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Published: February 3rd 2010
(Day 658 on the road)
Wellington, capital of New Zealand. 350.000 people (4,5%!o(MISSING)f New Zealand's total), a relaxed inner city and an atmospheric setting right by the ocean. After my wet hike around Mt. Taranaki I was looking forward to some creature comforts and to meet up with an old travel friend of mine, Harriet, who now lives and works in Wellington. Harriet and I had first met in China climbing Mt. Hua Shan
in June 2008. We had met again in November 2008 riding motor-bikes across Laos
for an awesome month. So it has been over a year since we last saw each other, and it was great to catch up again and meet some of her Kiwi friends.
I spent five days in Wellington, and on my second day I stumbled across a critical article in a local newspaper about how New Zealand "falsely markets" itself overseas. Of course, as anyone would expect, the country's tourism office portrays the country as a "green outdoor destination". This article now claimed that New Zealand was not nearly as green as it pretended to be, with ever-increasing CO2-emissions. I was intrigued, and a day later I set off to do some research on the topic. After spending
some time comparing emission levels worldwide (absolute, per capita, and changes over time) I have to give a mixed review:
1) In absolute terms
, New Zealand's emissions are small (0.1%!o(MISSING)f the world's total, compared to 21%!f(MISSING)or China and 20%!f(MISSING)or the USA for instance), just as you would expect with a population of just under four million.
2) In relative terms
(emission per capita), it is not doing too bad either, ranking number 50 out of 210 countries surveyed (the top three countries here are Qatar, UAE and Kuwait)
3) However, and this is what the article I read focused on, New Zealand seems to be doing way too little to reduce its emission levels. Whilst most developed nations have reduced their emission or at least kept them constant since 1996 in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol (ie. Sweden: -15%!,(MISSING) Germany: -4%!)(MISSING), New Zealand has increased its emission
by a whopping 18%!,(MISSING) en par with countries like Indonesia or the Philippines.
So it is a mixed bag. Good in absolute and relative terms, but definitively going the wrong way. As an everyday traveller however one sees none of that - the landscape is remarkably beautiful.
two other things that have puzzled me for a while about New Zealand: One is the high cost of Internet (and telecommunication in general I should add), the other are the omni-present "Proud to be Kiwi" advertisements.
The high cost of Internet had already astonished me in Australia, where the situation is similar. Even in expensive hostels free Internet was mostly unheard of, not even free Wifi. In 18 months of travelling before I came to Australia and New Zealand I have never had any problems of finding free Internet or at least wireless Internet. In fact, most travellers avoid hostels without free Internet altogether. In New Zealand and Australia, that is nearly impossible, with almost all hostels charging high prices for Internet. I just don't get it - even in some of the most remote islands in, let's say, the Philippines, hostels and cafes had free wireless Internet. Why not in New Zealand, a country so much more developed than most Asian nations?
And then the "Proudly Kiwi-owned" marketing. If you have been to New Zealand you know what I am talking about. These kind of advertisements are found virtually everywhere - from cornflakes packages ("Buy me,
I am a 100%!K(MISSING)iwi-brand!") to shops on the high street. Now, I do understand that a fair level of patriotism is healthy for the unity of any country, especially since New Zealand is a comparably young nation with a diverse mix of races. Also, buying local produce for instance keeps more money in the local economy and helps the environment. But when consumer choices are primarily based on who owns the respective company rather than on quality or value for money, I start to wonder. And does the optician really need a huge sign outside his shop stating "100%!K(MISSING)iwi-owned"? Who cares if the optician is a New Zealander or from Malaysia, Chile or Spain, as long as he is trained and professional? Foreign opticians pay just as much tax, so there isn't even a monetary explanation here. Is this still a matter of healthy patriotism or is it bordering on a slight foreigner-phobia?
Next stop: Abel Tasman Great Walk (South Island, New Zealand).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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