Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Kia ora and welcome to 1950s Britain

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Rolling hills over the Hawke's Bay region. Photo / Glenn Taylor
Rolling hills over the Hawke's Bay region. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Congrats New Zealand, we've done it again. Aotearoa has been voted the favourite country in the world to visit for readers of Britain's Daily Telegraph.

But there's a sour note, for me. Yes, the Man From The Telegraph heaped richly deserved praise on our choice little nation. "Is it any wonder that you keep selecting New Zealand - otherwise known as Godzone - as the country you most like to visit on the planet?" he asked his readers before going on to salute our "place of outstanding beauty and open spaces".

His praise continued.

"Rolling green hills": check. "Rugged mountainscapes": check. "Dramatic Milford Sound": check.

But here's the bit that bugs me. "To a British traveller," writes the MFTT, "it is both strikingly familiar and redolent of another, more innocent era (where it is permanently 1955)."

Ah, the old "Britain-in-the-50s" analogy. I encountered this often while living in the UK. "Oh, you're from New Zealand? I've heard it's lovely, just like Britain in the 1950s."

I wouldn't know, mate. I wasn't born until 1973 and didn't get to Britain until 2001. And sitting in Auckland in 2012, 1950s Britain looks a bit dull - the Beatles hadn't even been formed let alone discovered acid.

The 50s analogy was generally made by someone who was never likely to come to New Zealand and was too young to actually remember Britain in the 50s. Most of the time it sounded like code for "not many immigrants".

I guess today's New Zealand could be a bit like Britain in the 1950s - after all, both societies share the same German-descended monarch. Then there's the, er, great cafes, bilingual national anthems, top-flight vineyards, superb beaches and the populations that are about one quarter Polynesian. Jolly good, bro.

The survey, which involved 17,000 Telegraph readers, presumably took place before the latest 100 per cent Pure campaign whoopsie.

Claiming top spot marks a return to form for New Zealand, after only managing a runners-up place last year. We were No 1 in four out of the five years between 2004 and 2008.

Cynicism aside, this is another reminder of how lucky we are to have such a great place. Get out and see it.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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