Being rational decision makers from Central Europe, let us describe how we came up with New Zealand as the one and only possible option for doing an adventure year:
The logical approach
Given you want to spend some time with your family in a foreign country, the number of available countries quickly shrinks down from about 200 possible on Earth to a few where we would be able to communicate, either in our native language German or in English. OK, going from Austria to Germany or Switzerland is just boring and not really the adventure we’d be looking for. Unfortunately there aren’t any other German speaking countries.
OK, so let’s have a look at developed English speaking countries next: The United States would be beautiful and amazing to visit, but we probably wouldn’t feel safe enough there and let’s better not get into debates about their politics…
What about Canada, the classic choice? Far too cold, seriously. We want to go somewhere warmer than Austria. Why not England or Ireland then? Both would be cool to visit, no doubt about that, but they’re known for lots of rain and just 1-2h flight distance away from home. No… we want to go further away!
What’s left then? Only Australia and New Zealand. While Australia seems to be the number one adventure-year country that everyone knows, we can’t really see why it is that way. Australia collects about every single dangerous and deadly thing mother nature has created, while New Zealand has none of them really.
There are no deadly jellyfish, no poisonous snakes/frogs/spiders or other harmful animals in New Zealand. Feel free to run around bare-footet all year round, even in dense bush. That makes it a pretty easy choice where to go with your children, doesn’t it?
The emotional approach – or: You can’t go any further away
New Zealand is pretty much exactly on the opposite side of Earth when you’re living in Europe. Who doesn’t want to escape all the stress and chaos that our everyday-lives include? Leaving everything behind for a while, reset and open your mind for alternative ways of life. Pretend to be a (modern) hippie, walk around in patchwork clothes and jandals, and enjoy how everyone tolerates whatever you do. Whatever you prefer, you can do it in New Zealand.
An ode to the wide and open countryside
There is truly a lot of ‘nothing’ in this country. Only about 4.3 million people (plus 5 million cows and 30 million sheep) share an area as large as the United Kingdom. Just drive along one of alpine crossing highways in the South Island and you’ll experience how uplifting and freeing it can be to watch endless landscapes pass by for hours. Sparkling, perfectly clean rivers from the mountains running through natural, meandering wide river beds, with millions of purple lupins and yellow gorse flowers on either side. This is how the European Alps must have looked like, a couple of thousand years ago, when there were barely any humans around transforming the land. Rivers running through large farming areas are not so clean unfortunately.
It’s a safe country
According to the 2015 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the 4th safest place to live in the world (after Iceland, Denmark and Austria). Transparency International also ranks New Zealand consistently as one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
People are very tolerant to immigrants. It’s probably because almost everyone is an immigrant, and even if they are not, their parents or grandparents most likely were. 2013 census revealed that 25.2% of people living in New Zealand were actually born overseas. In Auckland the number is even higher: 39.2% of people living there were not born in New Zealand.