When looking on a map of a foreign country, all regions look about the same. But wait, it really matters where you go, especially in New Zealand, as it spans 1,400 km from 34° South at Cape Reinga on the Northern end of the main islands down to almost 47° South at Bluff on the Southern end. Thanks to the sea, temperatures are not as extreme as in Austria where we often had -10° or less in winter and +35° in summer. Here in the Nelson/Tasman area we have only a few frost-days around July/August and barely any days hotter than +30° in summer. The seasons are slowly changing. Check the sunshine hours statistics and the Climate overview.
When we did our research for the most interesting regions to live, we set a few criteria, not only based on the climate, but also on practical aspects:
- The area shouldn’t be too cold in winter. So anything South of Christchurch is a no-go for us. The winters are just too cold there, especially when living in a poorly insulated house (which 99% of all houses in fact are).
- The area shouldn’t be too wet. That removes the West Coast of the South Island from the list.
- We want to be near the sea. Good bye Central North Island (Taupo/Rotorua volcano area).
- We would like to have access to ‘reasonable’ infrastructure. New Zealand’s population density is very low in certain areas where you’d have to drive for hours to buy everyday-stuff. That pretty much drops the East Coast of the Northern Island and also the Northland at the very North.
- We love space and can’t imagine living in a busy crowded city. So Auckland with it’s collapsing roading and housing infrastructure is a no-go for sure and also Wellington (as much flair it may have) is too compact for our favour.
Coming from a country where winter basically means six months of the year with no leaves on the trees, we wanted to be in a sunny pleasant location. After some further research on annual sun-hours and rainfall, we basically came up with two options: Tauranga/Bay of Plenty and the Nelson/Tasman area.
Tauranga or Nelson?
Tauranga’s advantage is that it is centrally located on the North Island, which means Auckland is just a short 2.5h drive away. With 2250 sunshine hours it ranks third across all cities in New Zealand and the 1200 mm of rainfall make sure it remains green throughout the year.
Nelson’s statistics are not so different actually. 2400 hours of sun make it rank second place and about 1000 mm of rain is still enough to keep it green. The sun hours are actually only topped by Blenheim, but it’s extremely dry there with only 700 mm of rain, so it wasn’t an option for us.
To tell the truth, we couldn’t decide where to go, so we said ok, let’s check the available schools in both regions and decide based on the options we get.