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Dating & Romance

There’s a skit by a New Zealand comedian where a thirtysomething guy catching up with an old friend asks: “hey, whatever happened to that girl you threw up on at Dave’s party?”. The friend replies: “we’re really happy; our youngest just turned four”.

This goes a long way to summing up the romantic situation in New Zealand. Not a lot happens without alcohol; and when in the haze of inebriation two people do hook up, they often start acting like an old married couple within a couple of weeks. So stilted is male-female interaction most of the time that a drunken entanglement is seen as destiny.

Some blame the inherited Anglo-Saxon reserve along with the natural awkwardness from living in a small country where everyone is someone else’s ex, sibling, room mate or colleague. Social life is mainly parties or going out in a group so there’s little chance for formal romance: a majority of New Zealanders still think a date is a squishy fruit from North Africa

Paradoxically, this can make New Zealand quite a happy hunting ground for both male and female travelers. Attitudes to sex are as liberal as anywhere, and relationships are generally quite uncomplicated once they get going. Travelers are seen as exotic, and if you take the daring step of openly showing an interest in someone, you should do well.

Dating|New Zealand Men

Once upon a time, New Zealand men were rugged types who made their living off the land. Tough and practical, they could fix anything with a length of fencing wire, and were suspicious of anyone with a vocabulary of more than ten words.

Nowadays, the vast majority live in cities and work in offices where there’s little use for fencing wire. However, they retain the same laconic manner and mistrust of conversation. Faced with a pretty girl, a Kiwi guy will tend to hang his head and look at her warily like a sheepdog eyeing a rogue ewe.

Despite this, New Zealand men do quite well when traveling overseas. Most play sport or are active in some way, and with the sprinkling of Polynesian genes, are often rustically good looking. Beneath the awkward exterior, they are also usually sincere and loyal.

New Zealand guys are used to women who are blunt and defensive so if you smile, bat your eyelids, and act girlish, you’ll attract a crowd. If you do get in a relationship with a New Zealand guy expect to be treated as an equal partner – down to joining him in his favourite pursuits of camping, touch rugby and drinking games. Just note that you may have to pass on the sweet nothings.

Dating New Zealand Women

A departing French ambassador to New Zealand once commented at the end of his stay in the country that New Zealand women lacked elegance, complaining that they dressed only in black and ‘walk like soldiers’. That was a bit cruel, though it’s true you won’t see many Kiwi women prancing around with poodles.

In terms of exotic good looks, it’s still not Venezuela, although especially with the changing ethnic mix, there are plenty of attractive women around. Even better, many are paranoid that they’re facing a ‘man drought’, a 10% gender imbalance in the 25-39 age group identified by statisticians – maybe due to all the male Kiwi backpackers who fell in love with overseas women who smiled at them.

New Zealand women despair of the diffidence displayed by local men, but they aren’t very impressed with flowery, Latin-style romancing either. They tend to prefer guys who are politely assertive (such as North Americans) or have a roguish charm (such as the Irish).

They are often comfortable with making the first move, although, as with their male compatriots, a tequila or three certainly helps to smooth the way.

In a relationship, a New Zealand woman will expect to be treated as an equal and will be impatient with excessive machismo or overt signs of possessiveness A bonus is that Kiwi women are usually independent and spontaneous and will often be willing to head out to do something adventurous without needing an hour to apply makeup.

Simon Bidwell