New Zealand sceptics? Not us! Whenever we met locals on our recent trip in to New Zealand we joked that we were probably the last two Australians to visit. Some of our closest friends are New Zealanders and most of our Aussie friends have been there – either for the snow or the Pinot.
Apparently “some people would never cross the ditch in a million years” and “New Zealanders call them the Kiwi Sceptics”, according to New Zealand comedian Rhys Darby, in his intro to the short reality films that form the core of the campaign. It was the first we’d heard about them to be honest.
We’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand. Terence has had Queenstown on his snowboarding wish list for years and I’ve always wanted to do a wine-driven road trip since becoming smitten with Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs in the Nineties and more recently captivated by Central Otago Pinot Noirs.
The only reason we haven’t been until now is simply because our travels are dictated by our travel writing work and we’ve never been asked by an editor to write about New Zealand. Fortunately that recently changed.
But apparently a lot of Australians aren’t like us. They think of New Zealand as a weird little place for old people that is full of sheep, that they have no interest in visiting. In Air New Zealand’s Kiwi Sceptics videos, the producers have to lie to these people and tell them that they’re being taken to Europe, Las Vegas and Bali, to get them on their planes.
Their sceptics are a motley crew too – a self-styled hipster, a wine-loving Europhile, a cocktail-sipping Bali-loving shopaholic, an espresso-making football-loving bloke, and Lara Bingle (as lapsed Australians we’re not sure how to describe this model and ‘celebrity’ who became famous for dating someone famous).
Air New Zealand’s Kiwi Sceptics aren’t like any of our friends. (Are they like yours?) In fact they’re not like any Aussies we know or have ever met at all in Australia, to be honest. Could we be forgiven for thinking (Lara Bingle aside) that these are the Aussies of a New Zealander’s imagination? Or characters in one of Rhys Darby’s routines?
The films feature a quirky narration that is distinctly New Zealand and – best of all – they showcase some of the country’s most spectacular scenery (from the lakes and mountains of Queenstown to the majestic fjords of Milford Sound) and diverse experiences (from snowboarding and fishing to wine-tasting and shopping), along with two of the beautiful lodges we recently got to stay in: Otahuna Lodge near Christchurch and Matakauri Lodge just out of Queenstown.
We also love the fact that the Kiwi Sceptics are taken on fairly laidback trips and given an insider experience of New Zealand by locals, from a footballer to an historian, and they do the local thing, from kicking back in cocktail bars and cinemas to playing cricket and seeing live bands.
The films are worth watching for those reasons alone. Take a look and you will quickly understand why we absconded from Asia to do the New Zealand trip. Nobody had to lie to us about where we were going. And we’d return in a heartbeat.
I should also mention here that we’d happily fly Air New Zealand again too. And there aren’t many airlines we give a second go these days. We get on and off planes like most people do buses, but we don’t enjoy flying much at all anymore.
It’s a combination of increased airport security, tighter baggage restrictions, excessive fees (even on so-called ‘premium’ airlines), ground staff who think – and act – like they’re policemen, cranky flight attendants, bad meals, cramped seats, and lousy entertainment systems among other things, that have really made flying an unpleasant experience in recent years.
However, Air New Zealand restored our faith in airlines and we flew with them half a dozen times, so there were plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. Their check-in procedures were a breeze, their plane interiors and crew uniforms are cool, they have one of the best in-flight entertainment systems we’ve used after Emirates Airlines, and they served up delicious food matched with fabulous New Zealand wines.
But, best of all, they have the friendliest, most accommodating, and most laidback and hospitable staff we’ve come across – both on the ground and on board the planes. They’re like how I remember Australians used to be before they got all uptight. And they made flying a real delight.
Disclosure: Air New Zealand Australia provided our flights between Australia and New Zealand and flew us between the four Relais and Chateaux lodges we stayed at during our recent 8-day trip. They did not pay for this post and views are our own, naturally.
Have you been to New Zealand? If not, why not? Is it on your wish list? if not, is it because you’re a Kiwi Sceptic? We’d love to know.