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Stunning mountain views on the drive to Lake Tekapo

Week one was a jet-lagged haze further compounded by a sense of everything being very similar yet completely different. Normally, when on holiday, I love seeking out the differences that set the country I am visiting apart from my own. Often such holidays are accompanied by thoughts of how nice it would be to live there.

This time is different though. This time we have relocated to New Zealand having never visited before. Bold? Yes. A little bit stupid. Maybe. In any case, there is no wistful contemplation of what may be if we upped sticks and moved to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ because that’s exactly what we have done.

So week one wasn’t spent seeing the sights and dining out at fancy local restaurants. It was spent meeting the bank manager and wringing our hands whilst waiting for access to our transferred funds. Then there was the hunt for somewhere to live.

Finding a place to call home

There had been a glut of suitable abodes on the internet. Each had plenty of rooms to accommodate our little family and featured all the facilities we were accustomed to so we would feel right at home. We had roamed all around town on Google maps and liked what we saw in our staggered wanderings. Of course, reality proved somewhat different.

All the quaint character properties proved to be in the less desirable corners of town. These were easily identifiable by the burn out marks on the road and adorable wrap around verandahs decorated with this season’s must-have outdoor accessory: the velour sofa.

As much as I like the idea of watching the speeding traffic from the comfort of my porch couch, we decided we might better off instead if we based our rental hunt around the best schools in town. Surprisingly, such properties were in high demand and after a couple of stressful days wondering if we may have to reconsider our budget or how many rooms we needed, we thankfully secured a nice place near a good school and with fantastic views over the park.

Granted there’s no bath much to Husband’s dismay but it is only temporary.

Getting from A to B and back again

The other major decision was what car we should buy. I stayed at home with the children (herein referred to as Child 1 and 2) whilst Husband went out to test drive some cars, turning up at our Airbnb periodically with a different vehicle for me to check out.

I liked the Honda Stream until it didn’t start. I laughed at the BMW three series. Not that it wasn’t nice but the only way to get the pram in the boot would be to hurl it through the letterbox-like opening in its narrow behind.

We finally settled on a Suburu – pronounced Sabaroo – which we’ve nicknamed Motoko after Ghost in the Shell as it’s a silver import with a Japanese sat nav that randomly talks to us. If only we could understand her.

Shopping spree

Week two commenced with the Queen’s birthday sales which are apparently rather a big deal here.

We were certainly made to feel like royalty as we ponced around one of the major department stores pointing at furniture and declaring which pieces were worthy to attire our new found castle.

At another store, we were slightly less dignified as we kept barging two trolleys piled high with discounted goods around like drunken contestants on Supermarket Spree.

I should point out they aren’t called trolleys but trundles. How do you tell the difference? Easy, the back wheels don’t turn which makes maneuvering them rather entertaining as you keep crashing into and blocking aisles.

Who knew shopping could be so hard.

Turning up the heat

The rest of week two was spent trying to figure out how to heat our Airbnb. You see we have traded the Great British summer for winter where the temperatures have already started dipping to freezing.

The two night storage heaters, dead ringers for ones we first had when we left home some twenty years ago, don’t work (also just like our old ones).

Then there is the heat pump which is where things start to get interesting. It takes a while to get started and the air it blows out is warm the same way a car heater is.

Finally, there is the hrv (don’t ask me what it stands for). There is one vent in the ceiling which is meant to pull down the warm air from the attic to help heat the house. Ours is just blowing out cold air which does a great job at stopping condensation in the single-glazed windows but not much for keeping us warm.

I never realised how spoilt we had been to have had central heating and double glazed window. It’s fine. I don’t mind wearing extra layers if it means I get to live in New Zealand.

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Kia ora!

In 2019, we sold our house, packed our bags and flew 18,782.17 km from the UK to New Zealand. This is our story of beginning again on the other side of the world, proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams!  Learn more here.