Migrants Tales – 5 Years In NZ And Getting Bored

Continuing in our popular Migrants Tales series – first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand taken from locations around the net.

Today’s tale is taken from a British expats forum and is comprised of two posts – one from 2006 and the other five years later.

This is an excellent essay on what the Kiwi Lifestyle is really all about for one family in Hamilton, and an indication of what the future may hold for YOU when you emigrate to New Zealand.


I don’t know, we’ve been here for just over a year and a half and are beginning to have our doubts.

The work ethic thing is true, I get customers ringing me up at 9pm on Saturday nights asking me technical questions.

I can’t believe anyone really thinks the average kiwi regularly goes abroad. Most that we speak to have maybe done the OE thing in their youth and apart from that have been to Melbourne a couple of times.

I wouldn’t say they’re all considerate neighbours….many have a “fack em” attitiude, crank up the stereo, rev their big bore jap import at 5am or burn their waste when you’ve got your washing out.

All comments about hosing here are true. If you want a decent place you’ll need to build it yourself.

Regards to money and wages. A LOT of kiwis we know make ends meet and that’s about it. I had no intention of starting a business here but it seems the only way to get a living wage [*1]. If my other half didn’t have pommie pounds to live mortgage free there’s no way we could stay here. House prices to wages are probably as bad as the UK. Please don’t confuse average with median when talking about wages and house prices. One thing is for sure though, if we can’t make it work here then there are dozens of other countries we’d try before going back to the UK.

The supermarkets end up with all the crap food…all the best stuff goes abroad. We’ve ended up buying a chest freezer and going 1/4’s on “a beast”.

As much as I think Don Brash is a pr!ck, his comments about the talent going to Australia (and further afield) are true and it seems to be a disproportionate amount of the “dregs” are left in New Zealand.

Clean and green is a complete myth. Kiwi’s are a filthy lot compared to Europe. The statistics probably don’t show this though but we regularly see farmers just digging holes for rubbish or people burning waste. The cars are dirty too. The “heating” issue also stinks…literally. Our eyes literally sting from the stinking chimneys around here on cold winter evenings.

From a crime perspective NZ has a higher violent and sexual crime rate than the UK. I think burglaries are worse too but I can’t remember that 100%

They have FAR too many politicians

The TV is abysmal.

Drink driving is a popular hobby.

They’re not animal lovers. You will be appalled when you see how the cockies and pig stickers (yes, you did read that properly) treat their dogs.

They are as tight as ducks arses with regards to money (if they don’t know you). Second hand items like cars, electronics, furniture & clothing seem to depreciate much less than they do in the UK. Hell, this USED door mat pretty much sums it up.

The “lifestyle” thing is great though. Kiwis aren’t quite so anal as the British about inviting you into their home. There’s less of the “keep up with the Jones or we’ll look down our noses at you'”. People generally talk to each other (try that in SE England). Generally more “freedom” to do activities (walking, cycling, horse-riding, surfing, etc) that comes with just having more space per person.

Most important point if you’re thinking of coming here:- When a Kiwi asks “Do you like New Zealand?” they’re not really asking. Your reply should be “it’s awesome/fabulous/cool/special” etc etc. The take great offence if you criticise their country.

Just my tuppenceworth

[1] I’ve noticed a LOT of “normal” employed kiwi’s have an almost non-existent part time business for the sole purpose of claiming expenses.
[2] There are few bargains on trademe (kiwi…sorry…Australian owned kiwi version of Ebay with crap facilities and poor search engine).

January 2011

Well, since my last post in 06, not a lot has changed. If anything, I feel my previous comments about poor housing, drink driving and anti-social neighbors have been backed up by more experience.

Moved a few k’s up the road and spent all our (and then some) hard earned “pommie pounds” on a “lifestyle” block. Little slice of heaven; for a couple of years until the local council shafted us, swept our objections under the carpet and put a dog pound up < 300m away. Serves me right for declining the invitation from the local freemasons. Guess I’d best save up my pennies for the double glazing (did I mention poor housing?).

I’ve noticed that the majority of my friends around here are foreigners (Dutch, Japanese, English, Scottish…some lived here for 30 years). This was not intentional, I’ve got a handful of good kiwi buddies in the area but I got sick of banging my head off a wall. I think it’s a small town thing as seemed to click much quicker with my friends in Wellington and Palmy (ongoing debate, but IMHO Hamilton is far worse than Palmy).

Cost of living seems to have skyrocketed but income has hardly increased. This is probably old news to everyone. By pretending to have assimilated, I’ve offset this somewhat by doing what the locals do (working 60 hours a week, 2nd job, paying tradesmen cash, terrible DIY jobs, bartering, maxing out credit card, maxing out other credit card, fortnightly trip to PAK N SAVE, homekills, disconnecting speedo on diesel, burning trash, driving with no rego for the odd month, drinking local home-brew and cheap alcohol although I draw the line at drinking HAAST or Ranfurly beer. I’m considering the other popular Kiwi income stream : claiming WINZ, or making a dodgy ACC claim whilst working on the side. Maybe I should just get into the burglary business as most of the rich farmers leave their places unlocked and to be honest, you’d have to murder someone twice to do gaol time here.

With fuel costs its tricky, but I have to escape the area at least once a fortnight. Two weekends on the trot and I start growling at people. I would suggest having a sport or hobby that frequently entails getting the hell out of dodge as being essential to any ex pat living in small town eNZed. With good friends in other towns, at least I’m not getting stung for motels or dossing in the car as much these days.

Money worries aside, I’m now in the situation of being BORED OUT MY SKULL. Were I 20 years older I guess I’d be like a pig in poo. Or maybe not as savings are all gone. Career opportunities out in the wop wops are rare and the job situation nationwide is dire. Wondering if it’s this town and whether moving to outskirts of Wellywood would solve many issues. Missus reckons if we’re getting jobs, restarting business, making friends, etc all from scratch again we’d be as well in OZ.

My attitude is all wrong and I’m not trying hard enough, obviously.

15 thoughts on “Migrants Tales – 5 Years In NZ And Getting Bored

  1. Zombie Horror!

    A friend just moved to a smaller New Zealand city (not one of the big two but has a Uni) and is staying in a hostel until he finds proper digs. He had this to say after only a couple nights:

    “5 or 6 feral bogans turn up trollied to hostel…They’re totally wasted…start play fighting with each other (and the girls)…I walk down to the dairy and it was like walking thru some sort of zombie horror pic. Random groups of absolutely slaughtered boguns, chucking glass bottles around, fighting each other, etc. modified cars hooning up and down the street shouting abuse at people walking (e.g. me!) Man, I couldn’t wait to get back to safety! I saw a 2 guys rolling around on the pavement punching each other in the head whilst bogun mates watched on…Get this though, im out for a run earlier and I witnessed a road rage incident (I’ve seen quite a few just pounding the pavement in NZ). Some guy has just gone off (totally frenzied mindless violence) snapping wing mirrors, kicking the doors, shouting at the driver : “Get out of the car you fucking c**t..” etc. Cops screamin down the road….what have I done?”

    then a day later:

    “After I sent that, more boguns came. They had a slanging match outside my bedroom window. I couldn’t tell you what it was about. One of the boguns had transgressed the bogun code of ethics or something…He had been dragged out of some downtown bar, backwards, by the bouncer, and the other boguns were circling around him smelling weakness or something. Feral is a good word to describe boguns. They always hunt in packs, and have that whole hyena type vibe going on – especially when one member is injured. The bogun chicks were scary. I expected to hear the sudden thump of fist on chick’s nose and then sirens. My favourite scene from the carnage was watching lone wolf bogun (with bottle) weave down pavement talking to himself….”

    Isn’t New Zealand luvverly! *hic*

  2. We have been here two years now and it’s only after buying a place that reality has hit me. There is no money here, certainly not enough to ever leave again on a regular basis. I was pondering Oz as there are 30 times the number of jobs there and salaries so much higher. Wish I’d researched better, it’s a great place to live IF you have money

    • I was pondering Oz as there are 30 times the number of jobs there and salaries so much higher. Wish I’d researched better, it’s a great place to live IF you have money

      We have money, and we don’t think it’s a great place at all. We experience all the same problems as people who struggle financially – extortionate prices, awful housing, high crime, inferior education, inferior public schools, poor job prospects, crummy food, etc., etc.

      My NZ born husband wants to leave as badly as I do.

  3. hi, thought you would like to know that googling any country will give you scores of expat and country comparison sites so navigating to the New Zealand section of these will sometimes lead you to a site where you can input actual information about living in NZ. I am interested in informtion about cost of living.
    For instance
    I would like to know whether your readers and possibly readers of other forums would agree with the assessment here, thanks

    • Had a quick look, and I think just about everything on the list was on the very low end, not the average, and some of it is just too low. Also, you can’t compare for things like quality, which in NZ, a lot of things are of poor quality compared to other developed countries, especially the housing.

  4. Underbelly, indeed (@ one of your more popular comments).

    Just started reading your blog today. I am already among the choir, so I will not be reading it regularly, as none of this is news to me. In any event, my counselor has recommended that I not obsess, but rather simply focus on leaving. I feel deeply for those who do not have that option.

    It seems almost futile for you to attempt to portray New Zealand’s darker side to the herds of swizzle-eyed candidate immigrants, when you truly do have to be living here for a year or two to even see it, so vivid is the collective projected Kiwi delusion of a rarefied lifestyle coveted by all. By the time the arrivals shake the spell loose, the door has sometimes shut behind them, however. To their great misfortune. Think of Circe, or some “Siren effect”, and a sticky web. The ones who remain develop Stockholm Syndrome and start singing the tune themselves, else they’d go barking mad banging their heads against the wall.

    It used to amaze me that more escapees didn’t speak out about it. Out of sheer outrage, if nothing else! I came to a twofold conclusion: that a) they simply want to put it behind them, and do not wish to revisit the experience, mentally speaking; and b) they have no words to describe the deceit, and the conceit, and how it continues to be pulled off. “I blame the media”! 😉

    It does strike me, reading sites like this one and Expat Exposed, as part of a coming-to-terms in my therapy, that posters often use the same metaphoric language to describe the feel of their residency here. That should tell immigration candidates something right there, but the cognitive dissonance is such that few would consider allowing such a factor to dissuade them. They will always assume that New Zealand is “for them”, 100% Pure Them, and that they are not among the disgruntled, sour and pathetic few who simply couldn’t join that carnival.

    So. Cannot resist offering this anecdote, however.

    I do enjoy sailing, and overheard some yachties talking the other day in the boat yard. Canadian, American and a Pommie, I would guess. And the American said, “I always thought honesty was the best policy–until I came to New Zealand”. They all laughed knowingly. “Residents” like that have enough money to leave. They can laugh.

  5. I just returned home from a visit Stateside my family paid for. I brought back basic items like clothes and shoes. It is depressing walking by the shops and seeing all the basic things for the children that I can’t usually afford in the Kiwi town where I live. It’s 200 for a good pair or 25 for a Warehouse pair that will fall apart before the end of the school session! Before I left, I was just standing there at the shop window and looking at the shoes (“sales” – HA!) and measuring them against fractions of food bills I will have to cut down on, how many packages of mince I won’t be able to buy if I get my son this better pair, etc., and doing contortionistic mental calculations on how far I can stretch the things we use. This was never, ever an issue back in the States.

  6. on water pollution

    before I moved here, my kiwi partner had sneered at the beaches in my country, saying that “in nz you could just pick shellfish up off the beach and eat them – free! and they are that pure!” but after we up and moved here and we would go to the beach in rural areas and see enough amts of molluscs etc washed up to actually gather and eat, he said not to dare eat them! too late, I had moved here – with all our assets.

    nz is a scam.

  7. Rolling on floor laughing, this person is really astute:

    “By pretending to have assimilated, I’ve offset this somewhat by doing what the locals do (working 60 hours a week, 2nd job, paying tradesmen cash, terrible DIY jobs, bartering, maxing out credit card, maxing out other credit card, fortnightly trip to PAK N SAVE, homekills, disconnecting speedo on diesel, burning trash, driving with no rego for the odd month, drinking local home-brew and cheap alcohol although I draw the line at drinking HAAST or Ranfurly beer. I’m considering the other popular Kiwi income stream : claiming WINZ, or making a dodgy ACC claim whilst working on the side.”

    THIS IS SO DAMNED TRUE, that is how they all get by. Like one-armed paper hanging scrooges with crabs and holes in their pockets. Now, I know a guy in another country who asks for uneaten soup that he orders in restaurants to be put in takeaway containers so he can eat the rest at home (this is SOUP, now). And I know a couple people who procure their household condiments in small packets from fast food joints (IS IT STEALING if you buy a $1 burger there too?). And I also know someone who goes to the trouble of steaming pennies worth of stamps off of packages if he can re-use them (in batches, done in winter so he can use woodstove heat to generate the steam – on those days when he decides on the luxury of a fire in his usually 11oC home). But those are isolated cases of extreme frugality in nations of plenty.

    In New Zealand, they ALL pinch their pennies that hard, to the point of awfulness – because they have to! They still call it a “lifestyle” and don’t see anything wrong with spending their lives avoiding spending. THIS is one of the factors that creates those tiny Kiwi minds that migrants complain of so bitterly. Also, that is why they tend to try and ignore one another in the streets. The bodge-job ethic + unreported income in the black economy creates vicious disputes among people, which leads to passive-aggressive feuds and reputation wars that go on and on. Amusing to read about. No fun to live with!

    I hope people will read these stories and think twice before coming here. LIVING IN NZ IS NOT LIKE VISITING NZ, dammit!

  8. Thank you for the feedback, we wouldn’t want to rest on our laurels though. If you think there’s anything we could be doing better we’re always open to suggestions.

    Hope your friend’s daughter gets better soon.

    43% of bathing waters in NZ are unsafe and 20% of Kiwis have unsafe drinking water.

    Our posts about contaminated bathing and drinking water in New Zealand may be found by reading posts tagged Water Quality in New Zealand.

    In July we blogged that in less than two years the number of unsafe bathing places had increased from 29% to to 43%, if a fresh report was The Herald was anything to go by.

    Given that not only was the problem known about but it was also getting worse, it should have given the regional councils all the clout they needed to deal with landowners and industries that are polluting the water. But what of the councils’ own storm and waste water run-offs that discharge directly onto beaches in places like Auckland and North Shore and the awful pollution of Northland, what was to be done about them?

    The Herald’s article said

    Many popular swimming spots contain high levels of bacteria that cause diarrhoea or infection, a new report shows.

    Of 206 rivers, lakes, lagoons and estuaries tested regularly by councils during summer, only 57 per cent were safe for swimming most of the time. The Ministry for the Environment report showed that one in nine freshwater swimming spots, including popular west coast lagoons, often had too much faecal matter in the water to be safe for bathing.

    Piha Lagoon, where young children often swim, was Auckland’s worst spot…

    Bethells Lagoon was above the safe threshold for bacteria in a quarter of its tests…

    Northland region had the most spots – 10 out of 23 – that were consistently too polluted to swim in. The intensification of farming in that area was believed to be responsible for its poor freshwater quality….

    Waterborne Diseases In NZ

    A Ministry of Health 2006 report says that there are around 17,000 cases of gastroenteritis annually in New Zealand, but that is only a small fraction of the actual cases because of under reporting, even though acute gastroenteritis is a reportable disease.

    The disease organisms are mainly bacterial (Campylobacteria, Salmonella,Shigella, Yersinia and toxigenic E.coli), protozoal (Cryptosporidia and Giardia) or viral (enterovirus or norovirus)

    Waterborne disease is thought to account for 18,000 – 34,000 cases a year of which an average of 145 cases occur in outbreaks, the remaining cases being endemic.

    New Zealand is recognised as having one of the highest incidences of campylobacteriosis in the developed world. Foodborne and waterborne transmission have been implicated as significant mechanisms in the complex ecology of the disease in the country.

    The number of cases of giardiasis is increasing, with 555 for the first quarter of 2010, up from 375 in the previous quarter and New Zealand health officials are said to be concerned about a recent outbreak of 8 cases in Wellington – the capital city of New Zealand.

  9. A friend’s little daughter recently contracted an eye infection from swimming in water where boats are secretly permitted to dump their poo, in an area renowned for its “100% Pure Air and Water”…and it is not posted so swimmers can avoid swimming there. So I am angry this morning. This is only one in so many many happenings, every day.

    I want to commend you and your moderators for this excellent site. You have picked out what people NEED to know before moving here and put it all in one place, where it is easy to find, with pertinent commentary. You and te2ataria are hereby awarded the Internet blue ribbons from this reader and former active forum member for KEEPING IT REAL and KEEPING IT SAFE for your posters. 🙂

    There are many barely known downsides to living here in New Zealand. New Zealand immigration boards are often sponsored by vested interests, and engage in active censorship of “negativity”. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), personal attacks are common on those boards, and also sadly on boards set up to supposedly remedy the preponderance of censored ones.

    When I want to read beyond the self-congratulatory hype, but am too depressed to cope with the inevitable and frightening insults or backstabbing on the more “social” boards, or even the NZ sections of more general boards, your site and te2ataria’s are a welcome refuge.

    Again – blue ribbons to you.

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