chilling feet

chilling feet

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Journey to Kiwi Land and Our First Few Days

(Sunrise over Auckland as we landed)

We are here, how can that be?

When Sarah first brought up the idea that we could, if we wanted to of course, seize an opportunity to head down to Australia, it seemed like a fairy tale notion.  She could be a doctor and I could be a...well...whatever (I'm still joking I have retired and am now her personal assistant and event coordinator).  Through a long process and much discussion we eventually landed on coming to New Zealand for one year, hoping to experience as much as the country has to offer as possible.

But that was all talk.  We still had to negotiate so much before the final departure date that when we stood at the counter in the Raleigh airport weighing our bags to see how much money we owed the airlines for being over weight, our reality seemed anything but a reality.  The loss of family, friends, jobs, and our lives in America had all been weighed and been found worth the allure of a year in New Zealand, and yet here we were ready to shoot off into the void of the unknown.

(Auckland as the sun rises and we circle to land)
Sarah and I talked a lot about the mystery of what is to come over the next year's time.  We shared our excitement and trepidations, but in the end all we could think was something to the effect of, "Why would we not do this?"  There were so many people who as we talked to them about our plans would say, "Oh I wish I could do something like that," or, "Wow, that just seems amazing.  Do it while you can and before you can't."  And then there were the wonderful people who had already been!  They said things like, "I am still trying to convince my family to move there," or, "The reason I stayed in New Zealand is because ... (answers varied greatly)," or, "You should go and stay as long as you can."  I am so glad we talked to people like this with an attitude of pure love for adventure and New Zealand.  Otherwise who knows what silly fear or hold up could have kept us from such an amazing experience as this?!  The crazy part is that the excuses we kept hearing over and over again for why other people could not do something similar were just that - excuses.  Of course there are certain sacrifices and adjustments to be made, but people seemed to act as though these were insurmountable.  One such obstacle is missing the family.  Even that is hardly an excuse these days as I literally was just video chatting with my younger brother and his wife from all the way over here (and with bad internet connection).  It can be done!

(We cannot wait to go explore what we flew over)
To the point - we are now living in Invercargill, New Zealand.  This blog will be our attempt to keep everyone up to speed on what is happening in our lives down here, while at the same time hoping to encourage as many people as possible to visit/move/come/re-locate/think about coming to New Zealand.  In the few days we have been here we have enjoyed ourselves immensely.  We took turns learning to drive on the left side of the road (which is nerve racking at first and then super easy as long as you pay attention), went grocery shopping to cook our first home meal here, and are doing our best to get our first expedition planned.  As winter is ending, we are hoping to hit some of the slopes up in Queenstown before all of the snow melts away (we have been told there was a great snow just before we arrived on the slopes).  So look forward to some of those  pics!  

(Robert Sutton walkway to connect the trails)
The first morning we were here my body woke up promptly at seven in the morning (not normal for me).   There was definitely no going back to sleep so I jumped up and decided it was a good time for my first run in NZ.  After suiting up for the 39 degree temperature (I'll start using celsius soon and you will have to do your own calculations as part of a learning project), I took a right hand turn out of our house and within 300 meters came upon the amazing trail pictured.  For those non runners you may not understand, as I ran across this walkway I had a smile on my face which reflected the joy in my heart for having such wonderful running so amazingly close to my home!  If I had come and prepared this trail for myself it could not have been better laid out.  There are at least 20 kilometers (around 12 miles - we will start talking in kilo too) that weave all along this beautiful estuary and then into town all right out my front door.  I was so excited after my first run that I came and made Sarah walk down with me to take the pictures you see.  Simply perfect.  

One little fact about the Southern Island of NZ is that there are more sheep than humans.  Between our house and the trails just mentioned is this field with sheep.  Most likely this is a novelty to us because we have not spent that much time around sheep before, but it gets Sarah pretty excited when they traverse between the fields which take them directly behind our house.  We can just look out and see the momma sheep leading the little lambs through the good eating on their way to the other field.  To celebrate this the proper way, at least in my warped mind, we are having tacos tonight with ground premium lamb.  Yes a little strange but we are local now and we need to act accordingly.  

Not all of our posts will be quite this long.  We plan on having lots of pictures (it really is that pretty here) and fantastical stories (but they will all be real).  Our first goal is to buy some mountain bikes for transportation around town (bike lanes everywhere) and so that we can get up on some of these trails and see this place!  Please join us in our journey and by all means feel free to drop in!  At this point we have four parents, four friends, and one sister that are all coming for sure to visit (some of those are staying for six months!).  It's only been a few days but we wholeheartedly endorse NZ! 


  1. Brett,
    Sounds amazing! Particularly the trail part. I had one of the best running trails in Tucson 2 blocks from my house in Arizona (18 miles total), and used it in my daily run. I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy your new trail and your new travels. Enjoy! Oh and I love lamb and cook it all the time, tasty! (However here I have to get it from whole foods, lucky you.)
    Best wishes, Laura Langa

  2. Thanks Laura,
    We miss having the Langas around! I've been enjoying seeing your posts about the runs and the lengths of them too! Brooke already looks so grown up. You all should definitely come for a visit - come whenever you want and we will eat kiwis and lamb together!

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    1. Hey! (good ole' southern greeting)
      Great to hear you are settling in and had your first run! It will be so fun to read and learn the local catch phrases in your blog. What a wonderful way to journal the year in NZ and keep us all updated and jealous of your adventures! Can't wait to see pics of the house (visitor's bedroom?!), the town, the local people & cuisine and don't forget pictures of you and Sarah!! You're in our prayers and who knows...maybe those pennies we've been saving could bring us down under!!

      Love from Memphis,
      Does this mean you all have Traveler's insurance? :-) Cheers!

    2. Lisa - so great to read your comment. Glad you're enjoying the posts so far. We will try to include as many of the two of us as possible! We are hoping to ski tomorrow before the Spring melts away all of the snow.

  4. Sheep, earthquakes, and hobbitses! I just summed up New Zealand for you.