New Zealand: Culture and lifestyle

The outdoor life is brilliant - as long as you are not on ‘sunshine wages’

We asked a few New Zealanders to tell us what they love about “Godzone” (God's own), as they call their country.

“Kiwis are traditionally laid-back and self-effacing to the point of being painful,” says Richard Irvine, who is external digital channels manager at Fonterra, a multinational dairy co-operative. “We pride ourselves on being practical, good with our hands and laconic. Generally, we like our lifestyle outdoor-orientated, with sport, BBQs, mountains, beaches and boats making up most folks’ ideal weekends.

"I live in Auckland and we're working to make it a proper, grown-up international city rather than just New Zealand's biggest town by default," he adds. "It's multicultural, awash with superb restaurants, does big events and sport pretty well and is set between two wonderful harbours If we could just focus on the 'play hard' instead of 'work hard', we'd be doing pretty well."

Cate Murphy is a tattooist and artist from Nelson, in the north of the South Island. She agrees that New Zealand has a good multicultural atmosphere and likes the fact that Maori culture is highly visible. "New Zealanders also love outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, hunting, fishing and hiking."


She enjoys living in Nelson, citing being near the sea, regular music and art festivals, a family-oriented society, friendly people, good food and coffee as the benefits of the small city. There is also a downside, she says.

“Many people find themselves in a low-income situation with on and off employment, involving lots seasonal work. They call it ‘sunshine wages’ here.”

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist