So last week we made a mad dash to NZ for a land release that we’ve been waiting for in Queenstown. We decided to take our two youngest (who will be moving to NZ with us) along to show them where we are hoping to settle so that they can feel a little less uncertain when we do move them over. My mum also jumped on the bandwagon and came along to see where we’re planning to move. It’s a big change for my parents as well so I guess actually seeing the place helps her to make sense as to why we are wanting to make such a drastic move.
We began by driving ourselves to Dunedin from Queenstown. We really felt the kids needed to see Dunedin, as it’s almost certain that’s where we will initially be based when they start school next year. The drive is spectacular. We went out through the Gibbston valley through Cromwell and then Alexandra, before going through Lawrence then on to Dunedin, or Duuuu-nee-din as the Google maps lady pronounces it (so ridiculous!). I cried. God damn it, it’s so beautiful. The kids were amazed. Mum was in a separate car (disclaimer – I was NOT driving a van through winding hills with two kids vomiting in the third row and screaming the lyrics to MUSE while she grew more and more shitty. Everybody wins this way) but was equally impressed. Win.
Dunedin was awesome. We were only there 2 nights and one full day, but we packed it in like friggin sardines. The highlight for all of us was the Otago Museum with it’s amazing butterfly rainforest (it’s truly heaven on earth, I could work there), planetarium show and fun science exhibits; and the good ‘ole Cadbury chocolate factory. So sad that they are ceasing production, but the tour will remain, which is a much needed boost for the Dunedin tourism industry. SO.MUCH.CHOCOLATE. The easter bunny is having heart palpitations and seriously considering bringing Colgate for easter.
We also managed to drive around to all the areas we have been stalking online for months to see where we would like to live. One of the most important things in our move is where our daughter will be able to attend dance classes. Dance is a MASSIVE part of her little life, and we want to continue to support that, (I mean, this kids dances everywhere > not kidding I have photographic evidence) so it’s become a huge deciding factor in where we live. Our youngest son can play footy anywhere (although just a different game, that will be interesting. More to come on that front). Anyway, we found a little shop in the city where the locals buy their dance gear and I met the owner and a lady with daughters who dance. They were so helpful and friendly. In fact, that’s what stood out to us the most. Dunedin is super friendly. Everyone says hi. They are willing to help. They seem happy. That’s a great thing. Queenstown not so much, but we’ll talk about that later…..
So off to Queenstown we went. We made our way back around the southern way, through Gore (who knew it was the trout fishing and country music capital of NZ?) and Lumsden up to Kingston at the bottom of Lake Wakatipu. Wide open spaces filled with farmland and cattle of every description, rolling green hills and ragged brown escarpments which finally gave way to the crystal blue-green waters of Lake Wakatipu and the joy inducing Remarkables mountain range. My heart.
Upon driving toward Frankton (on the outskirts of Queenstown) we drove into the area where we were hoping to secure a piece of land on Saturday. Immediately my mum understood. It’s spectacular. You can’t beat it. The place is like something out of a fairytale. Check out Hanley’s Farm to see where our dream house would be. Also search Dalefield to see where I would go if I had a few million to spare. Warning: may induce desire to move to NZ.
So we spent the next day doing the tourist thing in Queenstown. We took a scenic cruise over to Walter Peak Farm on the TSS Earnslaw steam ship, we rode the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Ben Lomond and had some luge rides and we had fush and chups on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. It was lovely. Holidays are excellent.
Then came sale day. So the list of people registered and invited by the developer was long. I mean, f*&king LONG. We found out were were #520 on the list of registered people and there were 75 sections (lots of land in NZ speak) available. To say I was being optimistic was accurate. The hit rate on the last few releases was only 20-30% though so anything was possible. NOT THIS TIME. It was packed. It was disappointing. It seemed like mates of the real estate agents and builders had just signed up to snatch up the land available, and as they called out the names one by one, hope were dashed. Three hours later, it was all over. They got to #180 on the list and announced they had sold out. Peoples faces were a mix of shock, disappointment, anger. One lady Kev my husband had spoken to was #184.Hate to have been her. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. To be honest as the week progressed we found that although Queenstown is so beautiful it makes you want to burst, the demand for property and the cost of living there has made the inhabitants not a lot of fun. People there are stressed. They have a housing problem, traffic is horrendous (yes, I was shocked too, but 40 mins for a 15 minute drive is not what we’re looking for), and the cost of a takeaway Chinese meal was $60 where it should be more like $25. No one was happy (except the people who owned the accomodation place where we stayed – I highly recommend Manata Lodge!).
It was a wake up call. Would we be happy in Queenstown if we couldn’t afford to live there? Could we work full time (because the cost would be so high that I’d have to quit photography and get a full time job somewhere) and get the kids to and from school and dance in a new town where we knew nobody and no-one seemed friendly? Would we even have the time or money to be able to live, to do things on a Sunday? TO GO SKIING? Why bother if you can’t? I mean, what’s the point? Quality of life is imperative. We decided Dunedin is a better fit for us.
NEK MINUTE: I receive an email from another land development I signed up for last year. It’s in a lovely area of Queenstown. They are releasing more land next week. FFS, we just let Queenstown go and decided on Dunedin. What the hell are you playing at universe?
SO. Here we are. Things are uncertain. Dunedin is looking the goods. We love the old houses there. We have met a lovely couple who are willing to help us settle in. Stay tuned for all the hair whitening and umming and ahhing. Grab a drink. It’s going to be interesting.
Anyway, here is our trip in pictures. The last day and a half of our holiday was spent visiting Arrowtown (oh god I’d love to shoot there), wineries and at the local indoor pool (which has waterslides!). Enjoy.
SO what’s with the lion in the photos? Leo is our travel lion. He comes on holidays with us and we take photos of his adventures. Just in case you were wondering what all the weird pictures of a small stuffed lion were about.
I have decided to include photos from both my camera and my iphone in here. The iphone takes a surprisingly good image in the right circumstances 🙂
Emma’s NZ Pics
Emma is our 8 yr old. She loves to take photos and decided to take our Olympus TG4 for a spin. Here are her best shots. I absolutely love the first one. Possibly my favourite from our entire trip. I also snuck one into the main post. See if you can pick it.