What to Expect in New Zealand

New zealand moveIf you’ve managed to land a job in New Zealand – or if you’re hoping to – you might be wondering about what to expect.  The official list of what you can and can’t bring with you doesn’t tell you what you’ll really want from home.  Whether you are going for a finite period of time or hope to stay indefinitely, it’s a long journey from Ireland.  It isn’t likely you’ll be home frequently.  So you really want to be prepared when you move to New Zealand.  You can ship your own personal belongings, and it is no harm to ask family or friends if they can ship somethings you are craving once you’ve been there a while.

It’s easy to underestimate the degree of culture shock you’ll experience in New Zealand.  It’s an English-speaking country, after all.  Rugby is popular, as it is in Ireland.  People are known to be warm and welcoming, again like the Irish. And you’ve probably seen a lot of New Zealand scenery in films.  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were filmed there, as was The Lovely Bones.  Movies as diverse as Heavenly Creatures and Evil Dead were shot in New Zealand, so most film fans have seen a bit of New Zealand.  But does that really give you an idea of what to expect there?  Not at all.

5 Biggest Little Surprises in New Zealand

You aren’t likely to be profoundly shocked by everyday life in New Zealand.  It’s all the little, subtle things that add up to a dose of culture shock.  Knowing about them in advance can smooth the way.

  1. Take your shoes off in people’s homes.  It’s just the done thing.
  2. “Yeah right” expresses disbelief, not agreement. “Quite nice” usually means “horrible”.  Given the kiwis fondness for sarcasm, absurdity and speaking with their tongue firmly in their cheek, you should not be flattered if someone calls you a “winner”.
  3. Jaffas are not jaffa cake biscuits.  They are chocolate sweet with a candy coating.
  4. It’s common to have social events where everyone brings something to share.  If you’re invited to a ‘bring a plate’, do not bring an empty plate!
  5. Workplaces are usually smaller, so staff are expected to be flexible and show initiative.  Staff are also in closer contact with every layer of an organisation than in most countries.  

If you spend more than a year in New Zealand, you’re likely to experience an earthquake.  Don’t be alarmed.  Most of them are not disasters.  Things fall off shelves, but buildings don’t collapse.  Of course, there are no guarantees of how severe an earthquake will be.  It’s best to move to safety if you feel the earth shake.  Avoid the beach, and try to stand in a doorway to avoid being hit by any falling walls.  Once a quake hits, remember that you are likely to feel aftershocks.  The aftermath is like the aftermath of a severe storm.  There may be power outages, and you should avoid going near any down power lines.  If there is gas in your area, avoid using open flames such as matches, candles, etc.  Odds are if you do experience an earthquake in New Zealand, it will be nothing more than a great story to tell your mates back home.