During my time living in Seattle, I made a friend who was an Au Pair from New Zealand. She had lived in the States for about two years, and always made comments about the differences between the United States and New Zealand. I finally sat her down and had her confess her heart out describing all the things she noticed during her time abroad.
1. Ease of Access
The US is a “life of convenience.” Everything is made easy to access. This includes the drive-thru at your local Starbucks, your bank teller, pharmacy, cigarette shop, liquor store… The list goes on. Drive-thrus don’t exist in New Zealand – people have to actually get our of their cars to purchase items. The food is also easier to make in the US with instant noodles and frozen tv dinners. Even the single bachelor in New Zealand typically cooks themselves a proper meal.
2. Dining Rules
When dining in the US, there are certain rules that apply to most restaurants. Bills are paid at the table, and guests should pay 15% to 20% in a tip for the staff. This is not the case for the Kiwis. Bills are always paid at the counter, even for nice restaurants. There is no tipping, because servers are paid a decent wage that they can survive on alone.
3. Minimum Wage
This brings me to the next topic: minimum wage. The minimum wage in the States is $7.25, which translates to $15,080 a year. This is not near enough to survive in any of the major cities in the country. The minimum wage in New Zealand is $16.50 an hour, or $34,320 a year. This is more than double, and a lot more livable.
4. Sports Culture
A big similarity between the two countries is that they love their sports. The fans are just as crazy about their sports teams in each culture. But the difference is in the sports the countries obsess over. The Americans obsess over american football, basketball, and baseball professional teams and their University counterparts. New Zealand’s fans focus on rugby, cricket, and soccer. Rugby (although increasing in popularity) and cricket are almost nonexistent in the States, so it’s a very different sports culture in each country.
5. Driving Habits
Each of these countries drive on the “wrong” side of the road if you ask them. The US drives on the right, whereas New Zealand drives on the left. This is definitely an adjustment if you’re from one and visiting the other. Not only that, but the attitude in driving is a lot different. The Americans tend to be more courteous, and allowing people to go in front of them. In New Zealand, it’s always a race to be first. There’s no common courtesy, everyone just tries to reach their destination as quickly as possible.
However, this doesn’t mean that Kiwis speed, its actually the opposite. In the States, that average driver usually goes over the speed limit by three to seven miles per hour without getting a ticket. In New Zealand, cops have been known to hand out tickets to those going just one mile over the limit.
6. How People Shop
Amazon doesn’t exist in New Zealand. Yes, you can pull your jaw up now. It’s not a thing. While online shopping is possible, Kiwis usually drive to the store to purchase goods. There’s no prime over night shipping available like in the States.
7. Public Healthcare
In New Zealand, the government helps pay for almost all medical bills. If you’re under six years old, they pay for 100% as long as you’re a resident of New Zealand. Going to the doctor’s in the States almost always requires some sort of insurance to help you pay for it. In New Zealand, a typical check up will cost about $40NZD, and the government pays for the rest.
8. Pre-Gaming VS Pre-Loading
The drinking age in New Zealand is 18, so the kids start drinking at a much younger age than in the States. This means there’s a lot of binge drinking happening at younger ages. While binge drinking does occur in the States as well, it’s more known of in New Zealand. And that period of time where you drink at home before going to the bar to save money? It’s called “pre-gaming/pre-funking” in the US, and “pre-loading” in New Zealand.
9. Attitude Towards Guns
In the States, guns are sometimes seen as trophies or used for sport. While this is also true in New Zealand, the attitude surrounding them is different. In the US, you can buy a gun from you local Walmart in less than 15 minutes (depending on state regulations). In New Zealand, there must be a psychoanalysis and interview done with the buyer, their next of kin, and a character witness. The buyer must also have a gun safe bolted to the ground before the gun can be purchased. Needless to say, the process is a lot longer to purchase a fire arm in New Zealand.
There are a lot of differences between New Zealand and the United States. They are both two culture that are fun to learn about and experience. What else have you noticed that’s different between the two regions? Make sure keep cultural differences in mind when visiting a new country. Contact us if you need help planning your next trip!