So I’ve been in NZ for a week or so and here are a few observations about the place.
1. The first person I saw coming off the jetway in Christchurch was a security woman. And she was smiling a welcome. You wouldn’t get that at Heathrow.
2. The customs officer called me by my first name. I think that kind of set the tone for the friendliness of the place.
3. Seems like a high trust society. No one seems to worry about leaving stuff visible in their cars; at the gym they drop their car keys in a tray and trust they’ll still have the same car keys when they’re finished!
4. Lots of space. The lack of insensity here is good for morale. Even in urban areas the scenery is uplifting.
5. Driving skills are not a strong point of the culture!
6. Vastly less fashion and status conscious. Not much concern with fancy clothes and most cars are resasurringly second-hand. (In fact it seems NZ takes in thousands of used cars from Japan.)
7. Don’t watch the TV.
8. No tipping. Good serviceand helpfulness seem to come as standard. Very nice.
Overall, I sense a quality of life here that will not be reflected in the standard economic measures. Some in NZ worry whether they’re too out of step with the rest of the world. Personally, I think they’re onto to something special here.