Our first weeks of summer in Tauranga were warm but very, very rainy although the end of Spring when we arrived was almost perfect as the above photo of the sculptures on Tauranga sea front shows. New Zealand is a very green place so it needs plenty of rain but it was excessive and I expect that is down to global warming!!
Auckland received 31.4mm of rain in just one hour on 4th December. It was also the second wettest summer hour on record, only surpassed by a wetter hour on January 8, 1975.
Our first two weeks were largely spent searching for a house to rent and you can see the successful result on the previous page. We will move in on 21st December.
Good rental property is in short supply here and we saw lots of properties which were unacceptable for various reasons. We were eventually fortunate to find a 3 bed roomed house owned by a young couple who are renting privately rather than through an agent so we can deal direct with our landlords.
The house is about 5 minutes drive to a big New World supermarket at Brookfield or a 20 minute walk. There is a small supermarket, which they call a "superette" here, a 10 minute walk away with a fish and chip shop next door. The city centre is about a 10 minute drive.
We could get no response to our email requests for the shipping status of our household effects from our removers, Doree Bonner in England, so I contacted The Moving Company who will deliver them once they arrive by container in Auckland. They did get a response and all our worldly possessions are still in Dartford awaiting shipment so it looks like we will be camping in our new home! We have ordered beds so will at least have somewhere to sleep.
The weather finally improved for us to get out walking. Sue Cox took us on an interesting walk through native bush and attractive urban areas of Otumoetai. We walked along the Waikareao Estuary bush track then turned up over Grange Road before dropping down a little valley to Vales Street and along beside the golf course before stopping for coffee in Bureta Road.
CLICK HERE TO REVEAL A MAP OF OUR OTUMOETAI WALK.
We concluded our walk after coffee by walking along the harbour front admiring Phil Collins house in the process of being sold and where I took the photo in the slide show above of a big German container ship leaving port and Mount Maunganui. An alternative would be to join the Waikareao Estuary bush track again at Maxwells Road. The walk took under two hours including the coffee stop.
The other photo is the slide show is of the Waikareao boardwalk which is further along the estuary past the Grange Road turn off which we explored another day.
New Zealand has some different ways of doing things as you would expect and we are in the process of learning. We have to organise ourselves with electricity and gas supplies plus telephone and broadband internet so were please to find Trustpower who can provide the lot. Not only that but if you sign up for a 24 month contract they give you a brand new Samsung washing machine which we needed so we did.
Christmas is of course very different here because it is hot weather and The New Zealand Christmas tree is the Pohutakawa which is just coming into bloom.
They still dress up as Father Christmas and sing carols though and we went to a carol concert in Tauranga Art Gallery where we were surprised at the excellence of the Tauranga Civic Choir.
This time last year we were in Birmingham Symphony Hall for a carol concert with The Sixteen and for an amateur choir this lot would take some beating.
When we left that Birmingham concert our train was delayed and we nearly froze to death on New Street Station and both finished up in bed with bad colds. This time we walked back to our car in 25°C sunshine!
Tauranga is approaching a population of 140,000 and is currently the fifth biggest city in New Zealand after Hamilton which had 160,000 in 2016. Our last home was in Cheltenham, UK, which had a similar population but is not classed as a city as it does not have a cathedral. Tauranga is expected to soon overtake Hamilton in size and is already the country's largest port both in terms of total cargo volume and container throughput.
60 years ago Tauranga had a population of about 10,000 and it has grown due to port development and as desirable place to live thanks to it's equitable climate, stunning beaches and beautiful scenery.