Winter? Where?

Well, winter is officially over! With September 1st being the first day of spring we have successfully made it through our first NZ winter! Apparently it was the mildest winter on record… timed that right then!

Apart from a week of rain and flooding, a few particularly cold days in June, it has been pretty tame. My big fluffy coat that I wore when I left the UK is still in the spare room stashed away in a suitcase along with my hat and gloves. There were days in the middle of winter where we wore shorts and jandles. However, as soon as the sun goes down it does get quite nippy! For the first time in our lives we have bought an electric blanket (bargain at $30 from Harvey Norman!) There is no central heating in NZ. A very small amount of people do install it (at a shockingly high price), but I really don’t feel it’s worth it. Winters are too short and mild to warrant spending so much money on heating. Plus there are log burners and heat pumps – NZ’s answer to central heating.

A standard complaint for a lot of people living in NZ is quality of housing. There is an issue with insulation in many homes. Our rental house is a classic example. It is weatherboard style, single glazed and has no insulation to speak of. This makes it quite unpleasant on a very cold day and can be a bit of a shock when you are used to central heating. I must admit to throwing a couple of tanty’s regarding the temperature of the house, but I soon got over it and realized that it isn’t that bad. At least we have a heat pump, a storage heater and lucky enough to have a house that is an absolute suntrap! We are conservative with heating to avoid huge bills. This has been quite easy for us, but is something to consider if you have a family. We sit in the lounge with the heat pump, use an electric blanket and a column heater in the bedroom. Our power bills so far have been no more than $150 (75 quid) per month, which isn’t too bad. This balances out in the summer months. Back when we first moved in (February) our first bill was about $60 (30 quid) per month. It is amazing just how much difference insulation makes. Aunty A and Uncle G’s house, which is much newer, insulated and double glazed holds the heat so much better than our place. It takes about 20 minutes using a column heater to heat the bedroom. In our house it takes about 1 hour and it still doesn’t feel as warm!

I must say it has been awesome seeing the south island in winter. Seeing snow capped mountains on your way to work is a great way to start the day! Couple that with a bright blue sky it is, indeed, very beautiful. A lot of houses here have log burners. During the cold winter nights it has been nice to snuggle down by the fire with a glass of ginger wine (I can thoroughly recommend Stones green ginger wine!)

One thing we have noticed about our one NZ winter is that we haven’t gone too long without seeing some blue sky and sunshine. Generally speaking if the sun is out it will be warm (in winter) or hot (in summer). Apart from the previously mentioned week long rain fest I don’t think we have gone more than three days without seeing some blue sky. On some weeks I had to remind myself it’s actually winter what with so many consecutive days of lovely warm sunshine. I’ve never seen so many blue cloudless skies in winter before!

With the daffodils already flowering,  temperatures creeping up, the days getting longer it can only mean one thing…. SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE! Now, if our one and only experience of a south island summer is anything to go by I can’t flippin’ wait!

One day of snow in June

One day of snow in June

Snow on the Port Hills

Snow on the Port Hills

Spring is here! Flowers starting to bloom in our garden.

Spring is here! Flowers starting to bloom in our garden.

Daffodils, it must be Spring!

Daffodils, it must be Spring!

Blue skies on a winters day have been  plentiful. This was taken driving out west towards the Southern Alps to see the snow on the mountains in winter.

Blue skies on a winters day have been plentiful. This was taken driving out west towards the Southern Alps to see the snow on the mountains in winter.

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