Most New Zealanders eat their own reindeer, and children go to school for the first time the day after their birthday.

What you don't expect to find in a hotel room is a bottle of fresh milk. Unless you're in New Zealand.  

I have not tasted milk tastier anywhere else. New Zealanders have managed to maintain eco-production in their country. It is forbidden to manufacture, sell, import and use chemical fertilizers, so all products have a rich natural taste.

Most of the population of the South Island that I have visited is engaged in agriculture and tourism. Many farmers set up wooden houses along the roads with their products: fruits, vegetables, eggs. There are no sellers in the houses, instead there are boxes with the inscription Honesty box and an explanation that the payment for groceries must be dropped here. This level of trust is reflected throughout.

Photo: provided by the author

Another hallmark of most New Zealanders is a healthy lifestyle. Few people smoke here, and since a pack of cigarettes costs almost $ 30, tourists lose this desire.  

The first inhabitants of New Zealand were the fearless Maori warriors from Eastern Polynesia. They were engaged in hunting and fishing, as well as inter-tribal bloody wars. To intimidate enemies, the Maori staged eerie dances, during which they bulged their eyes and stuck out their tongues. And a sign of belonging to a particular tribe was the corresponding tattoos on the face.    

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Abel Tasman and James Cook discovered the islands for Europeans. On February 6, 1840, the leaders of some tribes and the government of Great Britain signed an agreement in the village of Waitangi that New Zealand would come under the rule of the kingdom, and the Maori retain the rights to their property and fall under the patronage of Her Majesty. This document is still considered the basis for the country's democratic development.    

Modern Maori live in cities and no longer get tattoos on their faces - except for temporary ones. They receive social benefits from the state and try to preserve the memory of their origins.  

Rabbits are fought in many ways

Every year on February 6, the whole country celebrates the national holiday of Waitangi. On this day, representatives of indigenous peoples demonstrate their frightening dance, and not only tourists, but also locals come to see it.  

But we were out of luck. I was in New Zealand with a tour group just in early February, and we were waiting for the celebration and the famous ritual. But it turned out that the authorities did not support the recent demands of the tribes for an increase in social benefits, and therefore the Maori refused on principle to demonstrate their dances and to celebrate anything.  

Life in New Zealand is very unhurried and calm, New Zealanders do not like hard work , and even tried to switch to a four-day work week. Young people often complain that there are no career opportunities and professional development here - so many leave for Australia or the USA. But at the same time, specialists from Asia and Europe come to the country to work.   

It is hard for foreigners to get used to the fact that the seasons are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. For example, local schoolchildren have their summer holidays at Christmas. By the way, education in New Zealand is considered one of the best in the world. It is interesting that children do not go to school on a specific day of the month, as we do on September 1, but on the day after their birthday, on which they turned 6. If this coincides with a vacation, the beginner is given a guided tour and invited to come back after the rest days are over.    

A quarter of the entire country is occupied by nature reserves. New Zealanders are very sensitive to nature and its protection. But there are exceptions.


Photo: provided by the author

Deer and rabbits brought here 200 years ago began to multiply rapidly, and, due to the absence of large predators and suitable climatic conditions, their number was constantly growing.  

Today, the deer population is so large that these animals are exterminated by all means. Often they hide in the bushes - impassable bushes, where it is difficult for a person to get through. Therefore, local foresters are dropping poisoned carrots from helicopters over such thickets . In addition, New Zealand has a year-round deer hunting permit. Weapon prices are affordable, and many families do not buy meat from the store, but eat their own game. We tried Venison, a venison stew, a popular local dish.     

The same problem with rabbits. In addition to the fact that the animals destroy vegetation, they also dig holes in which livestock breaks the legs, which is very harmful to agriculture. Rabbits are fought in many ways, and viruses have even been invented to help reduce their numbers significantly.  

And yet, in New Zealand, the feeling that man has managed to find harmony with nature here does not leave. It is not for nothing that the country attracts tourists from all over the world. Fans of extreme tours (Queenstown is the world capital of extreme sports), connoisseurs of natural beauty and tranquility, wealthy people in search of new ideas and reboot, families with children come here. The latter, by the way, are very fond of traveling in campervans - mobile homes. And in New Zealand, all the conditions for this type of travel have been created: the roads are ideal, and along the way there are special stations every now and then where the motorhome can replenish water and energy supplies and stop for the night.

Photo: provided by the author

The Land of the Long White Cloud combines all the natural beauty: fjords, waterfalls, mountains, white beaches, glaciers, lakes, bays and green hills. And this miniature copy of the entire planet at the end of the earth was an unforgettable discovery for me.