Before I get into the panoply of reasons, I can first tell you this is one of my favorite new photos I took a few weeks ago on a road trip through the North Island. Just looking at this photo, I remember the calmness and serenity in the natural Fibonacci rolling of the hills. It’s another one of those meaningful moments that sneaks up on you, and they mostly seem to happen in nature, at least for me. What a trip!
I saw, after the debate, some of the most popular Google searches were: ‘how to move to Canada’ and ‘how to move to New Zealand’ – yeah I get it! I’m not being political or anything by the way… but here are the reasons I moved here about ten years ago. Note I didn’t include benefits such as medical care (universal, free, etc), a sane legal system (no personal injury litigation, etc), and many more, as those aspects are well-known. These are my 7 personal reasons! 🙂
1) The people! Kiwis are some of the coolest and most laid-back people in the world. They don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, which fits into my chilled-out zen mentality.
2) It’s a safe, international place to raise kids. I am NOT anti-USA or anything… however, I do know the USA is a “bit” of a bubble. I knew that travel made me a more gentle and understanding person as I interacted with different cultures around the world, and I wanted the same for my family. Unfortunately, last year, Tina and the girls moved back to Austin, but Ethan is still here in NZ. We planned a lot more back-and-forths but Covid kinda shut that down, which mega sucks! But, at least the whole family are full NZ citizens so they can come back any time.
3)The scenery! Since I am mostly a landscape photographer, there is a lifetime of photos here. I think most people would think this would be my #1 reason, but you can see it is #3! I do look forward to traveling again, but I don’t have to. There’s always more to see and discover in the world, but there is a world of discovery in the beautiful natural environs here. It was initially Iceland that began to connect me with natural environments. I went there for four summers in a row when I was just getting started with photography when I turned 35. I’ll never forget the first time I was walking in nature alone for hours and I finally felt at ease. It’s a nice realization when you discover you’re not separate from the Earth but part of it. Like one of my favorite philosophers says, “A tree ‘apples’ and the Earth ‘peoples’” – genius… if you wanna know more, you can see some of my Alan Watts videos – just jump on YouTube and search for Alan Watts Trey Ratcliff.
4) All natural… well mostly! It’s not perfect, but the environment is very clean and it’s easy to eat all-natural food that is locally made. I remember one of the first pieces of fruit from a tree in a friend’s yard after I arrived… I was like, wow, THIS is what food is supposed to taste like! Yeah, people take pretty good care of the Earth here; there’s always room for improvement but we have a lot of smart, committed people converting it to a fully sustainable place of even more abundance. Burning Man and stuff has definitely made me more of a hippie in this way to live as part of the Earth… but I actually think that is becoming the “normal” way to be. A fun and approachable doco show to watch is The Biggest Little Farm on Netflix.
5) Business. New Zealand provides a great environment for running a business with plenty of clever people. I moved my fine art company ( www.treyratcliff.com – Plug #1) here almost immediately and recently started the Machine Elf company ( the-machine-elf.com/ – Plug #2) with my friend Sam here in the Queenstown/Arrowtown area. There is a great thirst for tech and creative startups and an excellent network of people that want to build cool shit here in NZ. Also, since lots of Silicon Valley people are retreating back here, the brain drain has been reversed and people that want to contribute are flocking back to NZ to build better business and better lives for everyone.
6) Outdoor activities. Most everyone here is super-outdoorsy and this has a really good cultural knock-on effect to keep people healthy. I see all these people out there hiking and skiing and biking and it makes me feel super lazy so I get out there and join in! Every day, I try to hike at least 2 hours and listen to podcasts or audiobooks. It’s really calming and good for your whole mind/body/spirit connection to spend time in nature… we’re not meant to live in boxes and look at screens all day. I am a very zen, chilled out dude anyway, but even when I feel low levels of anxiety creeping in, as it does to everyone, then a simple walk in nature cures all those indoor screen-induced ails. Do you use any good meditation apps? I have tried a ton and my favorite so far is the Sam Harris Waking Up app. He has a great introductory course that anyone can do that only takes 10 minutes a day. Sam also has one of my favorite podcasts… if you listen to his podcasts, you’ll level up as my friend! 🙂
7) WORLD PANDEMIC OR WAR. This was honestly one of my reasons for moving here a decade ago. I’m definitely not saying I’m Nostradamus or anything… and I’m not a conspiracy theorist… but, you know… JUST IN CASE, I thought. I told that to a few people before I came and they thought I was curazy. Well, I am definitely on the curazy scale, mostly in the good way I hope, but in this case I turned out to be right. As of the time of writing this, there are no active cases of COVID-19 here except for a few incoming international passengers who just arrived and are all forced quarantine in gov’t approved facilities. That means all 5 million of us can go do whatever! Restaurants, movies, raves (excited about the upcoming Kiwiburn… in fact I may just go do a rave every month on a road trip and take my camera – why not?), beaches, kids playing at school like normal kids should, shopping, flights, etc… it’s all back to 100% normal after the initial lockdown (thanks Jacinda!)! I was thinking before I moved here, just in case of a pandemic or war, it’s an island nation (no shared borders) that is completely self-sustaining. It’s all hydro power because we get bucketloads of rain. We can grow our own food in a soil-replenishing ecosystem. It’s doubtful anyone is gonna nuke New Zealand because everyone seems to like the Kiwis, except for the Aussies, but I don’t think they have nukes. Seven Gods, I hope not.