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General impressions from reccie tour

General impressions from reccie tour

Old Apr 14th 2014, 2:31 pm
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Default General impressions from reccie tour

We left our hearts in NZ. We've had the honeymoon of a lifetime, only took 25yrs of marriage to be able to go and we can now say with resounding firmness that we'd like to move over, we just need to work out how the heck we can ado it without giving up everything we've worked hard for in our lives so far. Housing costs being the main issue.

I'll start this thread off and come back to it as I have more time and think of more things if that's OK. I'm a bit jet lagged so excuse any strange grammar and typogrifywotsits.

First thoughts:
  • The people were so friendly and helpful, we only encountered a (generalising here) grumpy UK attitude twice in the whole three weeks and, even then, the service was good. I love the way everyone asks how your day is going and genuinely seems to want an answer. My automatic, "Fine thank-you" response that is all people in the UK want (if they even bother asking) met with quizzical expressions in NZ. After a few days I found that, "Good thanks" with eye contact and a smile is what people like to see, the couple of days I had where I looked obviously tired or a bit unwell were met with advice and expressions of empathy from everyone.
  • When we were obviously lost so many people spontaneously stopped and offered to direct us the right way. We never had anyone deliberately misdirect us.
  • Shop assistants and other tourist industry workers stop their conversation and focus on you rather than keeping talking and giving you venomous looks.
  • In general people seem happier, more content with their lives and settled. What was interesting was when we were told that either she or it would be right. As an aside why never, 'He'? It came across to us as a reassurance phrase rather than a bodge-it phrase. When I was worried about something I was told, "She'll be right" and given reassurances. The implication was that time and effort sort most things out and it's important to chill about it rather than stress.
  • The general attitude we met amongst people was one of relaxed assurance that life is to be lived and that hard work is rewarded, people I spoke to were horrified at my working conditions. We deliberately tried to spend time talking to locals. I spent one lovely evening talking to people from Palmerston North and various parts of Northland, the fact we were lying in a hot spring was just a bonus. The PN guy was saying their house moved 2ft sideways and then back again during the last quakes but the only repairs they had to do were sticking down the wallpaper where it had come off at the corners! That's some serious engineering at play in the house substurcture there.
  • Everywhere is so clean! We live rurally in the UK and have come home to more fly tipping. Within a two mile stretch of very rural countryside we now have someone's old bathroom suite, a trailer load of lorry tyres, a years worth of domestic and commercial refuse from a large agricultural concern (now polluting the local waterway, killing trees and smelly) and a pile of black rubbish sacks containing goodness knows what.
    There was some graffiti, in Wellington and Dunedin there seemed to be a lot of tagging going on, but there was a much reduced level of vandalism than I'm used to
  • Teenagers - they were polite!!!! We regularly met young people scootering and skatboarding down the pavements. Every single time we met them, wherever we were, they went slowed down and stopped when meeting pedestrians or simply slowed and went carefully round us. I'm used to having to leap out the way or have them deliberately go as fast and as close to me as they can whilst laughing. There's a junior school near where I work and I don't shift out the way of the kids on scooters fast enough the parents have a go at me. I've sometimes had to grab the handlebar bit to stop the child running into me and I am in serious trouble with the parents then as they always assume I'm going to assault their spoilt and brattish offspring when all I want to do is arrive at work on time and unharmed.
  • Children in general - if I had young children I would definitely consider a move to NZ. The lifestyle they have seemed so much more relaxed, lots of chances and opportunities for outdoor activity and loads of clubs for those that prefer to be doing something non-sporty. We spent an evening with a Scout group and had fun chatting to the children and their leaders. On the whole children seemed to be encouraged to be more self reliant and to solve their own problems, there was also no tolerance for rudeness and we saw not one child having a full blown, "I WAAAAAAANT" tantrum in any shops. We saw a few children going, "I want" but they were met with a calm and firm no and gave up immediately. We did one group tour where one of the children fell into an ADHD category. Not only did it seem more acceptable for him to be out and about he and his parents were supported well by the other adults in the group even though we'd all not met before.
  • People seemed to be fitter and more active well into the their older age than they are here. We met quite a few sprightly 70+ year olds that held PT jobs or did voluntary work as they wanted to, not because they had to. When I was chatting to a lady in her late 60s about how I was impressed at the activities they were doing and admired her for it she was genuinely surprised and said everyone in her local community was still doing new things at this older age.
  • A pervasive attitude that you need to be off your backside and looking after yourself rather than having a nanny state look after you. We spent the first week going, "You wouldn't be allowed to do that in the UK!". Things like the boardwalks across the pools at Rotorua, an unattended, seven storey high timber tower in a forest so we could climb up and watch birds in the tree canopy and being able to stand on open observation decks or platforms on trains rather than being kept behind glass and solid walls all the time.
  • Jobs pay less so you need to make your own entertainment more. This was a good thing in my mind
  • The sense of humour is right up our street. Slightly mischievous, a bit earthy and definitely with a tongue in cheek, "Aye right!" mindset. A few ex pats said they really struggled with the NZ sense of humour but Mr H and I loved it.
  • People are more honest but there's no rudeness, they're less pretentious and less likely to do the ridiculously drawn breath, "I'm offended" routine, the impression was that they're take it or leave it people but with no offense being taken if you leave it. I was going to type forthright rather than honest but there was no sense of rudeness about it. As an example I managed to get cream on my face drinking an iced chocolate and the waitress just pointed it out and offered me a serviette to wipe it off with. In the UK I'd probably have been left to be laughed at.
  • Pensions - will add more later
  • Possums - HOW BIG! I never realised possums came in such large sizes before, I pictured them as being the size of small rats, not big Jack Russell dogs. We played, 'Guess the roadkill' for the first few days as there were definitely species we didn't have any clue about.
  • Employment - there's definitely good opportunities for Mr H out there with his professional, electronics design engineer hat on. He could also work as a sparks but he said he'd find it seriously frustrating as the wiring in almost every place we stayed was, on the whole, safe but also quite interesting. He varied between shock, horror, puzzlement and amusement. For me I met with employers and the steer was that many are making compulsory redundancies in my area or that I'd have to start my career and retrain all over again.
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Old Apr 14th 2014, 6:46 pm
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

With jobs I meant the attitude that you create your own fu. Things to do is good, not that they're lower paid. Sorry. I read the comment back and it didn't read well at all.

Pensions - for us, with our particulare circumstances and pension savings and current rules, we'd both be better off in NZ and have a higher standard of living than in the UK once we retire. It looks likely that that I could claim a state pension in NZ five years earlier than I can in the UK although I suspect NZ will start to raise state pension age pretty soon. This is reliant on me moving my UK state pension allowance to NZ and may change but it was interesting to find out. We both have private pensions too and the current rules in NZ surrounding them work well for us. We met up with the lovely and generous chc4me who chatted to us about living around Christchurch as well as pensions. He helped us with the impression we were already forming that we would like to move to NZ if we can avoid having to give up our small holding and horses lifestyle.

Some of the better quality of life available to us as we would age in NZ is the fact we can be pretty much self sufficient out there due to the mild climate whereas it's too much drudgery and physical hard labour to manage here much past reaching 60yrs of age.

We'll definitely be going to ch4me for help if (when) we move out.

Housing - we stayed in various houses of different ages and state of repair and modernisation.the more recent or refurbished NZ houses we saw were better quality and more robust than e modern, Whimpy style homes being built in the UK. The older homes were very variable. One was experiencing serious lopsidedness, the kitchen floor sloped badly, if you dropped a ball it would have rolled down to the same corner every time. That house was also damp, mouldy and had 'interesting' wiring that needed redoing. It was for sale for £150,000! Others were amazing with modern double glazing, properly maintained and sealed weatherboarding and shingle tiles roofs. Having seen the engineering and work that go underneath NZ houses I do wonder if that technology is where much of your money goes when building. All the older houses we stayed in that had single glazing, regardless of north or south, had real condensation issues in the mornings. Auckland prices are seriously ridiculous - even if that's. what e market says the houses are worth and I could afford more than a bedsit I still wouldn't pay it.

Land is expensive given the resident population and the amount of it available. Lifestyle blocks are getting smaller each year.

Light - the light is amazing, you can't explain the difference but colours are more vibrant and the sun made me feel alive and better. Even my bones warmed up! I always thought tourist and immigration mages of NZ were photoshopped as they couldn't be that vibrant but they aren't. The water everywhere we went was so clear and lean.

Last edited by Hazelnut; Apr 14th 2014 at 7:02 pm.
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Old Apr 14th 2014, 8:29 pm
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Driving - we had fun hiring a manual gearbox car, we were amazed how many people drive automatics. I guess that would make the second hand manual car more difficult and expensive to find. Drivers were no worsead no better than we're we live at home. There were some who drove too fast, others who sat on our bumper and other just general stupidity but noting different to what we see every day on our commute into work.

Te huge difference was the volume of traffic. Even on some of the state highways we'd be the only vehicle for kilometres. Off the state highway it was motoring bliss with never a traffic in jam in sight, well, I lie a bit there we did encounter a flock of sheep being driven up a highway one afternoon.

The state highways were great roads, we bowled along at or close to the speed limit on lat of them. Other roads were variable, in generally good condition but some triggered my vertigo quite seriously and I had a few drives were I had to pull my hood up and read a book. The sharp, it runs back on yourself with seriously steep climbs at the same time and no barrier or guard rail between the road and a drop 100m deep seriously scared me.

The unsealed roads are seriously unsealed. Very narrow with little or no passing spaces and adverse camber. We gave up on visiting a couple of things as the roads were too worrying.

Many more roads were sealed (covered with far as we k ow them) than either my guide book or the satnav said. We also encountered new road surfacing being laid all over the place hi in gave a general impression of a major infrastructure improvement project countrywide.

We drive out of Auckland during rush hour and it was far easier than the city we currently live in but we didn't go over the bridge which I suspect makes it a lot worse. We also did a commute into Hamilton and Wellington during rush hour which also were manageable.

Last edited by Hazelnut; Apr 14th 2014 at 9:20 pm.
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Old Apr 14th 2014, 9:07 pm
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Glad you had a great time on your reccie! Welcome to NZ
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Old Apr 14th 2014, 9:24 pm
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Wow .. sounds like you certainly made the most of your time - you must be going home for a rest - phew! Glad you enjoyed it x

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Old Apr 14th 2014, 9:56 pm
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Terrific post Hazelnut!! It was great to meet you both while you were here in Christchurch and I'm so glad you enjoyed your travels. Your first impressions sound very balanced and sensible, I particularly enjoyed the comment about the Kiwi attitude and humor - you've got it spot on!
Best wishes and hope we meet again
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 12:11 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Originally Posted by Hazelnut View Post
Light - the light is amazing, you can't explain the difference but colours are more vibrant and the sun made me feel alive and better. Even my bones warmed up! I always thought tourist and immigration mages of NZ were photoshopped as they couldn't be that vibrant but they aren't. The water everywhere we went was so clear and lean.

A great post.

Difficult to comment on it all, but a lot of it rings true with my perception having visited a number of times before I came to live here.

A couple of minor perceptions I had from visiting as opposed to living here have changed. Pretentiousness is something I've come across a lot here that I never or rarely noticed as a visitor.

It's not something that bothers me, I just don't socialise with pretentious people, just like I wouldn't socialise with someone who I know to be racist or homophobic for example. But it has been an education to realise how rife it can be (in Auckland).

On the plus side, it's always good to acquaint with pretentious people the world over. They do have their uses when recommending a decent restaurant or something like that.

But the vast majority of it has been what I thought it would be (good and bad).

Although a minor thing in the grand scheme of things I've picked out your light one because I'm always telling people how bright the sunlight is out here.

My eyes are very sensitive to sunlight (I squint badly even with sunglasses on), but the vivid colour of the skies and the clarity of the light is so notable it's one of the first things I tell people who ask me about NZ.

Polarised lenses in my sunglasses, although they cost a few bob, have been a terrific investment.
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 1:44 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Originally Posted by Hazelnut View Post
.



................................. We also encountered new road surfacing being laid all over the place hi in gave a general impression of a major infrastructure improvement project countrywide..................

.
And they'll be doing the same bit again in 6 months time 'cos they did such a crap job the first time!
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 2:17 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Don't worry....we all have off days...
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 3:00 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Originally Posted by TommyLuck View Post

Polarised lenses in my sunglasses, although they cost a few bob, have been a terrific investment.
Keep them on your nose even on cloudy days. Eyes are precious.

Originally Posted by Robbie2010 View Post
And they'll be doing the same bit again in 6 months time 'cos they did such a crap job the first time!
I know.
Around these parts road resurfacing and the like always happens March/April time. Apparently it's to use up the budget, so there are all manner of random potholes and stretches of roads resurfaced for no apparent reason The chippings are a pain in the bum though & the surface doesn't even really last out the year ever.

Anyway, good that you enjoyed your trip Hazlenut.

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Old Apr 15th 2014, 3:28 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Originally Posted by BEVS View Post
Keep them on your nose even on cloudy days. Eyes are precious..
Too true I already suffer from Pterygium and I have never surfed in my life

Polaroids at all times now
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 3:41 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Originally Posted by BEVS View Post
Keep them on your nose even on cloudy days. Eyes are precious.



I know.
Around these parts road resurfacing and the like always happens March/April time. Apparently it's to use up the budget, so there are all manner of random potholes and stretches of roads resurfaced for no apparent reason The chippings are a pain in the bum though & the surface doesn't even really last out the year ever.

Anyway, good that you enjoyed your trip Hazlenut.
Roadworks/Road Repairs and Christchurch *bites lip as hard as possible*

Glad you enjoyed your trip Hazlenut. If you are a horses fan, there's loads of nice houses with plenty of hectares/acres (whatever they are) to have enough room for a stable or two around Oxford. Lovely part of Canterbury that place is
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 5:09 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

Pteryglum doesn't sound much fun I hope it's not too irritating and store Stormer999. I already have react olive lenses in my everyday glasses and MrH had fun with baseball caps when visiting and said he'd definitely have sunglasses if over there long term.

The roads around Christchurch and some more remote areas were quite interesting at times but always drivable. The road camber couldn't always decide which way to go so went everywhere at once. The only time we met roads as potholed as our local ones here was on the unsealed roads, a few of those in the Coromandel definitely needed a 4x4 rather than a hire car and I whimped out of a few of them. I think camber weirdness was the predominant driving thing for me, it's potholes here in the UK.

The only other negative about Christchurch was the water. We spent a second day there after touring round Waneka area, the city water was almost un drinkable even in hot drinks. On the second day I came out in a bit of a rash on my hands and felt a but queasy so flipped onto bottled water only and was Ok but there's obviously something having to be added to the mains water to keep it clean that didn't agree with me. I'm the same in London and Peterborough so it's something I'm more sensitive to I think.

Ohe negative thing we experienced was that of a feeling of cultural discomfort ranging to outright racism in some areas where some of the different cultures voluntarily stay quite segregated. When I raised the question of the best place to find out about Maori heritage with some people there was a closure of body language and a tightness in the language they used to reply. Having deliberately read up on Treaty issues before we arrived and then going round Te Papa in Wellington then Christchurch museum and then talking to people as well as reading the papers I can understand the discomfort and I cant see an easy answer due to an absolute lack of flexibility in some attitudes and, as always in these matters, some hypocrisy on both sides.

It helped me understand the comments on here about renting first and not living in certain areas though and reminded me very force fully of some areas of the USA. My impression was that the races rub along most of the time as long as people respect certain boundaries but things could become explosive if they were ignored.

What was fascinating was to hear the more blatant upswell of anti-Asian feeling, I can understand it as Auckland city wasn't somewhere we felt we wanted to live as it was too alien to us, a cultural change too far for us to want to explore at our ages. At times it seemed the main language wasn't English as most of the signage and sound around us was Asian. It's interesting, in 200 years time will the more western cultures be in a similar place with regard to Asian cultures as the Maori culture is now with regard to the westerners?

I think the good thing was the restraint shown, even though people obviously had their own ideas there were usually rational in how they spoke about it, we only met one outright racist in our time there. Most people were simply struggling to adapt and accept a new mix and change in balance of culture.

We liked the look of Oxford in Canterbury so it's good to hear it being recommended as an area to live. Thanks Tom 1983

Last edited by Hazelnut; Apr 15th 2014 at 5:44 am.
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 5:43 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

It's good you are feeling a pull towards a new country for it's own sake , rather than a push from your current country of residence. Bodes well.
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Old Apr 15th 2014, 7:02 am
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Default Re: General impressions from reccie tour

I think we've always felt a pull to NZ but we were previously feeling much more of a push. I'd say the two are equally balanced now.

MrH says he'd add that people seemed to have more a sense if individual responsibility and there was more obvious community pressure to behave well and be responsible for own actions. I wonder if this is behind the cleaner environment as well as just the fact there's so fewer people.

Sandflies are a b****r! not as bad as Scottish midges though as they don't seem to come in the thick, don't breath with your mouth open, skin covering swarms that midges do.

Spiders - I'm badly phobic but my reaction to most was similar to what it is in the UK so I'm confident I could cope given some spray and a big spider squishing stick. we didn't see any white tails and I chose not to think about them. The webs we saw from what I guess are funnel spiders were avoided!
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