Category Archives: New Zealand

Immigration Challenges

Immigration is a lengthy, expensive, and complicated process. Trying to talk about it with those who haven’t gone through it and aren’t familiar with it tends to lead to blank looks and confusion.

It is, however a process that tens of thousands of people go through each year in an attempt to come to New Zealand. Last year saw approximately 60,000 immigrants come to New Zealand. By comparison, Canada sees around 250,000 immigrants every year.

The decision to immigrate is a challenging one for many people. For some, it makes sense to leave home in pursuit of better jobs, a higher quality of life, less risk of crime or war, or other such reasons. For those of us who come from beautiful countries like Canada or the UK, many people ask…why would you leave one beautiful country for another? I’ve discussed our reasons in  previous post, so I won’t go into it here.

So where are we at in the process?

Working Holiday Visa

Our working holiday visas expired on August 24, 2017; 23 months after our first entry into New Zealand. Those 23 months have been absolutely amazing and have led us to fall in love with the country, share some breathtaking experiences with each other, and make some fantastic new friends.

Unfortunately, once you have had this visa once, you aren’t permitted to apply again. Only one working holiday visa in your life for each country, and only when you are under 30 (or 35 depending on the country).

So what next? This is where it gets complicated!

Essential Skills Visa

Under the current rules (August, 2017), I applied for an essential skills visa based upon my current employment as a mechanical engineering and test technician at Escea.

I submitted my application on the 24th of July and was approved on the 11th of August after a phone call and brief discussion with an immigration officer. I am now permitted to live and work in New Zealand temporarily, but only in my current job.

The rules for visas change regularly, so for official immigration advice and current visa’s, check the immigration New Zealand Website.

Partnership Work Visa

At the same time that we submitted my essential skills visa application online, we also submitted a paper partnership work visa for Andrew with a cover letter asking them to refer to my Essential Skills visa application.

We were advised that this was the only way to submit his and have it considered before mine was officially approved. We are still waiting on approval for this one and, last we heard, it still hasn’t been assigned to a case officer.

But his visa is expiring, so what now?

Interim Visa

They really like to keep you waiting….

If you have applied for a temporary visa but it hasn’t been processed yet, an interim visa may be issued by an automatic system 1 week prior to the expiry of the current work visa.

It is rather complicated to understand exactly what the interim visa is, how it works, and what you are and aren’t allowed to do since there is really very little information on it. The one thing that is consistent is that travel is not permitted on an interim visa. If Andrew leaves the country, his visa is void and he is not permitted to return for a specified time period (as far as we understand).

The chart below provides some detail. It also specifies that Andrew isn’t permitted to work on his interim visa, even though he is going from one temporary work visa to another.

immigration-chart

As you can imagine, most employers are rather upset with this. “Hey boss…so you know that work visa? Well…they haven’t processed it yet so I need some time off…up to 2 months apparently…starting next week.”

We are hoping that Andrew’s bosses are willing to let him return to his job once his Partnership work visa is (hopefully!) granted.

Skilled Migrant Visa

Still waiting….and waiting….and waiting….

We have been requested to submit additional paperwork. And the case office who was working on our case is no longer employed by immigration.

We have been requested to provide additional proof of:

  • My husband’s employment that he held when he was 14 (a letter from both him and the lead pastor/manager at the time is apparently not sufficient proof)
  • Proof of all of my applicable engineering experience (tax records, employment contract, and a letter on company letter head for each job)

As well as re-submitting our marriage contract, etc.

We will submit the new paperwork, wait for a new case officer to be assigned, wait for them to check all the paperwork, wait for an interview with immigration, wait for a second person to check through everything, and, hopefully, be awarded residence at the end!

In Summary

So essentially, I hold a temporary work visa while we wait for our residence visa to process and (hopefully) get approved. Andrew holds a temporary temporary visa while he waits for his temporary visa while we wait for our residence to (hopefully) get approved.

 

Women’s Rugby Finals – Pirates Win!

In a wonderful women’s rugby final, the Pirates faced off against Varsity. Previously in the season, the Pirates had lost to Varsity with a score of Pirates: 7 to Varsity: 31. We had also beaten Varsity in a very close game of Pirates: 31 to Varsity: 29. What would the final bring?

Scrum Time
Scrum Time

A dry, sandy field in St. Clair and a very strong wind changed the Pirates strategy on game day. We had planned to run a kicking game, which Varsity wouldn’t expect from us. Unfortunately, whenever the ball got kicked, the wind gusts would push it unexpectedly! We had the wind with us for the first half, which helped, although a few random gusts did send the ball backwards a few times.

Push Varsity Back!
Push Varsity Back!

Varsity played a strong offence, forcing the Pirates to up our defensive game. We certainly did! Although Varsity managed to keep possession of the ball for approximately 70% of the game, Pirates held them in mid-field, allowing us to score most of the time when we got the ball.

Nice Pass
Nice Pass

This was a game where I really saw all of those little tricks and techniques that we had practised so much come into play. Forwards run the ball up a few times to draw their team to one side, then shoot it out to the backs where there is now a gap in their defence. Get the ball to the far edge and just keep knocking it up with two pods of 3 ladies running pistons. So great to see!

Time to Celebrate!
Time to Celebrate!

After 80 minutes of well-played rugby where both teams kept fighting right to the very end, Pirates won 37-10! There was much celebrating for the night and for the entire week. I am so proud of everyone that I’ve played with, all of the support that they gave me as a new player, and all of the encouragement after I got injured.

And Now for a Brief Cat Interlude

Cats! The internet is full of cats and Andrew and I have our own two sweet little kittens. They have grown incredibly but are still our sweet girls.

Eowyn with her box.
Eowyn with her box.

We got very lucky to end up with two little cuddle cats. It has been fun watching their little personalities develop as they’ve gotten older.

What is this new chew toy?
What is this new chew toy?

Teething was definitely not fun, however, although the pet store found us a little bit odd, a small puppy kong did the trick!

Bringing the kittens home.
Bringing the kittens home.

Tauriel, our little black cat, is quite the cuddler. She likes to curl up directly on our chests and sleep. She will also come ask for kisses and bump her face against ours.

Tauriel with the computer
Tauriel with the computer

She also likes to ask for uppies by stretching against our legs to ask to be picked up. She quite likes jumping and will beg for the tap in the bathroom to be turned on so she can drink from it.

Eowyn and Tauriel obsessed with the tap.
Eowyn and Tauriel obsessed with the tap.

Tauriel is also quite fond of licking both me and Andrew, especially when I am wearing a fuzzy hoodie!

Andrew with the cats as kittens
Andrew with the cats as kittens

Eowyn, on the other hand, is a much more independent cat. She likes to come curl up beside us or on our feet.

Kitten Eowyn
Kitten Eowyn

She also quite likes my mouse pad. She likes to perch on Andrew’s shoulder as well. She doesn’t meow…she chirps like a bird most of the time.

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They also get along quite well with each other and will come report to us if the other has gotten locked behind a door or in a closet.

We are getting a cat! It was fun shopping after we had decided
We are getting a cat! It was fun shopping after we had decided

It isn’t uncommon to see them curled up with each other and licking each other.

Eowyn wanted away from the scary ocean
Eowyn wanted away from the scary ocean
Walk time at the beach
Walk time at the beach
Eowyn perched on top of her scratching post
Eowyn perched on top of her scratching post
This is why we call Eowyn 'Holepunch'
This is why we call Eowyn ‘Holepunch’
Eowyn trying to catch the frisbee
Eowyn trying to catch the frisbee
Their first journey to the beach
Their first journey to the beach
Eowyn on Andrew's computer
Eowyn on Andrew’s computer
Tauriel after her bath
Tauriel after her bath
Eowyn after bath time
Eowyn after bath time
Eowyn and Tauriel obsessed with the tap.
Eowyn and Tauriel obsessed with the tap.
Andrew watching outside with our girls
Andrew watching outside with our girls
Tauriel wanted a nap...I didn't disagree
Tauriel wanted a nap…I didn’t disagree

Highlanders vs. the British and Irish Lions on Tour 2017

Andrew and I both turned 30 over the last year. For our birthday’s, Andrew’s wonderful sisters got us tickets to see the local provincial team, the Highlanders, take on the British and Irish Lions in their 2017 tour.

Yes, Andrew and I have become quite passionate about rugby. I’ve always quite enjoyed football (aka american/Canadian football, aka gridiron), and Andrew has always enjoyed hockey. The hockey isn’t quite as relevant, although he was largely just missing playing a sport. Rugby though…it’s like football if they didn’t stop the play every time someone touched the ball and fell down.

Andrew and I at the game
Andrew and I at the game

Andrew and I had fairly good tickets for the game. Right at the try line (aka the goal line for those who don’t know rugby), close to the front.

We were both quite glad that it is a covered stadium. The game was only a week from the winter solstice and, while the weather had been fairly nice for the weeks leading up to the game, that day dawned cold and wet. In an uncovered stadium it is likely that the game would have been cancelled with how wet and muddy all the fields were.

Maori welcoming to the Lions
Maori welcoming to the Lions

Andrew and I dressed quite warmly thanks to jackets that we brought from Canada. I was asked more than once where I’d gotten my jacket actually! We also brought a light blanket to keep our legs warm. While it is easy to stay warm while walking and moving, it’s quite different sitting on cold seats for 90 minutes!

Almost at the try line!
Almost at the try line!

What a game it was too! I honestly wasn’t expecting much. The British and Irish Lions are the national team and are going to be taking on the All Blacks later in the tour. Considering that the Highlanders are a level lower and are sitting at the bottom of their league, I was expecting to see some good, but not exceptional rugby.

Some good tackles
Some good tackles

The Highlanders certainly played well! The game was tied at half time (10 all), with the Lions pulling ahead in the second half. A few fans actually started leaving when the Lions managed to pull ahead to 22-10 within the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Highlanders fought back though, scoring their final try with minutes left on the clock, and then defending well to finish with a final score of 22-23 for the Highlanders.

Final score of Highlanders vs. Lions
Final score of Highlanders vs. Lions

So much fun to watch!!

The Pirates Rugby Season to Date

So, as I’ve mentioned…Andrew and I joined the Pirates Club Rugby this year. It’s been a bit of a crazy hectic season with both of us new to the sport, but we are loving it.

Pirates Prem 2’s

So, like all sports, there are different levels. For men, there’s the normal community touch, recreational leagues that you find everywhere, but there are also the official club leagues.

Andrew running
Andrew running

Andrew is playing on the premier 2 rugby team. This team feeds into the premier team, which feeds into the provincial teams (such as the Highlanders). There’s some quite competitive guys there!

A lot of them are surprised that Andrew is completely new to the sport since, like hockey in Canada, most of them have been playing rugby since they were 3-5 years old.

Andrew is doing really well and is usually playing most games (there are enough guys that they tend to put the newer players on for substitutions so that they can watch and learn more). He generally plays as a #14 winger. This means he is the back row defence; if he gets the ball he is supposed to take it and run as fast as he can up the sideline. It’s also his job to catch any of the opposing team’s offensive players if they manage to get a breakaway.

Andrew going for the ball
Andrew going for the ball

Unfortunately the men’s rugby team is struggling a little bit this year and has lost every game so far. They are getting closer though!

Pirates Wahine

Also know as Pirates Women. Wahine is Women in Maori. I’m learning!

My rugby team has done amazingly well this year. Although we officially lack a coach, I have learnt a great deal from the senior members of the team. While it is difficult for them, wanting to train with the team, but being forced to coach as well, I have been quite grateful!

Time to Tackle
Time to Tackle

One of our ladies has just gotten called up to the national rugby team (the Black Ferns), which says a lot for the quality of women’s rugby in Dunedin. Go Angie!!

The position that I play is #1, or the loose-head prop. It is my job to take a short pass and do my best to gain a couple of meters by charging straight into and through the opposing team. During a line-out, I’m in the front lifting our jumper, then driving forwards once we have the ball. During a scrum I am in the front row, binding onto the opposing team and trying to gain control of the scrum.

Lineout Lifts
Lineout Lifts

One of the best parts of being a forward in rugby on a cold or rainy day is the scrum…cuddle party!

Thus far, we have only lost one game, although we did draw with North Otago the second time we played them.

Pirates vs North Otago
71 0
Pirates vs Alhambra Union
103 7
Pirates vs Varsity
7 31
Pirates vs Southern
103 0
Pirates vs North Otago
34 34
Pirates vs Varsity
31 29
Two of my team-mates after the game
Two of my team-mates after the game

We have two more rugby games before the semi-finals and are hopeful that we can bring home the banner this year!

Rugby Injuries

Of course, you can’t play a full contact sport like rugby without a couple of injuries. Luckily, having a free and dedicated physio and clinic is part of being in the club!! Andrew’s injuries have luckily been quite minor, limited to a grade 1 hamstring pull and a few bruises and scrapes.

I, unfortunately, haven’t been quite so lucky. With only 3 minutes left in our game against Varsity I took a bad tackle from one of their props and felt my knee snap to the side, out of joint, and then back in. I then decided that it would be a very good idea to just lay on the field for awhile.

Owie...well taped up knee!
Owie…well taped up knee!

I was apparently quite concerned about where my mouthguard had gone since I lost it in the tackle (I got hit HARD). I mainly remember a lot of ouchie.

I am exceptionally grateful to my amazing team, from the opposing team’s physio who checked me out at the field (our physio was playing), to the manager who helped me off the field, to my awesome team-mates who took me to the sports clinic, took me to get crutches and dinner, and helped take care of me until Andrew could get off work. I couldn’t have done it without them!

As for rehab…it’s going…slowly…

It’s only been 4 weeks (I keep reminding myself). I have/had a grade 2 MCL sprain (the ligament on the inside of the knee) and possible/probable damage to the meniscus (which is the cartilage in the knee joint). The sprain is healing quite nicely, but I haven’t yet managed to regain mobility in the knee. It will bend from 0-90 degrees and simply refuses to bend further. I shouldn’t be able to put full weight on it, but I can. I can also manage all of the physio exercises without any difficulty…apart from my knee not bending. So it is probably off to the MRI to figure out exactly what is going on and why it won’t bend.

A Quick Update!

Life really does get in the way sometimes! But they do say that time flies when you are having fun.

So…what’s been going on? Just a quick update for today, but look for posts on each topic in the coming weeks!

RUGBY!!!

Pirates Women Take on North Otago
Pirates Women Take on North Otago

Rugby may or may not have consumed our lives. That’s a good thing though! Andrew and I have been having a great time playing for the Pirates club in Dunedin, New Zealand. Andrew is playing for the Prem 2 team, whereas I am playing for the women’s team. More on this to come!

Pirates Men take on Taierie
Pirates Men take on Taierie

Unfortunately, I also sprained my knee during one of our games so I am somewhat out of action. Grade 2 sprain to the MCL with a possible torn meniscus. More on this later too!

Highlanders take on the British and Irish Lions
Highlanders take on the British and Irish Lions

Andrew and I also had the wonderful opportunity to watch the Highlanders take on the British and Irish Lions in the Dunedin leg of their tour. What a fantastic game!

WORK CHANGES!

Laundry Mountain!
Laundry Mountain!

I have a new job! NO MORE LAUNDRY MOUNTAINS! Instead, I will be working as an R&D Lab technician for Escea Ltd. They manufacture some pretty cutting edge gas fireplaces.

VISA UPDATES!

Visas are ridiculously complicated, time consuming, mind numbing beasts. This will simply have to be its own post.

So…as you can see, lots has been going on, I just haven’t had time to write about it!

GoFundMe Campaign

Sorry for the lack of updates these past couple of weeks. As you can probably guess from our struggles mentioned in the last post, Andrew and I have been a bit busy trying to get things sorted out.

We have finally gotten a quote for our van…$5000! Apparently it needs a new engine, installation, a new thermostat, to have the windshield removed and rust fixed, and to have rust fixed on the side panel before it will again pass inspection that will make it driveable. While I appreciate the NZ transport agency requiring each vehicle to have a warrant of fitness and thus ensuring that every vehicle on the road meets minimum safety standards, it is a bit of a pain in the butt sometimes.

Well, one of the downsides to awesome adventures is that we have very little in terms of emergency funds to handle this large of an expense. We did look at just scrapping the van and buying something cheaper, but the van is worth around $12,000 and the cheapest reliable car we could find was around $4000…so we might as well fix it.

We would really appreciate the help and support of our readers: if you have enjoyed the blog or have found any of my tips, tricks, and time or money-saving advice helpful, please consider helping out with a dollar or two!

https://www.gofundme.com/bebop-the-van-needs-a-new-engine

Hopefully we will be back on the road soon and providing you with more valuable and informative posts about travel and adventure in New Zealand and around the world!

New Zealand Rugby

Rugby is huge in New Zealand. It isn’t uncommon to see kids playing rugby in fields at a very young age and people tossing a rugby ball around on the beach. It is actually more common than basically any other sport, with the possible exception of cricket and skiing.

Kiwi’s are also quite fanatical and proud of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team. It probably helps that the All Blacks stand largely undefeated, with Australia and South Africa being their largest opponents.

Forsyth Barr Stadium Field
Forsyth Barr Stadium Field

We’ve been learning the sport slowly, and discovering the differences between league, union, super, 7’s, 10’s, and all the other numerous variations. It is quite a lot of fun though! I have always enjoyed watching the CFL and rugby is basically like football without breaks every time the players get tackled.

For Christmas, Andrew and I got tickets to see the British and Irish Lions vs. the local Dunedin team of the Highlanders in June. We tried to get tickets to the All Blacks, but they are popular enough that ticket sales are generally by ballot/lottery to be able to purchase them. The last time the Lions faced off against the All Blacks was back in 2005 and it was quite the game!

Andrew and I had the opportunity to see a Rugby league game when the Warriors came to town. Usually league games don’t come to as small of a town as Dunedin, but we got lucky since the Adele concerts forced a change of venue.

Almost a try.
Almost a try.

Andrew’s boss’s boss had corporate tickets in one of the boxes and invited both of us to join him. He had initially invited only Andrew and Andrew’s boss but one of his coworkers passed up the opportunity so I got invited as well.

It was so much fun! We had watched rugby on TV in the Octagon, but this was our first live game. It surprised me that there was no commentary in the game, which made it a little bit more difficult to figure out what was going on.

Rugby!
Rugby!

Thankfully I don’t mind playing the part of the ignorant girl, so I kept asking the guys questions on the game. Towards the end of the game I was starting to understand the rules.

It also looked like a fair bit of fun. Andrew and I have both been missing playing sports. He had been looking into hockey, but it doesn’t make sense to\buy all new gear or ship gear here until we know whether we can stay. So…we decided to join a rugby club in the area. We are both Pirates now!

Final Score
Final Score

Our first practice went well and we have been invited back to play. I’m on the women’s team and Andrew is on the seniors team (basically the non-premiere less competitive league). I have realized that I have lost a lot of endurance since being a part of the awesome Flux gym in Regina.

Warrington Domain Freedom Camping

Ah…free. Those words are some of the best words when you are looking for somewhere to camp. New Zealand has an amazing tradition of freedom camping, allowing people to find a beautiful location and stay the night.

In recent years it has become slightly more regulated since, with a rise in popularity, issues were starting to arise in popular locations due to the number of campers and potential cleanliness.

Warrington Domain
Warrington Domain

Rules for Freedom Camping

  1. Campers and Caravans must be certified as self-contained or park in areas designated as free for non-self contained units (defying this will result in a $200 fine!)
  2. Campers must park in designated self-contained areas. If in doubt, as locals or check with the regional council.
  3. Most locations limit stays to 2-3 nights in a 30 day period.
  4. Pack in, pack out! Please don’t leave a mess as this will limit the possibility of freedom camping in the future.
Our cozy little camper
Our cozy little camper

Camping in Warrington

Warrington, NZ, is a small community located about 30 minutes north of Dunedin. Perfect for a weekend escape, there is a nice surf beach and day-use facilities, as well as a large field, dump station, drinking water, and outhouses available for both self contained and non-self contained campers.

You can rock up on your bike, pitch your tent, and have a free night! Or in your campervan or caravan as well. All are welcome at the domain.

Eowyn trying to catch the Frisbee
Eowyn trying to catch the Frisbee

It was a lot nicer than Andrew and I expected. We had visited Ocean Grove, the other free camp near Dunedin, since it seemed to be closer to town.

The camping area can get crowded, so it is best to arrive early. In summer (December-February) you would probably need to arrive before 2pm to get a decent spot, whereas in the off seasons there are still spots available around 5pm. Andrew and I noticed that cars coming in after 7pm had a slightly more difficult time finding space to park, but there were still a few spaces left when we went to bed. Parking is open, first-come, first-serve, but try to make sure you leave some space between your unit and the ones next to you.

The cat's back room
The cat’s back room

The beach itself is fantastic. The ocean is starting to get a bit chilly for surfing without full wetsuits (around 10C in March), but on a good day Warrington is a pretty good surf beach. It is also great for shell collecting and relaxing in the sun with bright blue water, local birdlife, and soft white sand.

Nearby there is also a small inlet that opens up onto a broad bay that is teeming with native birdlife. During breeding season (January-ish) it is also relatively common to see seals and sea lions on the beach. Keep pets on leash and away from wildlife at all times.

Sleepy kitty
Sleepy kitty

We did take our kittens down to the ocean. They were fine in the tall grass leading up to the ocean but were quite uncertain about the big open space that the beach presented. We eventually coaxed them out and Tauriel promptly decided that the ocean waves required attacking. We dried our kitty back at the campsite, saved a lab from Eowyn (who thinks she can take on dogs, apparently), and made our dinner.

Losing a game of Stratego to Andrew...again
Losing a game of Stratego to Andrew…again

Andrew and I then settled down to an evening of board games and chatting with the other campers in the domain.

Forest in Warrington
Forest in Warrington

Camping in Warrington turned out to be a much better experience than we expected and one that we are certainly planning to repeat on nice weekends! I wish we had discovered it before summer was nearly over!

Things You Need to Know Before Visiting New Zealand

New Zealand is beautiful. It has a wonderful reputation for its stunning scenery, friendliness, and adventurous activities. Being part of the Commonwealth, it is easy to forget sometimes that you are indeed in a different country. So what things are different that might culture shock a traveller?

No Tipping

While this might seem odd, especially for tourists from Canada and the United States, New Zealand does not have a tipping culture. The minimum wage is high enough that even the lowest paid professions make a living wage.

Now, if you want to tell the taxi driver not to give you change or drop the change from your beer into the jar on the bar, nobody is going to object. But don’t worry about tipping the wait-staff, bell-boy, hotel cleaners, or other services.

Hotels and Camping

A vast majority of people choose to camp in New Zealand rather than stay in hotels. There are campgrounds everywhere, with most cities playing host to at least two or three. Most small cities will have a campground and one or two hotels, making travelling easy.

Camping in NZ
Camping in NZ

Pay Per Person

One major difference is that you will pay for accommodation on a ‘per person’ basis. Want to camp in a holiday park with just 2 people? $20 per person. Want to squeeze your entire extended family onto 1 site? $20 per person.

The Department of Conservation also has a few hundred campsites scattered across New Zealand, offering very basic facilities (i.e. pit toilets and maybe drinkable water). These will run around $5 per person.

You can also try your hand at freedom camping, but for this you will need a certified self-contained unit. Some of the larger campervan rental companies will provide a self-contained unit. This lets you camp for free in designated areas!

It Gets Busy!

It is important to be conscientious of timing when travelling. Even in the largest cities, every single hotel and campsite will be booked out during a large event like a rugby game. Particularly if you are attending a large event, you will need to book accommodation weeks or sometimes months in advance.

It is also generally best to avoid school holidays, as this is when most locals will be travelling, adding to the strain on the system. The busiest season is between mid-December and the end of January when most of the schools are out for the summer.

Room Service?

Room with a view
Room with a view

If you stay at one of the big chains, you can expect the same service that you would find in most places. However, the Hilton, Best Western, Ramada, etc. brands are generally not found outside of the major cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

For most travellers, this will mean staying at a smaller, locally run accommodation at some point in their travels. From a budget cabin at a holiday park to a large chalet, it is important to realize that there may be some differences to what you are accustomed to.

  • Kleenex/tissues are usually not provided
  • There usually isn’t a restaurant on-site, so bring your own food or be prepared to drive or walk to the nearest restaurant
  • Rooms are generally not serviced…so if you want fresh towels every day or your rubbish taken out, you will frequently need to ask. You will usually get odd looks if you ask for your bed to be made every day as this is just generally not done.

Linen NOT Included

Wow! What a deal! Only $59 per night for my room!!

Need Sheets?
Need Sheets?

Hold on and think for a moment. If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is. Make sure you read carefully when you are booking your rooms.

Many hotels offer super-cheap rooms (particularly at holiday parks and hostels), but there is no linen included. No sheets, no blankets, no towels. You can frequently rent the linens, but the prices are usually set high enough to discourage many from doing this (i.e. $10-$15 per person extra).

Eating

One of the highlights of visiting a new country is trying new foods and different tastes.

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Eating Out

Sticker shock much? Remember how I mentioned no tipping above? Well, New Zealand also includes GST in all of their prices, including into the prices of meals.

Delicious Pizza
Delicious Pizza

So, you might look at your meal and think “$15 for a burger? $25 for a curry?” Keep in mind that, while you might only pay $10 or $15 at home for the same meal, you aren’t adding a 20% gratuity and 7% taxes onto your meal.

Alcohol

Just don’t do it. A standard 750mL beer will run you around $9 at a restaurant. Best to swing by the grocery store and pick up a case for $30!

They are also extremely strict about drink driving here (not drunk driving).

Groceries

Grocery Store with a Sense of Humour
Grocery Store with a Sense of Humour

I’ll just cook my own food! This is a great way to save on costs, particularly for easy meals like breakfast and lunches.

However, if it is winter, expect prices for fresh produce to be high. Ridiculously high. Like $5 for a single capsicum (aka bell pepper). The cheapest is Pak n’ Save, followed by Countdown, New World, and Four Square.

A Good Grocery Store Lunch
A Good Grocery Store Lunch

Things will also have different names and stores will be organised differently from the ones at home. Expect your first shopping trip to take around double the time you expect.

Driving

To the left, to the left

Keep left! For a majority of visitors, this one takes some getting used to. Always keep left. On freeways where you have multiple lanes, keep left unless passing.

City Roads
City Roads

No turning

No turns on red lights!

This can get particularly confusing when the main light turns green, but the arrow stays red. Make sure you are watching the right light for the direction that you want to go.

All Around we go

New Zealand tends to favour roundabouts (aka traffic circles) to traffic lights about half the time.  If you are unfamiliar with traffic circles, it is best to take some time to read up on them. Never be afraid to ask for clarification when you pick up your rental vehicle.

Driving in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand

It Takes HOW LONG?

New Zealand is a smaller country. It shouldn’t take me that long to drive from here to there…it’s only 50km! Slow down and rethink that idea.

NZ Traffic Jam
NZ Traffic Jam

New Zealand roads are narrow, twisty, and different from what you are accustomed to. The average speed on highways is 100kph and in cities 50kph, however it isn’t uncommon for every corner on a road to be marked at 60-75 kph. Especially if you are driving anything larger than a tiny car, they mean it! Although it doesn’t happen as often, Andrew and I have encountered signs on corners on the main highway (SH1) that advised slowing to 15 kph for the corner.

Double your time estimates when planning your trip!