People always ask me about the perks of New Zealand’s lifestyle. But even though I love Aotearoa with all my heart, when I first arrived I didn’t like it at all. To the point that I became a professional complainer for a wee while.
I was just one in thousands of working holiday-makers that came half broke-half excited, willing to pack kiwis for 70 hours a week just to save the moolah to keep travelling. And everything was going well, except for the fact that my life was about to hit a major crisis and there was no kiwi capable of saving my boat. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t New Zealand’s fault… I was just diving into the growing one.
I’m freeeee… free falling
It can be very easy to get stuck in this ideal image of travellers. We check Facebook and Instagram photos and, for a number of reasons, we kind of assume that’s all there is to it. Well…it’s not. I’m not moaning, but during these 5 years since I left home, of course there had been some pretty shitty moments. Just like in everyone’s lives.
So at some point in time I came to the realization that New Zealand was not guilty or responsible for me not been fully present or open. It was very self-indulging to blame a whole country for all my doubts and fears.
At times you could hear me say it was boring, flat, bad food, and not good Christmas decorations. I’m an Xmas lover and I’m brave enough to say it!
I was beginning to feel the weight of choosing to be an expat for the long run. A change of life was approaching. I had no idea my world was going to be upside down within a few months.
And then a different process started, the one of actually connecting with my adoptive country.
The tip of the iceberg
I have met a lot of people that came with very high expectations. All so ready to enjoy “the best year of their lives”. Then, when reality was not up to that expectation, they ended up not enjoying it.
But, what if they give it a chance? Like, for real I mean.
And I’m saying this because I’ve been through the very same feeling.
Sometimes I have the need to understand. Why is that we make it through the tough decision of moving to the other side of the world, only to embrace uses that are totally familiar and we can relate to?
Are we really going for the full experience then? And even though I feel this is an absolute topic by itself, I am just aiming to the tip of the iceberg.
New Zealand is an easy going country but things sometimes are not quite in the surface. This is how I accepted the challenge of re-thinking and re-inventing some of the main dynamics of my life.
Had to go out and find friends, love, adventures, inspiration, projects, party and culture. I was glad to open the game and accept this freedom of choice that, according to what some people say… can be pretty challenging.
So this is how a slow process began and I started feeling I was home and ready to fall in love with the islands.
So why do I love New Zealand so much?
1 . New Zealand’s Lifestyle
One in many things that have made New Zealand very famous.
But, what does it mean?
In general lines, to the work-life balance. People here is able to take the time to soak it all in. Go out and enjoy nature and all the small happiness of everyday life. This may seem obvious to some of you, but I grew up in a very crowded city. Argentina is mostly a “work very hard” culture orientated country. If you meet past Martina she will tell you that working her ax off is what defines her in life.
It’s not like I wasn’t enjoying life back then, don’t get me wrong. In Argentina to save a little bit extra money you need to make big sacrifices.
Honestly, I can understand why it took me so long to get used to chill. I was wired in such a different way.
2 . You can save money (to keep travelling wohooo!!!)
Well… it’s not like you’ll become a millionaire. Wages here are not as high as in Scandinavia or Australia. But you would usually end up with a very positive balance.
Let’s say that if you have a full time job with one day of work you’d pay your rent and with a second day you’d pay for food. Cigarettes a booze are crazy expensive though!
3. It’s all about the people
New Zealanders, travellers, working holiday-makers. Everyone. I just love everyone.
Nowadays, as New Zealand rises as the ultimate adventure destination, there is an amazing crew of motivated people that come either to visit or settle. From rock climbers, to snowboarders, yogis, musicians and entrepreneurs… you name it!
There is a very positive vibe to New Zealand, even spiritual. For many people this is a healing sacred wonderland. Maori culture has a very deep wisdom embedded in society too. Just breathe, go with the flow and be respectful of this land and its people.
4 . Nature
Rugby, Maori culture, The Lord of the Rings, Marmite (it’s awful sorry but I hate Marmite lol) may be the most “New Zealand famous things” but all this grandness is possible because Nature here is is effing-frigging-stunning. A lady once said to me that Aotearoa is the garden of the world. And I couldn’t agree more. Truth being said: I haven’t been everywhere, which is good because it motivated me to stay and keep exploring the country.
You can hike, sleep on the side of the road, in a hut by the mountains, do sports, see the sunrise in the east coast and the sunset on the west coast…
And, the best part, is that is so easy to go out and explore in New Zealand. You just need to have the will.
5. Getting a job is easy
Getting a seasonal or minimum paid job as a working holiday maker in New Zealand is quite simple. You can pack or re-pack kiwis, avocados, get some good hospitality hours, labour in construction, become a landscaper (yes, I’ve done all that).
But, let me just explain something. As easy as getting these jobs is, they are also the ones that will require an extra dose of sacrifice. Long hours. Repetitive movements, and yes, sometimes you work outside in the rain, in winter. But I’ll leave all my work adventures for a different post!
At the end of the day balance was always positive for me. As a travel-lover I have prioritized getting jobs quick an easy. This way I can leave when I need to and be free to keep travelling. Funny thing is that because I am a hard worker, employers always want me back!
As I said, nothing is perfect. You want the easy job? You gotta work for it!
I get to speak every day the language that I studied for ten years. As you know I’m a Spanish speaker. Living in an English speaking country has given me enough knowledge to go for it and start a blog in two languages!
7. The Islands chilled vibe
People is laid-back, chilled, informal, very kind. They smile at you in the street, the bus drivers wait for you at the bust stop. People even go to the supermarket in their pijamas.
There’s more time, or maybe growing up in a big city made me feel rushing 24/7 was good. But not enjoyable.
In New Zealand I became an expat. And I say this to make sense of the fact that I came with ideas about what being part of a different society meant. Even though I spent almost a year in Denmark, I always felt like a working holiday-maker on a sabbatical. It was here that I learnt to really feel the grass under my feet, flow with it and grow as I walk.