Australia vs New Zealand: which country is better?

USUALLY anything titled “Australia vs New Zealand” involves sporting teams and a very hotly contested competition. But Aussie comedians Hamish Blake and Andy Lee decided to settle the long running dispute about which nation is greater by hitting the road in caravans and testing them in their thrills department. The result was a recent series entitled: Caravan of Courage: Australia vs. New Zealand.

While their antics–growing a beer beard in Kuranda, playing nude rugby in Dunedin, outrunning bulls at a rodeo in Cooktown, a hovercraft ride over the Marlborough Sounds that goes awry, inseminating a long-horned cow in Queensland and eating ice cream while bungy jumping on New Zealand’s south island–aren’t probably what most tourists come to do in these countries, it does highlight the age old question; what country is better? and does it really matter anyway?

In an effort to examine the question ourselves, perhaps not as scientifically as Blake and Lee, let’s take a look at some of what both countries have to offer.

Ultimate landscapes
Australia‘s red centre is quite possibly one of the most amazing landscapes in the world. There’s Uluru of course, the incredible rock monolith, but there’s also a liberal sprinkling of canyons, gorges, waterholes all painted in the most incredible ochre coloured rock and dusted in Aboriginal dreaming mythology. You can 4WD out here, camp, walk and explore.
New Zealand was rightly chosen to host Tolkein’s Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s recent film trilogy and the subsequent film The Hobbit. There is no doubt it was the ideal place with soaring mountains, glistening lakes, ancient glaciers and ethereal forests to choose from. It has also made for some excellent movie location sightseeing with many tourists coming to see the beautiful natural backdrop of the films.
Score: tied

Uluru in Australia's red centre. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Thrills and spills
New Zealand‘s Queenstown is definitely one of the adventure capitals of the world. Here you can bungy jump (with or without icecream), take a jet boat ride, scream your lungs out on the zip line, or take in the fresh powder in winter. It’s really the perfect place to visit at any time of year for your quota of thrills.
Australia doesn’t really have an adventure capital per se because the whole place is a bit of an adventure. Take a road trip like the comedy duo and you too will come face to face with mosquitoes, crocodiles, bad roads, hot weather, crazy rodeos, dusty camel races and more. Even in the cities there are thrills to be had amongst the drag queens in Kings Cross, pig hunters in Darwin and any AFL or rugby field around the country come the weekend.
Score: tied

Hikers on the Kepler Track, New Zealand. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Friendly people
It’s impossible to get in and out of a pub or roadhouse in rural Australia in under an hour. Or at least that’s my experience, even when you’ve just gone into pay for the fuel or get a cold drink. People are friendly, open and chatty.
As New Zealand is really just one big country town you get the same friendly welcome everywhere, and they’re pretty good towards Australians as well. I’ve even been told “we don’t see Aussies as foreigners”. Love the Kiwis.
Score: tied

So at the end of the debate, I’m afraid I have to concur with Blake and Lee: there is no real winner, except of course there still is! But of course we’re all Australians. Here’s what they said at the end of the series:

We conclude the comparing in episode 2 of Caravan of Courage Australia Vs New Zealand and see both countries score Very High, it’s a dead heat! In which case the Rule Book states the winner is awarded to whichever country comes first alphabetically. Congratulations Australia!