Friends in Far Places

Kiwi to the Core: The Faces of New Zealand

April 30, 2015 Photo Essay By Photo by Jack Seemer, Jeremy Berger, Sung Han and Matthew Ankeny

New Zealand’s reputation as the most beautiful little corner of the world doesn’t come unwarranted. Though smaller in square miles than the state of Colorado, the geographic makeup of this isolated country in the South Pacific is just as striking, and more diverse. The snowcapped Southern Alps, cut with glacial valleys and alpine lakes, run 500 miles long; the perfectly flat Canterbury Plains form a pastoral patchwork of colors and textures; and the rough coastline of the western side of the country is among the most dramatic in the world, drawing millions of spectators a year. And this is just the South Island.

But it’s surprising the things you remember from a short sojourn through a country — the memories left over, long after a return flight home. In our case, though the fjords and star-covered skies were precious and stunning, it was the faces we met and the friends we made that gave color to the shape and personality of “Lands Afar“.

We find ourselves home now, still asking: What makes a Kiwi? But there’s always some trouble in trying to define the personality of a people at large. Pay New Zealand a visit and you might be tempted to say that its locals are a proud bunch, coming into their own as a country — confident in spirit, style and flavor. At times, they’re aggressive on the road, and also highly opinionated. But you might notice too that they’re happy and hospitable, and as casual as they come over a well-cooked meal, along with most other facets of life. How does one become Kiwi to the core? We’re still scratching our heads. Whatever it is, we can say that New Zealand is an easy place to fall in love with. And the individuals that live there are much of the reason why.

Jack Seemer is the deputy editor at Gear Patrol. Since joining the publication in 2014, he has reported on a wide range of subjects, including menswear, smart home technology, cookware and craft beer.

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