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Thread: Moving from the US - any advice on Tauranga vs Hawkes Bay for family with children?

  1. #1
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    Dec 2010
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    Default Moving from the US - any advice on Tauranga vs Hawkes Bay for family with children?

    Hi Everyone,

    I would love any and all advice the collective wisdom of the forum can give. My OH has just received job offers in Hawkes Bay and Tauranga. I've only visited NZ once, many years ago, and have a vague memory of stunning scenic beauty in both places. We have two children, ages 7 and 9, who will be in primary, so finding good schools is a priority, but we're also interested in the community in both places. I've searched past threads, but I still can't seem to get a handle on the communities of each. I've seen Tauranga described as "like San Diego" and while San Diego is beautiful and has so-called perfect weather, I find it culturally a bit of a vacuum. I'm wondering if Tarangua is similar? Does it feel more like a vacation spot than a good place to meet other people with children, etc? I'm probably more of a Wellington person, in truth but alas there have been no job offers from there. Any advice on the general vibe of both places? Obviously, they're both gorgeous so I know we can't go wrong there. Thanks so much in advance.

    HP

  2. #2
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    Nov 2010
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    My preference would be Hawkes Bay (Napier) which also has a nice climate. San Diego is less of a cultural vacuum than Tauranga or Hawkes Bay but you won't be fighting traffic as bad as you find on the San Diego freeways.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2010
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    USA > Wellington, NZ
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    Thanks for the reply. For some reason, I feel like Napier seemed 'sleepier' when I visited those many years ago? But I wasn't married with kids then, so maybe it's perfect for me now. Mostly, I would like to have a sense of what people do in each place for fun and what the schools are like for the kids - I'm a writer and editor, so I like bookstores, cafes, etc. - but we're also moving to NZ for the beauty of the outdoors, so I'm looking forward to time on the beach with the kids, bicycling, and hiking trails. Everyone else seems to be telling us Tauranga is "where all New Zealanders want to live" - is that just because it's like always being on holiday? I guess I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing!

  4. #4
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    Apr 2009
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    I've only been a tourist in Tauranga...though I have been there a half dozen times. So I can't tell you what it's like to live there. When we scoped it out as a place to live (which was a few years back), it struck me as being almost as expensive as Auckland. We liked the proximity to the Coromandel, which is one of our favourite places in New Zealand. It felt surprisingly trafficy to me, especially for a city of its size. When we're there, I have some difficulty thinking up things to do (aside from "climb the Mount").

    On to Hawke's Bay: If Tauranga is like San Diego, then Napier is like a small town in Central California (only on the coast...maybe San Luis Obispo). Far fewer tourists make there way over, mainly because it is not easy to get here. Come through on a cruise ship day, and Napier is packed. It is the only time we here American accents. There is no shortage of cafes in Napier (or Hawke's Bay, for that matter). We even have a Starbucks...which I've never been into, because they will not take my US gift card with $9 (US) remaining on it. There are a few bookstores, though they are less abundant than the cafes; people are raving about this place: http://tweet2eat.co.nz/2012/02/coffe...-napier-south/

    And this would probably be right up your alley: http://www.pghb.co.nz/page/Kitchen_table_cafe

    For the non-serious cyclist, Hawke's Bay cannot be beat. http://www.hbrc.govt.nz/Hawkes-Bay/R.../HBTrails.aspx I say non-serious, because most of these trails are limestone...they are not the most suitable for riding a road bike, but they are great for cruising around with the kids. Lots and lots of hiking in Hawke's Bay, from Te Mata Peak up to multi day walks.

    My wife is a teacher (or was a teacher), and seems to be pretty happy with the public schools here. And if not, Havelock North is the boarding schools capital of New Zealand... The mayor of Napier seems very interested in promoting things for kids to do. Marine Parade is in the process of a substantial rebuild. Here's a recent newspaper article: http://www.hawkesbaytoday.co.nz/news...arade/1558934/

    Beaches: there are some very nice ones in Hawke's Bay, but they are not in Napier. Marine Parade is unusable. Go up to West Shore, and the water is calm enough to swim, but it's still not a beach in the California sense. Drive 20 minutes north or 30 minutes south and then we're talking beaches...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
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    We did a reccie in both places and truth is we prefer Tauranga, but then its personal choice. Tauranga can be town or tourist with Mt Maunganui just over the bridge so you have choice if you prefer beach or town but nothing is very far away. We have noticed an increase of traffic on the roads over the past 4 years but then its nothing like living in the UK, here a traffic jam consists of a row of 4 cars at the traffic lights. Everything is just 10 minutes away no matter which part of Tauranga your in. Yes it is more expensive than Hawkes Bay but then thats because its a commuter town for Auckland which is just 2 hrs away by car and 30 minutes by plane which seems to have good use made of it early and evening times.

    You can live outside in the countryside if you prefer and that means no distance at all from the town borders. We are currently in Omokoroa which is 20km up the road to the CBD lovely little coastal village and only a temporary rental until we finalise where we will be building our new house. We wanted to try living outside of town and truth is we miss the convenience but it has other plus points to make up for that.

    Everyone is really friendly and helpful no matter where you decide to live. Good luck and continue enjoying the roller coaster ride.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2010
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    You guys are killing me with personal choice - I want someone to tell me which we will like more! . No, I'm joking and I truly do appreciate the input from both of you. Those are exactly the kinds of details I was looking for since I can't get there to do a recce trip before we have to commit. The cafe links were great, 72andsunny, cheers. I have heard good things about Omokoroa elsewhere too, Catt - do you have kids in school there? Any recommendations for specific primary schools from anyone?

    To make things even more complicated, there may be an offer in the works for Auckland too. But I think I already know how most New Zealanders feel about Auckland.

    Good problems to have, I know!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexastoNZ View Post
    . But I think I already know how most New Zealanders feel about Auckland.
    Most New Zealanders also think of Auckland as a 'big city', which is just silly. So I'd take the opinions alluded to above with a grain of salt...

    Daniela

  8. #8
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    Wait, I think of Auckland as a big city...and I'm from Los Angeles.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 72andsunny View Post
    Wait, I think of Auckland as a big city...and I'm from Los Angeles.
    Have you been here?

    I come from a medium sized to small town in Germany, but even from that perspective, Auckland really doesn't qualify as a 'big city' (but maybe that is thinking in more European terms?).

    Daniela

  10. #10
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    Napier has a great downtown area. My grandparents lived on 'the bluff' which is criss-crossed with stairs and paths going into Napier, so I spent a lot of time there. Does seismic activity bother you? Not sure how Tauranga compares to Napier, but Napier shakes periodically.

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