A look at gay life in New Zealand.

A look at gay life in New Zealand, from the sponsors of

The bungy jump is this trip's most talked-about event.

 

Is she or isn't she? Rumors lesbianism have hounded Prime Minister Helen Clark for years. While she admits that many of her best friends are lesbians, she denies being one herself. Whatever the case, the political climate in New Zealand appears very sympathetic to GLBT causes. Consider Georgina Beyer, the world's first popularly elected openly transgendered member of parliament. When Queen Elizabeth II visited New Zealand in February 2002, Clark sent Beyer as the official greeter. Clark has also shown solidarity with gays by participating in Auckland's yearly Hero Festival and supporting all kinds of gay rights legislation.

In 1993, for example, the New Zealand legislature passed the Human Rights act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS infection. Decriminalization of homosexual acts was achieved in 1986; immigration policy for same-sex partners is now identical as for heterosexuals, and recently (2002), passage of the Property ("Relationships") Bill recognizes gay relationships of three years or more in all property issues.

All this is to say that New Zealand is an extremely gay-friendly little country, and well worth a visit. The scenery is exceptional, with pristine beaches, dolphin-filled seas, verdant native forests, jagged mountain peaks, fast-running rivers with water clean enough to drink, glaciers and numerous beautiful lakes. Many visitors claim that what makes New Zealand most special, however, are the easy-going inhabitants. Kiwis appear to be friendly to a fault, and eager to meet foreign visitors.

For the gay visitor, the main center of NZ gay life is found in Auckland, with its numerous gay venues centered on Ponsonby Road. Auckland also hosts the annual Hero Festival, which generally occurs the week before the more famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, so you can hit both events.

Other smaller gay centers include the capital city of Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Outdoor-loving gays can meet at annual camping events at Vinegar Hill near Palmerston North and Autumn Farm near Nelson -both over the (warm!) New Year. Year-round gay beaches exist around Auckland and Christchurch, thus making it possible to meet queer kiwis both indoors and out. And keep in mind that the whole country is exceptionally gay-friendly; anywhere you travel in New Zealand you'll encounter friendliness, tolerance and the fabled kiwi easy-going approach to life. No worries, mate!

 

A gay holiday adventure in New Zealand.

  • Take a Wild Kiwi vacation. Enjoy a new activity every day, from kayaking to glacier hiking, as you explore the South Island of New Zealand with a small, friendly gay group.
  • Or go to the home page for Alyson Adventures, specializing in gay holidays and vacations.