Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the immigrant experience of New Zealand taken from locations around the net.
Today’s story was first published on the Leicestershire Blogger who looks at New Zealand through the eyes of a young British traveller that arrived in New Zealand with high expectations and a work visa only to find New Zealand was a “green desert”
I have shocked more than a few people when I have told them my least favourite country that I had been to was New Zealand. At the time of writing it was one of 3 countrys (the other 2 being Egypt and Vietnam) that I would never go back to.
I had 3 main problems with New Zealand……………
#1 – Most people from the UK like the country because it is a cleaner, less populated and warmer version of being back home. I on the otherhand disliked it for this very reason. After spending a lot of time in Asia I found out I liked being in countries where you are being bombarded by sights, sounds and smells you don’t get back home. This was probably the reason I didn’t enjoy Australia as much the second time round. I’m sure that there are many parts of Europe that are just as scenic as New Zealand but without having to travel to the opposite side of the globe.
Across the North island between Auckland and Napier most of what I seen out of the bus window was endless farmland, sheep and pine forest plantations. Green desert was one phrase I once heard describing the country. Almost everyone will respond to this with “don’t judge New Zealand by the north island the south is a lot better”. The reason I didn’t go to the south island was problem number 2
#2 My travel motto on my first virtual tourist page is “travel is about people not places”. When going backpacking alone the people you meet are just as important as the places you go. One type of traveler you meet a lot are the young (18-23) gap year types. Obviously they tend to do a lot of drinking and partying that I have no problem with. On the other hand these people can be very predictable. In Thailand everyone of these people has done or is going to do the exact same itinerary. Hang around on Khaosan road, go to the full moon party then hit the beaches on Ko Phi Phi. While there is nothing wrong with what they are doing it just seems that everyone of these people you talk to is the same person playing the same old broken record over and over again.
In New Zealand this type of traveler forms a far higher proportion of the people you meet than in the likes of Thailand. The country is very popular for activities like bungee jumping which does not interest me in the slightest. I can’t see any attraction with it at all and wouldn’t do it if it was offered free let alone pay the best part of half a weeks wages to do.
I know the country invented the sport but it was openly on offer in several countries I went to like Thailand. The way the other travelers went on you would would think New Zealand was the only country on earth where you could do it. The subject seemed to enter every conversation I had with people in every dorm room, common room and bar. If I had 20 dollars for every time I was asked why I wasn’t going bungy jumping I wouldn’t have needed to look for employment in the country.
These people very quickly got on my nerves, whenever I mentioned what I had done like seeing wild oran-utans in Sumatra all I ever got was blank looks. There was a lot of the childish “I’ve done it why are you not doing it” mentality. One was bragging in a bar about how he had done the Nevis high wire to someone who had “only” done the lower bungy jump in Taupo. One even said to me “you can’t possibly leave New Zealand without doing a bungy jump.
I knew the closer I got to Queenstown on the south island the more of these unbearable, obnoxious idiots I would have to put up with. As a result I wrote off going to the South Island, this combined with what I wrote in #1 meant I had enough of the country within 2 weeks of arriving. The only thing stopping me from going back to Auckland and getting the first flight out of there was the fact I had a work visa. If I could find a job and leave the country with more money than arrived with then it would make visiting the country worthwhile. This brings me on to problem number 3
#3 As soon as I arrived in Napier I started looking for work at the typical backpacker jobs like fruitpicking. The first impression I got from the newspapers and the internet were that there were “loads of jobs”. I started sending off e-mails to local farms that were on backpacker employment websites. I soon started getting e-mails back telling me that there was no work available. Work was being advertised that didn’t actually exist, I walked past one farm that advertised “workers wanted” outside on the same day they sent the “no work available” e-mail.
Talking to others who were in the same situation I soon heard stories of people who had been searching for work on the internet and come up with nothing. Some and been promised work and it never happened, others had been promised 3 months work that finished within a couple of weeks.
The rest of my quest to find employment is covered in the other entries……………