“But what is it really like?” is a question I get asked often. All of our Doctors want to hear about New Zealand – the country, the culture, the cities and the towns – and of course we’re eager to tell you everything we know too, so that you can make the best decision for you.
Still, it’s not an easy question to answer. How can you sum up any country succinctly, especially New Zealand – a country of such contrasts. It is subtropical and temperate and Antarctic, with gentle rolling hills and majestic mountains. And the people? Are we all like Jermaine from “Flight of the Conchords”? Well, not really…
To get a sense of the country, I often find myself recommending a little-known New Zealand movie starring Sir Anthony Hopkins called “The World’s Fastest Indian”. It’s the story of Burt Munro, a good Kiwi bloke from Invercargill who (like most Kiwi men) loves his shed. He moved his motorbike – the “Indian” of the title into his shed in the 1920s and spent all his time trying to increase its speed. By the 1960s, it was very fast indeed.
The movie tracks Burt’s attempts to get himself and his bike to Bonneville Flats in Utah, USA in order to attempt to set a land-speed record. It’s not that easy. For one thing, it is hard for a pensioner to be taken seriously by the authorities. Secondly, they have all these rules about safety gear, pads, helmets and a parachute. Burt promises to tuck his trousers into his socks, but that doesn’t really cut it.
Still, in the end Burt’s Kiwi charm, humour and knack for making friends wins through, and I defy anyone not to clap and cheer when Burt’s bike finally takes to the flats. And the most amazing thing about this tale? It’s all true!
When people ask me what’s the best thing about New Zealand, it is tempting to say the unspoilt beaches, the rich culture and a lifestyle built around being outdoors. But actually, “The World’s Fastest Indian” should convince anyone that the best thing about New Zealand is the people. Why not come and meet us?