Living in New Zealand: a mixed bag of nuts

As I am writing this, I am sitting in a train taking me from Edinburgh to Aberdeen towards my new home in Scotland. After six years living on and off in New Zealand, it feels disconcerting to be surrounded by so many people, looking up into a sky that has a dirty gray color that the sky in North Otago never had. The trains are filled with drunken revellers, there are hardly any animals out on the fields, and there seems to be a lot of trees around. As dairy farmers in New Zealand see trees as a pest that has to be removed immediately as soon as the dairy conversion starts, I am sure there is a connection. Not with the drunken revellers, though. But at least Scotland has some sort of public transport, even if its full of happy drunks.

New Zealand is by most Europeans seen as some sort of distant paradise, a view reinforced by the New Zealand tourist board’s clever marketing and Peter Jackson’s editing skills.For some reason it’s rates still on the top five of every German one day to visit New Zealand. They associate the place with clean streams, green hills, cavorting hobbits and funny brown people who rub their noses on theirs as soon as they (the tourists) touch kiwi soil.

Indeed, if you follow New Zealand’s branding efforts around the world, you have to marvel at the advertising industries’ ability to sell this small piece real estate in the South Pacific as the most desireable place to be in the whole world. While there is a grain of truth in the whole branding effort, it conveniently misses out on numerous issues that the discerning traveller from Pigsknuckel, Arkansas is probably not aware of.

Over the next weeks I will be trying to give an honest evaluation of what it’s like to live in a country with a savaged environment, a racially divided society with violence and crime issues that the rest of the would have nightmares about all set in a little paradise that can deliver an unequalled quality of life.

If the Kiwis wouldn’t be hellbent on destroying it.

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