You've gotten the itch to place your feet on new land, you know that much. But where to go? Take our fun, short, seven-question quiz to find out where you should head off to on your next international locum tenens assignment.
Locums for a Small World Blog
You've gotten the itch to place your feet on new land, you know that much. But where to go? Take our fun, short, seven-question quiz to find out where you should head off to on your next international locum tenens assignment.
What inspires you most in this life? Ask that question to any number of people across many professions and you’ll probably get a different answer each time. Pose that same inquiry to a room full of doctors and we imagine that some aspect of their answers will include the words “helping others.”
Go ahead. Take a minute to answer that question for yourself. In fact, to go about it a slightly different way: what inspired you to become a doctor? Don’t limit it to just one reason, either. To gain medical knowledge and a comprehensive, problem-solving skillset all in an effort to heal others and be of service to society is a noble – albeit arduous – pursuit. But that’s only one component of your answer, right?
We know your desires go deeper because all of our reasons for choosing our unique career paths in life go deeper. Perhaps for you it is the altruism, or your insatiable interest in science and medicine, or that it’s a well-respected field, or you come from a family of doctors, or that it’s a stable career path with great earning potential. Heck, it could very well be all of the above or an entirely different answer altogether.
But at the end of a demanding day in an industry where burnout rates are on the rise and patient care never stops sometimes you have to remind yourself of your reasons in order to stay afloat. Other days you need a little more motivation outside of mentally cataloguing why you started in the first place.
A change in scenery is just what, well, you ordered. And we mean that as conceptual as possible. Something as seemingly small as going for a daily walk or something much bigger like taking that huge vacation you’ve been wanting to for years. Or something even more crucial like changing career paths, finally trying out locum tenens for want of the perks you’re afforded. All three of those “changes in scenery” can be accomplished all at once. In other words you could go for a daily walk in an idyllic island country by taking an international locum tenens assignment.
In an effort to see whether or not you’re at a point in your life where taking a medical job overseas makes sense we’ve come up with these three foolproof questions that will help clear your mind. They’re not scientific by any means; they’re simply honest questions that we’ve compiled from all our years of sending doctors abroad.
First and foremost, do you feel burnt out? (Y/N)
We suspect that you’ve heard at least some form of burnout talk – whether colloquially or as a real condition at some point in you’re medical career. Maybe you’ve already experienced some symptoms yourself. Keep in mind that it’s not a phenomenon that solely affects the medical field, either. Many professionals have been impacted by burnout.
Christina Maslach, a Stanford social psychologist, developed a cohesive assessment tool many years ago concerning professional burnout. It’s called Maslach Burnout Inventory and it addresses three general scales:
- Emotional exhaustion: Measures feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work;
- Depersonalization: Measures an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment, or instruction;
- Personal accomplishment: Measures feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work.
If you feel emotionally overextended, dispassionate about your work, or have a low sense of personal accomplishment then you may be feeling symptoms of burnout. These are real issues that should be taken seriously. And there are solutions out there outside of an international locum tenens assignment: take time to seek out professional help (yes even doctors need someone to talk to), get restful sleep, exercise frequently, etc. (You can find out more about solutions here.) If you’ve tried everything you can think of then maybe a change of scenery is what you need next.
Have you recently gained more free time in your personal life? (Y/N)
There’s no doubt about it; the road to becoming a physician is physically, emotionally and financially demanding to say the least. And that’s not counting the balancing act you have to perform with your personal life along the way.
But let’s say life is slowing down a bit. Maybe you’re still living the bachelor life right out of residency and you want to experience an adventure in New Zealand before you take on a full-time pursuit in the States. Or maybe you’re nearing retirement and considering a sabbatical of sorts in Australia. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re mid-career and your kids want a new experience, too. (The public school systems down under are top-notch and they do accept foreign students often.)
Do you want more freedom in your schedule and control over your work life? (Y/N)
Who is really going to say no to that? Locum tenens gives physicians of all specialties the ability to go where they're needed. And there are a lot of needs around the world. There are limitations at times (e.g., if a position closes or if a need doesn't currently exist in a specific location) but for the most part you get control over where you want to practice and when. On top of that you get more freedom to treat patients. That means you spend less time handling paperwork and processes typically associated with a non-locum-tenens pursuit.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then a medical adventure overseas may be just the journey for you. But if you're still feeling indecisive then we’d like to throw these last two queries your way:
Do you want to see how doctors in different countries deliver care, in other words, would you like to diversify your medical knowledge? (Y/N)
Do you enjoy travel and experiencing other cultures? (Y/N)
It’s possible that all of this has left you with even more ambivalence. Never fear. Our physician placement specialists are here to help. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Or if you're ready to start looking now then click the orange button below to see what opportunities are available.
Planning a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand takes time. But it’s worth it. Consider the scenery alone, c'mon! But that's not the only great thing about practicing medicine in the Land of the Long White Cloud, no. Practicing in this island country affords you a world of experience. You'll be able to see how doctors here deliver care, how their unique culture has shaped their healthcare system and best of all you'll be able to focus purely on patient care with little to no paperwork or administrative duties involved.
Fortunately, too, your physician placement specialist will carry most of the weight throughout your placement process – with the end result being the best match possible between you and the medical facility in need. In other words they'll help you every step of the way in obtaining the New Zealand assignment you desire.
Now there is some effort on both parties involved to gather all the necessary licensing and registration but if you've got the drive and the credentials then there's nothing stopping you from setting foot on this magical island. Keep in mind the whole process will take about three months once a job has been offered. But as long as you are U.S. board certified, or the equivalent in a comparable country and hold an active license, you are eligible for temporary registration.
Don't just listen to us go on about all the fine details. Hear from some doctors – with a variety of backgrounds – who have worked in New Zealand already. Their stories, rich in detail, will hopefully enlighten you. You'll discover not only what it's like to live in a stunning country but also what it's like to be on locum tenens assignment here. What's it like practicing medicine in New Zealand, you ask? Our doctors will tell you.
Mark Dell’Aglio, MD
On acclimating to the Kiwi way of life:
When you're in another country you take notice of the uniqueness that surrounds you—the noises, the sights, the smells are all brand new. For Mark Dell'Aglio, M.D. and his wife Trinj, a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand meant an opportunity to turn the unfamiliar into an adventure. “It's interesting to watch us learning outside of ourselves...learning the Kiwi way of life,” says Dr. Dell'Aglio. When you visit a foreign country – even if they share your native language – you find yourself learning colloquialisms, customs, and cultural caveats that aren't familiar. Everything from setting up a new home to making new friends is an entirely different experience in a foreign country. But it’s a welcome experience.
On practicing medicine in New Zealand:
“There's very little hierarchy here,” says Dr. Dell’Aglio. “First names are used among everybody, from the students to the doctors. You get to focus on pressing issues without dealing with all the games insurance companies sometimes make doctors play. Quite simply New Zealand medicine is different from the States; the Kiwis are more relaxed – much more patient. They are a 'live-and-let-live' type of people. It's tremendously refreshing...impatience seems to be indoctrinated in [Americans] at a young age...That's not as strong here. Here, there is no whirlwind, more like a soft, gentle breeze.”
Benjamin Ross, MD
On adapting to the New Zealand healthcare system:
"At first glance their system seems different...but ultimately, the outcomes are similar at about 1/3 the cost of the U.S. system," says Dr. Ross. And the Kiwi way of doing things in the hospital wasn't hard for Dr. Ross, either – he immediately felt a sense of camaraderie with the other General Practitioners; in fact, he says he developed great relationships with all the staff.
On freedom and travel in New Zealand after residency in the U.S.:
Dr. Ross’s work schedule gave him the freedom to travel, tramp and traverse all across New Zealand. “It's hard not to be comfortable working a schedule with no nights or weekends so soon after residency,” says Dr. Ross, “We had plenty of time to explore the North Island and quite a bit of the South Island, too.”
On days off Dr. Ross – and his wife, Stephanie – took to the road, everywhere from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the tip of the South Island and everywhere between. The road trips, Dr. Ross explains, were alive with “rolling green hills, winding roads and stretches of shape shifting shores.” On a drive to Wellington – for a Rugby World Cup match between the U.S. and Australia – they stopped overnight in Taupo, a town in the center of the North Island, and awoke the next morning to the crystal-clear waters of the town’s eponymous lake “it was so clear I could hardly believe it!” Stephanie recalls.
Jen Corliss, MD
On learning the local slang:
The lay of the land was easy on the eyes but the Kiwi slang was hard on the American tongue. “I had trouble understanding some New Zealand phrases when I started,” Dr. Corliss recounts, “so I'd find a nurse to translate and by the end, I even caught myself using some of the slang.” Soon enough, she was ‘sweet-as’, popping ‘round cafes for a cuppa.’
On her daily routine in New Zealand:
“My daily routine had me waking up to the bright New Zealand sun every day. I rode my bike to work past the goldmine through brilliant green fields and was greeted at work by my friendly coworkers. I saw patients during my four-day-a-week schedule and was impressed by the gratitude they showed for the care they received. I always finished by 5pm, so I had time to run to the beach or play a game of netball with friends.”
Well, that’s about it. Any additional questions you may have can be answered in this white paper appropriately called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Taking a Locum Tenens Assignment in New Zealand.” And if you've still got questions after reading that then go ahead and finish reading these doctors’ stories.
Still have questions after that? You know what to do: fill out this quick information request form and we’ll be in touch. Practicing medicine in New Zealand isn't just a faraway dream; it's a reality that can happen for you. Feel free to view our current international locum tenens opportunities with the click of a button below.
We know. Technically only one place on this list is in the midst of winter. The rest are in the heart of their Southern Hemispherean summer right now. But if you're in the Northern Hemisphere it's still winter travel to us. No matter. You can visit these stunning sights in any season and still snag an epic photo. The point is to be immersed in travel, to broaden your medical skills and to bring your camera along for the adventure. Find out what international locum tenens opportunities are available now with the click of an orange button below.
Two weeks ago we outlined the finest places around the U.S. for locum tenens doctors to not only visit but places where they can hone their photography skills, too. This week we’re introducing the international edition of our winter bucket list.
Much like the U.S. edition you’ll see places that range from cityscape to countryside. In our list you’ll read about horizons where gleaming granite peaks and cascading waterfalls are far from lacking; where burning giants dominate the night sky over leagues of tussock hills; where neon lights heat up the nightlife all while existing underneath an abundance of coastal mountains; and lastly, where a city is surrounded by a fiery red desert with unforgettable sights and adventures in every direction. Yeah, you’re going to want to bring your camera.
Fiordland National Park – South Island, New Zealand
At this point it’s a given that New Zealand has immaculate countryside. And Fiordland National Park – which includes Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds – is about as gorgeous as it gets.
Gargantuan glaciers carved this land. There’s a personality here, an energy that is palpable in the coastal mountain air. Air so simultaneously crisp and humid you’ll wonder if you’re in the Rockies or on some beach in Hawaii. Still, you’re going to want to bring a jacket because it can get a tad chilly. Maybe pack some protective/waterproof gear for your camera while you’re at it. Waterfall spray can get a little intense if you’re taking the cruise ship route. Tours can last anywhere from a couple hours to a whole day.
If you really want some epic captures of this diverse landscape then take the Milford Track (this one's by foot). It’s touted as one of New Zealand’s most famous hikes. Have a few days or more to spare? Complete the 33-mile, four-day trip. That way you can really capture awe-inspiring scenery like Sutherland Falls. Learn more about how to book a walk with a tour guide or how to venture out on your own.
Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – South Island, New Zealand
To be able to capture a dynamic picture of a waterfall amidst mountain peaks takes a certain artistry for sure. It’s an entirely different kind of finesse to be able to capture the night sky in all its glory. If you’re new to astrophotography here’s a crash course that’s worth reading. But we suspect with some basic know-how you’ll be able to shoot the clear skies in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Reserve, no problem.
A good approach is to create an engaging composition in your long exposure, a bit of tussock land and a large amount of night sky for example. Just do an image search on Google and you’ll see the possibilities that exist here. Aside from simply freeing the skies of all pollution the reserve is also dedicated to protecting the flora and fauna in the area. Take the Big Sky Stargazing tour of Mount John Observatory for an in-depth look of their mission as well as an enlightening examination of the night sky.
Granville Street – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
There’s a street in Vancouver where neon lights used to shine in plenitude far and wide. It’s called Granville Street; you can’t miss it. Though over the past couple decades the flashing signs have been reduced. There is a new interest as of late to bring back what was once thought to be the luminous soul of the city. (Pack your street lens – 50mm or less – for this stretch of town).
This resurgence exists in preserving neon lights even if the business is long gone. If you want to see some of the signs that have fallen prey to neon bans over the years you can find those at the Vancouver Museum. They hold a collection of vintage neons there like the Smiling Buddha Cabaret sign.
What makes this radiant portion of Vancouver truly incredible and unique is that the North Shore Mountains tower not far off. It’s not all glitz and glamour like some neon cities. When we think neon we think Las Vegas where casinos stand among desert scenery or we picture massive cities such as Tokyo where there’s no shortage of skyscrapers. Granville Street is home to a glowing nightlife, sure, but Vancouver is still a mountain city at heart.
Alice Springs – Northern Territory, Australia
Last but not least is Alice Springs: the gateway to Australia’s outback, its Red Centre. Not the only gateway of course but definitely one of the most visited. That’s because Uluru is nearby: a sacred sandstone formation protected by the Anangu (an Aboriginal people).
Visit even more striking sights, too, like Kings Canyon, Simpson Desert and the Devils Marbles. The last one is a can’t miss. To the Warmangu Aboriginal people these large granite boulders are sacred. When you see them in person you’ll understand why.
Do you really want to make your trip to Alice Springs a success? Book a tour by camelback to watch the sun rise and/or set where Uluru serves as the backdrop. Quite spectacular. Yeah, you can probably guess by now that Alice Springs is a remarkable place to capture very distinct landscapes. You can even stay within the city limits and discover Aboriginal art galleries or learn more about the eclectic history of the town itself.
Topics: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Territory, Milford Sound, photographer, dark sky reserve, devils marbles, granville street, vancouver, aoraki, winter, bucket list, photography, alice springs, fiordland national park, star photography
New Zealand is a country unlike any other. Once you step foot here you won’t believe the wonders that exist in both city and countryside. Sounds an awful lot like an overpromise, doesn’t it? We assure you that it’s not. Everyone who visits say they love it for its friendliness, its community, its nature, its landscape, everything.
Okay, maybe not everyone. We shouldn’t speak in absolutes. There have probably been a few people over the years who have visited the Land of the Long White Cloud and weren’t that impressed. We’d venture to guess it’s because they’re not fans of waterfall-and-peak-filled fjords, lakes roughly the size of Singapore, coastline complete with geothermal pools, tussock farmland with big skies, glaciers, volcanoes, rainforests and geysers. You know, the kind of countryside you’d do anything for as a kid, just to play and frolic and lose yourself in fresh air.
That’s exactly our point. New Zealand is an ideal family-friendly destination. In fact it ranks 1st on the Legatum Prosperity Index: an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute, which essentially measures how prosperous a nation is through factors like economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital and natural environment. You can discover more about their methodology as well as their findings concerning New Zealand right here.
The real important takeaway is that this island-country is rich not only in landscape but also in just about everything else. You should feel compelled to explore its greatness with your whole family. If you find yourself in New Zealand on locum tenens assignment already, here are some unforgettable experiences you’ll want to consider.
Experiencing Franz Josef Glacier – South Island
Clothed by the Southern Alps, Franz Josef Glacier is a marvel. Cacophonous colors shade the horizon. Light blues you’ve never met before rush toward you. Dark greens you won’t recognize slip into your field of vision. Nonetheless, the sight is welcoming.
Start in town, Franz Josef, where you can frequent quaint cafes and shops while the Southern Alps tower over you. This is where you’ll want to book your adventures, too. You can choose anything from a guided walk to a scenic flight. If you’d like to overnight it, there are a variety of hotels, motels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, plus holiday parks. And believe it or not, a lot of the places where you can stay are enshrouded by rainforest.
Stargazing at Lake Tekapo – South Island
The southern lights in all its vibrant beauty can be seen from Lake Tekapo’s shores. Wait a minute, the southern lights? Yes, the northern lights has a sibling existing at the exact other side of the world, the Southern Hemisphere. And if you head to Lake Tekapo during winter you’ll experience an amazing show. Unfortunately this happens during July and August for New Zealand (that's when their winter occurs) so you'll have to wait a bit to see the southern lights.
No worries. You can still catch some killer stargazing with your family. Head to Mount John Observatory on an Earth & Sky tour where you can witness some of the darkest skies in the world, perfect for viewing the Milky Way.
Taking a cruise in Milford Sound – South Island
Milford Sound is without a doubt one of the hallmark stops on any South Island tour. Famous novelist Rudyard Kipling (author of The Jungle Book) once called this glacier-carved fjord “the eighth wonder of the world.” High praise, but suitably so.
Waterfalls pour out of forested, tall-reaching peaks. Hiking trails abound so you’re more than apt to find an agreeable view of Milford’s magnificence. And there’s ample accommodation so if you plan to stay for a few days, you're solid (though, do book in advance because places tend to fill up).
Truthfully, boat cruises are the way to go. You’ll encounter much more of the unimaginable this way. There will be coves filled with marine life and even waterfalls that you can experience up close. Plus some boats are even equipped with underwater viewing observatories so you can witness all the life blooming beneath the surface.
Going the museum route in Wellington – North Island
So far we’ve mentioned only experiences showcasing the raw beauty of New Zealand. We’d like to take a moment to highlight the culture and arts that’s abundant in this country, too.
There’s no better place to enlighten you and your family than in Wellington. This cultural hotspot has a lot going for it. Like Te Papa Tongarewa, a national museum where the continued focus is preserving the history, language and lore of New Zealand’s people through exhibitions and education. Six stories of rich artwork, both past and present fill these walls. Another huge plus? Aside from being architecturally stunning this museum sits right on the waterfront so you’re bound to experience some spectacular views.
Not quite as large but equally as important is the Museum of Wellington City and Sea that’s housed in a heritage building on, you guessed it, another immaculate waterfront. Take in the views outside then head inside for a taste of Wellington’s cultural history. This museum is dedicated fully to Wellington complete with interactive exhibitions. Check out the exhibit, A Millennium Ago, that highlights Maori legends using holographic effects.
Well, that’s it. While there’s a ton of other family-friendly experiences in New Zealand, they’d be too numerous to list in one blog. Discover what locum tenens opportunities are available in the Land of the Long White Cloud with the click of an orange button below then start planning your scenic—and educational—family-friendly adventures right away. (Oh, and if you'd like to learn more about Maori culture before you embark, then click here).
Topics: Wellington, Franz Josef, New Zealand, Milford Sound, Land of the Long White Cloud, Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Legatum Prosperity Index, Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Tekapo, Mount John Observatory, Te Papa Tongarewa, family-friendly experiences in New Zealand
August tends to be steeped in nostalgia. Maybe it’s the way the sun shines. Maybe it’s summer’s end itself. Or maybe it’s just mostly a time for recollection. Heavy, wonderful memories begin to move in. Life is more closely examined. We’ve lost the speed of summer.
Not so in New Zealand, they are in the Southern Hemisphere after all. They’re gaining excitement and sunlight as spring rapidly approaches. It’s not too hot, not too cold (in most places anyway). In fact, it’s just the right time of year for most activities.
Have you ever wanted to take a locum tenens assignment in New Zealand? We’d say now’s the best time to finally consider taking the plunge. Spring is marvelous in the Land of the Long White Cloud. And here are some of the most marvelous sights and experiences.
1) Okarito Lagoon
Even if you grew up in the shadow of a mighty mountain range, next to a sparkling, raging river, you’ve never experienced anything quite like Okarito Lagoon. Some would paint this region with the very same words. Granted, you’ve got the Southern Alps towering furiously as they do not far off. And the Okarito river delta itself sparkles and rages. Still this place has an energy all its own.
Located not far from Franz Josef Glacier (about 20 minutes away), you can book a kayak tour and gain unheard-of views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps from New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland. If you’re a birder, you’ll be in heaven. Over 70 species of birds call Okarito home.
We know what you’re thinking: How do you pronounce Whanganui and what does it mean? Here’s how you pronounce it. And it means 'big harbor' in Maori. Now let’s dive into what makes this city so great.
Just a couple hours’ drive from Wellington, this town holds a lot of adventure – both in its city life and its outdoors life. You can stay in the city center and explore all kinds of neat places like the Whanganui Opera House or the Sarjeant Art Gallery or even the country’s only Glass School.
We recommend going to the outskirts and dipping your toes into some real outdoor adventure. If you’re a mountain biker, take the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. If you’re a kayaker, take the Whanganui River Journey. (You can go by canoe, too.)
3) Golden Bay
Now we’d like to start off introducing Golden Bay by saying it’s for nature lovers but we could honestly say that about any town, sight or experience we have listed here. In fact, we could say that about most places in New Zealand.
If you’re in Nelson, take the roads to get to Golden Bay. You’ll drive over Takaka Hill (AKA ‘marble mountain’ because it’s made of marble). On the way, don’t miss out on cooling off in Ngarua Caves. You can witness a skeletal display of the extinct moa here. Stop off in Te Waikoropupu Springs, too. This gushing water is sacred to the Maori. It’s also known for having the clearest spring water in the world.
Once the views open up of Golden Bay you’ll be truly astounded. It’s a massive sandy bay with huge rocks jutting up out of the sea here and there. Bit of advice while you’re here: try the scallops.
For all you fishing enthusiasts, hit up Wildcat Charters in town. They’ll take you in and around Golden Bay for a unique fishing experience. They’ll supply you with bait, fishing gear, tea, coffee and a light snack, too. Some fish you might be able to catch: snapper, blue cod, gurnard, kahawai, perch and tarakihi.
The Hamilton-Waikato region is about a two hours’ drive south from Auckland. Trust us, take the drive. You’ll want to come visit rolling-green-hill places like Matamata where the Hobbiton Movie Set can be found, or black-sand beaches with endless crashing waves and panoramic views like Raglan (notoriously known to surfers the world over).
We’ve talked about the Waitomo Caves in the past. But we’ll say it again: Go visit. Glowworms have taken over the cave’s ceiling and light it up so brilliantly that you'll be hypnotized.
After a morning at Waitomo, spend an afternoon at Kawhia’s hot water beach. Bring a shovel so you can dig your very own hot springs bath while the rest of your family plays on the beach.
If you’re looking for the best whale watching in the country then you’re going to want to travel to Kaikoura. You can whale watch from the rails of a catamaran or kayak next to seals off the coast.
Be sure to book a tour with Whale Watch. It’s unforgettable. You’ll board one of their catamarans and instantly be taken into a world unseen by most. Marine encounters definitely vary but some of the year-round residents include sperm whales, fur seals and dusky dolphins. Depending on the time of year, too, you may come across humpbacks, pilot whales, blue whales, or southern right whales.
6) Milford Road
New Zealand has some of the most spectacular scenery in the entire world, no doubt about it. And Fiordland National Park is no exception. You can hike and bike in the park or you can charter a cruise on the magnificent waters. This time around we say go by road. Magical, misty mountains will be your guide.
From Te Anau to Milford Sound you’ll be awestruck. Bring your camera. We repeat bring your camera. Even if you’re not a photographer by hobby or heart, no worries, you’ll still be drawn to take pictures. Especially at places like the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain "where an optical illusion causes the approaching mountain to get smaller rather than larger." Just before Milford, pull off to the side of the road and take a 20-minute walk to The Chasm. You’ll come across a forested wonderland complete with a small but powerful waterfall.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving this road then you can always take a bus. That way you can sit back and enjoy all the mesmerizing views without a care.
Are you itching to get to New Zealand after reading about all the wild locum tenens experiences you can have here? We don’t blame you. Find out about all the jobs we currently have for physicians in the Land of the Long White Cloud by clicking the orange button below.
In this hyper-connected world it’s easy for us to get too busy, to get too caught up in the everyday, to get too lost in the glow of our phones. Some days we might even forget to look up from our screens more than a few times. We miss out on quite a bit of beauty that way – like the kind that rolls on effortlessly in New Zealand.
Now, we’ve waxed poetic for years about the glorious landscape that’s housed here. And that’s for good reason: it’s home to a plethora of natural wonders. In fact, we plan to keep talking about every last beach, hot spring and fjord here for years to come. But this time is different. This time we’re going to give you a tiny glimpse into how the Māori – a proud people with a fascinating culture – shaped this island-country. Welcome to “the land of the long white cloud," or Aotearoa, as the Māori would call it.
A brief history of Māori settlement
Tangata whenua – that means “the people of the land.” You can probably guess Māori are the tangata whenua (‘wh’ pronounced as ‘f’). The first Polynesian ancestors of Māori stepped on New Zealand shores about 1,000 years ago. Though, it wasn’t until about 700 years ago that settlements were developed. (The exact dates of these settlements are still contested among scholars and historians.)
Māori used the ocean currents, as well as the wind and stars to reach New Zealand. In fact, it was deliberate that Māori found New Zealand. For years they were setting off on voyages of exploration; they were intent on finding land.
Kupe is said to be the first Polynesian explorer who discovered New Zealand. He left his ancestral homeland of Hawaiki and traveled across the Pacific by canoe. (Hawaiki is not to be confused with Hawaii but instead is thought to be a group of islands in the South Pacific where Māori originated.) Eventually he landed at the Hokianga Harbour in Northland – at least that’s where historians believe Māori first made landfall.
For years Māori gathered and grew their own food. Kumara, which is a sweet potato, was a vital food source and provided sustenance for large settlements of Māori. They hunted, too – seals and moa were their main prey. Then the moa died out because of over-hunting.
Due to the abundance that New Zealand offered, Māori thrived. Populations grew and grew, and so did iwi (tribes). In times of peace, Māori would live in unprotected settlements. When there was tribal warfare, Māori would construct individual pā (fortified villages) to protect themselves from rival iwi.
Then the Europeans came. In 1642, Abel Tasman – a Dutch explorer – was the first to set his eyes on what would be called New Zealand. And it wasn’t until 1769 that the next European, James Cook, stepped foot on these golden shores. In the early 1800s was when Europeans really started shaping the communities, culture and infrastructure that already existed on the islands.
In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was created by the British and signed by Māori chiefs. Essentially, in doing so, Māori ceded power to the British Crown. And European settlement truly began.
Later, in the first half of the 20th century, prominent Māori leaders strived to ensure a better life for their people. Newfound interest in language, arts and culture grew among the younger generations. It was a major revival. Today, Māori comprise about 15% of the total population in New Zealand. Their culture, language and traditions – thanks to the efforts of many – are all still very much alive.
Customs and traditions of the proud Māori
There’s so much to see and do. You’ve got your hāngi, your haka, your pōwhiri, your marae, your pounamu, how do you know where to begin? The best place to start is a marae (meeting grounds).
You can experience Māori culture in a slew of stunning places all over the both North and South Island – like Rotorua, Auckland, Hokianga, Whanganui National Park, Wellington and Kaikoura to name a few. But we recommend you head to the Bay of Islands for a truly unique experience.
On top of staying at a marae and being greeted with a traditional pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) – an intricate ritual filled with dances and chants (haka) and welcome calls (karanga) – you can also dive further into Māori heritage and take a journey aboard a waka (Māori canoe). Back in 2011, it was featured in National Geographic as one of the world’s top 50 tours of a lifetime. You’ll hear ancient stories from Māori guides as you help paddle the 40-foot war canoe along the Waitangi River.
Don’t leave New Zealand without trying a hāngi meal. Some culinary delights are special because of their exceptional ingredients. But the New Zealand staple hāngi, is exceptional because of its unique preparation. It’s a method of cooking involving an earth-made oven where vegetables and meat spend hours steaming.
A traditional hāngi meal is chicken or fish cooked with seasonal vegetables, or kumara (sweet potatoes, remember?). For thousands of years, Māori have dug pits and lined them with rocks heated in a fire. The food is put into a basket, settled inside the pit on top of the warm rocks, covered with earth and then left to cook. The results are spectacular. We challenge you to find a more traditional New Zealand meal.
More notable places to visit in Aotearoa
Have you ever heard of pounamu? It’s a type of green jade that’s integral to Māori culture. Hokitika and the nearby Arahura River are considered the birthplace of pounamu. While it’s not uncommon to come across small bits of pounamu along Hokitika Beach, your best bet is exploring nearby shops and galleries. You can even visit a master carver and learn about the origins of both New Zealand’s green heart and the art of carving. But be sure to have someone else buy you your own pounamu. It’s bad luck otherwise. Māori believe that pounamu is a gift from the land and so a carved greenstone should be a gift as well.
Explore New Zealand firsthand
There's a lot we missed. But that's where you come in. It's your turn to experience Aotearoa. On top of everything we outlined above, there are entire museums in New Zealand dedicated to not only preserving but also reviving Māori culture. We suggest you check out the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington for starters. You can learn even more about Māori language and lore, as well as fascinating traditions we didn’t have time to talk about – like the art of Māori tattoo, tā moko. Feel free to learn more about tā moko here.
In the meantime, view our current physician opportunities in the Land of the Long White Cloud. You’re sure to have a blast exploring Māori culture while on locum tenens assignment.
We’re all explorers in one way or another. And we all have a great story or two to tell from our travels. We bet there are places you’ve recommended to friends and family and they’ve gone to these same places simply because of the passion present in your travel-borne stories. When you recount your epic tales with such force others can’t help
but journey to the same soil. We'd like you to think of the below as a collection of brilliant travel recommendations from a friend.
Now we know it’s not an exact science when it comes to choosing top destinations. In fact, it’s not even a science; it’s more of a feeling. Over the years, we’ve heard stories recounted by doctors who've returned from locum tenens assignments near and far. We’ve also done a bit of traveling ourselves. It’s about time we turn these quiet observations into a loud manifesto for all to hear.
We've compiled a list of beautiful regions from around the world that deserve notice (based on first- and secondhand experience). And you deserve to see them—if not today, if not tomorrow, then someday. Without further ado, we give you our list of top 5 regions to explore in 2015:
#1 Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada
Should we lead with something that has more bravado, more grandiosity? Believe us, Vancouver Island has just as much verve as any other island—perhaps more. For starters, it has one of the most diverse ecosystems the world over: we’re talking marshes, meadows, rainforests, rivers, bogs and beaches (take a stroll along Mystic Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park at sunset and you’ll set a personal record for the highest number of awe-induced exclamations in a given day). There are a slew of towns and wineries scattered throughout this Pacific Island, ripe for exploring, too.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Head to Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Park for a world-famous soak—it’s worth it. The springs fall down a cliffside into dozens of coastal pools. And the ocean water mixes in to make the perfect temperature. Many tour companies provide day trips to Hot Springs Cove paired with other mini-trips like whale-watching and hiking.
#2 The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia
Welcome to the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. Over 135 million years of rainfall has shaped this explosively fertile land. Life moves at an infinite pace here and you can feel how ancient it is with every step. Some noteworthy facts: “The Daintree Rainforest contains 30% of frog, marsupial and reptile species in Australia, and 65% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species. 20% of bird species in the country can be found in this area. And it all lives in an area that takes up only 0.2% of the landmass of Australia.” This cross-section of land is truly a scientific and natural marvel.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
If you really want to appreciate the Daintree Rainforest (really breathe it all in), take a tour with the some of the original inhabitants, the Kuku Yalanji people. They’ll show you around their home, Mossman Gorge, and you’ll learn how they’ve survived for centuries off the land. Take a Dreamtime Gorge Walk. If you’re lucky you might get to take a dip in the crystal-clear Mossman River.
#3 Marlborough Region on the South Island of New Zealand
There’s nothing so beautiful as the surrealism of the Marlborough Region. You’ll be held captive by its sharp elegance for years. Blenheim is a must if you’re a wine enthusiast. Havelock is a must if you’re a seafood lover (hint: dive at the opportunity to try green-lipped mussels). And D’Urville Island is a must if you’re a lover of all-things outdoors—you’ll see all sorts of birds, plus it’s a great jumping-off point to visit Marlborough Sounds.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Take a day-trip in Queen Charlotte Sound. You can cruise across the almost see-through waters and spot marine life. Then jump ship, tramp the eponymous Track and catch ridgeline views of the Sound. This way you get the best of both land and sea. Choose from a one-hour trip all the way up to full-day cruise.
#4 Yellowstone National Park by way of Wyoming, Idaho or Montana
Home to half the world’s geysers and some of the biggest land mammals (think grizzlies and bison), no national park screams the American West as loud as Yellowstone. It may seem chaotic but trust us, it’s pure harmony. Everything in Yellowstone is broken and rebuilt day and night—it’s a wonderful, kaleidoscopic ecosystem. Its stunning natural grittiness and bold beauty is unparalleled. That’s why it has so many tourists knocking at its door (more than three million each year). It’s a good thing we shaped up and gave this magnificent land national-park status. In fact, Yellowstone was the first national park in the US, it was signed into law clear back in 1872.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
We’ve all heard of Old Faithful. Don’t get us wrong, it’s great and you shouldn’t miss it, but you’ll probably be vying with hundreds of other tourists for a front-row seat—especially at peak times. If you want commanding views of Yellowstone, hike up Mount Washburn (it's a 3.2 mile/5.1 kilometer-hike one way). You’ll see all sorts of wildlife, forest, geysers, meadows and the forever-sprawl of Hayden Valley.
#5 The magnificent three (St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, USVI)
Hmm, what to say, what to say…The year-round 80° F (27° C) weather should be enough to persuade almost anyone to spend a few days on a US Virgin Island. If not that, then maybe the glassy, blue waters and the sun-stained beaches will. What we’re getting at is these islands are the very definition of picture-perfect. St. Thomas offers 32 square miles (82.8 square kilometers) of sailing, snorkeling and sightseeing. St. John is 60% Virgin Islands National Park and 100% ideal Caribbean getaway. And St. Croix is chock-full of culture (Spanish, English, Dutch, French, Danish, and American). Its festival and arts scene is on point, too. Visit Christiansted and Frederiksted for a unique glimpse of Danish-Caribbean history.
How to make it the ultimate trip:
Three words: Magens Bay Beach. It's on St. Thomas. If you’ve been to any US Virgin Island, you’ve most likely heard of this idyllic stretch. It’s lauded as the most photogenic (and swimmable) shore in all the Virgin Islands. There’s more to it than sunbathing and swimming though. Hike the Magens Bay Nature Trail and catch views like you’ve never seen. You’re also welcome to rent a kayak, paddle boat or sail boat and live it up under the Caribbean sun.
In the everlasting words of Kerouac, "There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars." And in our words, no matter what, this new year, be sure you take time to create new experiences. Be sure you take time to tell new stories. Be sure you take time to explore anew.
Happy 2015 travels!
Coast to coast, north to south, island to island, New Zealand has it made. Somehow, perfect boundaries have been set; the most ideal lines have been drawn. Everyone who lives here has an ocean of fascinating country and culture that’s unparalleled. So many people call this brilliant land home yet so many don’t get to explore its vast expanse unflinchingly. Shocking, I know. Still, many more than that have never visited at all. They’ve never stepped foot on this volcanic, beachy, glacial, rainforesty country. It’s time that changes. It’s time for those who haven’t been to make their way. In fact, to do whatever they must to make their way. Unspoiled scenery is waiting. Right along with those “this is the way life should be” epiphanies.
Few words exist to describe New Zealand with due respect. I can only think of one off the top of my head that describes it perfectly. It’s a word that won’t leave your mind while you’re here. Literally—not a peep will leave your lips. Because you’ll be so stricken with awe, so overcome by rolling waves of soft earth, so exhausted mentally from the idyllic explosion happening before your eyes that you won’t be able to garner enough mental capacity to make those choice syllables move from mind to mouth. New Zealand is simply and utterly…surreal. And here’s the most surreal out of all the surreal in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Milford Sound (South Island)
Lauded short-story writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling stepped foot here once or twice. Every time he left, he swore Milford Sound worthy of being “the eighth wonder of the world.” Not much more can be said. Take his word for it.
Rotorua (North Island)
Don’t miss Rotorua. Here, the earth churns and the air’s thick with mist. And all around are green pools, hot springs and mud pools with vast mountains vaulting in the distance. One of our doctors—Catherine Dalton, MD, went and was paralyzed with awe: "The land was strangely beautiful and the people were beautifully strange. Geysers erupted all over, and the Maori danced their traditional dances."
Franz Josef Glacier (South Island)
After a hike, heli-hike, or ice-climb on the famed Franz Josef, take a relaxing dip in the Glacier Hot Pools. They’re located in a lush rainforest not far off. Legend has it these hot waters are fed by the frozen tears of a goddess pining for her lost love. (We didn't say it wasn't gushy, we just said it was a legend.)
Tongariro National Park (North Island)
Three volcanoes call this land home: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (you might recognize this fiery mountain as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings) and Ruapehu (AKA Mordor). Emerald lakes and alpine meadows make this place pretty. Steaming craters and old lava flows make it revered. Tramp the Tongariro Alpine Crossing—they say it’s the best one-day hike you’ll ever take.
Catlins (South Island)
The Catlins—an area on the southeastern coast of the South Island—is home to some rare animals. From the shy Hector's dolphin to the very un-shy Hooker's sea lion; you're sure to see some local fauna. This sweep of land is also home to endless beaches, coastal cliffs, rainforests, coves, waterfalls and sprawling farmland. It’s often sold as “off the beaten track” and it’s true. Lucky for you, many people overlook the beauty of this place.
Hot Water Beach (North Island)
William LeMaire, MD—who’s worked for us in New Zealand—sums it up perfectly: “The best part of Coromandel Peninsula was Hot Water Beach. With a borrowed shovel, we dug a hole in the sand at low tide...the hole then fills up with hot water (from underground geothermal activity) and coupled with the cold ocean water, it becomes a great natural spa to soak in and enjoy a glass of wine as you watch the tide roll in again.” Well, that sounds nothing short of lovely.
Just south of the South Island, Stewart is the third largest island of New Zealand. Its far-south position makes it an ideal spot for seeing the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights). In fact, the island's Maori name—Rakiura—means "the Land of Glowing Skies." People flock here for many reasons. Not just for the above-mentioned breathtaking view. This island, over 85% of which is a national park, gives prime glimpses of rare birds like the kiwi.
Rangitoto (North Island)
You’ll remember the sight of Rangitoto Island—a volcanic cone just off Auckland shores—for years to come. At sunset everything’s falling. Like Rangitoto is pulling down the sun itself. The surrounding sky looks like a wispy porcelain map beautifully stained with dark orange flames. That’s just the view from Auckland. Wait ‘til you get on the island. The view from there is just as magnificent. Plus, there are black lava caves to explore and much hiking to be done. And it’s all in the midst of the world’s largest pohutukawa forest.
Summer is drawing to a close in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter...
That heralds more light for New Zealanders at the other end of the world. Say yes to an invincible, unending summer in the Land of the Long White Cloud with a locum tenens assignment. Learn more about our current opportunities for physicians. Meanwhile, watch this short video that wraps New Zealand up in a shiny, impeccable package.
Kiwi is the term we use fondly for our human friends in New Zealand. The term derives from the native flightless
kiwi bird (the country’s national symbol) and Kiwis take pride in the endearment. They also take pride in their
kiwifruit - with good reason.
A superstar with serious iconic status, kiwifruit is beyond tasty: the high-fiber,
vitamin-and-mineral-rich, enzyme-loaded fruit was deemed the “world’s healthiest fruit” by Rutgers University. It’s one super fruit. And one super money maker.
While China technically grows more kiwifruit than any other country (it was originally called Chinese Gooseberry), they don’t export it. New Zealand, on the other hand, exports more than 80 million trays of the stuff each year – bless their fuzzy brown heads. The national industry is worth over $1 billion annually, and local growers have now developed more than150 varieties.
Meet Hayward Green – the brown and green kiwifruit you're most familiar with; Zespri Gold is the less furry, gold-centered variety you’ll find about town; and behold the hairless, bite-sized Arguta or kiwiberry variety. You’ll even encounter kiwifruit with names like Allison, Gracie or Bruno, but the fuzzy brown Hayward Green we’ve all come to know and love is now as iconic to New Zealand as the All Blacks, sheep and hokey-pokey ice cream.
Linger near any kiwi orchard Down Under and the sugary scent of fruit blossoms may overcome you. Kiwis credit the layers of volcanic ash that lie beneath the ground for the kiwifruit's tremendous growing power here. You’ll find macadamias, pistachios, persimmons, oranges, plums, cherries, olives, avocados, loquats and even ugli fruit growing alongside the kiwifruit, but nothing thrives quite so prolifically as the incredible, edible, nutritious, delicious, and in some cases, drivable kiwi. Now, that’s the stuff, oi!