13 October 2010

New Zealand

New Zealand is a unique country. My first exposure to it was through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Who could forget the natural splendor on display? A few years later, I was reintroduced to this country via Les Mills, the group exercise franchise that has been equated to the McDonald's of workouts. While Lord of the Rings showed me the beauty of its earth, being a BodyJam instructor showed me the beauty of its people. Relaxed, easy-going, and fun-loving is how I would describe (most) Kiwis! Just view any of Air New Zealand's videos (especially the flight safety ones, or this one) to get an idea of what I mean.

Akaroa (from Simon Tong)

It would be impossible to mention New Zealand without giving a token paragraph to sheep. After all, they could probably kill all of NZ's 4.5 million humans if they banded together (or were zombified).

There are about 40 million sheep and 5 million cows in this nation of 4.5 million people. To get an idea of its isolation, consider that the United Kingdom is only slightly smaller than New Zealand, but has a population of 62 million.

Another place I often see New Zealand is in the ranking of the world's cities. Many consultant companies produce annual lists, and it's no surprise that most of New Zealand's cities frequently make the Top 10. Mercer's Quality of Living survey ranks Auckland #4, The Economist' World's Most Livable Cities put Auckland in the 10th spot, and Monocle magazine's own list shows Auckland in 20th place.

At the same time, it is only the 138th most expensive city to live in for expatriates, according to Mercer. This provides a nice counter balance. (All figures obtained from Wikipedia) Unfortunately, as reported recently, New Zealand has the 3rd highest obesity rate among OECD nations.

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