New Zealand 1993 versus now

I was buried in work yesterday so missed the news about the shooting in New Zealand.

I was there only once, back in 1993 (my travelogue and photos), and it seemed decades removed from any of the world’s disputes. The population was 3.5 million back then (about 5 million today), fewer than the greater Boston area. In a lot of places there were only two kinds of cheese available. I met a 21-year-old who had never seen a U.S. dollar bill.

Readers: Who else wants to share a fond memory of the country?

11 thoughts on “New Zealand 1993 versus now

  1. I met my first Maoris in Wellington. Startled me big time. I had never seen a big guy with so many tattoos on his face. I then found out some of the details about the Maori people who came and settled NZ. I got to visit a lot of the NZ north island during a 4 days business trip. It is a great country.

  2. Comparing filming locations for Xena between 1995 & today shows a similar population explosion to US. Maybe the national population didn’t grow as fast as Calif, but it was just as concentrated in the cities. The empty fields in the show are now housing developments.

  3. I went there on my honeymoon in 2008 (the Southern Hemisphere is better in November). The Bay of Islands, Milford Sound and Wiheke Island were wonderful, Rotorua a bit disappointing.

    We opted to drive around, it takes much longer than equivalent distances in the US despite minimal traffic anywhere other than Auckland.

    Nice people, not effusively so. So-so food with a few exceptions. Very sleepy (downtown Wellington is completely dead after 6pm). They do seem eager to atone for past historical treatment of the Maori, unlike Australians’ mostly unrepentant attitude towards their aborigines. I don’t think it is a coincidence the shooter was an Australian.

  4. I spent a total of 15 months there during 2013-2016. There is a great General Aviation scene. I flew a Robin R2120 out of North Shore aerodrome a few times, and took a glider ride from Auckland Soaring near Ardmore Aerodrome. Went to a surprisingly good airshow at Tauranga. There’s a company giving DC-3 rides out of Ardmore — they did some steep turns over Rangitoto in Auckland harbor — well worth the money. There is a world-famous soaring site on the South Island at Omarama — but far too spendy for my taste. It is possible to get a pilot certificate based off your US certificate, but they require five hours of mountain and low level dual, which is a pain.

    The craft beer scene is interesting. Deep Creek brewing in Browns Bay outside Auckland has good beer, ribs, and an awesome setting on the beach. Croucher’s Brewing in Rotarua is worth a visit.

    For outdoor scenery, the country is breathtaking — similar to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park — Fiordland, Queenstown, Lake Taupo, Rotarua, Coromandel Peninsula, and 90 mile beach/Cape Reinga are all wonderful.

    The culture has the feeling of balanced maturity and personal responsibility one gets in Scandinavia. And I agree with Fazal that there is a desire to reconcile with the Maori people — within limits. Learning a few words of te reo to sprinkle in everyday conversation is customary — in stark contrast to the US mainstream culture. Despite the green brand image, there is a strong car culture; public transport is only fair.

    In Auckland, housing is cheap stick build with external pipes and no insulation. Winters are wet and often cool (0 – 5C). A guy I met from Northern Germany quipped the coldest he’d ever been was in his house in Auckland.

    The US is better for making money — the NZ per capita GDP is $43k (vs $60k) and the cost of living is higher than the states (with a Vancouver-like housing bubble in Auckland). Overall, though, I love NZ much more than the states.

  5. I spent a few weeks there in January, visiting friends. The scenery is beautiful, and everybody I met was very pleasant. Being in New Zealand was wonderful. Getting there, at least from the east coast of the United States, is a bit less wonderful, as it takes about 30 hours. We went camping on the south island, and the stars were fantastic! And Orion was upside down. I will go back.

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