it is hard to believe that a year has passed since our arrival in New Zealand and I feel so bad for having waited this long to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to you for all of your help in the journey to our new life here in New Zealand.
It has been an interesting, difficult, exciting, stressful, fulfilling and eventful year for me and my family. I have settled into my job and the NZ health care system quite nicely and I am enjoying it. As with any job, it has had its challenges and frustrations but overall, it has been a perfect fit for me. The maternity care system here, though not without its flaws, is a pleasure to work in. I find the midwifery-centered care to be a breath of fresh air compared to what I am used to in the USA. Working in a Baby Friendly hospital has shown me just what is possible in the promotion and protection of breastfeeding and I continue to learn and grow as an RN and lactation consultant each day. I have also been enjoying my commute to work on my bike!
My family has made a mostly flawless transition to the kiwi lifestyle. We settled in Hoon Hay and have rented a furnished house for the last year. My daughter, started year 1 at Hoon Hay School and is thriving there. She is reading and writing and we are hearing the kiwi twang make its way into her conversations. My son, is attending a preschool (Kiwikids), thriving as well and he too is starting to sound “kiwi”. My husband has been fortunate to hook up with a group of Christchurch artists and (until the earthquake) shared a studio with them down on Lichfield Street. He has recently had his art accepted into the Little River Gallery and the Two Rivers Gallery in Cheviot. He is also showing his work in the “Art in the Garden” festival in Hawarden in October.
We have taken lots of trips and adventures around the South Island including the Otago Peninsula, Akaroa, Moeraki, Puponga and Farewell Spit, Kaiteriteri, Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs, Arthur’s Pass and we plan on many more adventures in the near future as we host a steady stream of visitors. We love the location of Christchurch and its proximity to so many beautiful places.
We have made some good friends, some kiwis and some ex-pats. I swim with a Master’s swimming team at Jelli Park. My husband is part of a Scrabble club and is planning to play in a baseball league this coming summer.
We have been plodding along quite nicely though the earthquake has added a fair amount of stress to our lives as it has with so many others in our fair city. Overall, we like our life here in New Zealand. The universal health care is a huge plus in our book, coming from the land of the underinsured. We are very happy with the education system here compared to our failing public schools in the US. We aren’t missing the banal political discourse in the US at the moment nor the very depressed economy (many of our friends have been laid off or have had difficulty finding work).
We love the myriad of activities that are right at our doorstep including fly fishing, tramping, biking, kayaking, camping….so many fun things to do here and it is stunningly beautiful everywhere we go! The culture here is not unlike what we are used to in Oregon- people are pretty laid back and friendly, not too “flash” and just pretty happy in general. On the other hand, there are some challenges to living here- my wages make it challenging to cover our monthly expenses even though we have pared down significantly compared with our lifestyle in the States. The housing is hard to get used to (lack of central heating, poor insulation) and we would find it hard to buy a house in Christchurch should we ever consider doing that. Day to day costs are much more costly here (ie. food, petrol, utilities, eating out, goods, services, etc). And then there is the distance from loved ones….phew! That is a tough one for us.
So, there you have it. A brief synopsis of our first year here in New Zealand. All made possible with your skilled assistance and kindness. Thank you Virginia and thank you to Tonix for everything. We could not have done it without you.
Cheers and with fondness,