Migrant Tales – Time to Leave Queenstown

Welcome to our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Today’s story was sent in by a British migrant from London who has been living in Queenstown for two years.

I have also been in New Zealand for just over 2 years and I also hate it. We moved here from London with 2 children to get out of the rat race and find a better quality of life. Unfortunately, I have not found it to be a better quality and rather a significant degradation.

We live in Queenstown which is beautiful. There is no traffic and we feel safe. We go skiing in Winter. But that is about the end of the list of pro’s.

The list of con’s is unfortunately quite a bit longer. The biggest for me is the sense of isolation and loneliness. The people are not very friendly. I never realized how unfriendly and unhappy New Zealanders could be. The only friends I have made are other expats. But I really miss the friends we had in London. I definitely think the quality of friendships that I have left trump any that are on offer in New Zealand. People are just so insular, judgmental or downright strange.

I have started thinking the problem is me but all I can hold onto is that I have managed to make many great friends over my lifetime in other countries. There is a severe lack of opportunities in New Zealand. Any previous work experience is not valued here. I am a well qualified professional with great interpersonal skills but since moving to New Zealand I have come to doubt myself and have little confidence after a number of run ins with locals. The tall-poppy syndrome is alive and well here.

We are financially well off and were happy, contented people before we moved here. But the culture here is very petty and close minded. Somehow everyone is cut down to size. I have become very depressed over the last 2 years. The impact on my mental health has been very difficult. I want to get out but given that I am so down, am overwhelmed by the idea of a big move again. Even though I know it needs to be done to save myself. We always had big concerns about moving here and were very naïve when we thought lets just give it a go and if it doesn’t work out we can leave. We underestimated how debilitating the process of it not working out would be.

I really wish we had never come here. There is 2 years of my life I will never get back and who knows how much longer while we remain in this ‘stuck’ state. I became aware of this website over a year ago but pushed it away. I didn’t want to believe all the negativity. I am normally a positive person and believe you make your own luck. But I am afraid that I am in agreement . If someone reads this it may help them not to make the same mistake we did. I can’t wait to get out of this god forsaken place.

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14 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Time to Leave Queenstown

  1. I’m a kiwi living in London, and I’m sorry you feel that way about my home, it is a bit harsh to be fair,calling it a god forsaken place, however I do agree with you in some ways though, I lived in London for 6 years and I tried to settle back in Auckland in 2012 but lasted 5 months before packing up my fiancé, job, car and flat to come back to London.

    My friends here in London have drawn me back, more than my original friends who I left many years prior, they are great People and mean a great deal to me, however they are having families and I don’t get the same level of social experience drinking in pubs etc as I do in London, so I agree with you that you may feel isolated, but you know you can always pack up and come back to London, it’s only money and time, and if you really wanted to then you should put your arse into gear and do it. Instead of finding every excuse possible. People do make their own luck, they have to live for themselves and only you can make yourself happy, I suggest get back and see people who hold that comfort net for you and it will make you feel happier.

    Give me an email if you want to chat, may I ask how old you are?

  2. I could not agree more with the author! I was a bright young student in my own country who would be always be in top 5, the competition would keep me moving and hungry to learn and achieve more and more.. in NZ the story is other way around. Toll poppy syndrome.. totally agree.. most people know they themselves are not capable of achieving high results so they pull those who are trying to get somewhere right down or make fun of them. Narrow mindedness and hidden racism exist like anything.. sometimes they also get jealous of the fact that you are smarter than them in more ways than they can imagine. Double standard treatment exist at workplace, in schools and standard of education is terrible at school level. They look at international students as money making machines and employ incompetent professors to teach them (speaking from my personal experience with an incompetent racist tutor in college). People are ignorant and their life ends at Friday night drinking, bbq, bacon and fish n chips. I feel like I should have chosen to go to France/Swiss instead.. Will get out of here at the first appropriate opportunity!

  3. I suggest that you set up a contact e-mail as well at E2NZ so that people can e-mail you anonymously with more experiences.

  4. Yet, I don’t even understand how this young family is allowed to raise young kids (aged under 10 y.o., one of them very small, 3 or 4, a toddler!) with so much alcohol consumed on their property!

    Be it Norway, Sweden or Finland to my knowledge, these kids would be already long time with the government.

    But not ours. Our Beehive couldn’t care less.

  5. SafeFromNewZealand :
    Equally important, the society is open about its problems and tries to come up with ways of addressing it.

    That’s what we are trying to do here I bet. New Zealand is an isolated country with no border to any country, and it hugely relies on advertisement of tourism and scenery, plays a leading part in peacekeeping, and struggle for human rights, tries to play a wider role in the international community.

    It is also an effectively closed country, with strict migration quota and visa requirements and little true is known about it as a society accross the world. I heard the first accounts of us being a troublesome island nation a while ago when I watched an Aussie TV series Water Rats that portrayed New Zealaners as loose criminals and drug smugglers.

    Yes, there is a huge amount of social problems here that our government does not address, instead spending money on US wars in Afganistan and Iraq.

    Like this young drinking family with small kids where I live. Every Saturday or Sunday morning, when other people go to church, or gym, or beach in our subtropical summer, these guys dump a whole lot of empty beer bottles from the night before into their yellow recycling bin. It’s like one or two 12 bottle packs at least each time, and there’s only 2 or 3 of them drinking.

    They also sit at a table on their deck every night in the dark and see everything that happens in my unit, see me walking, cooking, going to shower, toilet, see my bed, everything. They purposedly sit and face my unit, while they can face any other direction, I’m like under their all seeing eye every weekend and weekday night.

    Their mother is young (late 20’s, early 30’s?) and slim, but she has already degraded so much on booze that she laughs uncontrollably, but when you listen to her laughing it seems she rather bleats like a sheep.

    It’s absolutely disgusting and there are huge privacy issues, as virtually we can talk without going anywhere, but it seems they don’t even understand what privacy means and everyone’s privacy here is protected by law. I complained to even my political party, not talking councils and noise control, BUT NO-ONE HERE GIVES A F*CK.

    My privacy as a citizen of this land is of absolutely no concern to anyone, including the council, the government and the political party I belong to!

  6. I was briefly not too far from Queenstown in a picturesque and beautiful place. However, the juxtaposition between the beauty of the landscape and the disgusting people was never so stark.

    My suggestion is to leave as soon as you can. New Zealand also left me with feelings of discouragement and worthlessness. I had a successful business in the US and I could not find or start a good business in New Zealand despite searching for nearly three years. Everything I encountered was a scam. This left me with little choice but to work under idiots to keep income coming in.

    Moving to Switzerland has been great. My wife and I have been here for three months and we both remark on how much our lives have improved here. My wife earns triple what she earned in New Zealand and we live in a beautiful apartment with hardwood floors. Most importantly, the place is warm. Switzerland has genuine opportunities and it has so much to do.

    Ultimately, my wife and I decided to leave because we did not want to start a family in New Zealand. The culture of irresponsibility, drinking, low achievement, etc is something that we do not want to become a part of our kids’ lives. Admittedly, Switzerland is not perfect. However, the people are nicer and more honest. Equally important, the society is open about its problems and tries to come up with ways of addressing it. Every country has problems, but no country tries to conceal its problems through outright denial and fraud as much as New Zealand except perhaps North Korea!

    Please leave ASAP.

    • I presume you are a Yank or a Pom!! Kiwi’s just don’t like loud arrogant people. I am picking maybe you might be in that realm..You say you were working under ‘Idiots’ of course there are” idiots” in every country, more in some than others. For your reference New Zealand is in the top 10 countries with the highest IQ’s and believe me they don’t suffer fools lightly.

      • Thanks for leaving this comment E2NZ. I often believe that it is better to laugh than cry, especially when one sees so much nonsense in the world.

        My only response to the poster is that I completely agree with him that some places have more idiots than others, but New Zealand is the place full of the idiots. The film Top of the Lake provides a good fictional illustration of the ugly underbelly of the scenic Queenstown area.

        • ” that some places have more idiots than others, but New Zealand is the place full of the idiots.”

          I can only wholeheartedly endorse this. Whenever an expert or intellectual presents a set of facts in NZ, the comment will invariably follow that it is only “an opinion.”

          When full arrogance meets full ignorance it is a complete disaster. And in NZ one can experience this in its utter unashamed purity. God defend New Zealand. …
          Nah….. it is the God forsaken country.

  7. Auckland is a great place for you then, it is not as tranquill as Queenstown, but at least you’d be able to find a lot more frinds here, including kiwis.

    My only trouble here is a young family with flatmates who drink heavily, it seems they never go out, their kids play until late while they smoke and drink alcohol in their backyard, loudly talk, laugh, play loud music in the middle of the night and so on.

    I am interested in sports, excercise and the outdoors and if this is all they can offer then I feel sorry for them. They aren’t the type of locals I want to meet.

  8. The first mistake was moving to Queenstown. Your Living in the wrong town for a Family! I lived in Queenstown for 10 years and the best thing i did was leave with my Family to just down the road in Clyde. The community down here are way more friendly, its cheaper and still in Central Otago. The schools are awesome! Queenstown is no place to bring up a family. The living costs are a bit cheaper. Best of all Queenstown is only a 40 minute drive away if you ever fell the need to go back. I have now been living in Clyde for 2 years and i haven’t been back to Queenstown since. Move away from Queenstown, Clyde Cromwell or even Wanaka are alot better than the rat race in Queenstown. You will experience the true NZ then. We are all friendly 40 minutes down the road 🙂

  9. I have been in NZ for 7 years moving from Sussex to a beautiful peninsula 30 minutes north of Auckland. I have so much to say on the subject that there would not be room here on this forum. You are welcome to contact me as I will gladly, from one expat to another, be pleased to offer some more insights gleaned from having had to survive the mental and emotional angst of living in a country that has not by any stretch of the imagination lived up to the expectations we had when we first moved here.

    • Heather, sorry you feel this way you were so filled with hope last year.

      Thanks for the message. It would be great to talk to you some more.

      We have a policy of only allowing contact through social media.

      Best thing to do is to create a Facebook or Twitter account to talk to us – use their private messaging systems. If you’d like to do that please send us your profile name in a message here so we know its you we’re speaking to.


      Speak soon

    • Hi Heather,

      Would love to hear how you feel 7 years down the road. Do you wish you had cut your losses and left, or did it get better?

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