How New Zealand Surprised Us

Study abroad students share the things about New Zealand they didn’t expect. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

1. The country’s relationship with its indigenous people

Ohinemutu village in Rotorua. Photo by Erica, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Syracuse University)

“What surprised me the most was the relationship between the natives and the New Zealanders of European decent. They were very friendly with each other, and while the relationship wasn’t perfect, it was much more amicable than the relationship between Americans and Native Americans. I learned a lot about the Maori (the native people of New Zealand), and it was nice to see a lot of their customs are observed all over the country. It’s an experience that I don’t think a student would have studying abroad in the USA.” — Alex, University of Auckland (home university: George Washington University)

2. How easy domestic flights are

Propellor plane at the Rotorua Airport

“The ease of domestic flights and how tiny the airports were. I always arrived about 20 minutes before my flight, printed my boarding pass at the kiosk (I never checked any bags), and then waited at the airport’s one gate to board the plane. Security was a much quicker (and often nonexistent) process, and I flew in more propellor planes than normal ones. All of this even applies to the domestic airport for Auckland, the nation’s largest city.” — Erica, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Syracuse University)

3. No Amazon delivery

Amazon. Photo by Cannonicalized

“I was surprised that Amazon doesn’t yet deliver to New Zealand or Australia.” — Miranda, University of Otago (home university: Juniata College)

4. How different the North and South Islands are.

Photos: Te Hoho Rock at Cathedral Cove (North Island) and Milford Sound at Fiordland National Park (South Island)

— Sydney, University of Auckland (home university: George Washington University)

5. How friendly everyone is

Maori tour guide Shaloh Mitchell shows me his family’s geothermal bathhouse at Ohinemutu in Rotorua. Photo by Erica, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Syracuse University)

“I found people to be friendlier than in Europe. For example, I was always greeted with a smile in grocery shops and in public transport. People also readily helped me find my way when I was lost.” — Laura, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: University College Maastricht)

6. How hilly and beautiful the country is

Piha, Auckland

“I was surprised by how hilly and beautiful the entire country is (although I only traveled the North Island). I was amazed at how everywhere we drove, we could just pull over on the side of the road, get out, and walk around, and it felt like we were hiking through a national park.” — Kristin, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Purdue University)

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