Smart Savings

The south Pacific is like nowhere on earth. It is very far away but that gives it is special cachet. You ae in a realm like no other. Since I am not including video or photos (we have Instagram for that), I will create a visual image for you to stimulate to seek further on line. You will soon see what I mean about what of the most beautiful places on earth consisting of 600 small island and the main areas of North and Small Island separated by the 14-mile Cook Strait.

The large island by the way is the 12th largest island in the world so I have plenty of room to roam. More geography lesson. You might have heard of Auckland, Wellington (the capital), and the Maori culture. That is a major draw to this miraculous place. You don’t need a huge continent to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

My spirit stays content when I am in a hot shower after a day at the beach. I am telling you this I am trying to save money. It is not that the cost of living is so great here, but that I want to live modestly without moving about. I want to be a local for eternity. One of my expenditures is for the electric hot water appliance so I did some research, read some electric water heater reviews online and replaced it. After all, this is not a cold climate – although the daytime temperature varies according to your specific location. I am not cutting down on food or entertainment or my social media as they are a way to mingle with locals and make friends. So good bye hot shower!

Brushing Up on My History

As I may have said before, I am not a native Kiwi. I wish I was, but we cannot choose where we are born, can we? At any rate, I came here on holiday and never wanted to leave. Now I live and work here and I am happier than ever.  I have tried to learn as much as I can about my adopted home, and the internet has definitely helped me with that.

I have been very interested to learn about the Māori people and their culture. If you didn’t already know, they likely sailed here from Hawaiki (the native island of the Polynesian people), 1000 years ago using only celestial navigation and currents. Māori built villages called pā to keep themselves safe. You can still see some of these sites, and if you come here for any length of time, you should. I recommend reading the blog posts on https://maoritourism.co.nz/ or visiting Rotorua to learn more about Māori culture and history.

The next visitors to New Zealand were the Europeans. Their first visit did not go well, and it took over 120 years for them to get up the courage to come back. First the British, then the French, arrived in the hopes of expanding their empires. The Māori gained a bit of a reputation, the country was nicknamed “Cannibal Islands” and for a long time it was just sailors, whalers, and the occasional missionary who bothered coming by. Once guns were brought to the islands, things got even more difficult.

Finally, the British decided to protect its settlers and the land. Māori chiefs agreed, because they didn’t want any other Europeans coming and taking even more land away from them. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, officially making New Zealand a British colony. There is a museum dedicated to the treaty signing, and you can learn more about it here: http://www.waitangi.org.nz/ or you can visit yourself.

Much of our government and education system are based on the British and show our colonial roots. Some colonial inspired architecture remains as well. But as New Zealand settled down and grew up, it formed its own allies and developed an identity all of its own. While still part of the British Commonwealth, New Zealand is a country in its own right and acts accordingly.

One of the most interesting things for me to learn about is the legends of New Zealand. Because the country has been occupied for so long, there are plenty of stories. For example, the Māori believed that New Zealand’s North Island was created by the demigod Māui, who fished it out of the sea using a magical jawbone as a fish hook. His four brothers carved up the fish for themselves, creating the topography we see today. Māori still call the North Island Te Ika a Māui, meaning Māui’s fish. And if you look at the island, you can see why: its head is at the south and you can see a tail-like shape in the north part of the island. The South Island is called Maui’s canoe, Te Waka a Māui. If you’d like to learn more about New Zealand legends, here is a fun page to check out: https://www.tamakimaorivillage.co.nz/2016/09/maori-culture-in-new-zealand-legends.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and maybe you learned a little something!

Best Travel Tips

Whether you are planning to visit New Zealand for a couple of days or for an extended trip, you need to do research beforehand. While New Zealand may not be the biggest country in the world, I think it is one of the best. Let me help you plan your trip!

There are all kinds of tours, which can get you real value for your money. You can choose from a variety of activities and find something really fun. Look online for tour sites and you will be all set. Be sure to check reviews to confirm that the company has satisfied guests. We have lots of tour companies, big and small. We used Active Earth and they have a helpful website if you are interested: https://activeearthadventures.com. You can also try http://www.tourism.net.nz/tours/private-guides-and-personal-service#tab-locations to get a guide based on where you will be.

You can pick a good place to go based on your interests. I will give you a couple of ideas, which will make your internet searches easier. Many people who like water sports and water recreation will enjoy the Bay of Islands. For the wine connoisseur, I recommend visiting Waiheke Island, where there are many fantastic vineyards. If you like cities, then you will love everything about Auckland or Christchurch. All the convenience of modern life but you can still experience the great beauty of New Zealand’s landscape. For the adventurer, Queenstown is second to none. There is bungee jumping, jet boating, skiing, and even cliff jumping. But if you really want to get a good cultural experience, please consider Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Here you will experience some of the great aspects of the Maori culture, including a “steambox” meal and a dance performance.

No matter where you go, you can find something to do and have a wonderful time doing it. The internet is a good way to research these places, and you can find lots more information at http://www.newzealand.com

When it comes time to rest your head, never fear. You can live like a local in a rented bach (vacation home), camp under the starry skies at one of our holiday parks, or pamper yourself at one of our luxury hotels with a high Qualmark rating. You have lots of options for lodging and will be sure to find something that fits your budget. Check out regular sites like Airbnb too.

Traveling is easy. You’ll find just about every kind of transport. We have cars, motorcycles, and motorhomes you can rent: ferries and water taxis that can take you to other locations: busses, trains, and even airport shuttles. There is some detailed information on the New Zealand Tourism Guide website in the transportation section to really help you out.

One last thing to mention: there really is not a bad time to visit. The more south you go, the warmer it will be, but in general the weather stays between 16° – 25° C. July is the coldest month, and Summer is typically from December through February. Weather.com will have more information.

If you have any questions about visiting, please let me know!

Info for Those Wanting to Move Here

Deciding to pack up your life and move somewhere else is not an easy decision. Or maybe it is and the execution of the decision is the hard part. And New Zealand being an island makes it a little more challenging to move to from elsewhere. There are some things that you should know before you make the decision to move, and some things that you should know as you’re moving.

First, expect things to take a while. Finding a job ahead of time will help, especially if you have skills that companies here are looking for. It will help you get a Skilled Migrant or a Long Term Skill Shortage visa. You can also come as a student or to start a new business. There is a website (https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas) that will explain it all to you and you can even apply online. If you are in the computer field, as I am, you have a good chance. The vast majority of visas are accepted in around a month, so you should be OK.

I recommend getting temporary housing that has the essentials already there, like some basic furniture and cooking items. Rent a furnished flat if you can. Prices are usually by the week to make it easier. Depending on where you are starting from, your stuff can take quite some time to get to you.

Speaking of which, getting your stuff to New Zealand can be a pain. Your stuff has to be cleared by Customs and Quarantine. They want to be sure you are not bringing any non-native pests to the island that can destroy the ecosystem. You may have to pay to get it fumigated or steam cleaned. If you want to bring your car over, it also has to pass inspection with the New Zealand Transport Agency. I recommend hiring movers who are experienced with this process. You can try getting a quote here: https://www.newzealandmovers.co.nz/moving-overseas/moving-to-new-zealand. Be prepared, it might hurt to look at the figures.

I don’t recommend tossing your stuff and just buying it all new when you arrive, though. The cost of living here is probably more than you are used to (unless you are coming from Australia and then it might be a relief). If you’re coming from somewhere like the US, you might be happy to know that healthcare is cheaper. If you’ve got certain types of visa, you get health care for free or at a really low cost. And there is the Accident Compensation Corporation, which takes some getting used to. If you get hurt, even if it is your own stupid fault, your medical and recovery costs are covered by this ACC. Emergency treatment is free, too.

You can bring your pets as long as they are approved breeds and from approved origins. The easiest way is to hire a pet exporter, like the ones you find here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/resources/registers-and-lists/pet-exporters/. They know what they are doing and it will be easier for everyone this way. It takes at least 10 days for your pet to clear quarantine before you can bring them to their new home.

If I’ve bummed you out or discouraged you in any way, I’m sorry. Read this, https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/why-choose-nz, and you’ll be back on track. Good luck and let me know in the comments if you have questions.

Sports Sites and Teams

There is a variety of sport here in NZ for you to play or follow. Like the rest of the world, we like rugby and football. Also cricket, sailing, basketball, netball, and others. The climate of New Zealand makes it easy to play most sports year round. If you want to join a team, it should not be too hard! There are also plenty of good teams to root for if you are not so great at playing on your own.

First, I will talk about one of the biggest sports here: rugby! We play both rugby and rugby league. There are professional teams, college teams, and then different groups can field their own teams. If you are interested in playing or learning more about the teams, you should start with http://www.nzrugby.co.nz/. You can find different leagues there as well as tips and other stuff you might want to know. If you want to get your kids on a team, check out https://www.smallblacks.com/ for a lot of good information. My favorite team is our national union team, the All Blacks. They are amazing! The lowest they have ever been ranked is 3rd, and that was over a decade ago. They are fantastic to watch and are always winning.

Football is another popular sport here. There are recreational leagues for us average players and pro teams for us to cheer on. There’s the Championship League, Northern Region, Central Premiere, Mainland Premier, FootballSouth Premier, and the National Team (The All Whites). While I like the national team, personally my favorite is Waitakere United. If you don’t already have a team to root for, I recommend checking them out. If football is your thing, there are a lot of great sites out there for scores and stuff, but I have found to be the FIFA website https://www.fifa.com/live-scores/nationalleagues/nationalleague=new-zealand-premiership-2000000123/standings/index.html to be most helpful if you need to know who is winning or where your team stands.

There are lots of other great sports here, but those are my two favorites!

If you’re into surfing, there are some good places to go. Raglan is the best. You can get detailed surf reports from Magicseaweed.com before you head out there. For skiers, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that skiing in New Zealand is beautiful and lots of fun. The bad news is that since our country itself is on the smaller side, so are our ski fields. However, we think they’re better than the European alps. Try Treble Cone or Whakapapa for some great skiing surrounded by some amazing scenery! Onthesnow.com has good reports on ski conditions and even some cameras so you can check things out.

Whatever sport you like, the best place to catch up on sports news for me has always been https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/sport. They do a good job of getting information and posting it quickly.

Do you have any go-to sites for your sports info? Let me know in the comments.

Film Sights and Sites

Let’s talk about some films you may know, or be surprised, that actually were shot on location right here in New Zealand! Although, if you have been here before, you may not find it so hard to believe after all. At the end of this post, I’ll even let you know how you can visit some of the film sets and locations. OK, let’s get started!

Beloved children’s book series are often filmed here. There are so many places around New Zealand that look like they are right out of a fantastical world and that makes it a dream for location scouts. It has also helped that some world-class directors who have made these films are from here as well: people like Peter Jackson and Andrew Adamson, kiwis both, often return to shoot on location. In addition to The Lord of the Rings movies, The Hobbit Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia films all were shot here. So was the Pete’s Dragon remake.

The film The Piano was set in the West Coast, so that’s where they filmed it. Some of the most iconic shots from the movie were shot right on Karekare Beach in Auckland. And, if you’ve ever appreciated the amazing scenery in The Last Samuri, you might be shocked to discover you were not seeing some remote area of Japan. In actuality, it was shot in the Taranaki region of New Zealand!

For horror fans, you may not know this, but parts of 30 Days of Night were shot in Auckland and the Otago region. Peter Jackson also shot the comedy-horror flick The Frighteners here, too. And when Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell wanted to do a reboot of their classic Evil Dead movie in 2013, they chose to shoot here in Auckland!

Speaking again of Peter Jackson, he also chose to shoot his King Kong remake here. You may be thinking, but there are so many famous scenes from New York in that movie! Yes, it is true, although Jackson had help from one of the best effects studios in existence, Weta.

And now that we are on the subject of Weta, I have some news for you. You may never have heard of them specifically, but you will know their work. They were the creative force behind the movie Avatar. Everything from the character design, props, costumes, and even the special effects were handled through Weta’s Workshop and Digital branches (and the sequels are also being filmed here). They also handle the digital animation for The Adventures of Tintin.

If you are interested to see the locations of different movies or TV shows, there are companies who do tours. They are easy to set up, and you can start your quest at here: https://www.tourism.net.nz/region/-new-zealand/tours/film-and-theme-tourssite. If you’re just interested in a list of the films shot here, you can check the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Films_shot_in_New_Zealand for a really good alphabetical listing.