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New Zealand – a melting pot of global cuisines! 

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Packing up and leaving a country you called home, is not easy. But if you’re open to experiencing new cultures and foods, New Zealand should be on your list. Drag queen and TV presenter Betty Bangles tells us why.

Name: Betty Bangles 

City: Auckland, New Zealand 

Born: 29 February 1980

Occupation: hairstylist & drag artist

How long have you been living in Auckland and why did you move there?

I’ve been in Auckland for almost a year now. Since I can remember I had a fascination with other countries and wanted to live abroad. I will always love South Africa, but I was tired of being angry every day with everything going on there and I felt like I needed more out of life, so I decided to take the leap. 

What is it that you love about the New Zealand culture?

Oh my goodness! Do you have enough space in this magazine? First, everyone follows the rules here and call you out if you don’t. New Zealanders are also extremely friendly and helpful. I’m still confused when cars stop for pedestrians to cross the road regardless of whether there’s a pedestrian crossing or not. But the thing I love most is how safe it is. It took me a while to get used to the fact that you don’t have to look over your shoulder when going for a walk. 

What was your biggest adaption when you moved there?

Oh, definitely the speed limits! Hahaha! with limits of 100kmph on highways and 40kmph to 50kmph in suburban areas, it was difficult at first for a heavy-footed Gautenger like me! But honestly, because everyone obeys the rules and Frikkie with his Ford Ranger is not driving on your ass, you don’t feel the need to rush. 

What do you love about the food in the area you are in now?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am quite partial to food. I mean, do I look like a picky eater? Haha, the food here is great because New Zealand consists of so many different cultures, it’s a melting pot of cuisines from around the world! 

What do you find most challenging in this town you live in?

Honestly, nothing. I think the most difficult thing about emigrating was giving up a career that I built over 23 years and having to start over. But it’s also very exciting at the same time. During the week i work as a hairstylist at a big salon group and at the weekend I perform at Caluzzi Cabaret, which is owned by Ru Paul’s drag race stars, Kita Mean & Anita Wigl’it. The opportunities are endless! 

What do you miss about South Africa?

The food in New Zealand is great but I must admit that we are spoilt with fantastic restaurants with affordable food in South Africa. I miss going for dinner and not having to pay R600 for a steak. I miss my friends and family the most. I have the most amazing network of loved ones back home and I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without their support. 

What do you do when you miss South Africa?

When I miss home, I phone my cousin who also lives here in Auckland. She is my rock and always knows what to say. It’s not always what I want to hear, but always what I need to hear. I also remind myself daily of everything I gained since moving here, which is not difficult when you just look around you. 

Any advice to someone who is thinking about emigrating to NZ?

Do it!! Just make sure you do it for the right reasons. and when you do, embrace your new country. Try new things and be open to change.

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