, this topic is kind of a trick question, because it's been well established that no-one actually lives in New Zealand.

OK, OK - the Kiwi jokes are cheap and easy, but 350-400,000 enzedders have emigrated to Australia - about 10% of the country's population. The problem is that the highly-educated and skilled tend to be overrrepresented in that proportion, leading to quite valid concerns about a brain drain.

Nevertheless, the OP is right when it says that the land of the long, flat vowel ranks highly for freedom and ecological sustainability. This may not continue for long, however, because Terry from Albert Town has just discovered crop rotation and they're fairly sure that they can work out some way to make use of the idea.

Terry's a thinker, you see.

Other than this, the economic collapse in Australia is threatening the largest market for Kiwistan's chief export - maori bouncers - whereas the nation's major import (polynesians to play for the All Blacks) continues to increase in price.
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  #6  
Old 02-22-2009, 04:32 PM
tetranz tetranz is offline
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As someone who moved from New Zealand to USA almost ten long years ago it's difficult for me to give an unbiased answer because I can only really see things from my own little world and thoughts. Of course, some things might have changed since I left.

Depending on where you are now and where in NZ you might be going and what sort of job you do, it's very likely to be a easy, pleasant move. Living in Auckland suburbia and working at a "normal" sort of job, whatever that might mean, is not dramatically different to living in the US. You would have much the same sort of things in your home that you have now, shop at a similar sort of supermarket and if you ever want to go to McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Dennys, Pizza Hutt and others, they're all there too. No WalMart but we have our equivalent called The Warehouse.

There are contrasting / conflicting things about NZ that make it difficult to define. On one hand it might seem like a very socialist place. There are several things that aim towards sharing life's ups and downs among everyone. We have universal healthcare which is not unusual in the world but some other things are unusual.

In general you cannot sue someone in NZ for personal injury. Everyone pays what is effectively a tax to the government owned Accident Compensation Corporation. If you're injured at work or elsewhere then you can make a claim to ACC and potentially receive compensation. If a person or company is found to have caused the injury then they could be fined or criminally charged if laws were broken but you still couldn't sue them like you can in the US.

Social security payment (called superannuation) for retirees is the same amount for everyone. It doesn't matter what you earned or paid in taxes during your working years. You don't pay into it separately at all. That's true of most taxes including healthcare. Tax mostly all goes into one big government bucket. Unemployment benefit is similar. Everyone gets the same amount.

On the other hand NZ is very "capitalist" in that it is strong on free and open markets for business which is the extreme opposite of how we were thirty years ago. I think there are no or very few import tariffs on anything. There are no farm subsidies. Business survives or fails on international merit and competition. There seems to be less rules and restrictions than I hear about here. Anyone can deliver mail, NZ Post does not have a monopoly on mailboxes like USPS does.

Not all business competition has had a positive effect. You can choose to get your electricity from several different power companies but that didn't seem to lower prices. In my town there were at least four kerbside trash collection companies. You would choose which one by buying different coloured bags at the supermarket. That resulted in four trucks driving down the street looking for just their bags.

Life is kind of simpler and more relaxed in NZ in ways that I find hard to put my finger on. It's hard to give concrete examples but in general there is a good attitude of live and let live, do what you like, if it's not affecting me then I don't care. One silly thing (unimportant, I know) that hit me when I arrived in the US here in summer was not being able to enter a shop or fast food restaurant barefoot. Maybe it's just me but it honestly never occurred to me that people would object.

I guess this is a New England comparison but the NZ climate is pretty good. It doesn't get really hot or really cold although it can be humid. It means that a lot of houses don't have heating. I've heard (probably valid) complaints from foreigners that NZ houses are cold in winter. Certainly in the colder climates as you go south they have proper heating.

Some say that there are really two New Zealands. Auckland and the rest of the country. I don't know much about Wellington and Christchurch but Auckland is much more diverse in it's culture and population than elsewhere (certainly more than here in New Hampshire). The greater Auckland area has a third of the population so there is good chance you'll end up there. It's very spread out and public transport is not great so unless you live and work in the central city, life in Auckland is very dependent on cars. Aucklanders complain a lot about traffic. It is bad but I don't know that it's worst than other sizable city. I'd probably still prefer driving in Auckland than Boston.

There's a perception that property crime is quite high. No way would I leave a house or car unlocked like I've noticed people often do here in NH. Although a few tragic cases hit the news, there is not that much violent crime. Gangs are a bit of a problem but they tend to be fighting each other and handguns are almost non-existent. From the news I read, meth, known locally as "P" is a problem. The police in general are highly professional and honest but hopelessly overworked and under resourced. I hear that if your house is broken into and the bad guys have long gone then you probably won't get an officer to visit. They'll take the details over the phone or maybe send a civilian employee to take details.

If you have a well paid professional job, you'll live very well in NZ but you probably won't earn as much as in the US. The gap between rich and poor in NZ is not as big as in the US but (unfortunately IMO) it is widening. Many consumer products tend to be more expensive than elsewhere.

As for lots of people moving to Australia. Being in a small isolated country makes it quite tempting to want to "escape" and try your luck elsewhere especially when you're young and want to see bigger cities and countries. Australia is an obvious and easy place to go. Kiwis can freely live and work in Australia without a visa. One of our Prime Ministers long ago had a classic comment on TV about the migration from NZ to Australia at the time. "It raises the average IQ of both countries".

The culture is definitely different often in subtle ways that are hard to explain. You should probably visit before you move.

I'm happy to answer questions.

Ross
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  #7  
Old 02-22-2009, 06:49 PM
tetranz tetranz is offline
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Probably not the info you're really looking for and it might not apply to a foreigner but something that came to mind as I'm starting to work on my US tax return this afternoon ...

Taxation in New Zealand is much simpler than in the US. There are really only two income tax rates for residents. The higher rate is about 33%. The returns are really quite simple and I think I'm right when I say that if you're a normal salary or wage earner with nothing special going on then there's a good chance these days that you don't need to do a tax return at all because withholding is done correctly each month. From what I remember, there doesn't seem to be the married / single tax status significance that there is in the US and if you're doing some part time moonlighting work or whatever, it all gets added together. There is no separate rate for self employed or secondary income or whatever. Self employed do have to pay into the ACC that I described in my other post.

Goods and Services Tax (sales tax) is 12.5% on everything. Prices are usually labeled and advertised inclusive of tax so we tend not to think about it much.

I totally empathize with this BBC reporter I listened to on my internet radio the other day.
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  #8  
Old 02-22-2009, 07:11 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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Come for a visit. Half the people I know who came from overseas started out as tourists and just stayed - you can probably check with your stateside embassy for details on your eligibility for immigration or long term working visa.

In these days of global crisis, Kiwis can always go to the beach, nothing's quite so bad at the beach.
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  #9  
Old 02-22-2009, 07:47 PM
Mbossa Mbossa is offline
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Originally Posted by maggenpye View Post
In these days of global crisis, Kiwis can always go to the beach, nothing's quite so bad at the beach.
Except for sunburn.

And sunburn is quite a lot worse here in NZ than most other places. The legacy of the world's obsession with CFCs during the '80s.
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  #10  
Old 02-22-2009, 09:55 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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Ah, but you don't notice the sunburn till you've left the beach!

But, yeah, fair point. Bring sunscreen.
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  #11  
Old 02-22-2009, 10:02 PM
dynamitedave dynamitedave is offline
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Hey thanks tetranz for giving a local analogue to Walmart.

My brother lived in the US for a couple of years. I think his major comment was how hopeless the internet is here. I don't think there's any sort of legal movie download sites here and I gather US based companies won't allow out of border customers. And it's more expensive. I've just changed to VOIP for $70 month with unlimited DSL speeds and $1/GB data transfer. Remember we're at the end of a long thin expensive glass tube.

And roundabouts. I gather US based people aren't used to them. They're everywhere here, I think there's a critical mass point, then they start replicating.

And the barefoot thing. Just had a long weekend. Went barefoot 4 days. Driving, shopping, 2 parties. Only problem as the roads went soft due to the heat and tar stuck to my feet. And it was a bit cool for them in the beer chiller too.

There was some discussion about ex-pats returning home due the the economic recession. Whether it's a valid point, it's a bit early to say.

Perhaps to get some feeling for things here, start reading our papers and watching the news online. There's www.nzherald.co.nz www.3news.co.nz Tv One These are the traditional big evil media outfits, perhaps someone can point out some independent online outlets?

I know a UK family that's just done all their paperwork to stay. If you want, I'll ask if you can contact them about the process.
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  #12  
Old 02-22-2009, 11:13 PM
bengangmo bengangmo is offline
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Another two cents from a New Zealander living abroad.

IM(H)O - most New Zealanders leave for more money, wages / salary definitely won't be what you are used to. Having said this, a good life in New Zealand is relatively cheap, and if you are well established now you will have a good life in New Zealand.

Personally I came to Singapore to follow my wife, that I got away from high tax rates was a bit of a bonus but not any sort of real motivating factor.

We are planning on going back in the medium term if that makes a difference.

Don't go to New Zealand expecting it to be some sort of laid back paradise, we do work hard, and you are expected to NOT show stress in any way. The big thing that I miss about home are the weekends - when you are away form work you can truely kick back and relax. Friends are much more "easy going" and anything goes. Come round for a barbie and throw a coupla snags on the barbie, grab a lettuce from countdown and away you go.

When we have visitors around, no general preparation is (generally) expected, its a lot more come as you are, and don't expect me to go to special effort for you.

There's tonnes of political freedom and freedom of speech - sports are SUPER CHEAP - I can remember around 12 years ago looking serioulsy t a road legal holden race car (that came second in the previous season) that was going for around $7,000 NZD, a golf club membership at a GOOD club (in Christchurch) may only sting you for $1,500 - $2,000 (this may be a little out of date). When I was growing up I played at a rural course - the adult membership then (early 90s) was around $400 per year.

I grew up in Christchurch, and have never really been to great amounts of the rest of the country. But there's a real plethora of holiday options nearby if you like local holidays - and outside of super-peak season the prices are pretty reasonable, drive yourself holidays are really common.

New Zealand tends to punch above its weight in many areas - the list of famous New Zealanders is looong. If I'm not wrong we were the first country to institute universal suffrage (if not first we were second), Lord Rutherford was the first to split the atom (is on the $50 note), climbed Mnt Everest First, the NewZealand economy is ALWAYS in the top three least protected in the world, and we rank VERY highly for ease of setting up a new business.

One thing you will need to get used to is that we drive on the "wrong" side of the road

Hope this helps, I will pop back and offer more thoughts if they come to me...
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  #13  
Old 02-23-2009, 02:21 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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The other thing to remember is that NZ (while a wonderful place to live) is a seriously long way from anywhere you would want to visit.

This is the thing that puts me off from going back. From the UK, I can fly anywhere in Europe in less than two or three hours. I can drive with the whole family and a caravan. From NZ, 4 hours on a plane get you to ... Australia. You need to be on a plane for 10 hours to make LA, 12 hours for SE Asia, 28 to the UK/Europe. And the relative cost of long distance travel compared with earnings is higher in NZ, too.

Si
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  #14  
Old 02-23-2009, 04:31 AM
Desert Nomad Desert Nomad is offline
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tetranz's post is great.

I lived in Wellington for a while. The weather is fine if you are coming from Seattle, but coming from Nevada and Dubai it was a bit too wet and windy for me. While the standard of living is high, the availability of goods is limited and generally more expensive (anything imported has to come a looong way).

We tried to immigrate, but "because I am self employed", they told me I would need to get a job earning more than $45,000 NZD. This is a bit odd, because I earn more than that already and would also be employing New Zealanders in my business. Makes no sense. This was in 2004, so we may try again at some point.

I think it would be a bit limiting tho - there is a definite brain drain and the low population makes it hard to get any sort of economy of scale for things like internet access and other intensive infrastructure.

Last edited by Desert Nomad; 02-23-2009 at 04:31 AM..
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  #15  
Old 02-23-2009, 08:01 AM
Xema Xema is offline
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Originally Posted by Mbossa View Post
And sunburn is quite a lot worse here in NZ than most other places. The legacy of the world's obsession with CFCs during the '80s.
It appears that those effects extended to some other parts of the globe. The difference in NZ has to do with very clear air and the fact that the earth is closer to the sun during the southern summer.
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  #16  
Old 02-23-2009, 09:20 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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I'm originally from NZ and lived in Christchurch until I moved to Australia at age 18. I've been all over NZ and still find myself back there periodically despite promising myself I've seen the last of the place.

New Zealand (and more specifically Christchurch) always felt a little backwards to me, but generally in a good way- the sort of place where you know your neighbours but they have the good sense to mind their own business, where the local supermarket hires kids from the local high school to work there, thus ensuring jobs for the locals and that the community will shop there, and that sort of thing.

Christchurch is a very English city; in that quaint Edwardian way. There's a functioning Electric Tram line running around the central city and you can go punting on the Avon river.

There's also a lot of interest near Christchurch- Hanmer Springs and Mount Hutt are both about a 90 minute drive.

As other people have said, it's a long way from NZ to anywhere. Australia is the nearest country and that's a 3 hour flight, and if you want to head back to the US it's a 15 hour flight from Christchurch and there's 10 hours on top of that to get to the UK.

My family and I left NZ because the job market at the time was crap, we were sick of the cold weather, and we were concerned the country was turning into a Touchy-Feely-Greenie-Lefty circle-wank. Things aren't as bad as they used to be but there's still no way I'd voluntarily move back to NZ unless one of my friends staged a Coup and wanted me to be the figurehead El Presidente.

Get used to stuff costing more, not being available, or taking a long time to show up when you order it.

It gets REALLY cold in the South Island, and houses almost never have central heating- it's fireplaces (hello Smog!), electric blankets, hot water bottles, and radiators all round for most of the year.

If you like shooting, New Zealand has some of the most sensible gun laws on the planet, IMHO- once you've got a licence you can own pretty much whatever you like (although it is hard to get handguns and Military-Style Semi-auto centrefire rifles), it's legal to hunt in National Parks, and there's a very active Outdoor Sports culture who are only too happy to help you get involved.

The scenery in the South Island is very impressive, too. But if you're an LOTR fan* you'll have a permanent sense of Deja Vu.

One other thing: Do NOT use the word "Pakeha" to describe European New Zealanders unless you hear them self-identify as such; it can be quite an offensive term to some NZers (such as myself).

Otherwise, I'm sure you'll have a great time in NZ; it's totally unlike the US and a great place to visit. Just don't say in Auckland too long or you'll become a JAFA** should you deign to venture south of the Bombay Hills.

*And for the record I hate Lord of the Rings.
**Just Another Fucking Aucklander; mildly derogatory term for Aucklanders who fail to realise that there is civilisation (ie, four major cities and several sizeable regional centres) outside Auckland (colloquially, "South of the Bombay Hills".)
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Note: Please consider yourself and/or your acquaintances excluded from any of the author's sweeping generalisations which you happen to disagree with or have different experiences of.
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  #17  
Old 02-23-2009, 10:44 AM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
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Wow, lots of information here, thanks.

Overall it sounds like an improvement over Oklahoma, which is dry, hot, 5+ hours from everywhere, and full of busybodies.

For the record, most of the jobs look like they are in Auckland or Wellington, and I would be working in an office. Very little geology takes place in the field nowadays. Any idea where the main geothermal energy jobs are located?

The money may not be much of a problem, it sounds like taxes would balance out pretty much equal, but employers never want to talk about salary until after an interview, so it's probably a crap shoot.

The big problem could be the isolation you all have mentioned. I just took a look at a globe-holy cow that's a long way from everything. I'm used to driving 300-1500 miles for holidays, and that would require a long plane ride if I wanted to see anything but NZ. I'm also used to ordering stuff online and waiting a week for it, if the waits were more like a month, well, I'd probably just buy less stuff. Which might not be a bad thing.

I couldn't move without visiting first, so I'll probably start planning a vacation. When are the off-peak times?

A few other questions. What are the schools like? Can kids get a good education without having to pay for private school, which is sadly becoming the norm in parts of the US? How much waiting/rationing is there in the health system? How much does relgion affect daily life? Around here, it's at center of most politics, and the first or second thing people ask about when introduced. Any ideas about housing costs? I can look at listings, but I have no idea how different parts of metro areas compare to each other. Are there any common dangerous pests? It seems like Australia (different place, I know) has a dozen things named for how far you can walk before you die after being bitten.

Last edited by Furious_Marmot; 02-23-2009 at 10:46 AM..
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  #18  
Old 02-23-2009, 10:59 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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Originally Posted by bengangmo View Post
climbed Mnt Everest First
IIRC, Hilary revealed on his deathbed that Norgay was the first one up.

Best thing about New Zealand: not actually beset by Orcs.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:49 PM
tetranz tetranz is offline
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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
The big problem could be the isolation you all have mentioned. I just took a look at a globe-holy cow that's a long way from everything. I'm used to driving 300-1500 miles for holidays, and that would require a long plane ride if I wanted to see anything but NZ.
There's a huge variety of places to visit in NZ so you might not feel quite the need that you might think to go overseas for a holiday .

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A few other questions. What are the schools like? Can kids get a good education without having to pay for private school, which is sadly becoming the norm in parts of the US?
I don't really know the current situation since I went to school long ago but anecdotally, public schools seem pretty good compared to the comments I hear about US schools. I don't remember there being many private schools.

One difference with public services like schools, police, fire etc (at least compared to New England) is that they are not run by local cities or towns. They are central government departments. They have local regions etc but the cities and therefore property taxes (called "rates") are not paying for those.

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How much waiting/rationing is there in the health system?
A lot. The NZ health system is pretty good for urgent, life threatening stuff but you will wait in line for non-urgent stuff. It's not totally "free" by a long way. I think the amount you pay to visit a doctor depends on your income. Someone else can report more accurately. It's probably more than the co-pay you pay now if you have typical employer based coverage in the US. There is no dental coverage for adults. You can get private insurance. I used be a member of Southern Cross. The premiums were very cheap at the time, probably not so cheap now. Even though it's far from perfect, at the end of the day I'd still prefer it to what the US has but that's a whole other contentious topic.

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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
How much does relgion affect daily life? Around here, it's at center of most politics, and the first or second thing people ask about when introduced.
If you're not a religious person then religion has no real affect on daily life. There are plenty of churches, mostly mainstream Christian but it's nothing like as prominent as in the US. It's easy to get the wrong idea because NZ observes more Christian holidays than the US. Easter is a four day weekend, Friday and Monday are holidays and I think the law still prohibits businesses opening on Easter Friday and Monday. Christmas is two days. It's not that we're religious, we just like protecting employees' time off. It's a delicate balancing act between that and personal / business freedoms. The national anthem, "God Defend New Zealand" sounds kind of religious but ... it's just a song.

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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
Any ideas about housing costs? I can look at listings, but I have no idea how different parts of metro areas compare to each other.
I think Auckland is most expensive. They've been through a boom and are falling like everywhere else right now.

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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
Are there any common dangerous pests?
No, almost nothing. Utterly insignificant compared to Australia. There's one poisonous spider, the Katipo which I've never seen and it seems like nobody has died from since the 18th century. I remember a news item a few years ago about a poisonous sea snake that showed up on a beach but that was unusual enough to make the news. Maybe some jelly fish are not that nice but they're not really bad in NZ. Nothing remotely like Australia. There are no snakes on land.

Last edited by tetranz; 02-23-2009 at 12:50 PM..
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  #20  
Old 02-23-2009, 12:53 PM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Originally Posted by tetranz View Post
In general you cannot sue someone in NZ for personal injury. Everyone pays what is effectively a tax to the government owned Accident Compensation Corporation. If you're injured at work or elsewhere then you can make a claim to ACC and potentially receive compensation. If a person or company is found to have caused the injury then they could be fined or criminally charged if laws were broken but you still couldn't sue them like you can in the US.
Wow, that's awesome.
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Originally Posted by si_blakely View Post
You need to be on a plane for 28 to the UK/Europe.
Are you sure? Is that the longest flight between major urban areas? I've never heard of anything over the 18-20 hour range.
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
IIRC, Hilary revealed on his deathbed that Norgay was the first one up.
I don't think so. I guess it's possible but I think I would have heard about this. Everything Norgay and Hillary ever said was either both together or Hillary first. There's been "deathbed confession" rumors ever since Tenzing's death 20+ years ago, but they're only urban legends, as far as I know.
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  #21  
Old 02-23-2009, 01:02 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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I've always wanted to go for an extended visit to NZ.

Is there an age restriction for anyone thinking of emigrating?
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  #22  
Old 02-23-2009, 01:29 PM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
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Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest View Post
I've always wanted to go for an extended visit to NZ.

Is there an age restriction for anyone thinking of emigrating?
From what I've seen on their immigration site, you must be under 56 to qualify as a skilled migrant, above that, you need to be a family member of a migrant. There is a 25 point spread between 29 and 50 years of age (you need 140 points to qualify), which is large, but with a job offer, anybody under 56 should still have enough points. 20 years appears to be the lower limit for workers.
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  #23  
Old 02-23-2009, 01:33 PM
Mbossa Mbossa is offline
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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
For the record, most of the jobs look like they are in Auckland or Wellington, and I would be working in an office. Very little geology takes place in the field nowadays. Any idea where the main geothermal energy jobs are located?
I don't know where the jobs are specifically, but most of the geothermal activity & power generation in New Zealand happens in the central North Island, around Taupo and Rotorua.

Last edited by Mbossa; 02-23-2009 at 01:33 PM..
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  #24  
Old 02-23-2009, 01:47 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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Any of the NZ dopers live south?
When I went on vacation there, I fell totally in love with Dunedin. Admittedly, I was only there for a ridiculously short time, but it felt like I place I should move to someday.
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  #25  
Old 02-23-2009, 02:24 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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As noted, the main geothermal energy projects are based around Taupo and Rotorua in the central North Island, with some smaller facilities dotted around (the pulp/paper/timber mills at Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty use geothermal generation units).

The education system has changed significantly over the past few years. The focus has moved away from an exam based system:
School Certificate at 15-16,
University Entrance (which most people passed via internal assessment) the following year
Optional Bursary/Scholarship (but often required for University course entry) subjects in the year after that

to the NCEA system:
This is a unit based approach, with students selecting units to attempt, and being required to get a certain number of units with a certain level of achievement to get a passing grade in a subject. Universities set specific units (and marks) in specific subjects for entry requirements. Assessment seems to be a problem, as is the range of available units.
The whole thing has been a bit wooly, even for a country overpopulated with sheep, and I get the impression that no-one understands or likes the system. Most of the private schools use Cambridge Exams, UK A-Levels or the International Baccalaureate.

Si

Si
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:07 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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The geothermal areas may be based around the central plateau (Taupo/Rotorua etc) but the offices will still be in Wellington.

Buyer's market for housing, but that's coming off a hugely overpriced bubble. No idea where the house prices will be at when Marmot gets here.

Public schools are rated on a 'decile' system. Decile 1 & 2 schools being in poorer areas and heavily subsidised and decile 10 schools having higher 'voluntary donations' (school fees) from the parents and usually a much larger range of activities available outside the govt set curriculum. The donations are very much needed to make up the difference between funding and actual costs - they differ from around $40 per year per child to $200 pypc within Napier. This seems a typical range for most urban areas.

Private schools are available in most fair sized cities. Once you get to that decision, they're easily searched for your area and will have fees on their websites.
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  #27  
Old 02-23-2009, 06:35 PM
jharvey963 jharvey963 is offline
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I don't have time to read all of the replies to this post so forgive me if this has been said already.

I seriously considered emigrating to NZ after the 2004 debacle. We visited NZ and I went job hunting. I was given a job offer in my profession -- but at a 60% cut in salary from my US wages.

I'm a software engineer living in Silicon Valley where wages are high, as well as cost of living. I was expecting, and willing to accept, a 30% to 40% salary cut and was quite surprised at the salary offered -- and this at one of the premier technology companies in Auckland (Navman).

So you need to be sure what the standard salaries are for your profession and make your own judgment regarding the acceptability of the salary levels.

Other than the low salary, we found nothing else to discourage us from moving there...

J.
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:43 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
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Bad = IceWolf, Loaded Dog and all my other Kiwis live in NZ

Good = They's mah frens anyway.

Couldn't let that one go by.......

As you were.

Q
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  #29  
Old 02-23-2009, 07:22 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
A few other questions. What are the schools like? Can kids get a good education without having to pay for private school, which is sadly becoming the norm in parts of the US?
I went to a State (ie non-private) school and I got a pretty good education out of it. But, like anywhere, there are good schools and not as good schools. Overall, the NZ Education system is pretty good, IMHO.

Quote:
How much does relgion affect daily life? Around here, it's at center of most politics, and the first or second thing people ask about when introduced.
The short answer is "It doesn't."

New Zealand is a fairly secular place, with a strong freedom of religion. Lots of people go to church. Most people don't.

If you're a religious person then you'll be able to find a local church to attend and mix with fellow Faithful. If you're not a religious person, then you non-religiousness will have absolutely zero impact on your life in NZ. Religion and Politics are NOT mixed, and it's regarded as extraordinarily bad form to try and make political arguments (or take a standpoint) based on what The Bible says. There's a Religious Political Party but they aren't really taken seriously by many people.

It's also Extraordinarily Bad Form to ask someone if they're religious; if they mention they go to church or whatever that's fine, but you NEVER say, "So, Which Church do you go to?" as an Icebreaker. Most people in NZ do not attend Church, except for Weddings and Funerals, and even if they do, there's no social status to be gained from it.

It's totally unlike the US, in other words.

There's also a lot of Earth Mother and Healing Crystal and Wiccan types in NZ too; but that's generally a Lifestyle Choice.

One thing I will say: As you're an American, if you even breathe something about Jesus, people will assume you're one of those annoying Fundamentalist American God-Botherers they've seen on TV; at least until they get to know you, anyway.

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It seems like Australia (different place, I know) has a dozen things named for how far you can walk before you die after being bitten.
To be fair, most of those aren't found in civilised areas of Australia, you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amarinth View Post
Any of the NZ dopers live south?
When I went on vacation there, I fell totally in love with Dunedin. Admittedly, I was only there for a ridiculously short time, but it felt like I place I should move to someday.
Dunedin is a very, very weird place. It does things to people who live there too long; honestly, the less time you can spend there, the better. Unless you're a Student (scarfie); but even then, the day your course finishes you really need to look at moving. The whole city is just depressing, basically.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 02-23-2009 at 07:25 PM..
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:58 PM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Dunedin is a very, very weird place. It does things to people who live there too long; honestly, the less time you can spend there, the better. Unless you're a Student (scarfie); but even then, the day your course finishes you really need to look at moving. The whole city is just depressing, basically.
Seconded. It's this weirdly bipolar student town, oscillating wildly betweem boofhead smalltown rugby fans whose idea of a good time is setting sofas on fire in the street, and pale, skinny shoegazers whose idea of a good time is starting a band called the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience. Dunedin is the murder-suicide capital of New Zealand; Christchurch, for - or perhaps because of - its pretensions to a faux-English gentility - is the prostitute strangling capital of New Zealand; and Auckland just wants to be Sydney when it grows up.

That's another thing to bear in mind about New Zealand: it is very small and very new. The whole country is the size of a average city abroad, our oldest building is mid 19th Century, and our Pavlovian salivation at the words "The Lord of the Rings" aside, there is little besides sports to hold the attention. Those who can leave as soon as they can, partially for the money but mostly because of the feeling that nothing of value or worth happens here, and that if you want to see anything beyond a bunch of blokes chucking a roundish bit of leather about, you're going to have to go and see it in London, Tokyo, or to a lesser extent Melbourne.

We come back as soon as we mate and spawn, of course, because the truism about New Zealand is that "it's a great place to bring up kids": barring an odd national penchant for putting toddlers into tumble driers, this is largely true, since like many things which are great for children, there are no sharp edges, no harmful toxins, and no bits to break off and swallow. We are a Play-Doh nation.

Last edited by Scissorjack; 02-23-2009 at 07:59 PM..
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  #31  
Old 02-23-2009, 08:14 PM
Gleena Gleena is offline
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Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
Bad = IceWolf, Loaded Dog and all my other Kiwis live in NZ

Good = They's mah frens anyway.

Couldn't let that one go by.......

As you were.

Q
Sorry Quasi, pretty sure TheLoadedDog lives in Australia.
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  #32  
Old 02-23-2009, 08:23 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
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Yeh, I know. Tried to get back in to correct (edit) but didn't make the time-cut. Of course I know that Dog lives in Oz. Please forgive!
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  #33  
Old 02-24-2009, 10:30 AM
Necros Necros is offline
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Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
Overall it sounds like an improvement over Oklahoma, which is dry, hot, 5+ hours from everywhere, and full of busybodies.
Based on what I have seen of your posts, this seems to be the problem: Oklahoma sucks. There are plenty of places right here in the US that would be major improvements over where you are now. No need to go all the way to New Zealand.
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  #34  
Old 02-24-2009, 11:07 AM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
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Originally Posted by Necros View Post
Based on what I have seen of your posts, this seems to be the problem: Oklahoma sucks. There are plenty of places right here in the US that would be major improvements over where you are now. No need to go all the way to New Zealand.
True that. What interests me about New Zealand is that the government has a stated goal of achieving 1% annual population growth just through immigration. To me, that sounds like an opportunity. If there was any city or state in the USA that said "We need skilled workers!", I'd be all for it. Also, I wanted to know what was behind the life satisfaction and freedom rankings. And, you know, it's cool to hear about how people live in far away places. All this information has been illuminating.

But I do see your point and as it is highly unlikely I would be able to get the same kind of compensation in New Zealand as here, there is little chance I could afford to move there. More research is needed.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:48 AM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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Suppose I wanted to retire there? I didn't see anything on the immigration site that covered that situation. If you have a sufficient guaranteed pension, could you immigrate?
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  #36  
Old 02-24-2009, 04:11 PM
tetranz tetranz is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Dunedin is a very, very weird place.
I've only been there once at the end of a great cycling trip but this is from today's NZ Herald.

I came, I saw, I chundered - toga parade turns into drunken rampage
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  #37  
Old 02-24-2009, 05:32 PM
Freudian_Slip Freudian_Slip is offline
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What do locals think of gays/lesbians? Just curious ...
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:36 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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How hot are the lesbians?

A friend's said that although Sydney's much more the gay capital of the region, he felt less outside the mainstream when he was living in Auckland.

That said, he's not what you'd call flaming. If you're looking to be out-RAAAAY-geous or FAAAAAAB-ulous, Enzed's probably not for you.
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:53 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
How hot are the lesbians?

A friend's said that although Sydney's much more the gay capital of the region, he felt less outside the mainstream when he was living in Auckland.

That said, he's not what you'd call flaming. If you're looking to be out-RAAAAY-geous or FAAAAAAB-ulous, Enzed's probably not for you.
I knew quite a few bisexual women when I lived in NZ, but it was bisexual in the "Sex with women is fun too!" way and not as part of some over-arching Sexual Identity thing. (and FTR, yes, they were generally pretty attractive IMHO.)

Things might have changed now, but when I was living in Christchurch, there was no problem with people being gay, provided they didn't make a big deal of it. As in, it was OK to BE gay (like, "normal" in all other respects except Buttsex With Guys Preferring The Intimate Company Of Other Men), but not OK to try and make it a political issue/wear women's clothes & makeup in public/be a flaming queen about the whole thing.

Regrettably, a small number of people were beaten up for being Gay in Christchurch, but that was 10 years ago and from what I gather things are a lot better there, although being Liberace Gay is still frowned upon.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:09 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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Oh, yeah - he also said that he was surprised at how many of the subcultures didn't really exist in New Zealand. If you were a bear/twink/muscle mary/whatever, he told me that you usually left for Sydney shortly after high school or university and never looked back.

I have no idea how accurate that is.

On the other hand, he told me that there was an unusually high number of farmers who were butch dykes.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:19 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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On the other hand, he told me that there was an unusually high number of farmers who were butch dykes.
Case in point: The Topp Twins.
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  #42  
Old 02-24-2009, 08:22 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Case in point: The Topp Twins.
Hold on - aren't they somewhat successful entertainers and therefore, by definition, Australian?
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:29 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
Hold on - aren't they somewhat successful entertainers and therefore, by definition, Australian?
Like Lemon & Paeroa, they're World Famous In New Zealand and the only people here who have ever heard of them are Kiwi ex-pats.

The Topp Twins occasionally appear at RSLs and Leagues Clubs and things like that here doing shows, but AFAIK their audience is mainly Kiwi ex-pats and members of the LGBT community.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 02-24-2009 at 08:29 PM..
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  #44  
Old 02-24-2009, 08:30 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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Their TV show was on SBS for a while, a number of years ago.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:37 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
Their TV show was on SBS for a while, a number of years ago.
Exactly my point. Ex-pats and the LGBT community.

For our Non-Antipodean Readers; SBS is an Australia TV channel that specialises in World News, Soccer, Subtitled Arthouse films that would be considered porn if they were in English, Soccer, some excellent documentaries, and more than a few shows of interest to the LGBT community and other social/ethnic minorities. It's actually not a bad channel, although people here like to give it a hard time in a good natured way.They also have South Park and Drawn Together, which makes up for all the News in Lithuanian and Depressing Albanian Arthouse films they show
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:59 PM
bengangmo bengangmo is offline
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Originally Posted by Scissorjack View Post
Seconded. It's this weirdly bipolar student town, oscillating wildly betweem boofhead smalltown rugby fans whose idea of a good time is setting sofas on fire in the street, and pale, skinny shoegazers whose idea of a good time is starting a band called the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience. Dunedin is the murder-suicide capital of New Zealand; Christchurch, for - or perhaps because of - its pretensions to a faux-English gentility - is the prostitute strangling capital of New Zealand; and Auckland just wants to be Sydney when it grows up.

That's another thing to bear in mind about New Zealand: it is very small and very new. The whole country is the size of a average city abroad, our oldest building is mid 19th Century, and our Pavlovian salivation at the words "The Lord of the Rings" aside, there is little besides sports to hold the attention. Those who can leave as soon as they can, partially for the money but mostly because of the feeling that nothing of value or worth happens here, and that if you want to see anything beyond a bunch of blokes chucking a roundish bit of leather about, you're going to have to go and see it in London, Tokyo, or to a lesser extent Melbourne.

We come back as soon as we mate and spawn, of course, because the truism about New Zealand is that "it's a great place to bring up kids": barring an odd national penchant for putting toddlers into tumble driers, this is largely true, since like many things which are great for children, there are no sharp edges, no harmful toxins, and no bits to break off and swallow. We are a Play-Doh nation.
Wow man, just wow....what a fun person you must be to have around. New Zealand has tonnes going for it - great food, fantastic beers, great wine producing regions, skiing, golf (if I recall we have more golf courses per capita than any other country), Christchurch has "The Court" (theatre) which I remember being very well regarded internationally. Sure we mya not have the "culture" of something like Sydney or London, but some people are interested in more than just that.

Money aside, I would be back n New Zealand in a flash, it is still my favourite place to be - but then I like the quiet life, beer and a game of pool down at the pub on a Friday night, weekend at the beach, that sort of thing - I am not a "city" person.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:02 PM
BigNik BigNik is offline
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Originally Posted by bengangmo View Post
Sure we mya not have the "culture" of something like Sydney or London,
...or, say, a snack pack of chocolate Yogo...

I think you're agreeing with Scissorjack there that New Zealand's the national equivalent of a sleepy country town - it's just that you like that sort of thing and he doesn't, yeah?
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:20 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by bengangmo View Post
Wow man, just wow....what a fun person you must be to have around. New Zealand has tonnes going for it - great food, fantastic beers, great wine producing regions, skiing, golf (if I recall we have more golf courses per capita than any other country), Christchurch has "The Court" (theatre) which I remember being very well regarded internationally. Sure we mya not have the "culture" of something like Sydney or London, but some people are interested in more than just that.
Most of those things are available outside New Zealand- NZ Wines are readily available at reasonable prices here in Australia and even in the US and UK. NZ Beer isn't that great- I rather like Export Gold (which is available in Australia) and you can get Steinlager all over the world too. Lots of bottle shops here have Monteith's beer, too.

NZ Food isn't particularly special, IMHO, and I say that as someone was born there and grew up there. I can get exactly the same "Cosmpolitan Cuisine" in Brisbane or even Airlie Beach as I can in Auckland or Christchurch.

I'm not really a golf player, and whilst I enjoy an afternoon on the Green, the reason NZ is full of Golf Courses is to appeal to the Japanese, AIUI.

The Court Theatre is very good, though.

Quote:
Money aside, I would be back n New Zealand in a flash, it is still my favourite place to be - but then I like the quiet life, beer and a game of pool down at the pub on a Friday night, weekend at the beach, that sort of thing - I am not a "city" person.
All that stuff is available in most places, you know. If I'm going to live in a Sleepy Country Town I'd rather it be in an interesting country that has options outside that town, than anywhere in New Zealand.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 02-24-2009 at 09:20 PM..
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  #49  
Old 02-25-2009, 01:32 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Originally Posted by BigNik View Post
On the other hand, he told me that there was an unusually high number of farmers who were butch dykes.
If you are a single woman and capable of running a farm, then you must be a butch dyke

It's a pretty prevalent attitude in NZ (held about many women in leadership positions), but my experience is that the reality is somewhat different.

As for the Otago students Toga party, last year it was the Undie 500 run. Next year it will be a sofa party. It always happens, and always will.

Si
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:52 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Case in point: The Topp Twins.
I was wandering through Wellington one day, down by the Library, and I happened to see the Topp Twins stop by. This in itself wouldn't be anything special, except they were riding a tandem, and dressed as Camp Leader and Camp Mother.
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