Advice needed July ski trip....and not coming home

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by soza, Jan 12, 2016.


    soza Active Member

    We almost crossed the ditch last year but things got put back, looks like 2016 will be a dead cert.

    Looking for advice and tips not only for a South Island snow trip in July but would also love to hear from other expats who have made the trip permanent……..especially considering we have never been to NZ before!

    Before anyone freaks at that notion don’t worry its fine we do it often and i`m sure we will love the place….if not its just a year or two that we can put down to experience and return to the life/jobs we have here.

    Who and why?....

    Me and the mrs are nurses and we have a nine year old son, we live just outside Wodonga NE Victoria, moved here 3 years ago from up near Byron. Initially only supposed to be for a year but loved having access to the mountains and getting back on the snow, climbing, hiking and biking. Having worked with a few kiwis we know NZ offers more of the same ….. but better.

    Plus we have passed the 40 mark so its time to do it before its too late.
    We are looking at Canterbury as we have a nurse friend in Christchurch so know work shouldn’t be an issue, but also like the idea of been a bit further south. Timaru and Ashburton are other work options and that opens up places like Methven, Fairle and Geraldine as place to live. I love the idea of been near the coast again so my google earth day dreaming seems to hover around places just outside Timaru like Pleasant point, Caves and Temuka … about 20 mins to the beach or work and 30min to Dobson? with other ski options within an hour and half....sounds like heaven!

    So July, its school hols and me and the boy are having 3 weeks to hit the slopes and have a recce. Mum is off to Kazakhtan to climb peak Lenin and will meet us in NZ around the end of the month. (another draw card of NZ, especially for the mrs… shes an avid climber and found a new addiction in alpine mountaineering)

    Plan- (this is where I need some local knowledge, feel free to pick as many holes as you like)

    A couple of days in Christchurch to buy a car, insure it and sort road side cover. Get a new phone sim card and open bank account. Looking for a 2nd hand subbie …`forester or outback`. I will check whats going private or head to the dealers around Moorhouse ave. also need to buy some chains.

    Methven. Will pre book accommodation as its kids holidays (Redwood lodge, the blue pub, bunkhouse seem to be affordable options?) Possibly stay here about 8 or 9 days, Looks like my son ski`s free at Hutt and I will get the 3 peaks season pass for $600. Days its not worth venturing up the hill I can explore the area, check out Ashvegas and Geraldine, also nip back to Christchurch if need be.

    Fairlie for a few nights. Play it by ear a bit here. Check out Dobson and maybe fox peak if we can get in the accommodation there. Also want to check out Timaru hospital and real estate

    Lake Ohau Lodge. A mate with many NZ winters under his belt rates this as his favourite spot so going to book a couple of nights here on the way to QT.

    Going to save Wanaka for another time mainly due to having the remarks and CP season pass, also trying to keep cost to a minimum and from what I hear its hard work in QT. As far as accommodation goes the cheapest I have found is Goldridge resort or nomads backpackers. Depending on how long we spent getting here we may only have 4 or 5 nights here before heading back to Christchurch for the Mrs around the 25th July.

    Hopefully prior to moving at least one of us will have a job lined up and a starting date that would also give us more idea an area we need to investigate and look for rentals. We will also only be shipping essential and personal items (shipping recommendations welcome) and hoping they will be here 4 or 5 weeks after been shipped from Au?

    The itinerary above is in no way set in concrete, in fact its only based on limited online information so please feel free to offer advice and recommendations.

    See you on the slopes
    :thumbs: Kimski, essjaywhy, DeskRider and 4 others like this.

    Seth Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Bloody awesome.

    What are schools like?

    I'd probably be looking at methven or chch.
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    jab1966 Active Member

    Hi we moved from Perth to Sumner in chch 7 years ago, my wife works at Chch hospital and I set up my own business . We can surf,windsurf,mountain bike and ski all in the same day.the first 3 are minutes from our places in sumner. I am away today to Japan but can chat to you when back and let you know re houses, work etc and how it all works,
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    Do it,
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    If you were to live in ChCh city then Sumner is the only part of town worth living in. If you're out there it's good. Although it is an absolue **** to get through/out of the city from there post eq's, slowly improving, but a long way to go... In Christchurch schools will either be a pain in the ass of expensive from a parents point of view. It is the NZ capital of private/religious school ****wittery.

    I don't mind Geraldine in South Canterbury. Pleasant Point is a bizarre place, the folks have friends there, it's odd and I don't like it ha. Temuka is a bit of a pit, just a bogan rural service town, zero charm.

    I have always thought Timaru seems like not a bad wee town, reasonable climate, central to a lot.

    How important is climate to you? The further south you go, living gets exponentially cheaper (with the obvious exception of Queenstown/Wanaka). Still handy to lots of stuff too. If you surf, Dunedin is probably the best city you could live in in the South Island (every day I meet people who have moved here from all over the world for the surf, it's weird), national champs are on here currently. You don't have the clubbies on your doorstep like you do in Canterbury, 3 - 3.5 hours to qtown/wanaka, about the same to the McKenzie/Mt Cook. You've also got a lot of great biking on the doorstep, and are getting closer to Fiordland (which really isn't that close at all to Christchurch). Health services are a huge part of Dunedin, so work shouldn't be hard to come by. That said, as a predominantly mountain focused person myself, Dunedin is as far as I'd want to live from the Southern Alps (though there is a lot of decent rock climbing around town, and plenty of other hills within cooee, not much bush though).

    I'd seriously recommend travelling around the South Island for a bit before you decide where you definitely want to settle... Canterbury might be right up your alley. But also don't write off other places, for me the two most liveable places in the South Island (well city wise at least) would be Christchurch (well, Sumner), or Invercargill. Lots of people would scoff at the second suggestion, but it ticks almost all the boxes (the climate is something you'll love or hate, but when it's good, it's amazing). You have absolutely amazing coastline, from the Catlins in the East, though to Western Southland/Southern Fiordland (and the water is warmer than Otago/Canterbury. You are on the snow in Queenstown in 2 hours. 2.5 - 3 hours to Wanaka, 4 hours up to the McKenzie. Fiordland is on your doorstep (which will keep any climber/bushwalker more than happy for a lifetime, not to mention the lakes which are the most spectacular in NZ), and you can buy a house for loose change. On the kid front, I grew up in Southland, and am seriously glad I did.

    As far as I know, I don't think you'll struggle to find nursing work anywhere in the South Island.

    Your itinerary looks fine. TBH it would be hard to have a bad winter driving holiday. As far as car insurance etc goes, join the AA (for your roadside shit) and then get car insurance through them, almost always the cheapest way to do it. That said, getting multiple car insurance quotes is trivial these days. How much are you planning to spend on a car? Subbies are like the national vehicle, but cheaper ones will be rough. For similar money keep an eye out for 4wd Caldina's (Toyota), lots of those around too, bit more durable especially with high km's. For cars (and just about anything) have a look at , is helpful too. Trademe is good for finding rental properties when the time comes too, or (rental and sale).
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    Also, Queenstown does not need to be expensive. If you're already looking at places like nomads, then you'll be surprised to know where the cheapest winter accommodation is... pm me if you want to know more.

    hpsauce Dedicated Member

    Yeah.....being nurses you can pretty much go most places in the world and find some work.
    But a school aged kid can be a snag in small "country" towns. So I reckon it depends a lot on what you want for your kid re schooling. Traditionally a lot of kids from south island towns did boarding school.

    Personally, I'd look at where sizable hospitals are and work around that....Dunedin, christchurch.
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Draizuh Dedicated Member

    Red knows what he is talking about RE: Southland. He isn't a weirdo, i promise!

    Im from the Northern isle, and i moved down to queenstown orginally in 2007. I've left here and there for winters but it kept dragging me back in. I hate the downtown area, its a tourist trap full of booking centres for "extreme activities" (never done any..) and tacky souvenir shops for chinese tourists. It used to have a wee bit of soul but thats slowly being squeezed out by local conglomerates. These days Frankton is the real "town" for shopping etc. its growing at an insane rate and its a bit nicer than queenstown because in the winter it actually sees the sun for more than an hour or two. Yes all the drinking and eating is in Queenstown but to me you seem like the kind of folks who like to be outdoors....
    Which is why i moved to queenstown. I dont do it enough in summer but i love the mountains and winter and we have plenty of both!
    I backcountry snowboard 8 months of the year, 9-10 if its been a good season and im motivated. There is climbing everywhere, the Local climbing club does a great job bolting crags and producing decent guides. Wye Creek in the Remarkables has Ice climbing as well.
    Whilst i dont partake, the mountain bike scene here is nuts too. with Gondola access at Skyline, Occasional chairlift access at Coronet Peak, and now chairlift access at Cardrona there are trails everywhere.

    I recently decided to buy a house with my wife and we simply couldnt afford queenstown and wanaka doesnt sit with me (its not very cheap either) so we bought 50km south of queenstown and commute everyday. Its quieter, we got more land, more house and the views are just as good! We also love a bit of bad weather and we often get more snow, wind, rain etc down here too as we are just a wee bit further out of the mountains but also, sandwiched between to mountains, so it sort of funnels on in!

    To be honest with you, you could settle anywhere in the south island. You wont be more than 3 hours away from snow, surf, or climbing, or a city either way. distances here really arent that bad, nothing compared to Aussie.
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    Yeah, Temple basin is doable in a weekend from Invercargill by car.

    Dumph Active Member

    What about Oamaru? Always liked that town. Good coast and close to Ohau and Awakino is starting to take off again with some young club support.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    Yeah Oamaru's probably not a bad option. Fairly pleasant climate mostly, although it does get some of the same depressing coastal clag that Dunedin suffers from (not today though!)

    soza Active Member

    really appreciate all the feedback and advice, thanks everyone.

    Choosing a school is always a worry and a small 240 pupil school like Methven primary is similar to where we are now, we were more concerned with him having to adapt to a larger school in one of the bigger towns or cities. I hear that the schools have a grading system? I suppose this can be used as a bit of an indicator.

    I would very much be surprised if the place we first work and live is where we stay, QT and surrounds was always the draw card and if we were arriving out of season we may have headed straight there.

    Its funny, I have worked with a nurse from Dunedin and currently one from Invercargill. Both sound great places to bring up kids and have the bonus of closer access to QT. The Invercargill advocate tells me how her kids grew up taking weekend trips to the snow and had Fiordland as a back yard.
    Suppose the beauty is that no matter where we first start off we will be spending every weekend getting out and about exploring with the plan to find that perfect spot.
    We have lived like gypsy the last 15 years so it would be nice to set down roots particularly when the boy gets to high school age.

    At the moment we are 1.5hr each way to the Victorian alps and just over 3 to the NSW and in the last 3 seasons managed over 100 day trips to Falls/Hotham but only one weekend to NSW. Also with our jobs its hard to rely on the weekend get away thing so I think we need to be within day trip reach of a ski area. I don't mind driving 45 mins or even over an hour to work (if only working 3 x 12hr shifts a week) this opens up all that middle ground between the south coast and QT.....but that's all just names on a map to us at the moment.

    Canterbury seems a safe option to start with but its nice to have lots of ideas and options. I suppose this next month or two will give us more an indication as we put the feelers out for work.

    Jab1966 - Enjoy Japan!, Be nice to know your wifes thoughts on nursing in Christchurch or NZ in general.

    Draizuh - 9 months a year backcountry boarding ! ....not that I needed much convincing but that's got rid of any moving anxiety straight away. The mrs loves climbing more than sliding so its good to hear she will have plenty of rock to play on.

    Red Switch - Appreciate your comments mate, lots of advice to take on board. As for the car only thinking forester as that's what I have had here, Its been a great reliable motor that's clocked up almost 300,000km.....I could also keep the roof bars and possibly bring the chains with me. Looking to get something just under 10 years old and for +/- $10,000. I will probably buy from a dealer to get that bit of warranty/ peace of mind. As for insurance and road side AA sounds like the way to go. The contact I have in Chch lives in Sumner so look forward to checking it out as for the surf its been years since I last paddled out but would love to cruise a few in the summer or go out and paddleboard. As a goofy Kaikoura has always been on my to surf lists so looking forward to getting up there also read about a few nice waves around Timaru.

    thanks again for all the supportive posts, Im sure I will be popping up with questions and plan changes between now and the day we leave.

    Donza Pool Room

    I guess the other consideration is if you like Rural life.. somewhere out on the West Coast road would be nice.. My Aunty used to live at Darfield ...and one of my best mates is a nurse from Arthurs Pass... (he used to climb and BC alot)
    Commute into chch for work.. but legit mountains at your doorstep.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    Tbh, it would be pretty hard to **** this up.

    Donza Pool Room

    Could move to Howick.
    :thumbs: Dumph likes this.

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture


    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    I seriously wish it was viable for me to live in Middlemarch. Would commute into Dunedin. Wouldn't work for the Mrs though, risk of getting snowed in in winter would be seriously problematic for her job

    Donza Pool Room

    Nothing wrong with the North Island.

    Donza Pool Room

    Could move to Alexandra

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    Wouldn't say no to Alex. Decent climate. Just a few ****wits to deal with. Some pretty interesting organisations based out there.

    Donza Pool Room

    F''ken cold in winter and Hot in summer.
    Loses sun from that Range .
    Miserable place

    Red_switch Part of the Furniture

    One of the best places you could live in NZ for cycling, IMO. And not too shabby for ski touring either.,
    :thumbs: Dumph likes this.

    GlenH Active Member Season Pass Silver

    I have a 2 degrees sim card which I charge up every August and find them great especially with the deals you get that include free texts back to Aus.

    I've stayed in Lake Tekapo to ski Mt Dobson and Roundhill and understand it has a bit more to offer than Fairlie.

    I've also called in to Lake Ohau Lodge on the way to skiing a day at Ohau and think it would be a beautiful place to stay for skiing and cycling around the lake.

    You can read my report here if it helps:

    Enjoy NZ !
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    Beerman Well-Known Member

    Agree with comments on Ohau, but it is a very small field. Lots of factors to decide upon, enjoy.

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

    Would live in Governors Bay..... close enough to Chch but a beautiful location...

    soza Active Member

    Ok, looks like we were been a tad optimistic with the plan for early July. The Tajikistan trip for the mrs has taken a bit of a priority with planing and finances so going to sit the snow season out in Victoria.....Possibility of early to mid September....fingers crossed. Have had some positive feedback regards work at a few Canterbury hospitals so all good on that front.
    slowly packing up the home and selling stuff on ebay.....along with stocking up on toys to bring to NZ (splitboard nd climbing gear on order )
    I think I am right in the knowledge that NZ has a $400 limit on overseas buying before customs jump on you with extra charges?

    craighelo Active Member

    Yes correct, over $400 although I believe the wording is anything that has over $60 of duty/GST payable

    Judsta New Member

    Hey Soza!

    Well my Mrs and I are Aussie Expats, 40+, came to live in Queenstown permanently in 2011 after doing a year in 2008. Nice and close to home (melbourne) to visit family. The lifestyle is a little more relaxed than the city of Melbs for sure, access to the outdoors is amazing and we now have a little 'kiwi' kid 4 years old, who loves to ski and ride his mountain bike everywhere. Our initial challenges in 2009 were the limited jobs that paid well enough to afford a lifestyle in Queenstown. It can be expensive here (probably 25% more with wages 25% less) but we quickly judge the cost of a place by a $5 capsicum or $2.20 a little of fuel. The bigger picture reveals, no stamp duty on homes or vehicles, no capital gains tax (a new 'loose' law has just been passed), free medical and dental for kids to 18, $5 presciptions and a national free 'accident comphensation commission' program that sees your medical and income costs met if you are injured. You have to buy a lot of 'capsicums at $5 to pay for these savings!
    We came back in 2011 after selling our home in Melbourne and investing in NZ hatching our ski business,, never looked back, rewarding and challenging its a great place to make a life with a good sense of community. Better hurry though, Queenstown just got its first traffic lights!
    As nurses, the hospital is limited and small here, we have no surgery and its quite lacking, (our kid was born 2 hours sth in Invercargill) If you are to stay in your profession and want the South island then Canterbury may work.

    Good luck with whatever you do, lifes a journey!

    All the best

    :thumbs: essjaywhy, travelislife, soza and 2 others like this.

    soza Active Member

    Appreciate your feedback `judsta` good to hear you guys have settled. Nice to hear about some of the little cost savers because you do tend to hear a lot of negatives from this side.....too cold, too expensive, crap wages.
    I think you hit the nail on the head with the relaxed life, access to outdoors and perfect environment to bring up kids ..... and from what I have read Canterbury will give us that so yeah happy to make that a starting point.
    Who knows down the line where we will end up but we will certainly make the most and appreciate how lucky we are to even have the chance to take on the journey.

    expatgm Active Member Season Pass Silver

    Another positive relative this, we have our act together re broadband. I have fibre to my house, unlimited download $79/month. As opposed to the dogs breakfast which is my understanding of situation with Aussie NBN courtesy of K Rudd Abbott and Turnbull.
    :thumbs: soza likes this.

    travelislife Dedicated Member

    Looks like you have set up a cracking business Justin, good to here the change of scenery has gone well.
    Toto Warmlet

    Toto Warmlet Dedicated Member


    pedub Active Member

    Wow that second one really is a sweet burn

    Ajmit321 Member


    soza Active Member

    Made it!
    internet due to be connection next week so just a quick update from my phone.

    Been here 2 weeks and everything smoothly falling into place. Had a week in chch sorting stuff then a camp cabin in Geraldine for 5 days. Found a rental in Geraldine village and moved in a couple of days ago now busy buying bits of furniture and getting settled before our gear arrives in February.

    So far everyone is super friendly and helpful......sometimes it's hard to get away from folks that just want to chin wag. Definitely a slower pace and this we like.
    The internet and guide books don't do this area's beautiful! Lake! Never seen water that colour before.
    Timaru is only half hour away and work prospects looking good with the Mrs already going for a vacancy. Plenty of exploring to be done....going to drive out to peel forest this arvo for a bit of a walk.

    BillyKidd Well-Known Member

    Tekapo is great. And it is recognized as one of the dark sky areas of the world. Hence the observatory on the hill. Fantastic for astrophotography.