Lots of tears… in fact I don’t remember when was the last time I had shed this many tears in such a short time frame. Everyone was saying, “Wow, what an adventure’ and ‘How exciting’ and “You’re so brave doing this,’ but I wasn’t feeling any of it. Our decision to move to Queenstown, NZ was based around many things, but bravery was not one of them!
Sitting on the plane out of Perth, I had more tears rolling down my face. I hadn’t even had a chance to say goodbye to my fur babies properly as I was still packing and weighing my bags to the nearest 100grams minutes before walking out the door. Like seriously, how much can you actually get into 2x 23kg bags? What is important enough to come along for the ride and what gets left behind to collect dust in a cupboard box that you no doubt forget about owning within a few months? In the end it came down to what I would REALLY need and a couple of very small ‘luxury items’ (eg.my hair-dryer for all those cold mornings) and everything else was left behind. I literally walked out the door to move overseas with 2 suitcases and carry-on…’What the hell am I doing?’ was flooding through my head, like a tidal wave after an earthquake.
The lead up to the move was one HUGE rollercoaster, juggling my part-time job and shooting projects for my clients right up to the end, WHILE trying to make the move happen proved a big toll on my mental state, but in ‘typical me’ style, it was mostly smiles and bad jokes masked by the pain of what was going on inside. The hardest challenge was the time apart from hubby for the 6 weeks, the more frequent the messages the worse it was. The scenery pics were beautiful but it made me just want to be there already, while the hints of sadness and desperation I was reading in between the lines and the rocky start to his ‘promised job’ made things extremely unbearable for the 6 weeks.
When I landed, I really did hit the ground running. The first week or more was like a hurricane of paper trails (to get registered and be able to work in an overseas country as a dentist) with hurdles along the way at every turn it really felt like an endless race, running and jumping over things with no sight of the finish line. You see the thing is, I had actually hoped to get a bit of a break from the dental world for a while and go do something totally different… Learn new skills and apply others to a whole different industry. Yet it seems that looking for work outside of your ‘trained’ profession, no matter what non-specific skills you may hold, seems impossible. I got so few responses to the 20 odd jobs that I applied for in hospitality, that i was left feeling deflated and questioning why they couldn’t see my potential?? Was I deemed overqualified or could they just not bother with me, thinking that I was taking the piss with my resume?
With jobs under our belt, finding a place to call home was the next challenge. As it turns out, finding a home in Queenstown is no easy feat, with rentals being ingested like hot donuts. With so many people arriving for short 3-4 month periods for ‘the ski season’, share houses are a big thing and so are the prices. Luckily for us, we learnt very quickly that the area we had hoped to settle in wasn’t going to work in winter (no direct sunlight all day and frosty roads with multitudes of accidents regularly throughout winter) as exposure to sun and good heating are a MUST for Queenstown (not pools, air-conditioning or proximity to beaches as we are used to).
So Hubby went on the hunt elsewhere and found our new home at Lake Hayes Estate and we love it here! We now call a very cute cottage on wheels home, and though it’s small, it is easy to heat on those super chilly mornings and we wake up everyday with mountain views and sounds of birds chirping. It’s 5kms to work and all the things we need to make life happen, but yet feels so far removed from the ‘suburbia’ cramp that we are so used to.
One morning at 3.30am, just a couple of weeks in, there was a very obvious rumble and shake that rattled our cottage on wheels, waking us from our deep slumber. It took a few seconds to register what the hell was going on and as I thought it, the word “earthquake” came whispering from Hubby’s mouth. Turns out that the Alpine Fault is way overdue for a BIG one and this little rattle wasn’t actually that small. It was the biggest registered activity for a few years in the whole area! Hmmm, something else to have to start feeling ‘comfortable’ with as possibly happening. Needless to say the earthquake emergency kit preparation was kicked into action.
BUT… you may be thinking, holy shit, was it really worth it? All these challenges and risks, has it been for nothing? As with every great adventure and challenge, you need to weigh up the positives… Our biggest drive for making the move was to find a lifestyle that made us happy. The 6 day week grind, coming home exhausted and not having energy to do anything for the ‘day off’ made life very unhappy. Add to that constantly unpredictable work and a slumping economy and the unhappiness factor triples.
Happiness for me is many things, but I know that the one time I am always aware of being happy is when I am in beautiful places. Being a creative & a photographer, I have always admired natural beauty in all its forms. The patterns, colours, textures, light (& shadows), reflections… and that, there is NO shortage of in Queenstown. Everyday, the same spot looks completely different, even at a different time of day. The changing light, the clouds, fog or frost, more or less snow as it falls and melts over the mountains, the varying colours in the sky and on the mountain snow. This ever changing appearance of the landscape is inspiring, remarkable and soul-cleansing. You can never get sick of it and just when it think you have seen it at its best, it smashes out another surprise!
So what is chasing happiness? Mountain views out the windows, a relaxed approach to life, stunning scenery in every direction we look or drive, hundreds of kilometres of walk and bike trails at every turn, the cool crisp weather (with the snow) and of course - the fresh air!!
Stay in focus and look out for more from our adventures in Kiwiland