Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Forbe's Rates New Zealand

Forbe's rated the Top 20 Places To the world...and New Zealand ranked #4 with Auckland and #12 with Wellington. Not bad for a tiny little country with just 4 million people!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Useful Tool: Calculate NZ Driving Times

I found a great website today called with all sorts of information useful to the visitor and resident alike.

One of the most helpful tools I found here was the Travel Time & Distance Calculator.

Our holiday rental is going to be an apartment at the base of Mt. Maunganui (in the BoP) and we had discussed taking the Interisland Ferry to visit the South Island for a day. In my head, I'm thinking Maui-sized driving. We've done a lot of that.

So when I looked at the Travel Time & Distance Calculator, I quickly saw that a "day trip" to the South Island from the BoP isn't possible! It takes over 7 hours to drive from Mt. Maunganui to Wellington (where the Interisland ferry departs from).

I had no idea it would be that long of a drive. Certainly not Maui-sized driving!

We definitely won't be taking the Interisland Ferry this visit...much too far from our home base this time!

It does make me feel better though. I had secretly been wondering if I could live on an "island" nation. When we drive around Maui I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live somewhere that you could essentially visit everything in one day. Not that you could see or experience everything in one day. But just the smallness of an island...would that make me feel closed in?

New Zealand is much bigger than I pictured in my mind, and knowing I could drive for 7 hours and not be in the middle of the ocean made me happy. There is so much to see, experience, & explore and it's not all just a short drive away!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

FaceBook Message...

Got this message on FaceBook last week from a friend of mine:

"I just wanted to let you know that you have inspired my husband and I. Yesterday, I jokingly said "hey you want to move to NZ?"- I thought he would gape at me and tell me I was crazy. Instead he looked thoughtful for about 1 min and said "actually that sounds like a good idea.". so I told him about you and we said we would have to definately ... Read Morethink about it and it would not be tomorrow if we did it- but it is an option. but- you know- if we figure out it is not for us, your blog has still opened my eyes that there I can think outside the box and we can make a completely different life if we want to."

How neat is that? Maybe New Zealand isn't a good Out-Of-The-Box fit for your family, but consider something that is. Shaking things up can be good!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where Exactly Are We Going?

So how far is New Zealand from Texas?

There are approximately 7,392 miles between Texas & Auckland, NZ! By the numbers:

*3 1/2 hour flight to LAX, 12 hour flight to Auckland from LAX

*NZ is 17 hours ahead of our time zone at home. Can you do the math quickly on that one to figure out what time it is? Because I can't! To make it easier, I try to remember NZ is a day ahead & 7 hours behind our time. So if it's Monday 7:00pm in Texas, it is Tuesday Noon in NZ. Don't ask me about daylight savings time. I have no idea how that comes into play.

We will be staying on the North Island, in the Bay of Plenty...Google some's beautiful!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What You See Is What You Get

As with any trip to a new country, there's plenty of cultural differences to figure out. Of course, planning to
move to a new country means taking those differences a little more seriously and locking them away for future use.

Take, for example, tipping & sales tax.

In New Zealand, there is no tipping! I have read that NZers laugh at Americans who come visit and when paying for a restauraunt bill, try to tip.

This seems like such a strange concept to me...not to tip for good service. Tipping is such a part of what you're supposed to do here in America...I think it will feel really wrong to walk out of a restauraunt without tipping.

But I'm glad I know this little tidbit so I won't seem too touristy :)

Another interesting shopping tidbit is that the price on the tag is the price you pay. Sales tax is already included in the price. So no more having to do mental math to figure out your 8.2% sales tax...or whatever the sales tax may be in the area you happen to be in.

Tipping & sales tax are so ingrained in my head when shopping that it will feel strange to not worry about figuring it into the cost!

And speaking of strange...I have a whole big post in my head about re-learning to drive, New Zealand style!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Goal Achieved: Bach Picked

We've decided on the bach we're going to rent! It's a great two bedroom rental in the Oceanside Twin Towers at the base of Mt. Maunganui:

The Oceanside Twin Towers are the two white buildings in the center-left of the photo,

with Mt. Maunganui in the background

This rental will be our first vacation lodging in something other than a hotel chain. I am excited to have a full kitchen, and a washing machine/dryer will mean we can pack half of what we normally would!

There are two bedrooms, so Cowgirl can have her own bedroom and space, and Little Man will either bunk with us or join Cowgirl...not sure what his sleeping preferences will be in a year!

Everything in the apartment looks so well done...

So... Goal Achieved! We've nailed down our rental, for a price we're happy with, & can check that off the list.

On a side note, I almost dragged my family to NZ next week.

I was looking at air fare prices and next week the tickets for Premium Economy on Air New Zealand were about $3,000 total less than we had seen in the past for our 4 tickets.'s so hard to pass up a deal like that!

Luckily, Big Daddy filled me in on how airlines price tickets, and we are sure to find a good deal like that again.

And you will probably never, ever again hear me call a $2,000 airplane ticket a good deal. Call me a snob. I don't want to sit in Economy for a 12 hour flight overnight :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yet another reason...

I will certainly not miss summer temperatures like this when in NZ! Texas summers are for the birds!!