Wow, it’s breathtaking. Now what?

Birdlings flat, Canterbury, by Martyn on Flickr, used under Creative Commons.jpg
Birdlings Flat, Canterbury. Photo by Martyn on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence

My neighbors moved out today. In itself this isn’t entirely surprising. People move all the time. But they only moved in right before Christmas. Moved in permanently, at least. They’ve owned the condo for eight years, making a fifty-one hour business-class trek from the UK to Auckland every December, and returning in March.

They promised themselves for the better part of a decade that as soon as they could, they would come and live full-time in New Zealand. And they lasted four months before they cracked.

This isn’t unusual. Telegraph writer Peter Foster made the move to idyllic New Zealand in 2009, to create a new life for his family, and in 2010 they moved away again. At least they made it a full year before they bailed.

Foster was clear why they left; the same reason my neighbors are leaving.

I’ll never forget the daily walks on the beach, the afternoons foraging and exploring and the evenings fishing off the rocks. Each and every experience, even the skylarks on the school run, has been wonderful, magical – and yet… and yet. Whisper it softly, but bliss is, well – I’ll say it straight out – boring as hell.

The question pops up a lot[1] in travel fora: Why is New Zealand so boring? And of course, I can’t answer it. It’s like asking a fish to describe water. It’s not that I disagree it’s boring. But I don’t even understand what the alternative is.

I see a lot of specific complaints like stores closing by 6pm most nights, or coming out of a movie at 10pm and there’s nowhere else to go, but… yeah? Go home and go to bed? Why on earth do you want to spend your time browsing in a retail store anyway?

It is frustrating that in a city of 1.4 million I can find only a very few, occasional, weekend art courses to take. I mean, I would die to have a resource like The Minnesota Centre for Book Arts on my doorstep. But  apart from this, which is a pretty specific interest, what are these “fun things” that people in other countries get to do all day that I can’t? Please tell this fish what the dry land is like.

christopher crouzet.jpg
‘Not Many Around’ by Christopher Crouzet (the Caitlins, near Dunedin). Photo used under a Creative Commons license

[1] Did you notice one quote is by Richard Fromage? Richard Fromage, aka Dick Cheese. Ah, that subtle British humor.

2 thoughts on “Wow, it’s breathtaking. Now what?

  1. Well, it’s not like I do much in the evenings beyond going to classes sometimes (Visual Journaling at ArtiCulture and Mat Pilates through Minneapolis Community Education right now). Very rarely I go to listen to live music (such as Cloud Cult at the State Theater last month), but if I was still so inclined, I could probably go listen to music I liked 3-5 nights/week. But I probably wouldn’t even notice if that wasn’t an option, really. Hmm. So maybe I’d do well in New Zealand. 🙂

  2. Sunny

    I live in an economically depressed city of 150,000 (providence RI, USA) where despite being within driving distance of New York and Boston, I basically never get to either because there is so much to do here. Garden tours, street festivals, art openings, ethnic food celebrations, the ballet/theatre/concerts, conferences, neighborhood yard sales, lectures, classes, molten iron pours, fundraisers…and that’s just one weekend and doesn’t include personal stuff like charity work, brunches, etc. And then June-August everyone rushes off to their weekend houses by the sea 20 minutes away and the parties start.

    Maybe this is American like the way we use ‘please’ differently? Constant frenetic activity. Because how else would you know you’ve spent your time optimally? Pack it in, make the most of your life, don’t waste a minute, time is money, suck the marrow from the bone!

    My next door neighbor has taken to sitting quietly in her yard occasionally with nothing going on whatsoever, not even any music or a book. She looks a bit shell shocked. I’m considering following in her footsteps.

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