13 July 2016

Ten Things I Love About New Zealand

1.  Beaches - When your country is made up of more than 33 islands, there is a lot of waterfront.  There is so much beach that the beach is not, like, a thing.  Kiwis may have stopped even noticing that their country is made of gorgeous beaches. they're just like "oh, over there, where the land stops." Bam: completely amazing and deserted beach.

Our town beach is on the Bay of Plenty, which is like a cove, not a long brakish-type bay like the Chesapeake.  So there are waves, but they are smaller.  This is going to be perfect for Bear in the summer time.  Benjamin and I explored this area last Friday when Bear was in school.

About 40 minutes away is Ohope Beach, which is also completely beautiful and has a very impressive playground.

2. Coffee AND Tea - In the US, you are either a coffee person or a tea person.  In New Zealand, we find such divisions unnecessary. In fact, a good balance of coffee and tea is probably best.  First, the coffee game is strong - Kiwis don't even bother with drip coffee. There are three kinds of coffee in New Zealand: white, black, and instant.  New Zealand is the birthplace of the Flat White, which I understand just came to the States via Starbucks.  It's a latte without all the foamy nonsense, just espresso and steamed milk.  Blacks, which come in 'long black' and 'short black' depending on size, are espresso over hot water.

Tea is so important that it's not just a beverage, it is also three separate meals: morning tea, afternoon tea, and tea.  That third one is dinner.  Tea is so important that every place I have stayed has provided access to an electric kettle. Our house came with four electric kettles.

The EMR system in my office allows you to send crucial messages to co-workers.

3.  Kiwis - I've only been here a month, but Kiwis as a group seem to be both hard-working and laid back. They are friendly and generous.  And tough.  So far, no patient has rated their pain higher than 6/10 (and that was a completely ruptured quadriceps).

4.  The Government - from joking immigration and customs officials to friendly road signs to easy to understand tax forms, I just get the sense that the New Zealand government is generally made up of easy-going people who are trying to help their citizens lead good lives (with the possible exception of whoever was holding up my family's visas).  Not, you know, suspicious gun-toting maniacs out to catch you in a lie like officials seem to be in the US.

Example: Riding the train in Auckland with Patti, the conductor was walking through the train and saw me standing up with Pax in the Ergo. I was holding on to the little plastic loops attached to the grab bar.  He said, "Miss, it's really best practice to hold on to something rigid when you're standing and carrying a little one. I would hate for you to fall down." His phrasing was so gentle, his manner so full of actual concern.  In the US it would be more like, "I'm going to have to ask you to hold on to something rigid, our policy states blah, blah, blah."

Maryland road sign: "Click it or ticket!"
New Zealand road sign: "Other people make mistakes. Please slow down."

5. "Partners" - This term has caught on here among everyone, not just gay couples, as sort of an unapologetic descriptor as rates of official marriage decline. Partner is accepted without irony and avoids the nonsense of 70 year old ladies talking about their "boyfriends." In addition, since partner is gender neutral, I have several times had opportunity to use the single gender-neutral 'they,' and this has been accepted without question or confusion.

6.  My Job - This should and will be its own separate post at some point.  But for now let me just say that I love this job.  Both working within the New Zealand healthcare system and working specifically in this practice are everything I had hoped they would be.

7.  The Five Dollar Bill - In the US we're trying to get more women on currency.  In New Zealand, there is already a woman on the currency, and she is the god damn Queen.  And the other side? Penguin.  Boom.

8. Sensible Gun Laws - to get a gun in New Zealand you have to have two references, no convictions, pass a written safety test, and have a home visit to prove you have appropriate safe gun storage.  And that's for hunting rifles.  Handgun permits are even more stringent.  As a result, per capita gun deaths are about 1/10 what they are in the US.  Also, New Zealand police have shot and killed 22 people.  Since 1941.

9.  Small Town Life - Sometimes it's a little claustrophobic, but mostly it's really nice.  The town is four blocks long.  I walk Bear to school, I walk to work, I walk to the grocery store.  Anything else I may need I have passed on the way.  Plus I've run into three people I know.

The local paper is the best reading ever:

10. Lack of Antibiotic Resistance - Pharyngitis? Amoxicillin. Sinusitis? Amoxicillin.  Pneumonia? Cellulitis? Otitis media? Amoxicillin! I know some filthy American is going to share their MRSA soon, but it is really nice while it lasts!


  1. I have some additional candidates for the top ten.
    1. No tipping.
    2. The tax VAT is included in all the posted prices
    3. Road signs - like the ones that let you know who has the right of way on all the one lane bridges.
    4. Roundabouts or is it traffic circles either way better than sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change when there is no traffic.
    5. The birds, cabbage trees and ferns. I always knew I wasn't at home when I was out and about.
    7. The weather.
    8. Flying domestically without really dumb useless security.
    9. Often reminds me of Oregon.
    10. No pennies, 5c pieces, $1 or $2 bills. Automatic rounding.