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New Zealand is very often mentioned as one of the best countries in the world to retire in. Most of the people who retire to New Zealand come from Great Britain and many come from countries that have less comfortable weather, politics, or general quality of life.
In the modern world, most people also come to New Zealand with a healthy love of moderate gambling especially with casino games like pokies, poker, blackjack, and roulette. Therefore, it’s also a good thing that tiny New Zealand has a few land-based casinos and a strong internet system through which gamers can access Springbok Casino, the popular online casino for Kiwis, be they indigenous or transplanted.
Gaming aside, you might like to know what the rest of the world thinks about New Zealand; what makes our set of small islands so attractive to travelers and retirees alike?
For its size, New Zealand has a massive amount of beachfront. Whereas in many countries, a one-mile long beach may be quite long if they have any beach at all, in New Zealand, the beaches tend to be measured in tens of miles in length. That means that if you want to go on a lengthy hike, you need not go into the mountains; the beaches offer great “hiking” plus the sound and smell of the sea and the luxurious sea breeze.
Now, the beaches are spectacular and plentiful and the mountains are equally spectacular and plentiful. We have heard that many people who go to Bryce National Park in the American state of Utah, have a first reaction of simply laughing or staring in complete awe at their first sight of the red canyon below them.
New Zealand’s mountain scenery is all over the islands. You don’t need to plan a special trip from your home far away to see wonderful mountain views. Douglas Adams said that he was moved to “spontaneous applause” at his first sight of Fjordland.
Our mountains reward hardy and modest hikers, bird watchers, and general nature lovers. The climate high above is also cold enough to support glaciers and companies offer directed treks across the glaciers or helicopter rides above them.
Whilst the glaciers may be thought of as the cold, mountainous destination high above, whale watching is the opposite type of excursion. It is naturally based in the sea. What is great about whale watching in New Zealand is that you can do both in a single day. The sea and the mountains are so close to each other that it is common to start in one and finish the day in the other.
The southern island of Kaikoura is considered the best place to see sperm whales in their natural habitat and whilst you’re there, you might take an adventure to the natural habitat of the local fur seals. You can join a swimming group that actually swims with the seals!
To say that rugby is a popular sport in New Zealand is possibly the biggest understatement in the sporting world! An expatriate from any other country in the world, even a country that is also rugby mad, will need some time to adjust to rugby the New Zealand way.
First, New Zealanders eschew the colourful uniforms sported by teams in other countries. The All Black strike understandable fear in the hearts of rugby players from the best rugby playing countries.
Aside from the rugby itself is the spectacular Haka war dance that New Zealand rugby players perform before international matches.
The Haka is a traditional Maori war dance that features players sticking out their tongues, slapping themselves on their arms, legs, and chest and using the Haka to formally challenge their opponents. The Haka has taken on a formidable cultural significance of its own in the culture of New Zealand. The Haka is often performed at weddings to show respect for the new couple and on YouTube, there is a clip of the Haka being performed by the entire assembly of a school as they gathered to honour a teacher who was retiring.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They came to the islands about 1000 years ago and today comprise about 15% of the population of New Zealand.
The Maori language, Te Reo, is one of the official languages of New Zealand (along with English and sign language). The importance of the Maori culture takes us back to the signing if the Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed in 1840, and which established New Zealand as a colony of the British Crown but formally preserved the national status of the Maori people.
Many Maori terms have entered New Zealand English. There is an ongoing rebirth of interest in Maori terms and customs.
There is interest in anthropological circles about the similarities between Maori custom and the culture of desert people, especially in the Middle East. Both ethnic groups value hospitality and the proper treatment of guests.
In the Middle East, hospitality is the most important aspect of indigenous culture. In New Zealand, the Maori sense of hospitality heads the official set of values that guide the New Zealand tourist industry.
The Maori also show a deep respect for nature similar to the sensibilities of Native Americans and of the oldest traditions of the Indian sub-continent.
Mana is the spirit force that allows for plentiful growth in forests and all natural habitats. It is the force that leads land animals, sea animals, and birds to their natural feeding areas.
Tapu is the spirit force that leads people to restrict their own use of the natural habitats and feeding zones of other creatures. One modern consequence of Tapu is that New Zealand fishermen are the least likely to overfish an area thus allowing fish populations to thrive, ultimately feeding both other sea-going creatures and man.
Mauri is the life force itself. Everything else that is positive and good flows from a healthy Mauri.
The relative smallness of New Zealand, coupled with the people’s deep respect for nature and for the sensibilities of the native Maori and visitors and holiday seekers, makes New Zealand quite unique amongst nations.
On a single day, you can trek in the mountains and on the long beaches, experience aspects of the thousand-year-old Maori culture and the best that modern society has to offer.
The cities of New Zealand are small in international terms but they have every amenity people expect when they come to visit or live in a modern city.