New Zealand – Welcome to the corner of the world

Starting this week, Gadling will be bringing you updates from our recent travels across New Zealand, the “corner of the world.” Make sure to check out all the entries in our ongoing series HERE.

Upon stepping off the plane in New Zealand, I found myself staring intently at a large map of the world in the airport lobby. Everything looked about normal: there was Central America, snaking its way north and south to meet the two other Americas; India, pointy as ever, stuck its nose gently out into the surrounding ocean; meanwhile, Antarctica unraveled its bulk along the edge of the imaginary map border like giant piece of thawing fish.

As I continued to stare at the map, my eyes locked upon my current location, New Zealand – what exactly was it doing way out there? On most maps, New Zealand is waaaay down in the bottom right, just about the spot on ancient explorer maps inhabited by mermaids and sea monsters. It looked so isolated…tucked away in the corner like a misbehaving child at the International School of Countries, sitting on timeout for hurling a spitball at Great Britain.

As I came to discover New Zealand in more detail over the coming days, I found myself returning to this idea of “the corner” of the map frequently. Sure, there’s plenty of places worldwide like Hawaii or Ireland that, by virtue of their geography, have a culture and landscape like nowhere else on earth – New Zealand has that too. But there’s something about that strange sense of being forgotten – hidden down in the corner of the world map, that gives New Zealand its peculiar charm, feisty attitude and particular appeal.

Whether it’s your halting attempts to describe the country’s jaw-dropping scenery, the conflicted history of its indigenous Maori culture or the laid-back, friendly and pragmatic attitudes of its citizens, New Zealand seems to be a place that has something to prove. This urge to please is certainly evident among those tried-and-true traits that made New Zealand famous: its status as “an extreme sports” paradise, a virtual eden of fresh food and great wine and its unique wildlife. It makes it easy to enjoy the wealth of riches the country has to offer. But it also comes through just as strongly when you look at some of the unexpected aspects of this exceptional place, and come to realize like any other eden it’s not without its flaws.

Over the next few weeks here at Gadling, we’ll be bringing you updates from our recent travels across New Zealand – in the process, we hope to offer a range of perspectives about what visiting this truly unique and fascinating country is all about. Welcome to the corner of the world.