The following is an interview I conducted with a native New Zealander, my Kiwi host, and very good friend, Tim Neilson.
Christian: Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first, what is your favorite part of living in New Zealand?
Tim: Probably just the chilled-outness of the place, really. Everyone here is really cool. New Zealand comes across as one of the friendliest countries in the world. It was meant to be surpassed by Iceland, but I think, realistically, New Zealand is friendlier. Everything is chilled-out, we all get along really well. We’re very open and welcoming to people from other countries.
C: Where is your favorite place to go in New Zealand?
T: My favorite place is Stewart Island, which is a wee island down on the bottom of the South Island. It’s basically New Zealand the way it used to be before it was overcome with immigration.
C: What’s it like to be a Kiwi host?
T: Everyone has something new to teach you, and in the increased globalization in the economy around the world, it’s interesting to get different takes and learn different ways of life and how they compare to things on this side of the world.
C: What’s your favorite recreational activity?
T: In New Zealand we’ve got a huge thing about “doing nothing much”. One thing I’ve noticed about Americans is that you always have to be doing something. Over here we spend a lot of time just hanging out, sipping some drinks and talking.
C: You grew up in the second half of your childhood on a farm.
C: Right, orchard. What was that like?
T: I think rural is the word you’re looking for, but whatever. It was only 10 minutes from the township, but it was a small township. It was 70 acres worth so it was more than what you’d get in town. We had motorbikes, we learned how to ride, learned how to drive, and learned how to shoot. Things you couldn’t really do in town. It’s been really nice.
C: Rattle off as many Kiwi phrases that you can think of.
T: Sweet as, she’ll be right, all sorted, keen as, basically throw “as” in the end of words.
C: Describe the rivalry New Zealanders seem to have with Australia.
T: I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry. It’s more of the same love-hate relationship [as America has with Canada]. We love to beat Australia and they love to beat us. It’s the same relationship as with any close neighbors. It’s just engrained in you. It’s something we’ve always had, I suppose.
C: Last words of wisdom for an American who would like to visit New Zealand.
T: I would say, just do it. I honestly haven’t met an American who hasn’t wanted to come back or move here permanently.
C: Thanks, Tim. Make sure you come to America someday. We’ll be waiting for you.
T: I definitely will.