So I’ve been in New Zealand for nearly two months now. It’s only a matter of time before I have something negative to say, right?
I think I’ll employ the sandwich technique and layer my criticism between two healthy layers of praise – just to soften the blow.
The landscapes of New Zealand are amazing and often jaw-droppingly beautiful. It’s not hard to see why this country is frequently called the most photogenic country on the planet. It will be hard to replicate the smile put on my face by driving around the South Island in my questionably reliable Subaru.
Unfortunately, the stunning and dramatic landscapes are really all that New Zealand has to offer. A search for anything beyond this will likely come up empty.
For starters, the food (and beer) is hardly special. Trips to the local market provide only the basics, and surprisingly, make me wish for the offerings of Lancaster County delis. Fish n’ Chips, New Zealand’s own version of fried mediocrity, is far too common.
The culture hardly makes up for the lack in food. Yes, the people are friendly and the laid back “sweet as” attitude jives well with me. But friendly people are found all over the planet and hardly make a place unique. Society functions in an overly orderly way void of any spontaneity.
The larger cities too provide the same lackluster excitement. Auckland lacks defining character and it’s slightly less vanilla sister, Christchurch, is largely rubble. The creative sparks found in New York, Los Angeles, or even Philadelphia, are just not replicated here. To be fair, Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is worth a visit. It’s still up in the air whether I agree with Lonely Planet’s description as “the coolest little capital in the world” however.
In short, I like this place and I’m hardly bored. Very few places offer you the ability to stand on a glacier, in the rainforest, while at the beach, all at the same time.
But some nights, I want more than snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes. Some nights I just want to find good company, listen to a random indie-band, drink a little too much, and go home in the back of a shady taxi cab.
Perhaps I can’t, but New Zealand is far from a punishment.