We all know the things that surprise tourists when they arrive in New Zealand. The people are friendly, the coffee blows their mind, and contrary to what they were led to believe, there aren’t sheep in the cities.
When foreigners decide to stay in Aotearoa long-term, several things shock them as the months go by about what life as a Kiwi is really like. After talking to dozens of new residents and scouring expat blogs and social media groups, these are the most common themes.
1. PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS RUBBISH
Few foreigners can understand how Auckland, a major international city with over one million people, can have such convoluted public transportation options. Initially, of course, it shocks them that there isn’t a train directly from the airport to the city – usually the norm in cities of this size all over the world.
As they settle into New Zealand life, it surprises them that it’s impossible to live without a car unless you live in either Auckland or Wellington CBD, and although train travel does exist around the country, it’s expensive, infrequent, and terribly slow for the comparatively short distances travelled.
2. THE MOBILE INTERNET SPEEDS ARE FAST AND RELIABLE
Aussies, particularly, are shocked at the reliability and speeds of 3G and 4G internet in New Zealand. Unlike in Australia, where there are frequent network overloads and system faults, service here is almost flawless.
And as for mobile internet speeds, few expect that a country as small as this could provide 4G that streams video at 100mbps. Unfortunately, though, foreigners are always surprised and disappointed at NZ mobile companies’ relatively tiny mobile data caps.
3. EVERYTHING IS EXPENSIVE
Petrol is always the biggest shocker, especially for Americans, who pay 116 per cent more (as at April 2016) for fuel in New Zealand than at home.
The price of everything from milk to make-up is around double in New Zealand as in the USA, which makes sense for imported items but surprises foreigners on local items and services which travel relatively small distances from production to store shelves.
This includes New Zealand’s “natural assets” such as fresh produce, meat, and electricity.