It’s hard to believe it was 2.5 years ago we were stepping off the plane in Auckland, having just packed up our lives in Canada, about to embark on our adventure ‘Living a Kiwi Life’. As I sit here writing this blog, I am torn between the excitement of returning to Canada and the heart-break of leaving this beautiful country we have called home the last few years.
New Zealand has changed us. It changed us in many ways and I will forever be grateful for its stunning beauty, its adventurous culture and open-minded people who welcomed us into this country with open arms.
Packing up our lives and moving to the other side of the world was the toughest but best decision we ever made. It brought us closer as a couple, it opened our eyes to the world and another culture and made us fall in love with the outdoors in ways I don’t think we could have if we had stayed.
We leave here as different people. People who have a better appreciation for nature, who take advantage of the moment and love exploring our own backyard. We’ve had to learn how to live without the comfort of family and how to build our own traditions as a couple.
New Zealand pushed us past our comfort zone. I would have never imagined being able to hike for 12hrs a day for multiple days on end….and enjoying every minute of it! We’ve used New Zealand as our training ground for tramping, rock climbing and mountaineering and can’t wait to test those skills in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.
While this may be so-long for now, I know we will be back to visit and potentially live here again. There are so many things I will miss dearly about this country and as we embark on our journey back to Canada I began reflecting on the things I’ll miss most (and least) about life in New Zealand.
What I’ll miss most
1. Accessible Diverse Landscapes
Without a doubt what I’ll miss most about New Zealand is the beautiful, diverse landscapes that are just a car ride away. Within a few hours drive from our home in Wellington we could be on a snow-capped mountain, soaking in a hot pool or surfing a world-class break. This tiny little country is jam-packed with so much variety that I truly feel you could live here your whole life and still not have enough time to experience everything it has to offer. Even the South Island was either a short ferry ride or flight away and opened up even more grand landscapes with the Southern Alps, the West Coast glaciers and of course Milford Sound.
Being able to have our pick of so many different activities and landscapes to explore every weekend was something we tried hard to take advantage of while we were here. I’m excited to keep that passion alive to explore Canada and be able to see our own country through a new lens and appreciate what we have always had in our own backyard.
2. Adventure Culture
Appreciation for the outdoors and adventure is ingrained in the culture here. I love how much of a focus is placed on getting out there and enjoying nature, and the programs throughout the schools to ensure the next generation has the same appreciation and outdoor smarts as the last.
When we joined the New Zealand Alpine Club we had the opportunity to meet so many like-minded people who were just as keen to explore and learn new outdoor skills, many of whom have become some of our closest friends. Having a close network of friends with similar interests gives you enough peer pressure to ensure you don’t fall into the routine of life that so many people fall victim to. We’re going to miss our network of NZ adventure friends.
3. The Kiwi Cuisine
I’ve shared before a blog about my favorite New Zealand foods and while I’ve become slightly sick of the stereotypical ‘fush-n-chups’ and ‘pies’ New Zealand is famous for, it is the chocolate, feijoas and real fruit ice-cream I’ll miss the most!
Seriously – Whitaker’s chocolate is the best chocolate on earth. I honestly don’t know how I ate some of that garbage chocolate back home, but I know I’ll be stashing as many chocolate mint and hokey pokey bars I can in my suitcase home! And feijoa’s! The delicious, almost perfumery flavored fruit that most people either love or hate I will miss! Especially since the last 2 years we’ve been able to pick as much as we could carry at the end of the season at Jordan’s workmates orchard. We had so much in our freezer we had enough for smoothies and feijoa crisp to last a year! I hope we can plant some in our garden in Canada some day.
Lastly, the real fruit ice-cream. I will miss seeing the signs along the road, taunting me to stop and enjoy a cone of boysenberry or mixed berry ice-cream on a hot summer day. This may be more common than I realize, and I hope that’s true, but it was in New Zealand I discovered and fell in love with that delicious ice-cream!
4. The People
As it was when we left Canada, leaving the people is the hardest. We’ve made some great friendships here and ones I know will continue despite the distance between us. Living this far from your family, these friends become like a family. We’ve been lucky to meet people from all over the world and I know we’ll continue to keep those connections in tact and will see those folks again either in New Zealand or another adventure in the future!
5. The Little Stuff
There are lots of little things I’m going to miss. Like having the taxes included in prices, not being obligated to tip, being able to book our movie seats in advance and having 365 days of scooter weather! And I may be a little bias but I’m going to miss my BNZ banking. Seriously it is the most innovative internet banking in the world and I just hope RBC in Canada takes notices of what little ol’BNZ is doing down here and hurry up and make their internet banking look like it’s 2016!
While there are many things about New Zealand I will miss dearly, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t things I couldn’t wait to leave behind. Freezing cold houses in winter, high gas and retail prices, lack of proper seasons and being so far away from family to name just a few. No place is perfect, and while many of these are trivial things compared to the incredible experience we’ve had I couldn’t help but call out a few!
So farewell for now sweet New Zealand – stay awesome and I look forward to seeing you again soon!