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Thread: Wellington, Nelson or somewhere else?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Post Wellington, Nelson or somewhere else?

    Hello - I'd really appreciate some opinions regarding location choice when we head to NZ in October - our residency has been granted and the countdown has begun, although it still feels like there's a lifetimes worth of sorting, planning and panicing ahead of us.

    I realise that Wellington & Nelson offer very different lifestyles and experiences but they're still the two that we've shortlisted. Foolishly perhaps, my choice of location comes before work considerations; one of the big reasons we're making the move is to have easy access to coast, bush and outdoor adventures to enjoy with our son so I don't want to sacrifice this to a 'great' job location somewhere less appealing to live. And yes, I know that just about everywhere in NZ has easy access to the great outdoors but I really want it on my doorstep!
    However, that doesn't mean we want to live in a stunning wilderness with naff-all else to do other than go 'oooh' at the view and 'aaah' at the wonderful (at first) isolation. This especially goes for my OH who is far more social than I am and wants a community to get involved with along with our 1year old.
    So that's where Welly comes in; an interesting, stylish, place offering a bit of 'culture' (whatever that is..), near the South Island but with a lot more to do when the initial desire to live the isolated dream wears off.
    However, my OH suffers from terrible earache in howling winds?! 'So why choose Wellington?!' you cry with disbelief! Because we've both been there three times (in the summer admittedly) and while aware of the winds, we didn't find them too overwhelming. Did they just happen to be the only 3 wind-free days in W's history? Ironically, I'm a keen windsurfer so I say 'bring it on!' At least I would if I was mean, selfish, inconsiderate fool...
    On the other side of the ridiculous coin is the fact we've never been to Nelson but NZ friends say it would suit us perfectly (is that an insult?). The proximity to the Tasman parks is appealing as well as the implied lifestyle that comes with the 'counter-culture' But would we after a while, be hopping onto a plane to Wellington every other weekend?

    So my questions are...
    1: Is Wellington really that windy and if so, which are the best location choices to minimise the gales, as well as being appealing communities to live in?
    2: Does Wellington offer easy access to areas that feel a bit wild and untamed, including coast and bush?
    3: Does Nelson offer the feel of a decent sized town, as well as the other stuff? And are places like Motueka, Richmond and Havelock worth considering?
    4: Which would you choose to bring up a young family in?
    5: Should we be seriously considering other areas that offer all the things I've mentioned but for some reason haven't thought of?!

    Whatever happens, I'm heading out a month early to try and finalise house rental etc so can at least visit Nelson..or any other places you think are worth a look.

    Thanks so much for any tips, thoughts or opinions you care to share!
    BK

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    USA
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    Definitely visit Nelson and see what you think. I doubt you're going to feel isolated there, if that's a concern. But there's a lot more going on in Wellington.

    The days when wind is not an issue in Wellington far exceed those when it is. Of course there is easy access to wilderness from Wellington - just like everywhere in NZ.

    My opinion is that it's better to initially move to the bigger place, and then if you find it overwhelming or otherwise don't like it, move to the smaller place (which you've had time to thoroughly explore on holiday).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    New Zealand
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    We made the choice of Nelson over Auckland (which I was brought up in) or Wellington.

    Nelson is a small city (about the same size as Stirling in Scotland if you have ever been there). There is a bit for a family do do but nothing like what is available in Auckland/Wellington.

    Having been here for just under a year, our children (4 and 2 when we arrived) are well integrated into the local scene and seem to have something to do most days. If it is raining though, the options are limited (fortunately, Nelson shares the honours with Blenheim for sunniest spot in NZ).

    Richmond and Nelson are more or less one continuous town - we prefer to live in Nelson as it is a bit closer to the things we want to do (but only 10mins in a car anyway). Motueka feels MUCH smaller (my parents and grandmother live there) and from your post, I'm not sure that it would be ideal for your situation. Havelock, basically blink and you'll miss it.

    My personal feeling is that, as you say, if you want a more rural/ laidback lifestyle with good weather and outdoor access while still retaining some city options, Nelson is the choice. If you wan't more culture/city/choice of multiple restaurants and shops with less easy access to the outdoors and fewer days you can so happily go outdoors, Wellington is to go for.

    By the way, if you are coming soon to look for a rental, there is quite a nice looking (on the outside, anyway) unfurnished family house at 4 Endeavour Street that has been available for rent for about a month. Probably they only want someone for 6months-1year as the owners are planning on moving into it when they finish renovating their current house. I mention it because there is often quite a shortage of family sized rentals. I don't know how much it would be.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2009
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    Martinborough, Wairarapa
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    It really does depend on your work needs, i am afraid.

    If you are wealthy and work is not a concern - Nelson! (Although flights to Wellington are expensive so I doubt you'd be hopping on them too often!). Its warm, sunny and artsy (although unusually they had a murder or two there recently) and has the best peanut butter ever.

    If you need access to serious work opportunities, Wellington is the answer. There's next to nothing professional in Nelson unless you are a medical person. All the government departments and multi-nationals etc are in Wellington. Schools are very good, so are hospitals in Wellington as well. Also cheaper access to flights (although Christchurch and Auckland are best of all for that).

    If you need Wellington work but coastal lifestyle, there are a number of places on the Kapiti Coast rail line north of Wellington that will give you that plus a cheap and easy rail commute: Plimmerton, Whitby, Raumati, Pukarua Bay, Waikanae etc.

    Plimmerton has some excellent conditions for windsurfing as well - I have watched some stunning displays of skill out in the bay there (lots of tricks and Big Air - as well as amazing speed) and there are often windsurfers out on the water so it must be well thought of.

    Reading your post, I'd head to Wellington and the Kapiti Coast before marooning yourself in Nelson. Better to visit Nelson and enjoy it from time to time than feel that you are not able to get the best work, schools and so on for your family. Certainly I concur with RJLink.

    Try Wellington for a while while you settle in and adjust to NZ - it will be much easier there to get the hang of things.

  5. #5
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    May 2009
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    Blenheim
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    ...if it is only for the peanut butter..., we can buy it here in the supermarket as well

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by newarrival View Post
    ...if it is only for the peanut butter..., we can buy it here in the supermarket as well
    Ha - we can get it in Moore Wilson up here sometimes too. I wish they made smooth though.......!

  7. #7
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    May 2008
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    Bristol, UK -> Nelson!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi Mac View Post
    Reading your post, I'd head to Wellington and the Kapiti Coast before marooning yourself in Nelson. Better to visit Nelson and enjoy it from time to time than feel that you are not able to get the best work, schools and so on for your family.
    Odd you should put it that way! We decided that we would rather move to Nelson and visit Wellington occasionally to enjoy the busier city feel when we want to, without having to live there!

    Of course, depending on your field of work, Nelson can be more difficult to move to; the major companies including government are located in the larger cities.

    I do object to the thought that if you move to Nelson you might feel you are not getting the best schooling for your family - most of the schools here are in the higher decile ratings, they all have excellent ERO reports and there is a good variety to choose from (faith schools, montessori, rudolph steiner, private) in addition to the more standard ones.

    As I don't know exactly to what "and so on" refers I don't know whether you'd be getting the best of that here or in Wellington

    Nelson has a decent sized town feel - small enough to start recognising people after a week or 2 (secretly I have decided that there are far fewer people living here than it appears!), large enough to have a town centre with a bit of atmosphere (sometimes obviously too much, see my "somewhat different" Nelson thread), the hiking trails and reserves on your doorstep, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, good swimming pools or beaches and swimming holes along the Maitai if you prefer the outdoors... A little less to do on a rainy day, yes.

    We also have good going winds if you decide to live on a hillside (like the storm that was whirling around last night) although we're not in Welly's league on those.

    As regards which is better for a young family - I would say they are both great places to raise children. The better place would be whichever place you are more settled and at home in.

    We're very happy with our decision to bring our boys to Nelson, in spite of my other misgivings!

  8. #8
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    Well, "and so on" might include Victoria and Massey universities, a rail network, a major hospital, more choice of shopping and entertainment, sports and concerts and "so on"!

    Flights back and forth are a huge rip off I think although I do know several people who live in Nelson but fly to Wellington on Monday morning for work, returning home on Friday night.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatieBen View Post
    most of the schools here are in the higher decile ratings
    Decile ratings are purely an indication of the socio-economic profile of the community the pupils come from and are used to determine how funding is allocated to schools. IMHO it serves no benefit in determining the performance of the school. In my experience my kids' decile 10 school appears to be quite complacent with its generally high-achieving student population and doesn't direct enough resources to those with special needs.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by norma View Post
    Decile ratings are purely an indication of the socio-economic profile of the community the pupils come from and are used to determine how funding is allocated to schools. IMHO it serves no benefit in determining the performance of the school. In my experience my kids' decile 10 school appears to be quite complacent with its generally high-achieving student population and doesn't direct enough resources to those with special needs.
    Not having children this is not an area of expertise for me, but friends who do tell me that they prefer the Decile 10's because it is indicative of the type of children and parents that will be encountered.

    No idea if that is actually true. I would have thought that in a state school system all pupils ought to get the same spend per head - or do they assume that Decile 10 parents can be made to pay twice for their child's education? ie once through tax and again through 'donations'?

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