They say you can take the girl out of New Zealand, but you can’t take the Kiwi out of her – it’s so true. Chatting with a close friend from back home, he asked me how long I’d been away for – it’s something I couldn’t answer exactly – it’s been so long. The next question soon followed..when are you coming home? Pineapple lumps, jaffas, jandals, the Haka, pounamu, hangis and buzzy bees…these are just a few things that evoke fond memories of New Zealand. The truth is, no matter where I am in the world, I’m always going to be a Kiwi girl…what’s not to love about New Zealand and her people?
New Zealand is epic, and I can’t believe I took it all for granted when I was a kid growing up. Given the right opportunity, I’d move back in a heartbeat, because there really is no place like home.
So many people here in the UK ask me on a daily basis – ‘You’re from New Zealand? Why the hell did you come here?’ It’s funny, I can’t even begin to tell you why I left New Zealand in the first place, but over the years of being away, I’ve come to realise that I’m still a Kiwi girl at heart.
A few others have asked me what I love about New Zealand and what it means to be a Kiwi girl…the latter I can’t answer – I believe it’s all about having that Kiwi spirit, possessing that Kiwi ingenuity, and that inexplicable vigour for life. Even if I were to surmise what I love about New Zealand, I’d need some time, but there are a few things that make me proud to be a Kiwi Girl…
Breathtaking New Zealand Landscapes
New Zealand is a land of contrasts. From the beautiful Central Otago Vineyards nestled in between mountains to New Zealand’s most majestic place, Fiordland, wherever you go in New Zealand, you’ll be greeted by indescribable beauty you’ll just want to applaud.
New Zealand landscapes inspire – they have done for many years. I can’t wait to get back into nature with my notebook and write my heart out; even some of the world’s literary greats have found inspiration in New Zealand landscape, such as Eleanor Catton, Booker Prize winner and author of The Luminaries.
And for all the Lord of Rings fans…New Zealand really is like that – it really is ‘Middle Earth!’
A true Kiwi girl or a Kiwi guy is one with nature. There’s nothing more rewarding and beautiful than spending time in the Great Outdoors exploring some of New Zealand’s natural hidden gems. Why head abroad when New Zealand’s trails are some of the finest in the world. The Milford Track in New Zealand has been described as the finest walking track in the world, and despite having done many walks over the years, this one’s yet to be conquered – it’s on my Wanderlust Bucket List.
Kiwi Kids and Hakas
I remember the Kiwi Kids adverts on TV when I was a kid. Sport featured more than anything else – it’s ingrained in our blood and in our culture, and with this, comes rugby. Europeans have never understood my lack of enthusiasm for football, but as soon as I utter the words ‘I’m a Kiwi girl’, they immediately understand why. It’s all about the rugby, and let’s face it, the All Blacks aren’t just a brand, they’re an exemplary example of true passion and showmanship – don’t even get me started on the Haka – it still sends chills down my spine every time I watch it!
Black Sand and Island Life
To be an authentic Kiwi, you’ll have an innate connection with the sea. Beach life is everything, and this is probably one of the greatest things I miss about life in New Zealand. Surfing, reefs, rock pools, diving and swimming…growing up in New Zealand taught me to respect the ocean. And of course that eager romantic within would also say that New Zealand sunsets are perhaps some of the most stunning in the world.
In fact, what I love about New Zealand is that you’re never really that far away from the sea!
New Zealand Forests and Magic
Many don’t associate New Zealand with forests, but place me in one of these magnificent forests with towering Rimu and Kauri and I’ll lose myself in all the splendour. I bet you didn’t know that the world’s oldest tree was discovered in a New Zealand forest…that’s how awesome it is!
Maori Culture and Traditions
It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, if you live in New Zealand, Maori culture will become part of your life, and it’s beautiful. From learning to dance the poi, singing traditional Maori waita and reciting karakia, I grew up with Maori culture, and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. Te Papa and Aukland Museum are great tributes to the beautiful indigenous culture of New Zealand, but to really get a feel for the true culture, you need to get off the grid and immerse yourself into every aspect of New Zealand Maori tradition.
A Geographical Paradise
A colleague, who’s also a Geography teacher, is fascinated with the geographical features of New Zealand, and with good reason. It’s so diverse! When I think of the geysers, volcanos, lakes, glaciers and rivers, I get homesick – being surrounded by such magic on a daily basis is medicine for the soul. It even has marine volcanoes – seriously, how cool is that?
New Zealand Wine – Some of the Best
New Zealand wine is still considered to be from New World, but it’s taken the rest of the world by a storm. There have been many a time when I’ve told a person where I come from and they just reply with a knowing smile and say ‘ahhh…New Zealand wine is some of the best!’ And I couldn’t agree more. With spectacular vineyards dotted around the country, you’ll be able to sample some of the finest wine in the world while taking in an awe-inspiring view. Whether it’s a Central Otago vineyard, a Hawke’s Bay one, one from Marlborough, or a vineyard in Martinborough, there are plenty of spectacular scenes where you can enjoy a glass of your favourite New Zealand chardonnay, because there’s nothing like sitting out on a terrace amongst the vines taking it all in.
Adventure and Excitement
Okay, so I’ve never done a Bungee nor have I jumped out of a plane, but one of these days, I’ll muster up enough courage to do something out-of-this-world and brave. I love that you can do anything imaginable when it comes to adventure in New Zealand. Coming from a New Zealand Ski Resort town, I’m also pretty biased…oh, and did I mention there are even some places in New Zealand where you can surf and snowboard in the same day!
We may have not developed our own New Zealand cuisine per se, but we are some of the Kings when it comes to creating fusion dishes. New Zealand’s culinary delights will surprise the avid traveller, and this is where my love of food began, at home, not in Paris, not in Berlin, not in Rome, not in London…in little old NZ! I’m also told New Zealand seafood is some of the best…if I ate seafood, I probably would agree!
Cool Kiwi Cities
Again, I may be biased, but Auckland and New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, are some of the coolest cities I’ve ever been too. They punch well above their weight when it comes to New Zealand culinary experiences and there are plenty of cool cultural things to do. Don’t even get me started on the New Zealand cafe culture – forget Paris, Melbourne, Seattle, and Rome, for some of the coolest independent cafes in the world, you have to visit New Zealand…and for those of you who state I’m a coffee snob, you’ll soon understand why after you try a New Zealand coffee!
Ask me about New Zealand again, and I’d happily tell you all about why I’m a real Kiwi girl at heart!