As a family of five, we took the plunge to move to Aotearoa (the Māori word for New Zealand) from Derby in the United Kingdom nine years ago.
Initially, we lived in Taupō which is approximately a 300km drive from Auckland. We finally settled in the Auckland seaside suburb of Mellons Bay four years ago. We love our life here and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Making the right move for our family
The draw of family life in New Zealand was a big one for us, as was the warmer climate. It is worth knowing that Auckland does have a lot of rain at certain times of the year and it also gets cold in the winter months but much to our delight, it never feels as cold as the UK!
We wanted our kids, now teenagers, to experience a more relaxed lifestyle, explore the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful beaches with plenty of sunshine. Overall, we knew that as a family we’d have a healthier, better life here and we would be able to spend more quality time together.
The actual move was surprisingly easy and went smoothly. We were all excited about the adventure ahead and learning about what it meant to be a Kiwi. Looking back, the reality of the move was challenging in those first few months.
We all experienced a bit of homesickness, missing our friends and family, and my wife missed her work and social life as she didn’t find a job straightaway. She felt quite lonely in the beginning, but with the support of the local community, she soon made friends through the kids’ school and activities.
Embracing a new culture
I am employed by McConnell Dowell as a Project Manager, currently working on the America’s Cup infrastructure project. This is such an exciting development and will showcase Auckland as a world-class city. I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition in January 2021.
McConnell Dowell has been so supportive in making us feel at home. When we first moved here, the company sent us for a weekend to learn about Māori culture. We stayed on a marae (a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds where Māori meet) and we even got to travel in a waka (a Māori canoe used for fishing and river travel). We really appreciated the experience, and the kids had a brilliant time. It truly was a great introduction to the culture of this beautiful country.
Exploring the great outdoors
We’ve now got everything we envisioned when we thought about what our life in New Zealand would be like. Mellons Bay has a real community feel, it’s like living in a small town but with all the big city perks nearby.
We love the main street in Mellons Bay with its café culture, art and awesome people. We are close to good shopping malls in Botany and Sylvia Park, and the ferry terminal is nearby, so we can hop on a ferry to the city for a day out.
As well as the urban attractions, we’re close to some lovely beaches and have easy access to great walks and parks. Our favourite walks include Beachlands to Maraetai and the Farm Cove loop. Our kids love going out on their paddle boards – an activity that we’d never dreamt of doing in the UK.
Living the Kiwi dream
Our life before New Zealand seems like another world now and one that didn’t involve anything to do with the ocean – we lived a four-hour drive away from the nearest beach. Now, we are truly spoilt for choice. You’re never far from a beach in Auckland, and we’re still discovering new local places to visit and explore.
We enjoy day tripping to different parts of Auckland, like the rugged west coast beaches or going up north to the beachside community of Orewa. Near the city, you can’t beat getting an ice cream at Mission Bay. We’re always planning little trips and picnics or simply just grabbing a coffee and fish and chips at the nearest beach.
Our social life has changed a lot too. In the UK we’d have a family dinner at the pub and more family gatherings for holidays. Now we’ve built a family via the local community, the kids’ friends and our work colleagues.
We both worked long hours in the UK and because of the colder climate, we would go abroad a lot but living in Auckland is like being on holiday all the time. We don’t feel the same need to go away every school holiday because everything we want is on our doorstep.
After nearly a decade in this country, we know how lucky we are to be here and to be living our Kiwi family dream.
David Pattinson is an English ex-pat who moved to Auckland’s eastern suburb of Mellons Bay four years ago. He works for McConnell Dowell as a Project Manager on the America’s Cup project.