Discover Your Personal Paradise in New Zealand
New Zealand’s most celebrated export is its rugby team, the all-conquering All Blacks…but the country itself has more than enough features to entice expats and tourists to its panoramic shores…
The South Island is one of the most scenic places on the planet... Gaze in wonder at the Milford Sound fjord…visit the Fox Glaciar...roam through the valleys and mountain peaks and vast lakes of the ecological crucible--Kahurangi National Park. New Zealand’s deeply-embedded Maori culture and friendly people will wow you…and soon charm you.
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- Population: 4,3365,113
- Capital City: Wellington
- Climate: Temperate with sharp regional contrasts
- Time Zone: GMT+12
- Language: English, Maori
- Country Code: 64
- Location: Oceania, in the Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
The Lord of the Rings’ soaring mountains… Roman Holiday’s famous monuments and historic sites… and the tropical locales of Pirates of the Caribbean…it’s doubtful these blockbuster films would have had such an impact without those dramatic backdrops to the action. Even as CGI and green screens become more widespread, there is something about a real, physical landscape that can’t be replicated by bits and bytes.
“When looking at great retirement destinations overseas, low costs and affordable real estate may be well and good, but you need to feel at home,” says InternationalLiving.com editor Steenie Harvey. “How easy is it for expats to integrate into each country? Do the locals speak good English or do you need to speak the local language? Are the locals welcoming and friendly toward expats, and is there an existing expat community with lots of groups and clubs to join?” InternationalLiving.com’s just-released annual Global Retirement Index ranks and rates the best retirement havens in the world today in eight categories and Ireland, New Zealand, Malta and Belize each receive a perfect score of 100 in the Index’s “Fitting in” category.
When looking at great retirement destinations overseas, low costs and cheap real estate may be well and good, but you need to feel at home. How easy it is for expats to integrate into each country? Do the locals speak good English or do you need to speak the local language? Are the locals welcoming and friendly toward expats, and is there an existing expat community with lots of groups and clubs to join? Whether it’s through shared passions, shared learning experiences or volunteering, the easiest way to become part of a community or acquire a friendship network is to get involved in an outside-the-home activity. This will help tremendously with integrating.
The North Island of New Zealand holds a treasure missed by hikers who limit themselves to the south Island. It’s the Tongariro Alpine crossing, a day hike among volcanoes—some dead, some smoldering, and all with an otherworldly feel that recalls the moon.
Optimism and purpose, a low stress level, a natural diet and an active lifestyle…experts say those factors are three times as important as your genetic makeup when it comes to enjoying a long and healthy life. Luckily, it’s easy to embrace those elements when you’re living in a place where they come naturally. And they do in our top picks for the world’s healthiest places to live.
China is changing. That much we all know. And in the last few years a major shift has been in people’s diet. Spurred on by improved incomes, the growing Chinese middle class has developed a hunger for western-style foods—that means more meat and dairy.
You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.
It’s been a retirement haven for decades—one of the world’s most popular—and if you have ever visited Costa Rica, you know why. Living here means access to excellent and affordable health care, living costs of as little as $2,000 a month for a couple, including rent, and natural beauty at every turn.
Taking tea with Mongolian herders…cycling through Che Guevara’s mountain hideaway…and camel riding in Lawrence of Arabia’s footsteps. I thought such exotic trips were the preserve of the privileged—not for me. But these and many other experiences have been mine…since I’ve discovered the Red Carpet Passport.
Sitting alongside the banks of the River Garonne in southwest France, the red-tile-roofed city of Toulouse hosts its annual Flamenco Festival from April 1 to 15, with local venues filled with music and dance throughout. Another marathon-length event to consider begins its 18-day run in Jaipur, India, on April 2.
The devil masks worn for the Diablada de Pillaro (The Dance of the Devils) in Pillaro, Ecuador, have spawned a whole school of art. It’s well worth joining the thousands of onlookers to see the elaborate processions that take place each night from New Year’s Day to January 6. The feast of Edina Bronya, which essentially represents Christmas for the people of Ghana, in west Africa, falls this year on January 2.
Begin November with a little panache at the 119th Argentine Open Polo Championships in the neighborhood of Palermo, Buenos Aires. Not so much a sports event as a key occasion in the local social diary, it runs from November 5 to the end of the year. For something more exotic, check out camel racing. India’s Rajasthan desert in Pushkar hosts the Pushkar Fair from November 6 to 17.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists (no traffic jams, hassled commuters, sirens). And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler. That stretch of water that separates an island from the mainland is nature’s moat. It keeps these places special…apart.
The earrings are from Hong Kong’s jade market. I bought the fedora hat at a Christmas market in Berlin, the boots from Malaga in Spain, and the shimmering scarf at Otavalo market in Ecuador—one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. You might call it eclectic fashion indulgence. I call it research.
If you’re looking for a laidback lifestyle in a tropical paradise then Roatan, the largest of the Honduran Bay Islands, fits the bill. Just a two-hour direct flight from Houston or Miami it’s the kind of place where dressing up means wearing flip flops.
I’m impressed by Tuscany Gardens. I have a spa bath…free Internet…satellite TV. I don’t intend to use the laundry facilities—much less the iron and ironing board—but the unit’s kitchen is better equipped than mine at home.
When you ask folks who live on an island what drew them to life on a curio of clay, they tend to respond by saying things like, “I can live simply without much interference.”
We took the all-day Kiwi Discovery bus to spectacular Milford Sound and yelled excitedly when we saw a large pod of dolphins bursting from the green and blue water…
Figures released by the IMF reveal that the three least-affordable cities to buy a home in are Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen in Mainland China. And the fourth least-affordable city is Hong Kong!
In 19th century New Zealand, I’m sure, speaking like that, I’d have been understood. After lengthy voyages, its early immigrant settlers were undoubtedly familiar with jackspeak—sea-faring slang. Not far from Auckland, the Riverhead is a historic tavern whose walls are adorned with bizarre nautical sayings. Most of those sayings have long vanished into the vault of forgotten phrases.
On April 1 only a fool would miss the feast on offer at Le Pince d’Or Crab Festival in Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean. In the capital of Fort-de-France, riverfront restaurants each set up a stall to sell matoutou (a spicy crab stew), as chefs compete to make the best bowl.
After a day’s hiking in Abel Tasman National Park, I need a night in. A bottle of $8 Sauvignon Blanc is chilling in the fridge. Perfect with these fresh mussels I bought—amazing value at $3.15 for 2.2 pounds. As my accommodation has a fully-equipped kitchen, they’re simmering in a wine and cream sauce.
Citizens of the U.S. and Canada are eligible for the New Zealand visa waiver program. Under its terms, you will not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for either a vacation or business once you have a ticket showing onward travel and evidence of funds to cover the cost of your stay.
March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, and where better to celebrate it than Dublin, Ireland, where, from March 14 to 18, the city revels in traditional music, fireworks, and a huge parade on the day itself. Sotheby’s Paris auction house will see 300 works from Mexico, Central and South America—including a Chupicuaro ceramic statue (estimated to be from 500 to 100 B.C.)—go under the hammer as part of the eagerly-awaited Barbier-Mueller Collection on March 22 and 23.
It’s sunset at Waihi Beach. Earlier, its six miles of glorious beach were almost as white as sand could get. Now the sky’s reflections are brocading the wet shoreline into orange and blue, pink and lilac. One of New Zealand’s North-Island gems, Waihi Beach is a laid-back community on the Bay of Plenty.
I’ve long been a fan of haiku poems, those little word-paintings that capture fleeting moments in time and nature. But Katikati, a small country town in New Zealand, isn’t the obvious place to find a haiku pathway. Home to around 4,000 people, Katikati is only a speck on the North Island map. Yet it’s well worth a stopover if you love poetry, art, and nature.
“Don’t you want to kiss him goodbye?” asks Ronnie the deckhand. Er, no. Not really. Although I’m sure this handsome lad is incredibly tasty, size matters in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. The snapper I’ve reeled in doesn’t quite meet the legal minimum length of 27 centimeters (10.6 inches). So back into the Pacific he goes.
I never associated the Art Deco movement with New Zealand. It always conjured up notions of French Riviera resorts—or of Miami Beach, New York and Chicago. It’s King Kong clutching Fay Wray on the Empire State Building. It’s bootleggers, transatlantic liners and flappers in fringed dresses. Yet Napier is also an Art Deco gem. On Hawkes Bay, on the east coast of NZ’s North Island, the city’s 1930s heritage…
I’m just back from New Zealand and the lazy days of early summer in the southern hemisphere. I’m wishing I could have stayed the entire season. No apologies for using capitals: This was The Best Trip Ever. Right now, I’m longing for another day on a fishing boat and lunch under a winery’s leafy trellis. I want to loll in a hot pool listening to the birdsong of the bush…
Seaside docks are scattered all along the coastline in Belize. They’re great places to watch the sun rise, fish from, or lounge on as you enjoy the mild sea breezes. From some of them you can also catch boats to Belize’s white-sand islands (known as cayes), or to snorkeling and diving spots along the world’s second-longest barrier reef, just offshore.
New Zealand gets some of the finest weather in the world, and while snow falls on parts of the U.S. and Canada, folks in the “Land of the Long White Cloud” are hitting the hiking trails, swimming at the beach, and celebrating Christmas in shorts.
If a small Italian farmhouse with a vineyard sounds sweet, then look to the Abruzzo (pictured), a region of southern central Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea.
January 1, get initiated into the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club by diving into the frigid English Bay. The swim dates back to the 1920s. The coldest recorded water temperature? 38 F in 1928.
Scoring a country on its climate is difficult, because everyone has their own ideas on what sort of weather they enjoy most. But it was Italy’s ability to cater to all tastes that saw it surge to the top of the Index in this category. The weather in Italy is quite different from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate with many of its inland northern regions enjoying weather more on par with…
There is something magical about encountering dolphins. Perhaps it is the mammal connection between the two species or maybe it is the thrill of seeing such wonderful creatures in their natural environment. There is no doubt a dolphin encounter lifts the soul and provides an awe inspiring experience.
For many folks, the drive down California’s Highway One epitomizes the road trip. The views are glorious. But it’s hardly the only stretch of road that’ll make you stop and stare. That’s why we asked our International Living editors to tell us about their favorite road trips. Here’s the list below, in no particular order of preference.
In IL’s annual Global Retirement Index, we rank the top 23 places in the world to retire — and lay out why they make sense — so you can more easily target the destination that’s right for you. The 23 countries are rated out of 100 points in categories such as real estate prices, cost of living, culture, health care, special benefits for retirees, infrastructure, safety/stability and climate.
Putting together the Annual Global Retirement Index, which ranks the best countries in the world to retire, is a major undertaking. Here’s how we did it.
From the misty shades of grey rolling across the fjords of Doubtful and Milford Sounds to the coal-fi red steamboat, the TSS Earnslaw cruising Lake Wakatipu, there’s a timeless tranquility to the beautiful South Island, New Zealand.
International Living has just published its annual Quality of Life Index for 2011. The Index ranks most countries in the world in nine different categories to come up with overall ratings for their comparative qualities of life.