Things I Will Miss About New Zealand

Today’s guest post is by Ross Cameron from New Adventures In Backpacking. Ross is approaching the end of his year long stay in New Zealand, and 6 months living in the city of Wellington. He writes about the things he will miss upon leaving…

For me one of the best things about travelling after an extended period time, is to stop off in a city and work a little, raise your funds for your next trip.  This gives you the opportunity to get a real feel for a city, the people, and the way of life.  I have been fortunate enough to live and work in Melbourne, Sydney, London, and most recently Wellington, New Zealand, for the past 6 months.

A lot of my opinions are shared not just by backpackers however, but my friends and co-workers who have left Britain and Ireland to come live here.  This is my observations of what people should expect when they come here to live.  So before I get labelled a whinging pomp.  Here are things I will really miss about living in New Zealand.


Although I had heard that Wellington, New Zealand had a bit of a coffee culture, little did I know how seriously Kiwi’s take their coffee. Just about everywhere you go; the coffee shops, the cafes, the bakeries, the restaurants all seem to do a pretty amazing job with coffee. There are also quite a few espresso stands, espresso carts and trailers and since just about every café here serves hand pulled espresso drinks, I would venture to say that Wellington probably has way more espresso serving places per capita than anywhere else in the world… but this is just my own unscientific observation. At Wellington airport, I counted more than six coffee shops within my view of the departure lounge.  To put it into perspective, the coffee that I order at the local megaplex cinema chain served to you by the same guy that serves you popcorn and watered down soft drinks is miles better than anything I have tasted in the chain coffee places that pollute the UK high streets.   Also, if you are in a pub and you just asked for a coffee they won’t stare at you like you have two heads.

I really advise you to take a trip to Wellington. Whether you are coming from the south island or from the other side of the world; you will be able to enjoy the atmosphere of the city known as the Capital of Cool. Major plus, if you love coffee like me, you will be            golden. The city has the best coffee I have ever had. I recommend trying a cup or two at Aro street coffee house, Enigma, Ernesto’s, Café Italiano and Havana Coffee. You can easily find a hotel in the center of Wellington, close enough to these places, to get your dose every morning. I would like to give you a quick and friendly warning though: you will quickly become addicted!

My mornings have never been the same since then!

Good Food / Eating out

Eating out in New Zealand is very affordable.  Whilst the sort of people who like getting dressed up and talking about the ambience or the décor of a restaurant instead of the actual food will be very disappointed, the food is very vey good. There is a big café shop culture here and they heavily out number actual restaurants, but the food all tends to be to the same high standard. It is also possible to eat a pub meal that would put most pub’s in the UK to shame. There are no microwave jockey’s here. There is no dress code, fancy décor and posh glasses, just good food that is affordable to almost everyone, with no stigma about taking your kids out. Whilst the overriding amount of takeaway food is Asian, there is a large variety of foreign influences as well as the famous Kiwi Fish’n’Chips, all of which tends to be cheaper that actually going to the supermarket and buying the food yourself. I found whilst I was staying in a hostel in Wellington that it was much cheaper and more convenient to buy a $10 (4gbp) curry from the local Malaysian place than it was to go to the supermarket and cook it myself.

Anyone who knows me will know how much I love my sushi, but I could never dream of eating it every day in Europe due to the cost. Well here in Wellington it is possible for me to spend $12-15 dollars (5 GBP) and have a very Wasabi happy stomach every lunch time. I haven’t even got enough space to go on about the wine and cheese here too! I am not a massive meat eater mainly because I am very sceptical of what I am actually eating when it comes to meat.  I was born in the 80’s in the UK and there is not a country in the western world that would accept my blood in fear of me giving them the human form of mad cow disease. Here in New Zealand whilst you are outside the city you will see large quantities of healthy looking livestock in fresh green fields with acres of spaces to graze as they like.  They don’t have to make a big deal of organic food at the supermarket here. There isn’t an alternative, and in turn I have tasted some of the finest meat and eggs I could ever wish for at a relatively low price.

Kiwi slang.

While the accent is sometimes a mystery to me (they do sort of chew on their vowels), I found Kiwi slang, somewhere between Aussie bushman and California surferdude, to be most amusing. It’s not every day you hear a fiftysomething, otherwise dowdy woman say “choice!” or “bonus!” to express pleasure or approval.  At first I found it hilarious but as time went by I found it very endearing. I will never pronounce Fuish’n;Chuips any other way!

Scenery / Landscape

I don’t need to tell anyone how beautiful New Zealand is. I will really miss the variety of landscape they have here from the green, lush rolling hills of the North Island, to the beautiful beaches and stunning mountains of the South. I will miss the feeling of space, in the South Island especially. It is so easy to get out into the wilderness and feel like you’re the first person to tread there since… Gandalf. And to still make it back to town for Eggs Benidict and a flat white. Even in the capital city Wellington, you are no more than a twenty minute cycle from the Red Rock’s, which feels like you are on the moon or the coast lines of Miramar, which on a good day could be confused with the tropics.

Work/Life Balance

I recently read an article reporting surveys that show people living in New Zealand find that they have more free time to spend as they wish than they have ever had before. Working hours are shorter, and there is more to do outdoors and within the community outside of work, so this makes for a very good work/life balance. The people I work with always seem to be doing something or going somewhere at the weekends. The amount of people visibly running and cycling is noticeable compared to the UK, and from my own experiences work places actively encourage better work/life balances by subsidizing sport clubs and team events.

The rat race doesn’t exist here.  Even Wellington CBD, the capital cities leading business district, lacks hustle and bustle.  It’s very affordable to live in or around the city centre so people can walk or cycle to work. I don’t know anyone at works who’s commute is longer than 30 minutes. If you are commuting it tends to be from one of the coastal suburbs where you can view the magnificent coastal scenery all the way into the city. The Northern line at 08:15 on a Monday morning this is not.

So there you go, all the things I will miss about New Zealand…

6 Responses to “Things I Will Miss About New Zealand”

  1. Buddy Mikaere says:

    Very balanced view I thought Ross – good on ya or choice! Why are you leaving then? Stay on for the RWC – 2011 will be a great year.

  2. ayngelina says:

    I visited in 2007 and those are all the things I noticed were so great about NZ, I would move there in a second if they insulated homes for winter.

  3. Ross says:

    Thanks for your comments guys.

    I have written a list of things I wont miss to. RWC 2011 and cold houses are on that list!

  4. Chris says:

    I agree, the coffee in NZed was amazing. I would enjoy the RWC due to the fact that I went there to play rugby. Insulation was not a problem for me since I had gone there during the summer. Also, being a geologist… the views and mountains were spectacular… I would retire to NZ in a heart beat. Because of this article, I miss NZ and I’m salivating the fact of being able to return soon!

  5. Wong says:

    Good post (or should I say, good as gold). I miss New Zealand’s people, scenery and work-life balance!

  6. gary says:

    nice article and very accurate protrayal of NZ

    just back from 2 months travelling NZ and I really do miss it badly, gonna go back in 11 months time for a whole year, for me Christchurch and Nelson moreso were abolute gems. And the work-life balance, well thats something which doesnt exist for me in the UK as a consultant. Also went to california as well and let me tell you the good ole US of A isnt a patch on NZ…..


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