Ten Frustrations with Living in New Zealand

1. Sauce/ketchup not included

You do not get sauce/ketchup when you buy fish and chips takeout. The price of sauce/ketchup is often $3 for a little cup. It is easy to get around this when you are getting it around town, but when you are traveling the extra expense becomes hard to avoid.

2. Campervans and motorhomes

campervan in New Zealand

Driving on the South Island can be mind-numbingly painful when you get stuck behind campervans and motorhomes that do not pull over allowing the line of cars behind them to pass and speed up to 10km over the speed limit whenever a good passing zone is reached.

3. Rough Roads

melting New Zealand road

The seal on New Zealand roads is not finished smoothly. I understand that New Zealand does a rough road seal to save money, but boy is it loud and annoying. You do get used to it, but I enjoy a quieter ride doesn’t involve a gentle rumble from the rough roads.

4. Lack of bathrooms

Places that serve food are not required to have restrooms for patrons. Even Mongolia requires restaurants to have bathrooms. At least they do have public toilets that you can scamper down the street to find while your food gets cold.

5. Poor central heat and insulation

I never thought that while house hunting that having central heat would be considered a luxury, but it is. Less than 20% of the homes we looked at were heated centrally, with most being heated by space heaters and wood stoves. New Zealand is getting better about insulation, but a lot of homes are exempt from the new insulation rules.

6. Hard to get some things

New Zealand is small and isolated. It does not have everything that you might need. There will be a time where you might have to wait a week for a car per since there are not any currently in New Zealand. This is also part of its charm, but it is a big adjustment when you are used to two day Amazon Prime.

7. Alcohol tax and culture around drinking


New Zealand has a binge drinking culture, and New Zealand also has a high tax on alcohol. It is not uncommon for your bottle of spirits to be over 50% tax. You might think that a high alcohol tax would discourage binge drinking, but the evidence does not support this

8. Carryon bag limits

Coming from the states where there aren’t limits on carryon bag weight having a 7kg limit is frustrating. All the flights from my regional airport are on propeller planes with small overhead bins. Air New Zealand checks the weight on any bag that you gate check. This means that I now have to pay for a checked bag on most flights.

9. Sandflies

New Zealand Sandflies

Sandflies are small biting flies that can itch for weeks after you get bitten.  The problem is that in some locations they swarm you within a matter of minutes of when you stop walking. They frequently swarm in numbers so great that you cannot be outside.

10. Credit Card Surcharges

Many businesses charge between 2-5% if you use a credit card.  Coming from the US where credit card surcharges are not added it is frustrating needing to pay them.  It is a more fair way of doing business, but it is still frustration.

What are your frustrations with New Zealand?  Check out 10 of our favorite things about New Zealand. Check out our New Zealandisms to find some unique things out about New Zealand.

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