What it feels like living in New Zealand right now (during COVID-19)

Living in New Zealand during COVID-19

New Zealand is the place to be right now.

Our lives are back to normal after the COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the year.

Pubs and restaurants are open without restrictions. Concerts and rugby games are going down with large crowds – something the rest of the world can only dream of.

The only restriction we have is that the borders remain closed to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen or resident.

And, same as anywhere else, a lot of people have lost their jobs here too. Businesses – especially in the tourism sector – are struggling.

Update: Since I published this article there has been another outbreak of COVID-19 in the wider Auckland area. Auckland is in lockdown again, which means restaurants, pubs and other public places are operating under restrictions. A lot of bigger events (e.g. the NZ rugby finale) have been called off. The rest of the country is not as restricted and life is quite “normal” for us here in Christchurch.


If I would ever use the hashtag #blessed in a non-ironic context, it would be this one for sure.

Living in New Zealand right now is a privilege that I know a lot of people dream of.

Not only is this country free of COVID-19 community transmission, it is also BEAUTIFUL – as we all know.

With overseas trips being off the table for a while, there is more time for exploring my backyard.

More time for road trips around the South Island – my favourite thing to do!

Not the best time to be an expat

While feeling incredibly lucky to live in New Zealand right now, I also feel quite anxious about not knowing when I can see my friends and family in Europe next.

It’s quite naive, really.

For years, I thought it’s easy to live life across two countries. It was always a given that, if I really needed to, I could fly to Germany within a day or two.

Now, this certainty is gone.

The global connection that expats/travellers/nomads have been banking on, has collapsed.

I don’t have a resident visa yet, so if I left New Zealand right now, I couldn’t come back – at least not for a while.

This makes me feel stuck – a little trapped.

Even when the borders are going to open again, I’m not sure how quickly I’m going to have the courage to undertake the endless journey from Christchurch to Munich.

You might call it a classic first-world problem, but it’s not that easy to be an expat right now. Especially if you have people you love across countries or continents.

What the pandemic has taught me

1. Nature still has the last word.

We have this wonderful notion that we own this world – that we can do anything we set our minds to.

I’m not sure if this is reality or just a pretty picture we paint ourselves.

In the end, it still comes down to the earth – nature – tolerating us.

The most solid life plan can be broken up by little creatures occupying our bodies.

2. New Zealand is a long way from everywhere.

I always knew I couldn’t really have picked a home of choice further away from my original home.

But, lately, this fact has sunken in deeper than ever before.

3. Be happy where you are.

This whole situation has taught me even more that we have to try being happy where we are (“where we are” in the geographical and stage-of-life sense).

We have been chasing the next adventurous holiday, the next step in our careers – our lives – for years.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to slow down.

Let’s take this pandemic as a lesson to be happier where we are – instead of tying our happiness to the next big holiday or pay rise.

Thanks for reading my – hopefully not too muddled – thoughts.

What have been your experiences so far in this whole messy situation? Leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram (@leahlovesculture).

Also, for some more impressions of New Zealand life, you can read my article “10 truths about living in New Zealand“.

4 responses to “What it feels like living in New Zealand right now (during COVID-19)”

  1. I completely agree that this whole period has taught us all to slow down. I don’t miss having to book out my weekends with events and being “busy”. I’ve gone on more walks during this period than I ever had. Good to hear that it’s almost life as normal over in NZ- we are still having cases here in Aus. Hopefully you will get to see your family and friends sooner rather than later.


    1. Thank you so much! I’ve done heaps of walking and reading too! 🙂 I hope Australia will see less cases soon. All the best for you!


  2. […] in New Zealand during this time feels very special (check out my blog post about living in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic to find out why). There is an opportunity to explore it without anyone around and to support local […]


  3. […] we have been able to live a fairly “normal life” since mid-2020. I wrote a piece about what it feels like living in New Zealand right now where I describe the situation in more […]


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