Ten reasons why we're better than Australia
We're always being told the grass is greener across The Ditch. The sky's always blue, the sun always shines, you'll earn more money and have more fun.
We're also constantly told that thousands of Kiwis leave our shores every year searching for a better life in Australia. What we don't hear about so often is that many of those come back again.
I was one of them.
Don't get me wrong - Australia is a fantastic country. I loved living there. It's a huge, wealthy, beautiful, warm and yes, good fun.
After two years working in Sydney my partner and I did a four-month road trip across the sunburnt continent. It was one of the best things I've ever done.
I wrote a blog about our experience, and called it Bull Dust, after the ubiquitous red Aussie dust that gets under your nails, into your clothes and under your skin. I kept the name for my new blog here on Stuff.
But the very best thing about being a Kiwi in Australia is not having to decide whether or not to live there forever (the worst thing is homesickness and getting teased about your accent). Unlike most nationalities, we get to pick and choose. To come and go. It's the best of both worlds.
Granted, heading back against the general tide raised a few eyebrows. Many Australians were frankly incredulous that we would pack up and turn our backs on the Lucky Country.
So as we celebrate our national day - or at least what passes for it - here are my 10 reasons why New Zealand is a better place to live than Australia.
1. We're more friendly. Everyone comments on this. It starts the moment you get off the plane, and continues every time you walk into a store, sit down for a coffee, or pass someone on the street. In Sydney, you don't acknowledge anyone you might meet unless you already know them. Even smiling at a stranger is considered odd. Here, you're practically smothered with affection.
2. Small is beautiful. Australia is every bit as beautiful as New Zealand. It's just a shame you have to travel thousands of kilometres between sights. Take it from someone who drove 23,000kms in four months – and that was only between Sydney and Perth. Here, you only have to pop round the corner for the scenery to change.
3. Our houses are cheaper. OK, there are people in some Auckland suburbs who may disagree with this, but for the most part, it's cheaper to buy a home here than it is in Australia. Sydney is unbelievably expensive. Anyone who isn't a millionaire or a major CEO can't afford to buy an actual house unless it's some 80km west of the CBD. And forget about a garden unless you earn well into six figures.
4. Our food and drink is better. Yes, a big call I know. Australia markets itself very effectively as a gourmand's paradise. But for my money, our produce is fresher, our meat tastier, our ice cream creamier and our fish, er, fishier. If you're a beer connoisseur you'll be sadly disappointed in Australia unless you're a fan of freezing cold, mass-produced lager. Granted, they make a decent drop of red, but their white wine is rubbish. And we've got way better lollies.
5. We love our indigenous culture. You've got to leave New Zealand to fully appreciate this, but our Maori heritage is an immense asset. I'm as white as the driven snow, but I treasure what Maoridom and Pacific Island culture has done for New Zealand. It makes us proud, strong, independent, and interesting. By contrast white Australia all but ignores its Aboriginal roots.
6. We're not so uptight. Big-city Australians are wound as tight as watch springs. Out in the bush it's better, but Kiwis are world-beaters at laconic, she'll be right laid-backness. And she normally is right. No point having a heart attack, is there?
7. We're more entrepreneurial. Australia may have a bigger economy, but we're lighter on our feet. Because we have a small, educated, enthusiastic population of early adopters, New Zealand is a great place to start a business, further your career, or do something different from the herd. And because there's only 4.5 million of us, it's easier for our voice to be heard. Hardly surprising that we've invented so much more stuff than the Aussies ever have.
8. There's fewer things that can hurt or kill you. Don't underestimate this. Australia is home to all ten species of the world's most poisonous snakes. Then there's spiders the size of your hand, sharks cruising the beaches, scorpions, sting-rays … oh yes, and the world's most dangerous reptile, the crocodile. We've got, um, stinging nettle. And wekas can give you a nasty peck.
9. Our TV's better. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true. We may all grumble about the box, but Aussie television is truly dire. Between The Block, The Project, Bondi Vet and Border Patrol, there's Lara Bingle!, The Shire, and re-runs of Prisoner. It's just a shame they export most of those shows over here. Next to this lot, Seven Sharp looks like hard-hitting current affairs. Plus, we've got John Campbell.
10. The weather. Australia's either too hot, too cold, or too wet. Thanks to climate change, Sydney alternates between floods and bush fires. Queensland suffers increasingly volatile storms. The Outback and Western Australia simply fries. We enjoy a temperate climate with plenty of sunshine and rain.
Well there's my top ten. What have I missed? Who else has headed across the Ditch but came home again? Who's reading this in Australia and would love to come home? What's stopping you?
I sometimes think all Kiwis should leave New Zealand at least once. Only then will they know what they're missing.
Happy Waitangi Day, everyone.