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Notes on New Zealand

Page history last edited by rsb 1 year, 1 month ago


I'll add to this as I have time.  Just getting started here.  New Zealand is quickly becoming my favorite place, so these notes are biased.  I'm mainly aiming this at helping my fellow-fellows, who I may point here - to my knowledge no one has ever read any of my wiki pages unless I pointed them to them.


Should you visit?


If you have even the faintest idea that you might want to visit, you should plan a visit.  Plan it six months ahead - some of the things you might want to do are popular and there can be a waiting list.


Hitchhikers in NZ:


Are awesome.  Beautiful people from all over the world.  Pick them up.  Take them for a meal.  Share with them.  Put them up in your airbnb.  Learn about them.  You will fine a unique and wonderful set of people.


Popular Cities:


I'll try to compare to cities I've been to elsewhere to save time.




The way to visit Queenstown is: don't.  You can do everything you need to do from nearby towns to the north and south.  Queenstown is like Aspen, Colorado.  


If you are anything like me, seeing the gucci and louis vuitton stores in Queenstown is just going to bum you out and ruin the view of the mountains.  Queenstown has everything that people who cannot appreciate nature or conservation of any type would want - it's packed with tourists.


Drive through queenstown.  Check out it's amazing vistas.  Hike, ski, etc.  Keep moving.  


Alternatives: Glenorchy, Lake Wanaka, and Te Anui are perfectly fine towns to stay at, recharge between hikes, and enjoy the real reasons to be in the area: the land and the people. 




Like: Oakland, CA.  But with no high crime areas.  This is a happening tech hub at this point.  Great town.  Great people.  Good food.  Nice launching off point to start a tour of the south island.




Like: Vancouver, Canada.  Maybe prettier.  This is probably where you will fly into NZ.   Good for a few days and as a launching point for the north island.




Like: San Francisco, but tinier, better designed, even windier, and with much less of the colorful zaniness.  This city is actually quite unique.  It's a good place to do business and get work done.




"One does not simply walk into a New Zealand bank and open a bank account."


For some purposes, you have to have a bank account - drivers license - renting - being an employee of an NZ company, etc.


I liked everyone I interacted with in NZ banking.  I mean, I really liked these folks.  They all seemed very friendly and I would totally hang out with them.  But people are not the problem - systems are the problem.  The story here is that I wasted a bunch of time with NZ banks so you don't have to. 


This is what you do: Go online, pick an NZ bank, find someone to talk to about opening an account, then make an appointment with them for your next visit to New Zealand.  You have to make that appointment - if you are late, then maybe next trip.


This is what you do not do: Walk into a bank, no matter how well you have your ducks in a row - no matter how much money you have to transfer in - and try to open an account.  It might bum you out. 


You will not be served same day by any New Zealand bank to open an account - even if you are already a signer on another account with the same bank.  I have tried this.  I walked in - work visa, address proof, passport, fat deposit, but very little time on my hands, and was turned away every time - from the three largest banks in downtown wellington.


Even BNZ, whom had already identified me, added me to a business account, and issued me a bank card, stared at me with a straight face and told me that they needed to schedule an appointment with me on another day to identify me for a personal account (this was the same person who just identified me for a business account with passport, visa, etc.). 


This is outside the experience of most of the rest of the world, where walking into a bank and offering to deposit money is given a higher priority. 


I really appreciate a slower, more considered approach to banking - this is just something to be aware of when scheduling your time.


Simple.com allowed me to open a free interest checking account in literally seconds online, promised and delivered on zero ability to charge me fees, and serves me fantastically well.  Any docs they need you can upload - there are no branches - they waive the fees incurred by any bank branch in the world to serve you.  And they make money doing this - no home loans - no shady stuff - low risk - they make money on the float.  It just feels like there is room for that kind of product and service in a well-regulated banking industry anywhere.


Donating to Charity:


The first few times I found a charitable organization to give to in NZ, I just gave the money because it was needed right away - I didn't get a tax deduction.  I got wise after that and started a fund through the rudolf steiner foundation for subsequent gifts, and eventually the NZ gift trust created a relationship with the RSF and now you can give through the gift trust as a US citizen to registered charities, and take the tax deduction.  SpaceBase, a company I'm invovled with, was the first organization so certified to my knowledge.




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