Lovingly referred to as ‘Godzone’ by the locals, New Zealand lies beyond the edge of the world — yet it is bizarrely European. New Zealand’s twin islands are as far south on the planet as Great Britain is north, with a terrain similarly rugged to that of Scotland. The result is a land with a striking similar climate albeit with but one-fifteenth the population. For nearly a century this combination of similarity and isolation left the Kiwis dangling at the end of the Commonwealth chain.
But that is changing.
As South, Southeast and Northeast Asia continue to modernize and urbanize, most of the booming Asian metropolises are displacing the region’s best farmland. Consequently, most Asian countries have already (grudgingly) given up on being self-sufficient in most foodstuffs.
Enter New Zealand.
Its particular breed of temperate climate is somehow both rainy and sunny, its volcanic soils are among the most fertile on the planet, the long north-south nature of the country allows it to grow a dizzying array of agricultural products, and the shape of its islands have positioned its most remote farmlands a mere two hour truck drive from the coast. Global warming even plays a part: lands that were once too cool are no longer marginal, the sheep stations for which New Zealand was once famous are increasingly giving way to far more profitable dairy farms. New Zealand is hardly big to feed all of Asia, but every product the country is well suited to produce — which covers the gamut from milk and wheat to wine and fruit — now benefits from a bottomless market just over the horizon.
For more on the future of New Zealand, see Chapter 9 of The Accidental Superpower.