Welcome to the latest in our popular Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience.
Today’s tale was sent in by a NZ/British person who was born and raised in New Zealand, before emigrating to the UK after 50 years.
Like many people, this person doesn’t rate NZ’s scenery highly, and says it isn’t unique. It may be pleasant but no better than in many other countries.
What does spoil New Zealand is its urban architecture and infrastructure. As any typical street scene will show you, urban environments (ie. the parts where people live, work and spend most of their time) in New Zealand are hugely disappointing. Even the classic Kiwi quarter acre dream doesn’t exist any more, most people live on small sections hardly large enough for their kids to play ball in the garden. Anything larger than that is usually subdivided.
Here’s their story:
“Although now a U.K. citizen (I have been in Britain 17 years) I was born in New Zealand and worked and lived there for some 50 years before migrating to the U.K.
I still go back to NZ to visit family every 2 years and enjoy my visits. Because I have family there and many happy memories my personal experience has been far more pleasant than that of many who write here.
Nevertheless, I recognise a lot of truth in the criticisms made. But one thing which most people comment on does surprise me- almost everyone says the scenery is “stunning”. There are indeed some spectacular scenes (mountains etc) but N.Z. is not unique in this. Moreover, most people do not live in the vicinity of the “spectacular” scenery. The vast majority of the “everyday” scenery for most people is, in my view, certainly very pleasant – e.g. a lot of greenery, trees, farmland, often rugged hills- but it is really no better than can be found in many other countries (and I have travelled to many).
The countryside of Britain, rolling green hills, beautiful hedges, stone walls and vast trees, is (to me anyway) far more breathtaking than that found in N.Z. But the one thing which certainly spoils N.Z. for me is the incredibly ugly buildings- this is not entirely its own fault as earthquakes have destroyed so many of the lovely old Victorian buildings and these have replaced with rather unattractive, very temporary-looking buildings.
Similarly, it is unfortunate that virtually every town in N.Z. (with a couple of exceptions) looks identical to every other, unlike the U.K. where almost every village and town (whether small or large) is very distinctive. Most N.Z. towns are built on flat land, divided into grid-like streets where there is a main street, plus a few leading off, with some very flimsy looking buildings which are usually single story high, or occasionally two; there are no surprises going from one town to another and you know exactly what to expect- with very minor variations they all look the same with identical buildings and shops.
This is almost the complete opposite of what one finds in the U.K. (or in Europe) where there are huge geographical and architectural differences between one place and the next. As a consequence while I personally find my homeland attractive visually it is also actually rather boring. Even Queenstown, so popular with tourists and undoubtedly visually very attractive in terms of natural scenery, is very badly let down by its rather ugly buildings and predictable lay-out. This is probably a small point to many people but, as I say, I am most surprised by the comments from so many that they find N.Z. to be “stunning” to see, and it makes me wonder why they feel this.”
Other Migrant Tales