6 months!

June 12, 2013

Wow. We touched down in New Zealand 6 months ago today. Mostly, it’s gone so fast. I sat down to write about how it has met our expectations (or hasn’t)… and then I sat here for several minutes trying to figure out what our expectations were. Did we even have any? I should have written them down… Ha. And where do we want to be in the next 6 months? What’s next?

Note: All photos are from around Wellington, but weren’t sweet enough to make it into my last post.

On top of the Sea to City Bridge


We were well informed of how expensive it is to live in New Zealand. But we still may have underestimated it just a teensy bit…. But it doesn’t really bother us these days. We’re a tiny island, southeast of the middle of nowhere, just north of Antarctica. As a few of my friends and our parents are aware… shipping to this place is expensive. (Why the wool is so damn expensive is still a bit of a mystery, but never mind.) So all of the goods are going to be expensive too.

Thankfully, when it came in regards to Christchurch, we didn’t know what to expect. Absolutely no one told us it was back to normal. Good thing. Christchurch is a mess. Part of me braced for something worse. Part of me was idyllic. (Part of me still is). For the most part, it doesn’t really bother me. I have my favorite cafes and pubs. We can go to the movies or out dancing. Most importantly, the bike trails, the beach, and the mountains are still there. But Christchurch is still very much in the process of recovering.

I knew there would be cultural diversity in the sense of the Maori population and the white population here in NZ. What I didn’t expect was the diversity of other cultures. It may be partially because we’re in Christchurch, and people are coming from all over the world to help with the rebuild. But wanderlust souls also seem to gravitate to New Zealand as well. Combined, Scott and I both work with folks from about 14 different countries. And currently my closest friends are British and Finnish, as well as Kiwi.

Te Marae, Te Papa Museum

Unexpectations: What didn’t we expect?

The traffic! I hate to say it, but we didn’t see it coming! Christchurch, pre-quake, was quite easy to get around. So in theory, all this congestion is temporary (and it really is just bad at peak commute hours)… but still. We didn’t move to a place roughly the size of California with roughly 1/7 the population, to be stuck in traffic!

The first-worldism. I mean, New Zealand is a first world country, so I knew we would have the luxuries of cars and drinkable water. But no one drives a new car, and insurance is optional. And frequently sheep are roadblocks. So who knew that everyone would be totally caught up on Games of Thrones and The X-Factor? And the tabloids are alive and well. You really can’t not keep up with the Kardashians, even on the other side of the freaking world. I could do with a little more media isolation in my life, but apparently we’ll have to get way more remote than New Zealand to find it.

We had no idea Scott would end up working as a geologist on the rebuild. But this is a good, no, great “unexpectation”. Getting to be outside every day and getting to be part of a massive city renovation are pretty big perks of a new job in a new country.

View from the farmers’ market

Becoming Kiwi

Driving on the left side of the road is no big deal. It was weird for about a week. It felt like everyone was driving at WARP SPEED. And then we just got used to it. And now sometimes we complain about how leisurely the Kiwis drive. Don’t they even try to be at work on time?

Sticker shock is wearing off. Sure, almost everything still seems expensive. But since we expect it, only the really pricey things raise an eyebrow. A $4.50 cappuccino or an $8 pint of beer is just the norm. $25 for my normal mascara seems ridiculous though and therefore I haven’t bought any (hint…).

We find ourselves using more Kiwi-isms every day. Scott will mention his bike is munted (per usual), or that his ride last night was sweet as, and I don’t even blink an eye. Usually I internally acknowledge that he said something Kiwi… but then I’ll ask for just a wee bit of milk in my tea without even noticing that 6 months ago I neither would have said wee, nor put milk in my tea. Bizarre.

When we moved, everyone told us winter is cold here. By the numbers, it’s really not that much colder than where we’re from in Northern California, but there’s a vital difference between the two places. Americans use insulation and double-glazing. Kiwis do not. Sure you have a heat pump in one room, and an electric blanket on your bed… but a jacket, socks, and sometimes a beanie is totally cool indoor wear in these parts. And you just harden up.

We have lived now for 6 months without a microwave, dishwasher, or blender. (Ok, we bought the latter a few weeks ago, but it’s been too cold to make smoothies!)

Botanical Gardens

What’s Next?

So 6 months from now… where will we be? For one, we will be in summer! Yipee! But what else?

We hopefully will have sorted out our immigration situation by then. We will have applied for, paid for (ugh), and hopefully been accepted for residency. (Don’t worry moms, that doesn’t mean we’re staying. It just means better health benefits and the capability to move around the islands freely, not tied to our jobs.)

We will have moved flats. Yes, we’re moving again. The EQC (Earthquake Commission) decided it was time to fix the place we’re in right now. After some house hunting and soul searching, we decided to move, and found a flat that we’re super excited about. More on that in a few weeks.

We are hoping to visit Australia for our anniversary in September! Warm beaches, Great Barrier Reef, and rain forest exploration are all on the menu. It will be a fabulous break from the long New Zealand winter.

Lastly, and no surprise here, I’m sure we’ll be traveling, riding, and racing our bikes all over the country. We’re hoping to hit as many MTB races as funds and full-time jobs will allow.

Looking for tuis

Jeez…. how’s that for a disjointed, very incomplete and almost confusing compilation of thoughts? Should I even proof read it? Delete it? May as well just post it…. and 6 months from now I can look back at how much my writing has (hopefully) improved, as well as how our acclamation to New Zealand has progressed!

Oh yeah, I also hope in 6 months time I become a better photographer (and therefore better photo-blogger). I know you guys hope so too!

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