I cannot believe that it was a month ago that we were leaving New Zealand and headed for Australia!

It was a crazy morning to get to the airport. We had to finish packing, clean our house and sell our car back to the dealership. And get the kids to their schools to say good bye. And all of this needed to happen by 1pm! It was a crazy morning.

But, spoiler alert, we did it!

And celebrated with peanut butter and jelly at the airport. Smile 


Jake was SO excited for the airplane.


We flew from Gisborne to Auckland (1 hour flight) then to Brisbane Australia (about 3 1/2 hour flight).

We were able to stay with my friend Julia in Brisbane. Julia is a fellow GP who worked at the clinic that I was at in Gisborne when they needed extra help. We quickly became friends. The boys loved her and affectionately referred to her as their New Zealand Grandma.

So, it was super nice to travel to Australia, and see a familiar face and to have someone welcome us into their home. She had a bed set up for Luke and a pack and play ready for Jake.

Unfortunately, the three hour time change was killer. And Jake was up at 3am ready to rock and roll.


So, we took advantage of the boys being up and ready to go and headed out early to explore Brisbane. . .


Brisbane is on a river, so to get from one side of town to another, you can take a boat up the river.


Although Jake preferred the bus. Winking smile 


Even though Australia was headed into fall, it was still SO hot. . .





Luke got to hang out with Julia while Scott and I took Jake running with us. He loved the park + hot chocolate + lollies from the store #spoiled


Then, we said our goodbyes and drove towards the coast to take a ferry to Stradbroke Island.








It was crazy beautiful.




Our next stop was to head north to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.


We basically spent 4 days alternating between the pool at our house and the beach.


And yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds. Smile 








On our last day, we braved the pouring rain to go to the Australia Zoo.



If you ever find yourself in that part of Australia, it is definitely worth a visit.





Then, we headed back for one more night in Brisbane.

Back to Auckland for about a day.

And finally, Auckland –> Chicago –> MSP.

And home!

Next post –> thoughts on being home!

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I’ll miss. . .

It’s our last night in New Zealand. . .

And I’m feeling very bittersweet. I am excited to get home to Minnesota, but there are so many things that I will miss. . .

Dropping Luke off at school.


It’s a relaxed vibe at school in the morning. School officially starts at 8:50 but students are encouraged to get there early to play. I will drop Luke off at school on my way to work around 8:15 and there are always kids hanging out, both outside and in the classrooms.


The teachers are “around” but not supervising in any specific way, and the kids do great at finding activities to do. Some days they’ll be playing soccer or reading books, playing Legos or other games. And Luke always jumps right in. It just felt good. 

Starting the work day with karakia. I’m not going to lie, I felt completely out of my comfort zone when the singing and prayers started my first few days of work, but now I look forward to starting the day together. Everyone who is working in clinic that day comes out of their office to be together for about 5 minutes each morning before starting the day. How often do we just get to work, go to our office and stay in our own little world each day in the US? I’ll miss this. 

I’ll miss the coffee. Yup, it’s not like Caribou and their large is laughable, but it’s good. 


I’ll miss work. Crazy, right? It’s the same job as at home, but it’s less stress, paperwork, etc. It feels less like running a rat race everyday and more like taking care of patients and helping families, while having time for morning tea and actually having a lunch break. 


I’ll miss morning tea. And afternoon tea. And having a proper lunch break that allows me to go for a walk and eat lunch. Basically, morning and afternoon tea are our 15 minute coffee breaks. Most of the staff come to the break room to have a bite to eat and take a quick break from the day. 

I’ll miss Jake’s daycare. Especially Koka Trish <– his favorite. They have an amazing outdoor play area and they spend a ton of time outside, which is perfect for a little boy. 


I’ll miss the ocean and the waves. 


I’ll miss peer review. At 2pm on Wednesday for an hour, the doctors have a meeting (typically at the local coffee shop), to discuss interesting or difficult cases, issues with the medical community in town, new information to share, etc. This is invaluable and makes such a difference in connecting with the fellow doctors at the practice and working together. 


I’ll miss watching Luke jump his little heart out with his friends on the neighborhood trampolines. 


I’ll miss sitting on the deck in our front yard, soaking up the sunshine and the view of the mountains, watching Jake and Luke play with their scooters. 


I’ll miss the people.


The friends that I have made. There are some special kiwis here. –> specifically my co-workers, there are some amazing people at Puhi Kaiti Clinic doing wonderful things for the whanau (family) and the local community. 


I’ll miss wearing yoga pants to work. 

The Indian food. It’s on point. Mango chicken + onion and cheese naan makes everything better in Gisborne. 

The word “keen.” As in, I’m keen to try that new smoothie place in town. Or, are you keen to keep taking the medication? Try it, it’s a fun word. Smile

I’ll miss hiking up Kaiti Hill at lunchtime. Those views never get old. 



It will be so nice to get back to MN, to be in our own house, sleep in our bed, put kids to bed in their own bedrooms, see friends and family, to resume our “normal” life, but this experience has changed me. I will always miss New Zealand and our life here. While Minnesota is our home, somehow New Zealand has managed to feel like our home too. 


We will be back New Zealand.

I’m not sure when and for how long, but we will be back.

Thanks for the memories. 


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Day in the life – typical New Zealand weekday

6am up +workout *I’ve typically been doing a CXWORX workout in the mornings before work.


7am breakfast + make lunches + shower and get ready to go


8:10 out the door to Luke’s school 


8:15 drop Luke off 


8:30 to work, karakia –> morning song and prayer together


8:45 start to see patients, typically one every 15 minutes, but on a busy day it can be more than that. . .


10:15 morning tea –>basically morning snack


10:30 back to work 

11:30 finished with patients (or nearly finished), admin time to finish up notes, or go thru results 

12:00 lunch time = walk + lunch


1:00 back to seeing patients


2:00 peer review 


3:00 more patients 


4:30 finished with afternoon patients, finish up last minute prescriptions, etc., out the door by 4:35 on most days. 

4:45 home + snack time


5:00 Run 


6:00 kids dinner + Popsicles on the back deck


7:00 kids bedtime 

**while both kids go to bed at 7pm, thankfully, they have separate bedrooms, so we let Luke stay up later and read before turning off the light. . .


7:30 finish making our dinner and eat

** depending on what’s for dinner, sometimes we have a family dinner together and sometimes we feed the kids first and have our dinner after they are in bed. . . because those who have young kids know that it is almost impossible to eat/enjoy your food while trying to encourage them to eat/not throw food/use your spoon/etc.


8:00 Couch + TV time 

9:00 brush teeth, crawl into bed + reading


9:30 sleep! 


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The Pro list of NZ

Alright, like I said in my last post, it isn’t all rainbows down here. . . but the rainbows they have are pretty darn amazing.


First of all, the weather is amazing. At least in their summer. It has a good mix of HOT HOT days and nice warm days.  And a 0.02% chance of snow. Not bad.



The beach.


The running has been phenomenal. While we haven’t been able to run on the beach (the sand is too soft!), you can’t beat the beach views while running.



The kiwi sense of humor is on point.



General lack of overreaction.  Folks here are willing to discuss and politely debate controversial topics without getting inappropriately worked up. For example, the Auckland waitress that referred to a group of customers as ‘Asians’ on their receipt, in lieu of a table number. Was the customer, and were her associates, of Asian descent? Yes. Is that a bone-headed way of describing a group of customers? Yep. As to whether it was racism, that question was debated on national TV and radio. Regardless of opinion, there was no picketing of the restaurant. Nor were there calls for the employee’s firing, or  public shaming. Most folks recognized that even if a poor choice, it wasn’t done with malice, and that we all make mistakes.

Tolerance. Along the same lines as the last point, it’s acceptable to have a differing political opinion and for there to be an open discussion about those differences without anyone calling for the others’ incarceration or impeachment. They don’t need to be politically correct. Heck, their football team is called the “All Blacks.”

Work is less stressful. Less paperwork. More thankful patients. Awesome co-workers.


Fresh fruit and vegetables. The plum tree in our backyard was amazing.


Lack of stop signs. Kiwis love yield signs and more common sense driving… which I am going to miss!

Kid friendly. I never dreamed that I would be able to tell Luke to ‘…stop playing with the neighborhood kids and come home when the street lights turn on…’ but you can do that here with a very high level of confidence that kids will be safe
despite not having an ever-vigilant parent’s eye watching over them. School is also more laid back and fun. There’s still work, but the kids aren’t being taught with the end game of passing a standardized test.


Scenery. Everywhere you look you see something beautiful. Ocean, mountains, waterfalls. Sheep. Sunrises and sunsets look like an ultra high-definition version of the Hotel California album cover.  The beach, ocean and waves. It just does something right for the soul. 


**thanks to Scott for his help putting together and writing some of this post with me. Winking smile

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It’s not all rainbows in New Zealand

So, I’m not going to lie, living in New Zealand for the past 5 months and skipping Minnesota winter has been pretty amazing.


While there are a ton of good things about living in New Zealand (spoiler alert: post on that tomorrow), there are some things that aren’t so great.

So, here are a few things that I didn’t know or expect when coming here.  . . 


Summer is great and they definitely don’t have mosquitoes like we do in MN, but man they have some crazy black flies. Thankfully, they don’t bite but they are annoying AF. 

We bought a car when we got here and will sell it back when we leave, but as part of my contract, I have a clinic car to use. .. BUT, I have to share it. The social worker uses it during the day. Which means that I have to either ask for the keys back at the end of the day or wait until he gets back from his rounds before I can head home. It’s basically like being back in high school and having to ask your Dad for the car to go somewhere. . . 


As you know, we are renting a furnished house. While it is a very nice house and fairly well equipped, I still miss our house. I miss our couch, big TV, my bed and my kitchen aid mixer! 

Living two blocks from the beach and going there all the time? Amazing, right? Yes, BUT the sand is SO sticky. And even if we go just for a bit, the kids come home covered in sand, which necessitates showers and/or baths and makes a quick trip to the beach so much more. . . 


Which brings me to the next issue. We are on a water tank here. Which means that we collect rain water, which then goes thru a filter and that is the water we use for drinking, cooking, bathing, brushing teeth, etc. But it also means, that if it doesn’t rain and we aren’t careful, we might have to pay $200+ to fill up the tank. Thankfully, we’ve had our fair share of rain in addition to being careful about our water usage, but it’s been a fairly constant worry.


We also have a compost bin here. . .Now, I know that some people use compost bins, but I am not one of them. And honestly, I don’t like it! I am looking forward to getting home to my garbage disposal. 😉 

Warmer weather = bigger bugs. I have seen (and killed) more spiders and bugs (including cockroaches) than I ever have in my whole life. And yes, I still call Scott to kill the extra big ones. 🙂 

Oh man, do I miss my dryer. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. . . but it will be nice to do laundry without having to check the weather forecast or put shoes on to go outside. And to have soft clothes again. 


Food! This is probably the biggest one. It just isn’t the same. They don’t have restaurants like we do, nothing similar to Chipotle or Panera. They have Subway, Pita Pit, McDonalds, etc. Hamburgers/steak/meat in general is just different, not as good overall. When you order a hamburger in a restaurant, it is almost like a meatloaf burger because they will add fillers into it and that is just standard here. 

**exception – fish and chips are always awesome


And desserts should probably be it’s own category. The level of sweetness here is not the same for desserts. Most of the time when we have gotten dessert, it is missing sugar. In ice cream, cakes, milkshakes, etc. 


I miss teaching BODYPUMP! They have BODYPUMP down here. Les Mills is actually based in Auckland, but because I am here for a short time and the two places in town that teach it have strange class times that don’t work with my schedule, I decided not to try to join and start teaching. But I miss it terribly and am looking forward to getting my strength back soon! 

It costs an INSANE amount of money to ship things here. The boxes that we have been sent have been at the cheapest $78! And it’s the same to send stuff from here. Even a padded envelope was $25! 

The toilet paper is just not good. We’ve tried a bunch of different brand/types, but it’s just thinner, not as plush? Again, not a huge deal, but it still makes a difference. 

Transportation here is cray-cray. There aren’t “close” towns. To get to the next nearest town is 3 hours for us. And it isn’t a straight, get on the highway, set the cruise control and go. It’s craziness of curves and twists and turns. Basically a nightmare for anyone who suffers from any car sickness. I have lost count of how many times Luke has thrown up in the car here. Sad smile


As you’d expect with living on an island, stuff is expensive. Like $10 for a block of cream cheese and $10 for a pound of chicken. 

In the grocery store and the Warehouse (sorta like Target), it’s not uncommon to have shelves be bare and not restocked frequently. Like Jake’s diapers were out of stock for 3+ weeks. And then sometimes instead of restocking, they will put in a “similar” product in that spot instead. . . which is frustrating! 

That they don’t have Target. 

The metric system. 

Driving on left side of road. It has not been as bad as I thought it would be. And honestly, you get used to it pretty quick, but it’s still weird. Even stranger is the windshield wipers going the wrong way. . . that makes you do a double take!


The break room always smells like fish. like always. 


And the biggest con to NZ, we don’t have any family/friends close by. Looking forward to having grandparents to babysit, having my sister over to bake together and watching The Bachelor with friends. Smile 

Ok. whew, you made it . . if you are still reading – nice work!

And before you cross New Zealand off your list, check back for my next post: all the amazing things about living in New Zealand!

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Two more Thompsons in NZ…

A few weeks ago, Scott’s parents, Lee and Way, came to visit for 10 days!

We were able to meet them right at the airport as they got off the plane on the runway! #smalltownnewzealand


We took them for a walk up Kaiti Hill to enjoy the views.



We drove north up the coast to Tolaga Bay to look at the long wharf.


Luke tried to boogie board in the waves but the wind was super strong with a storm coming in. . .



We did lots of fun things that I didn’t get pictures of during their time in Gisborne. . . they were awesome and watched the boys many nights while Scott and I went running. And one night for a nice dinner out. We took them out for donuts, coffee, pizza, fish and ice cream. And of course, beach time!

Then, we took a road trip together for their last few days.  . .

First, south to Napier.

Spent the afternoon eating traditional NZ “pies.” And exploring downtown. And a fun splash pad for the boys.

A nice dinner out for Valentine’s Day with a fish pond. .. 


Then, we hit the road again the next day to drive inland to Taupo.


We had fun soaking in the lake views during lunch and wandering around the downtown area.





Then, north to Huka Falls. <—SO cool!



And drove a bit further north to stay in Rotorua.



We had a busy day of exploring downtown, riding the gondola to check out the views and riding the luge a few times.

We also checked out the Redwood Tree Walk at nighttime. While the lights weren’t as impressive as we were hoping, it was still a cool experience. And shout out to Way for doing the tree walk despite previously saying that she was never going to do it!


The next morning, we were up and on our way for a quick stop in Whakatane and stopped for lunch and beach time at Ohope beach.





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Auckland {part 3}

The final leg of our trip was back in Auckland. . .

Day 8:

We landed in Auckland, picked up our rental van and hit the road to our rental.

We wasted no time jumping into and enjoying the pool!


Day 9:

I drove into Auckland City to Les Mills and the famous Studio 1 for a BODYPUMP class with Susan Renata. It. was. awesome.


After lunch, we hit up Kmart to pick up some pool floaties. . .




Day 10:

To the West Coast and Piha beach!

Unfortunately, it was overcast and windy which made it a bit cold, but we hung out, watched the waves and walked on the black sand before packing it up to head back home.





Thankfully, by the time we got back to Auckland, the sun had come out and it was a beautiful afternoon to splash and play in the pool.



Day 11:

We headed into Auckland to check out the Sky Tower.







And then thankfully, we were able to hang out in our rental for another afternoon in the pool and sunshine before packing up and heading to the airport at 5pm.


Successful vacation.


But we sure miss Aunt Laura.

Jake is still asking for her and wants to know if she is still waiting her turn for the airplane. Winking smile

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Queenstown {Part 2}

Day 4: We flew down to Queenstown, on the South Island. And whoa, the last 15 minutes of the flight was the bumpiest ride I’ve ever been on!


But 100% worth it for the amazing views! The city is nestled in between mountains and built on the shores of a beautiful lake.


We didn’t do much the first day, settled into our rental place, got take out for dinner and just relaxed.

Day 5:

Run along the lakeshore and apparently the sun is too bright for me to open my eyes Winking smile 


#icedcoffee #necessary


Exploring downtown



After quiet times for everyone. . .

We headed up the mountain.

Took the gondola ride up to the Stratosphere restaurant.


A fun buffet dinner. .. which was just okay, but I think we all more than made up for it with the dessert options!




Day 6: Our long car trek to Milford Sound (four hours one way!)

Darn mountains making the trip extra long!


And it was pouring rain most of the way. . .

When we got there, we took a boat tour of the sound and even though the rain was a bit of a bummer and we were all soaked, the views were worth it.






The rain made the waterfalls even more impressive and there was this fog that made everything look majestic.


I’m not gonna lie, the trip back was long but we made it. And I think we all said that the trip was worth it. . . but it will be a long time before I commit to an all day trip in the car with two kids!

Day 7:

Happiness that we didn’t have anywhere to drive or fly!

We spent some more time hanging out downtown and souvenir shopping.


Scott and I were able to sneak away during nap time (thanks Aunt Laura) to go for a nice run around a lake which was a short drive from Queenstown.


Don’t scoff at our average pace, their was a lot of steep grades!

Day 8: Back to the airport. Queenstown –> Auckland


Part 3 next!

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Our big vacation: Paihia and Cape Reinga {part 1}


While the polar vortex was swirling around Minnesota, we were on holiday (<—what they call vacation here) and exploring New Zealand! We’ve been looking forward to this trip the entire time we’ve been here. . .  finally able to drive/fly and check out the country. My sister, Laura, was coming for a visit and we decided to try to explore as much of NZ as we could and hang out with her. It was an epic 11 day trip together.

If you’re interested, I’m going to recap the trip in three posts.

1. Our time in the Northland <—North of Auckland to the tip of the North Island

2. Our trip to Queenstown on the South Island

3. Our last few days in Auckland

So, day 1 (was really day 3 for Aunt Laura after flying in from Minnesota). . . we left Gisborne and flew to Auckland.




The kids (and me) {and Scott too} were SO excited to see Aunt Laura. . . and Aunt Laura was SO excited to leave the Auckland airport after 5 hours of waiting!


We picked up our rental van and hit the road.


First stop Carl’s Junior (aka Hardees) for lunch. They have good burgers and the kids like it so it’s a win all around.

Then, we made the 3 1/2 hour trek up to Paihia, a small town in the Bay of Islands.


A quick trip to the grocery store for supplies and tacos for dinner and early to bed.

Day 2.


We headed to the very tip of the North Island to Cape Reinga (AKA: the “top” of New Zealand).



Super cool spot to see the Pacific Ocean meeting the Tasman Sea. The views were nothing short of spectacular.





Thanks to an awesome recommendation from a co-worker (thanks Doc!) we stopped at Mangonui fish shop and had the best fish and chips of our time in NZ so far!


And the view was gorgeous too.


On our way home, we stopped at this amazing beach.


And checked out the sand dunes. the kids loved running up and sliding down. . . okay, we did too. Smile 




Late night back home = pizza for dinner, showers and off to bed!

Day 3.

Up and out the door by 7:30 to go on a dolphin cruise around the Bay of Islands.





It was awesome to be out on the ocean and we saw a pod of dolphins with two babies. Adorable.

Souvenir shopping and quiet time for everyone in the afternoon.

Scott and I snuck away for a run while Aunt Laura supervised movie time with the boys.

Day 4.

Back to Auckland again to catch our flight to Queenstown. . .

Part two coming up!

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Scott’s New Zealand thoughts II

{and nerdy engineer thoughts}

I’m sorry it’s been so long since the last note, but just as it does in Minnesota, time flies here in New Zealand too.  I’ve been meaning to send a note with some of the engineering observations I’ve had thus far here in New Zealand.  When reviewing a quick list I realized that it would be too much for one email.  Also, some might be bored with it.  So, I’ve attached a few pictures, included some traffic nerd observations, as well as some general kiwi culture observations.

The pictures:  the first one, Redwood Forest,


is of the country’s first redwood forest that was planted back at the beginning of the 20th century.  New Zealand was quickly running out of timber, due to clearing for agriculture, and their native species are very slow growing.  So they looked to other countries to see what could possibly grow here.  They imported redwoods from California in the hopes of getting good hardwood.  However, due to the consistency of New Zealand rain, they instead got fast growing (soft) redwoods that reach maturity in ~30 years instead of the slow growing (hard) redwoods that their siblings in California turn into.  One part of the original forest now has a tree walk (which is pretty cool!)  Today, the country’s second biggest industry is forestry – the major supplier of that industry being the imported California redwood. 

Rotorua Outlook is at the top of a gondola ride to an alpine slide track in Rotorua. 


The picture shows Lake Rotorua, which is 14 miles in diameter and which also happens to be the caldera of a volcano.  Due to all of the geothermal activity, the city does have the odor of sulfur/rotten eggs depending on what direction the wind is blowing.

And the Napier View. 

Napier View

We went to Napier and while I’ve never been to the Mediterranean, Napier is what I imagine it might be like.  Lots of houses built on the hillsides, stair-stepping their way to the sky while overlooking the ocean.  And narrow, winding roads switching their way back and forth to get up to all of the houses.  Very pretty!

Napier had one of the first opportunities to play SimCity when a big earthquake hit back in 1931.  The whole town was decimated.  Two weeks after the earthquake, the Council passed a moratorium on any rebuilding in order to allow proper time for the “rational” planning of a new Central Business District.  Survey records and land titles were almost all lost due to the earthquake and subsequent fires destroying the City’s Survey Department and the land owners’ duplicate titles held in bank vaults.  Existing survey monuments became useless due to their movement during the earthquake.  When they rebuilt, they took the time to widen the streets to accommodate pedestrian and vehicle traffic, place power and telephone lines underground (to improve the City’s appearance) and then they rebuilt the bulk of the CBD in the art deco style.  It’s a very pretty city, and if you’re into wine it and the surrounding Hawks Bay area is the place to be.

Alright, so the cultural observations.  First, I don’t think you’ll find a more beautiful (and clean) country than New Zealand.  Adding to that, the people are incredibly friendly too, and they tend to take a very level headed approach to problems.  Case in point: sausage sizzles.  (A sausage sizzle is a pop-up booth outside of a retail store (similar to what the Girl Scouts do when selling cookies in the spring) which sells a fried sausage on a piece of bread, topped with fried onions.)

Bunnings, New Zealand’s version of Menard’s, had a customer sue them because the customer slipped in the store on onions that had fallen off of someone’s sausage.  Had this happened in the U.S., there would have most likely been a ban on sausage sizzles.  Bunning’s solution to the problem?  Suggest (not require) sausage sizzle patrons have their onions placed on the bread before the sausage, so the sausage will help keep the onions from falling off.  Awesome!

They also are facing similar struggles with regard to transportation funding that eerily echo those that we have in Minnesota.  When reading an interview with New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Transport, Shane Jones, I found the following excerpts most interesting:

What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges in New Zealand in terms of transport?  Well, the first challenge is the massive fiscal suck that metropolitan New Zealand, in particular Auckland, represents.  It has a huge population base, there’s a great amount – somewhere between 30%-40% – of our GDP tied up there.  How we adequately fund those growth pressures is going to be a challenge for any Government.  One of the responses is to incentivize people to move into the regions. That takes us to the quality of regional infrastructure, which is a key feature of quality of life.


There have been some highway projects that have been sent back for re-evaluation in regions around New Zealand and some people in those regions want to see those projects go ahead.  They’re nervous they might not happen with this Government.  What would you say to those people?  Let me talk about my own area.  They are not ‘nervous’, they are foul-tempered.  They have not restrained themselves in expressing their rage about me not backing the four-laning of Puhol to Whangarei.  I think what they fear is not actually what’s going to happen.  But we have $45 billion over 10 years (in transport funding) and Governments have to make choices.  I don’t think in the short-to-medium term it’s unreasonable that we take off the most egregious features of that State Highway 1.  No-one understands more than I do what a pig of a road it is to drive up.  But this is an MMP coalition Government and not everything that my party would like to see come to pass necessarily comes to pass.  So the four-laning speaks to a deeper problem.  How do we create a pipeline of all infrastructure projects that’s suitably funded?  Because as I say to those cheerleaders of the four-lane highway to Whangarei, the rhetoric may have been strong from the last Government, but nowhere in the Crown accounts was it actually funded.

I’m also really liking the road signing in New Zealand.

Their traffic control signage is quite polite:

“PLEASE STOP ON REQUEST” (temporary traffic control warning sign)

“WORKS END THANK YOU”  (temporary traffic control warning sign)




(The regulatory speed limit was 50, but due to heavy pedestrian traffic they were suggesting 40.  Also, speed down here is “40 k” or “50 k”…, they skip the “per hour”)

The best traffic control sign (so far):


Why?  Because we have nothing like it in the US.  The plaque below the exclamation mark changes depending on the circumstances, and runs a wide gamut:  Shoulder Closed, Signals Changed, Surveying, Hidden Queue, Trucks Crossing, New Road Layout, Event, Runners, Gardeners, Funeral…  It’s a great way to give motorists a heads up that something is happening ahead and tell them specifically what’s happening, so they can prepare accordingly.

The most confusing sign:


Why?  Because neither Katie or I can figure out how a car would physically make the skid pattern shown on the sign.

The sign most likely to be on a threatened/endangered sign list (if such a thing existed):


Why?  This country has figured out that Yield signs should be used unless a full stop is absolutely necessary.  And in those instances, they use a Stop sign.  Stop signs here in New Zealand are absolutely in the minority and it’s great!  The one downside is that it seems that they’re so infrequent that kiwis don’t know how to behave at a Stop sign (they treat it like a Yield sign).  D’oh!

The sign necessitated by frugality:


New Zealand has so many one lane road segments and bridges that they’ve created a sign to tell motorists who has the right of way at these locations.  If you are traveling in the direction of the white arrow, you have the right of way.  The sign is then installed, upside down, for the opposing direction of traffic.  In instances where you can’t see if there’s opposing traffic to yield to, they use a permanent pretimed traffic signal system (similar to a work zone in the U.S.)

The most common sign in New Zealand:


I believe that there are more curved portions of state highways (what they call their national routes) here than there are tangents.  As a result, you need a bunch of chevrons to delineate the curves.  You know you’ve got a lot of curves when you develop a flow chart like the one below to decide what type of curve signing is needed:


And how about this curve sign?:


It’s beautiful!  It tells you what’s going on and how you should prepare.  It’s front and center as you’re coming into the curve.

Alright, one more nugget of kiwi culture, for those that made it to the end of the traffic nerdery: your New Zealand to US dictionary:

Jandals = sandals

Trolly = cart

Pram = stroller

Nappie = diaper

Jumper/jersey = sweatshirt

Drink bottle = water bottle

Lollie = candy (any kind)

Chillie bin = cooler

Tramp = hike

Sweet as = cool (or in place of ‘yeah!’ or ‘yes!’)

Chips = fries (*measured in scoops.  Also potato chips are still chips.  Confusing.)

Slices = dessert bars

Biscuits = cookies

Fizzy = pop/soda

Fluffy = kids hot chocolate

Toast = bread (Also, toast is still toast.  Confusing.)

Grizzly = fussy

Cattery = cat boarding house (yep, that’s a thing here.)

Good on you = good for you/nice work

Cracker of a… = great/excellent (followed by a noun)

Meri (Merry) Kirhimete (Christmas)!  Here’s hoping that 2019 is a cracker of a year!


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