Monday, January 15, 2018

An Ode to New Zealand; Why That South Pacific Nation is Arguably the Most Beautiful Country on This Planet

To say “New Zealand is beautiful” is pretty much a cliché.  Before my recent three-week visit there, whenever I had mentioned my then-upcoming travel to someone here in the U.S., they had instantly remarked about NZ’s famed beauty even if they had never set foot in that land.  But I would like to posit that NZ is the most beautiful country on the planet and principally for two reasons, the second of which is likely to surprise those who have never been there.

First, about that nation’s natural heritage, and here my focus is on South Island (SI for short), which is where I spent most of my time. Just over 500 miles in length (two thirds that of California’s) and a width averaging a mere 100 miles, SI is endowed with an unbelievable diversity of impossibly beautiful physical features: It is crammed with every kind of geographical wonder we get to see in America’s national parks (save for the red sandstone landmarks of Arizona and Utah)–snowcaps and glaciers; gorges; mountain rivers and streams; waterfalls; rainforests; vast and deep lakes; fjords; sounds and other bodies of water teeming with marine wildlife and beckoning islets; and an infinitude of hills and valleys which are invariably dotted with sheep. [Yes, I constantly heard the strains of Bach’s “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” in the background. J] During our road trips, I was forever fighting the urge to stop every half mile to photograph the ever-changing (and yes, breathtaking!) scenery.
And now to the second reason for writing this love letter, this valentine: It’s that nation’s people! Anthropologists would do well to put New Zealanders under the microscope because they are not like the rest of us. Instead, the kiwis are a more refined “subspecies of Homo sapiens.” During my travels, there wasn’t a day when I did not pause to reflect on how unfailingly polite, courteous, and soft-spoken they all are, in striking contrast to the coarseness, the brusqueness, and the rudeness that has been pervading the rest of the planet at a galloping pace.  It’s as if all the kiwis were on a caboose that had become detached from a long train that had on board the rest of the world and which was speeding toward a future that promises to be cruder, more impolite, and more discourteous by the day.

I end this paean with a question that, by now, has probably arisen in your mind as well: How long can New Zealanders maintain their unique culture, and their unmatched, unrivaled social qualities, before they too are hopelessly infected by the curtness and crassness of the outside world?

© Copyright 2018  V. J. Singal