It’s strange. Would you, if you already live on a remote island, sit in your living room and think the following: “There’s this even more remote island which is not even connected to the national power grid, let’s go!!!” Well, I did.
If you ask Kiwis about Great Barrier Island, you might get a comment like “Is this by the Great Barrier Reef? Nah, haven’t been!” (In fact I did get something similar). This even seems to be true for Aucklanders, despite possessing the easiest access to NZ’s sixth biggest island. I was curious about the place, and, of course, had eyed with the Aotea Track – a tramping track that crosses the island’s highest mountain Hirakimata (also called Mt Hobson) – before when browsing the DOC website. It appears pretty overlooked: Most visitors I encountered were from Auckland, and only more intrepid backpackers make their way here while travelling Aotearoa.
I always find it very striking: No matter how much you read, how many videos you watch, photos you look at or accounts you listen to – actually visiting/being at a place is more often than not different from what you’ve heard before and has you seeing the real thing with your own eyes, and subsequently shaping your own experience.
Taking my first trip to China as example, I knew that Beijing is horribly polluted as well as crowded with people, like many of the country’s major cities. I’ve also heard that a number of visitors suddenly suffered from respiratory problems after staying for a while. And the reality? To be honest, nothing can prepare an ordinary “Westerner” for seeing the thick and grey smog for the first time – it is depressing if you can’t see further than 100 metres in front of you, because of something man-made. At the same time the air did not smell much different from any European city, nor did I personally have any breathing problems (don’t get me wrong, inhaling this stuff over the long term can’t be good for anyone). There are heaps of people around, for sure, but at least on the streets it’s not as bad as I have imagined – places like the South of Hong Kong’s Kowloon peninsula are where the real insanity starts.
Let’s move back to Oceania and the country that’s the topic on this blog. I stumbled upon E2NZ.org, a blog which fires frantically against New Zealand and strongly advises potential migrants not to move to this “third world hellhole”. I had a closer look at what this community has to say and why I think most people active on this site would have had an equally bad time anywhere outside their home country’s sphere. Continue reading →
Note from the author: Normally the following would be one of my German language articles belonging to the “Datenschutz” (privacy) series, however it gives a contrary view for those people who argue the vast, ill-founded collection of all travellers’ personal information, including biometrics, makes a country safer – and presents NZ as good example how to do it differently and achieve the same, if not even better results.
While living in a foreign country long term, it always pays to keep up to date with immigration legislation and practices. This may be easy or rather difficult, depending on how developed a country’s immigration department, their systems and their resources are. I’m in luck, since Immigration New Zealand (INZ) maintains an excellent website with a dedicated news section, so every expat/migrant can immediately check what’s going on.
Along this, they also publish media reports related to immigration matters – and this where I stumbled upon “Year at the Border”, an apparently annually published paper talking about immigration statistics and the work of INZ throughout the year. I did take some time to read most of it and as it turns out, it contains very interesting information about how the country handles incoming passengers.
Read on if you want to find out how NZ manages to keep their borders safe without – this is the point I want to make – the security theatre that one has to endure in the US, Canada, Australia, other developed nations and, unfortunately in the near future, Europe. Continue reading →