BBC correspondent Nick Bryant says he wishes the rest of the world could be more like New Zealand.
New Zealand is "one of the great lifestyle superpowers of the world" according to the BBC's Sydney correspondent Nick Bryant, who wonders in a post on bbc.co.uk why the rest of the world can't be more like little ol' Aotearoa.
Bryant's thoughts, penned following a recent visit to our shores, were prompted by an encounter with "a middle-aged customs official with a sense of humour", the discovery that New Zealand has a 24-hour rugby channel, our "funky" arts scene and the "quaint fastidiousness" which still sees cricket commentators convene on the boundary during the tea break to enjoy - of all things, a pot of tea.
He points out too, that New Zealand can be "edgy and forward", citing the fact we were the first country in the world to give women the vote and the impending launch of the "world's most comprehensive emissions trading scheme to curb greenhouse gases".
"Best of all, perhaps, is how non-indigenous New Zealanders live in such harmony with their indigenous compatriots," writes Bryant, whose piece is among the most-read articles on bbc.co.uk today.
"Next year [New Zealand] hosts the Rugby World Cup," he concludes, "but for now I will leave this country with my usual parting thought: 'Why can't the rest of the world be more like New Zealand?'"
Earlier this year, an index compiled by International Living magazine ranked new Zealand as the fifth-best country in the world to live in.
The index ranks 194 countries, taking into account cost of living, culture and leisure, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety and risk, and climate.
New Zealand's "pristine landscapes", the Auckland waterfront and the Southern Alps were singled out for special mention.
Last year's UN Human Development Report, which calculates the well-being of people in 182 countries by taking into account life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and GDP per capita, ranked New Zealand 20th.
However not all recent coverage of New Zealand in the international media has been positive.
Last November, Guardian columnist Fred Pearce said New Zealand was promoting itself as "clean and green" despite having emissions which were "60% higher than those of Britain, per head of population".
"In recent years a lot of Brits have headed for Christchurch and Wellington in the hope of a green life in a country where they filmed the Lord of the Rings. But it's a green mirage," Pearce wrote.
What they said about New Zealand
"There's a real purity in New Zealand that doesn't exist in the States. It's actually not an easy thing to find in our world any more. It's a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world. There is a sense of isolation and also being protected." - Actor Elijah Wood
"Fiordland, ladies and gentlemen. What a spectacle. Earth Destination Number One... To throw words at such a spectacle would be like throwing meringues at a charging rhinoceros. Fruitless. (Unless it's banana pavlova). - Actor Stephen Fry
"I find that the girls [in New Zealand] are so like, beyond warm and polite. I don't know, do you guys have haters? America's all about haters. I don't feel that here... I always wanted to come to New Zealand, because the terrain is like, insanely gorgeous." - Host of America's Next Top Model Tyra Banks
"Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart." (About Auckland) - Author and poet Rudyard Kipling
- NZ HERALD STAFF