Attacked in the Safest Country in the World

November 1, 2016
ttacked in the Safest Country in the World

I lived in Israel during two wars. During sirens, I hid in a shelter and then saw pieces of rockets fall next to my house. Yet, nothing ever happened to me. I thought that I was going to die in a car accident but somehow got out of it without any serious injuries. I was scared to death by two men on a night train in Italy once but I escaped unharmed. I was attacked by a woman in the metro station in Paris but someone came to help me.

Then recently I arrived in one of the safest places on earth – New Zealand. It sounded like the last place on earth where I would feel threatened in any way. Call it bad luck, call it being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I didn’t see bad things coming.

Two friends and I arrived on the North Island of New Zealand for an Easter road trip.  It was a spontaneous trip with no planning involved, and the first two days were filled with beautiful views, nice beaches, and good company. On Saturday night, we arrived in a small beach town called Tauranga, where there was a jazz festival taking place. “Lovely place to rest,” we all thought.

One second, I saw two guys starting a fight, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, trying to avoid being punched.

Because of the Easter holiday, all of the accommodations were already booked, but we thought, worst case scenario, we’d sleep in the car. “One night of uncomfortable sleep won’t kill us,” we all thought.

That night, we went to one of the bars located in the waterfront. It was a small place, with nice music–the perfect place to chill out and rest after almost an entire day of driving. And it was the Easter weekend so hey, we had to celebrate! We ordered a beer and took a few sips.  Then we realized that things were about to take a turn for the worse.

The Safest Country In the World

Everything happened so fast. One second, I saw two guys starting a fight, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, trying to avoid being punched. Someone was hitting me, and drinks on a table toppled on me. I started to scream but there was no way to escape. No one in the bar reacted. I was punched in the head, nose and eye–and no one did anything. Finally, I stood up and saw blood on my hands. My nose hurt like a hell. I could barely move my leg. But then they started attacking my friends and me again. And still, no one did anything to stop it.

Finally, we managed to run away, but I still couldn’t move my leg, My face and head were pounding. My friend’s knee was swollen. My other friend was shocked but relatively unscathed. She tried telling the guards and policeman about what just happened but nobody really cared.

 I’m not sure if I should try to forget this experience or if I can learn an important lesson from it.

In fact, the people around us just continued to dance and laugh. Yet, we had no place to go. So, all sore and broken, we returned to the car. In silence, we tried to make it through the night.

Why New Zealand, why? What did we do to you?

The next day we continued our trip. One friend could drive, and we stopped off at hot springs to sooth our sore bodies. We picnicked on the beach and tried to forget the nightmare from the previous night. We tried to laugh and convince ourselves that everything was okay. But our bodies and souls hurt. I know that bad things happen to innocent people. But the moment it’s you–it’s hard to deal with.


It’s been a month since this unfortunate event and though the bruises are gone, the bad taste in my mouth still remains. I know that I experienced the bad combination of terrible luck and drunk guys, yet I still keep asking myself, was there something I could have done to prevent this?

I know that it could have happened anywhere in the world, and I don’t blame this beautiful green land for this experience, but I still wish I had never traveled to Tauranga. On the other hand, maybe it was a warning to be more careful and aware of my surroundings instead of being so happy-go-lucky. I’m not sure if I should try to forget this experience or if I can learn an important lesson from it. I do know that one day, after the wounds have healed, it’s a story I’ll tell my grandchildren.

Attacked in the Safest Country in the World

Attacked in the Safest Country in the World top photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

About Joanna Kowalewska

Joanna Kowalewska comes from Poland but she’s been living abroad for the last 9 years. For Joanna, traveling is more than learning new languages and discovering new cultures, it’s a way of getting to know herself better and finding her real identity. Joanna is a passionate traveler, amateur photographer, and Photoshop lover. She can’t stay in one place for too long because she feels that the world is calling her – that’s also the name of her travel blog where she shares her experiences and adventures with the world.

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