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Mrs. Selfish and I spent 2 weeks driving through friendly, jaw-dropping New Zealand. From bustling Auckland, to devastated Christchurch, to awe-inspiring Queenstown, New Zealand is a beautiful country with a very small population.

Here are some of the differences we noticed.

*Disclaimer * These observations are purely things I noticed after driving through New Zealand for 2 weeks and may not be entirely accurate. If you have any explanations or stories, please share away.

1. Everyone hates JAFAS.

JAFFAS are a very popular candy in New Zealand, and are a type of orange chocolate ball. JAFAs are “Just Another F***ing Aucklander.”

Where Sydney-dwellers hate Melbourners, and Northern Californians hate Southern Californians, EVERYONE in New Zealand hates people from Auckland.

While Auckland isn’t a big city per se, it does have 1.5 million people, which means it is THE BIG New Zealand city with slightly over 1/3 of the population.

2. Native New Zealanders are still part of New Zealand culture.

New Zealand Maori rowing ceremonial coreography

While Americans and Australians settlers crushed their native populations and forced them into reserves, the New Zealand natives (Maoris) are still a very large part of New Zealand culture. Maori art is prolific, many street names and sites have Maori names, and the Maori people seem very well integrated in New Zealand society.

3. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.

New Zealand Observations 003

As a pedestrian, I have never felt more in danger than I did in New Zealand. Not crossing motorcycle infested streets in Vietnam. Not running across rural towns in China. Drivers in New Zealand just don’t seem to care about pedestrians, and it feels like they have the right of way at nearly all times.

We asked some New Zealanders why that was the case and were told that New Zealand doesn’t have any civil lawsuits, so pedestrians don’t have much recourse if they get struck by a vehicle. Apparently several North Americans are killed every year while crossing the street.

If you are from the States and you’re visiting New Zealand BE CAREFUL. New Zealanders will kill you.

4. You can still hitch hike across the country.

  New Zealand Observations 004

That being said, I have never seen more hitchhikers than I have in New Zealand. They are EVERYWHERE. Especially in the Queenstown area. It felt like America in the 70’s.

5. New Zealand (feels like it) has more sheep than anywhere else in the world.

And it probably does. There are sheep everywhere: fields, vineyards, hills, mountains, roads, etc. You can even see them in the city, like we did on the outskirts of Dunedin.

6. The Southern Island really is the most beautiful place on Earth.

Prior to hitting the southern island I probably would have given the title to Ireland, but then we hit Milford Sound. Truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

7. New Zealanders spell things a little differently.

New Zealand Observations 007

Different from Americans, Canadians, Australians, and even the British. “Tires” are spelled “Tyres.” “Enroll” is spelled “Enrol.” There are tons of misspelled words and no historical reason for it, as far as I can tell.

8. Yes, they really are obsessed with Kiwis.

New Zealands are known as Kiwis, and man do they really identify with them. The Kiwi bird is the mascot for just about everything – including the Air Force which is more than a little strange considering it is a flightless bird.

And that’s it for New Zealand!

We have a few posts for the States coming up, then we’re wrapping up the blog before driving cross country to our new home in San Francisco. Stay tuned.