Terri's Travelogue of New Zealand - Introduction

I'm a Brit, born and bred. I started life in Wembley, and spent the first 45 years of my life in and around North-West London, England.

But my hobby is travel. It always has been, although for most of my life circumstances have dictated that I travel for no longer than the holidays of my job dictate, and my partner puts up with. Fortunately my second husband is of a similar opinion, and has been more than happy to join me in my adventures.

Having seen so much of the world (albeit in small chunks), my opinion is that there are many places where I love to visit, but few where I would choose to live. New Zealand is one of them. So in 2006, at the age of 46 and 56 respectively, my second husband and I took the plunge and emigrated.

My love affair with New Zealand started 30 years earlier, in 1976. I was 16, and my mother's brother and his family had emigrated three years previously. A long family holiday was planned for the Christmas period following my school exams. 8 weeks out of school - bliss! Plus, as I was over 15, I could learn to drive a car before all my friends. What street cred would that give me?

New Zealand at the time was very different to now. Shopping hours were limited (shops closed at 12:00 on a Saturday, and did not open at all on Sundays). But there were little corner grocers known as 'Dairies' that had to open for at least a period of time 365 days of the year - very handy for emergencies. Food was relatively cheap, especially beef and lamb. But manufactured goods were very expensive. My aunt asked us to bring lots of balls of wool over, because although NZ was the centre of the wool industry, the cost of processing it was high and therefore done abroad. Cars were very expensive. Most immigrants took their car over in their removal crate.

My uncle's family lived in the South-East Auckland suburb of Howick. They had a typical Kiwi weatherboard house, on a quarter-acre plot. To us the garden was huge! Howick was a lovely little town, with all the amenities you'd require. And best of all it was surrounded by beautiful beaches, countryside and scenery, and it was a short trip on the Half Moon Bay ferry into central Auckland and Waiheke Island. The suburbs on Meadowlands and Botany Downs did not exist; in their place were fields of meadowlands and downs.

We spent some of our time travelling (including a marvellous two weeks in South Island), but spent most just living a typical Auckland life, visiting local beaches, taking the ferry into town, and just enjoying the freedom.

Then home to reality.

Life continued on - I met my first husband, had a couple of kids. Husband no. 1 had his own business, which he wasn't prepared to leave for longer than a week. Although frustrated at the lack of travel opportunities I was reasonably happy and resigned to life in the UK.

Then 15 years on came the split. I wanted a complete break between one life and the next, so headed, with my 5 and 6 year old sons in tow, for a long 6 week holiday and the support I would get from my family in New Zealand. I still loved it. But by this time it wasn't so easy to emigrate. I didn't have anywhere near enough points. My cousin was all for setting me up with marriage to a local sheep farmer - but I thought this was a bit radical.

So it was back home to the UK, and into an Open University degree, with the intention of earning those points. Life happened again. A year on I met my future second husband, and put the plans on hold again.

Ten years moved on. We married in Cairns, Australia (one of the other places I would consider moving to) and some of the NZ relatives came over for the wedding. We promised to visit NZ the following year.

Now, it's worth saying that hubby no 2 had a slightly biased view of New Zealand at this stage. 'I'm sure it's beautiful', he said, 'but do we really want to live in a backwater so far from everywhere? It's a bit quiet, isn't it?'. I didn't think I'd change his views.

And I didn't think our visit would change his views either. We only had a fortnight. Two days visiting the rellies in Auckland, 8 days in South Island, 2 days in Northland scuba diving, then back to Auckland for a final rellie visit before flying out. And the holiday wasn't the most successful ever. I arrived with laryngitis which turned to sinusitis. By the time we got to Queenstown I was ready for a doctor and antibiotics, not the adventure trips we'd planned. We ended up spending three out of our eight days in Queenstown organizing to see doctors, then had to travel up the West Coast and across to Christchurch for our flight quicker than a Japanese tourist bus. All we saw was mountains in the distance, and glaciers from the car park.

Our final night was spent at my cousins place, in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers. This area is close to Auckland centre, has beautiful beaches that look directly onto Rangitoto (our local 600 year old volcano, which dominates the harbour skyline), and along with the sister beaches of Mission Bay and Kohimarama, is generally known for its cafe culture. We were due to fly out in the morning. I called to Air New Zealand to confirm our flights. 'Would you like to take the flight after?' said the very nice lady, 'You'll have three hours less stopover in Hong Kong.' 'Yes Please', we said. Three hours more in Auckland before we have to go to the airport too.

So we had time to go for brunch in a cafe in St Heliers. It was lovely! Sitting on a balcony looking out at the joggers, cyclists and walkers on a beautiful Sunday morning. Then off to the airport, and home to the UK.

A couple of weeks later, hubby and I were chatting about the holiday. 'I still love New Zealand' says I, 'I'd still be tempted to live there'. 'Why don't we give it a try?' says he.

After I'd picked myself up off the floor, I asked what had changed his mind. 'That final morning brunch at St Heliers', he said, 'I saw a city with a vibrant life. I could live there'.

So here we are, living in Howick, and loving every minute. Auckland gives hubby the city life he likes (and me a job!). My son has a job that is the envy of all his friends in the UK - he's a dive instructor, gaining himself a very good New Zealand-wide reputation. We have every intention of staying for a long, long time.

And although it was Auckland that sold NZ to my husband, and persuaded him that it isn't quite the backwater he thought it was, we love the rest of the country too. And there's so much more to New Zealand than the 'standard tourist spots' that you get in every guide book.

So this travelogue is about all the places we've visited in New Zealand, that are maybe not covered in detail in that popular guidebook.

I'll be continuously working on it, but please be patient if I'm a bit slow….

terris_travelogue/introduction.txt · Last modified: 2010/01/26 07:59 by art
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