Before we came to New Zealand to live (oh and yes, we had never been here before), a friend described New Zealand as quite simply, ‘lovely’. ‘Lovely? What exactly do you mean by that?’, I thought. A year later, we’re here and I have to agree, lovely is an apt word for New Zealand – its soft, warm, cuddly, pleasing to the eye, and the emotions, and so much more… For the benefit of friends and family and just like Julie Andrews did, I thought I’d provide you with a list of, ‘a few of my favourite things’, about New Zealand:

1. Bell birds – these birds make a beautiful sound. You can hear them in the bush as one would expect, but we hear them at home, and often they ring their ‘bell’ close to home time when I am in the office (I kid you not). Check them out here:

2. The colours green and blue – New Zealand’s rolling hills and fields are adorned in beautiful shades of green, which are accentuated in the strong New Zealand sunlight. These are often complemented by a bleached blue sky, and not just in summer, but all year round (albeit intermittently in winter). Until you have been here, you will not have experienced them, other than through watching Lord of the Rings, maybe? Check them out below:

3. Certain fashion faux pas are perfectly acceptable – for example, it seems to be OK for men to wear sport socks right up to the knees. I’ve seen several blokes wandering around in such attire and nobody batted an eyelid, except me… But, hey, who cares? No one in New Zealand it seems

4. The love of the outdoors and outdoor pursuits – wherever you go in New Zealand you see someone kayaking (yup, even in the city), fishing, running, walking, sailing etc. I guess it’s a lot to do with the generally mild weather and general kiwi sports culture. I love the outdoors ergo I love New Zealand

5. I love the way Kiwi’s say “aye”, as if they are warmly beckoning you into their conversation

6. I love the way Kiwis are welcoming to outsiders – I’m a Pom, but I haven’t been treated as an outsider yet. That’s good in my book (oh, and thank you)

7. Feijoas – a small egg-sized, lime-coloured fruit which has a sweet initial taste followed by a tang-tastic after taste (see more here

8. How New Zealand as a whole makes you shift down a gear – it may just be me, but life seems less stressful here. In the UK, I worked silly hours and the stress started to affect me. Over here, I’m more relaxed. I’m still trying to work out why, this may simply be due to working less hours in my job as a medical writer. I may comment on this in another post

9. The way kids set up stalls on the roadside selling cupcakes or feijoas, often not for themselves but for a good cause of some kind

10. There is little snobbery, or at least I haven’t experienced any, and I suspect if I did, it would happen on the North Shore where most brits are

11. Fishing, everybody is doing it – from your grandma to little toddlers. Kiwi’s love fishing. We live by the sea, I have a rod, ergo I fish. I haven’t caught anything yet – but you’ll know about it when I do!

12. Things grow… I had many a bad summer in the UK and my prize winning tomatoes were often never ripe in time for the local horticultural shows. Here, everything grows – as noted in point 2, everything is green

13. The sun warms you up, and even your house, on a winter’s day

14. The kiwi ‘can do’ attitude – in NZ anyone can do anything it seems, and that attitude is tangible and infectious. I’ve caught it the bug, I’ll keep you posted on this one

15. We can go camping for the weekend, and it won’t rain ALL weekend. Only my Brit readers will probably appreciate that one, but the prospect of a dry camping experience excites me!

16. Mountains. I love ’em and it seems New Zealand got them in spadefuls when God was handing them out

I shall repeat this exercise is a few more months, as part of my secret agenda to subtly entice more friends and family to visit my Lovely New Zealand