What to expect… when you’re heading home?

1 month today we’ll leave NZ. After almost a year away, I absolutely can’t wait to see family & friends and I’m looking forward to home comforts and the end of living out of a bag! This milestone has also prompted thoughts about what it’ll be like to return home.

How much will have changed?

When you’ve been out of everything for a while, you feel like you’ve missed a lot and wonder how much will be different to what you remember. The big things like births, deaths, birthdays, weddings and engagements, but also just a year’s worth of the everyday.

However most people have said that, beyond the surface, very little really changes when you’ve been away. A friend of mine recently returned home after 5 years living abroad, and even then, most things felt the same as when she’d left. Hopefully it won’t take too long to catch up and get back into the swing of things.

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Getting to know the Wairarapa

An hour north of Wellington you’ll find the good life of the Wairarapa. Farm and wine country punctuated by small towns with big character. We’ve just spent a whistle-stop weekend in the region celebrating our birthdays.

Greytown

Our first stop was Greytown, which we’d stopped in briefly before and was worth a revisit. Its refined main street is lined with antiques and boutiques and beautiful Victorian buildings. We enjoyed brunch in Cahoots Cafe, who were proudly displaying their Dominion Post review from last week. For a pit stop, the cafe is a great place where the owners know all their locals.

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Walking above Wellington

Last weekend we wrapped ourselves up for the Skyline Ridge walk in Wellington’s hills.

We parked in Johnsonville and tackled Mount Kaukau at the start. The ascension took us above the suburban houses, which continued throughout the walk, on our left with rolling hills to our right. City on one side and country on the other. At the top we were rewarded with a 360 viewing platform, from which we could see across to the south island.

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Clothes shopping in NZ

Now I haven’t done a lot of shopping since I left the UK, but these are some of my thoughts on what to pack & what you can buy when you’re out here.

There’s no getting away from the fact that clothes and shoe shopping is more expensive in New Zealand – the products have got much further to be shipped! I also think that, in the majority of high street stores, the quality is not as good.

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The Road to New Plymouth

After a 3 day working week, we were lucky enough to have another long weekend to commemorate ANZAC day.

Our weekend was a bit of a Plan B thrown together at the last minute and we traveled North East up the country from Wellington, with New Plymouth as our final destination.

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6 months away: lists of sixs

We left the UK on 1 October 2013. Instead of a big state of the nations post, we’re going to reflect on our time away in list form.

6 fantastic places we’ve visited:

1. Russell in the Bay of Islands – The first capital of NZ; a beautiful coastal town with boat tours, great restaurants and a pebble beach.
2. Abel Tasman National Park – Spent two nights staying near the show-stealing beach of Kaiteriteri and an afternoon kayaking. Could have spent a week.
3. Marlborough – stayed on a vineyard and spend the day cycling around wineries and tasting their produce. Simply sublime.
4. Queenstown – only spent one night there (so far) but a great atmosphere in the town, beautiful scenery all around and exciting activities.
5. Kaikoura – even though we didn’t get to see any whales we had a great time in this little town, lovely food, beer and a great pebbly beach.
6. Monteith’s Brewery – lots of delicious beer – enough said.

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Finding somewhere to live in NZ

We’ve been very lucky in finding great places to live in both Auckland and Wellington. I did worry that we might have needed to spend weeks in a hostel, which may not have been so bad, but there’s nothing like being able to unpack after a few weeks on the road.

If you’re coming out to NZ and thinking about renting, these are some things to consider…

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