Tag Archives: new zealand

Lessons from moving away, and coming home

In January 2011 I moved to Sydney, and wrote a post about my first impressions of living in Australia. I’ve now been back in Auckland for three months and have learnt a few things from moving away, and coming home again.



We don’t need much stuff
Packing to move away was one thing, but packing to return to New Zealand was a whole different story. I got rid of SO. MUCH. STUFF. We really don’t need much, and for those of us who are likely to move again in the future, the idea of accumulating lots of things is a not an attractive one.

You adapt to your environment 
When I first arrived in Sydney, ordering a ‘trim cap’ in a Kiwi accent just didn’t cut it. So, I soon found myself asking for a ‘skinny cap’ to be understood. This conscious change gradually spilt over to most words that contained ‘i’ or ‘e’ sounds. Having lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, I also found myself starting yoga, spending my weekends in gym gear, making green smoothies and eating kale chips.

You’re not afraid of spiders anymore
After close encounters with orb and huntsman spiders, a daddy long legs has about the same scare power as an ant.

You gain a new level of independence
Time alone and distance from people who shaped your thoughts historically leads to a new level of independent thinking. You meet people whose backgrounds are significantly different to yours, and gain insights from environments you’d never been exposed to.

You are who you spend time with
As the quote goes, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. Thanks to my flatmates Claire, Jo and Nicole, I became a little more driven, manicured, fashionable and motivated in the kitchen. And I mean manicured in the literal sense – weekend brunching and walks to the nail salon are some of life’s simple pleasures!

You become an expert in communication
Most of your good friends and loved ones aren’t in the same time zone and you may only see them a few times a year, if that. But with a bit of juggling, keeping in touch when apart is easy with Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook and Snapchat. But you have to plan for it.

You get better at asking for things
Kiwis are generally agreeable and like to go with the flow. Australians are generally better at piping up about their expectations and things they want. Well – they’re better at piping up in general! But this forward confidence is admirable and is a useful characteristic to have.

Special friends become your family
When times are tough or there’s reason to celebrate, your flatmates, workmates and closest friends become your family. They’re there for support, for festivities and for adventures. Personal relationships are what life’s about.

Your priorities change over time
My time in Sydney was phenomenal. I wouldn’t change a thing. It contained some of the most challenging moments, but also some of the most enjoyable. It was a great time but about a year ago I realised that my priorities were changing and my environment needed to change as well. And that was a lesson in itself – to be aware of your evolving needs and changing the things that aren’t working for you anymore.

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Top 5 things to do in Auckland

Below is a copy of a guest post I wrote for GotSaga.com

New Zealand’s largest city is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. It is a prime destination for travelers who enjoy nature walks, bush walks and the ocean but appreciate the comforts of a metropolitan city. The driest and warmest months are December to March, but September to November and April can have great weather too. However, it is smart to always pack for the seasons because the weather conditions can change fast. This is especially important if you plan to go hiking.

1) Visit the Waitakere Ranges
Seeing the west coast of Auckland is like going back in time. The native rainforest and rugged coastlines provide access to walking tracks, beaches, amazing views and a range of activities. Piha Beach is one of Auckland’s best-known west coast black sand beaches and is a premium spot for surfing. Aucklanders will often spend a day at Piha over the weekend in the summer months. 


Hamilton’s Gap beach on Auckland’s west coast – photo by R Blundell 

2) Explore North Head 
North Head is a small volcanic headland in the North Shore suburb of Devonport, which is accessible from Auckland by car or a short ferry ride.  In the late 1800s it became the site of a fort to defend Auckland from a feared Russian attack. It was later expanded during World War I and II and now provides an interesting network of tunnels and bunkers to explore so bring your torch!


North Head – photo by M Dentith

3) Climb Rangitoto Island
Arguably Auckland’s most iconic natural landmark is the city’s most recent and largest volcano, Rangitoto. It is reached by a 25-minute ferry ride from Auckland’s Downtown and the climb to the summit takes about one hour. Bring your camera to capture the stunning views of the island from the ferry, and of Auckland from the summit. Note that the island has no shops so bring food, water and sunblock from the mainland.


4) The Sky Tower
Auckland’s most defining man-made landmark towers 328 metres above the city and offers incredible panoramic views. The Observatory restaurant has a great seafood selection, or alternatively visitors can enjoy a changing view at the revolving Orbit restaurant. Daredevils can take it one step further and do the SkyJump off the tower, or Skywalk around the pergola at 192 metres high.


Auckland City & Sky Tower – photo by Vince P Star

5) Visit Waiheke Island 
Waiheke is an island about 18 kilometres from Auckland, and is accessible by ferry from Downtown Auckland. Waiheke is known for its beaches, walks, friendly locals and plentiful vineyards. For a day trip, catch a ferry in the morning, walk to one of the beaches then go winetasting over a long lunch at one of the vineyards. Some of the most popular are Mudbrick, Stonyridge, Cable Bay and Te Whau.


Honorable mentions:

  • Have fish and chips on the beach in Mission Bay
  • Explore the Auckland Museum where amongst other things you can learn about Maori history and culture
  • Visit Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Adventure and Underwater World where you can come face to face with sharks, rays and other creatures 
  • Do the Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb or bungy
  • Explore the Matakana Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning
  • Go up Mount Eden and watch the sun set over the city
  • Find a café on Karangahape Road, Ponsonby Road, Kingsland or Grey Lynn and take in the vibe of the locals

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois (or contributing photographers)© 2010

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