Monday, October 20, 2008

Impressions of Auckland

Ready for school in their new T-shirts


So we’ve been here two months already, and everyone is asking what living in NZ is really like.

We’re still feeling our way really, but so far, so good.

Funnily enough, I had assumed that living in New Zealand would be very similar to life in Australia. And in some ways that’s true. We speak the same language, for example, and a lot of the foods are similar (in NZ, Kiwi Kids Are Weet Bix Kids)!

But so far I've found the culture and surroundings – have more in common with England than Australia. There are American influences too – for example, it appears that Halloween is celebrated here fairly widely, if the barrage of advertising and television programming is anything to go by.
School life is much the same...

I love the fact that there is water aplenty, and unlike drought-ravaged Brisbane, we can now enjoy guilt-free baths (well, at least until we get the electricity bill! We have an old-fashioned hot water system here, not a solar one!)

To my horror, wine is generally more expensive than at home, particularly cleanskins and boxes. But I’ve found the supermarkets often have fabulous specials that make it possible to drink nicer wine more often. The other day I stocked up on a couple of Jacobs Creek wines for NZ$6.99. I don’t think I’ve ever paid so little for Jacobs Creek wines at home!

Beer is slightly cheaper too. Kyle picked up a six-pack of Corona the other day for NZ$10.99.

Medical and pharmaceutical costs have been the real surprise. Our first doctors visits cost NZ$85, and a follow-up was $75. Many medical services that are bulk-billed at home, like x-rays and routine bloodwork, can cost hundreds here. And prescriptions and over the counter medicines are frightfully expensive. For example, kiddie panadol is more than twice the price. A simple 50-pack of paracetamol was on sale for NZ$9.99 yesterday (I used to pay AUS$2.99 at epharmacy for 100). And a ventolin was NZ$20 (I could get two for AUS$13 at home). Apparently costs come down once you’ve been with the same doctor for three months. But I hate to think how pensioners and people on low incomes survive. They literally can't afford to get sick!

The kids have really embraced the lifestyle and are happily making friends, which was one of our biggest concerns. But they still miss their friends and family back home, and often tell me to take a photo to put on the web so their loved ones can see what they've been up to.

They love getting phone calls and emails, so imagine their surprise yesterday when a parcel arrived from Grandma and Pa-pa.

They were so thrilled they insisted on wearing their new shirts to school today!

Home-wise, we’ve settled in well. Strangely, after all that downsizing and sorting out prior to our move, I wish we’d brought a few more things over. For example, all the lunchboxes came – but none of my pantry Tupperware. You know, usefull stuff like containers to store flour and sugar and cereal in. I don’t know how that happened!

And I wish we’d brought more photos and pictures, particularly for the kids’ rooms. We only brought a few thinking we wouldn’t be able to put them up in a rental home, but there are loads of hooks and the walls are looking bare. We're hoping to slowly start adorning them with bits and pieces of Kiwi art which we'll collect on our travels.

So far, apart from family and friends, it's the little things I miss about home:
Sunrise (I know, but I liked to catch-up with the world in the background while we got ready for school and work, and the Kiwi version is horrid);
The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail (I can read them online, but it's not the same as leaving sections scattered throughout the house to annoy my husband!);
Our pets (Even though we still think we made the right decision by not subjecting them to a move, I miss them desperately. Particularly Daisy! I would give anything to give her a big cuddle and hear her snoring at my feet.)
The river and parklands behind our house (though we now have a cool park nearby, and the harbour is within walking distance)
Our barbecue and outdoor setting (but hopefully we will get a replacement here soon).
Aussie TV - Our free-to-air telly programming back home is far more entertaining than we're getting here. Mind you, I guess that just gives me more time to blog!
My Wine Of The Week
mmm....chardonnay ...

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