Houses and Cars and Schools, Oh My!

This page written circa 24 June, 2006.

We arrived in Hamilton around 7.30 a.m. Sunday the 11th June after a very pleasant Air New Zealand flight on one of the new 777s. After landing in Auckland about 2 hours earlier, we had been collected by a shuttle bus arranged by the University and drove through the sunrise into a cold fair day to the motel in which we were to stay our first night in New Zealand. They kindly provided us with a cold breakfast and thus fortified, we staggered sleepless into the heart of town to collect our rental car. Merinda managed to fall down a hill while traversing the Botanic Gardens and muddied both her jaunty fur coat and jauntier mood. Things went downhill (ha,ha) from there and yours truly shed a few of the tears that I had not felt only the day before but half a world away in Santa Rosa.

The next day was freezing cold with gale force winds. There were blackouts in Auckland and snow further south on the North Island. New Zealanders hastened to assure us this is most unusual weather for Hamilton. We would cross our fingers except we're afraid they might freeze in that position. We made our way to our furnished rental house in Clarkin Rd, Hamilton. It's a large lovely house with a few bizarre design flaws, like all the bathrooms being equipped with louvered windows (so always a draft) and the only shower, a cylindrical cave-like affair, located downstairs in the unheated laundry room!

House-hunting began soon after, and we all loved the first place we saw. This seemed too good to be true, so we sampled a few more places, but soon came to the conclusion that our first instinct was the right one. We made an offer, negotiated a bit, and are now 'unconditional' (and 10% deposit poorer) on the purchase of a most amazing piece of Middle-Earth. I could tell you all about it but it would be easier if you were to visit and type in ID#125986.

One week after we arrived I bought a 1996 Toyota Ipsum, a strange sort of cross between a station wagon and minivan that manages to fit 7 seats into a vehicle no longer than your average sedan. It's not fancy but it's cute, and I liked the look of it right away. It was also very cheap which is never a bad thing! I got the sensible car and a couple of days later, Jonathan finally settled on his almost perfect mid-life crisis car; a Mercedes Benz SLK230 Kompressor, silver, red and black leather, 2 seater, hard-top convertible. (The perfect one was too expensive.) Now he never has to take the kids to school - although that has nothing to do with why he chose a 2-seater, of course. I'll leave him to rationalise that to you all...

Schools are our next priority. I'd like Merinda and Edwin to start on July 17, at the beginning of Semester 3. Next week is the last week of Semester 2 before the 2-week winter holidays (vacation to you Yanks), so we have to decide soon. The schools here are rated in a decile system, 1 denoting lowest socio-economic area and 10 highest. A low decile rating is not necessarily a bad thing as those schools receive more government funding. A very comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each school is also available on the web. The one we most liked the sound of is Hillcrest Normal, which also has the advantage of being on the way between our soon-to-be house and the University (which would be great if Jonathan had a 4 seater car, but...) It has great facilities including tennis courts, netball courts, IT room, library and a heated pool, a decile rating of 10, and a very good reputation. I took the kids on an introductory visit last Friday, and they were a little overwhelmed by the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the playground, after the adult-supervised problem-solving-oriented calm of the Santa Rosa Charter School. It's a big school (about 480 students) and they all have recess together! Another option would be the local school, Kaipaki, which they could catch a bus to. It has only 67 students covering years 1-8! It has a fairly high decile rating (9 I think) probably due to all those property-rich, cash-poor farmers surrounding the school. We are planning to check out Kaipaki next week. I'll keep you posted.

Bye for now. Lotsa love,

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