Image by Mathew Waters

People in NZ should constantly be walking around saying ‘OMG! This is amazing!’

I’m about to get on a flight to London where I’ve been living for the past two years. I’m looking forward to getting back. I have a fun job, my boyfriend is there and for where I’m at in life right now, it’s a pretty great city.

New Zealand though. Let’s just talk about that for a minute because seriously, what a place.

Up until two years ago, aside from a brief stint in Brisbane, New Zealand was the only place I’d lived. Most of this time was spent in Auckland. As is the case with most things we always think the grass is greener somewhere else.

I remember when I was younger wishing I had been born in America so I could’ve had one of those cool accents. I was convinced that if I had grown up in the States I would’ve been a Disney kid or a late entrant to the Full House cast. When I was a little older this shifted to Europe. If only I had been born in France or Sweden! I’d be trilingual at the very least.

When you live in a place it’s so easy to become immune to everything it has on offer. I always knew Auckland was a nice place; it always seemed to rank in the lists of most liveable cities. But I don’t think it was until I travelled and had lived in other places that I really appreciated what I had going on in my own backyard.

I remember I used to think the traffic in Auckland was bad. And sure, it’s not perfect, but I’ll take the view during a waterfront crawl over Euston Road any day.

The food here is also excellent which is something I must’ve taken for granted before. In the two years I’ve been gone there are about 20 new cafes and restaurants that have popped up just in my local suburbs. New Zealand isn’t really a franchise culture either, so all these spots are independent and many use local produce. It may not seem like a big deal, but this kind of thing is actually pretty cool.

(And I don’t care how contentious it is to say so, we do the best cup of coffee and smashed avocado on toast in the world).

While I was here I had to get my bank card replaced. They gave me a new one on the spot. None of this ‘post it in the mail and go to an ATM to activate it’ business. Seriously, I actually enjoyed going to the bank.

Auckland is also known for its beaches. Not to mention its volcanoes, islands, vineyards, mountains and public parks — but I never realised how accessible these all were, or that this was even something to be stoked about. If you were ambitious you could tick that whole list off in a day. That’s not something you find everywhere.

On Monday a friend and I drove up to Omaha, a local white sand surf beach just north of Auckland. It took an hour. When I was younger I remember thinking this was a punishing trip. But now having lived in London, Omaha seems like a reasonable commute.

And that thing about New Zealand being green? It’s true, you guys. It’s really green here. And it’s clean. The air? It’s good.

Plus, and I can’t say this enough, the people are friendly. It’s one of those things we are always told growing up: kiwis are super hospitable. However, I think it’s only now having done a lot of travel over the past two years, that I really saw and understood properly.

When you’re out walking people will say ‘morning!’ or ‘hi ya!’ or at the very least give you a big smile. And do you know what? Coming from a city where eye contact on the tube is cause for alarm, it’s just really nice.

Just an hour ago, on the way out to the airport, we punctured our front tyre. While we were trying to figure out what was going on three different cars pulled over to see if we needed a hand. The third one didn’t even ask, the guy just got down and started helping jack the car up. You don’t get that everywhere. And it’s awesome.

Yes, we could sort out our public transport. Yes, we could improve our high speed broadband and offer unlimited data plans. Yes, we could probably have run the whole flag thing a helluva lot better rather than looking like total baffoons on the world stage. But, all in all, we’re doing ok.

Like I said, I love London and I’m excited about heading back. But what’s even better is knowing that the home I’ll one day come back to is pretty freaking cool.

Like what you read? Give Fritha Hookway a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.