15 July 2014

Our national flag

For the most accurate weather condition reports for the Land of the Long White Cloud check out our national meteorological service website - Metservice.
They provide up to 10 day forecasts for suburban areas, which include the temperature, expected rainfall and wind speed; Marine & Surf, Mountain & Parks, and Rural reports; tide times; sunrise and sunset times; and much more.
There are also a few ways to get this on your mobile devices (free or a small fee).
As for what to wear, in general you could probably wear shorts / a skirt and a short sleeved t-shirt or short dress during the day in December, January and into February.  At night and on somewhat windy or overcast days you will want a cardigan or jacket as well.
Remember to pack your swimsuit, sunglasses and sunscreen as our sun is harsh.
March through September you will want to have long trousers/ jeans/ heavy skirts, and layer your tops - perhaps a merino tank top under a long-sleeved top with a short-sleeved t-shirt over that and a jumper or jacket.  Hats, scarves and gloves are also really useful in June, July & August.  Over the winter months you will need some sort of wet weather gear or a long winter coat - umbrellas aren't always so practical especially in places like Wellington where it can get very windy.
October and November can swing either way and are probably the most changeable months.
New Zealand houses are under-insulated as a general rule, so you may find yourself wearing extra layers inside; sitting as close as possible to heaters or fires in winter; or in bed with an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
In case you hadn't thought about your exact route & travel plans, and when you will arrive, the north of the North Island will always be a little warmer than the south of the South Island throughout the year.
If you do land and find yourself in desperate need of apparel there are a couple of inexpensive general (family) clothing stores you could try:

The Warehouse



We also have many charity shops (op shops) that sell second hand clothing.  Most towns will have at least one store, if not more.   Look out for names like Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, or simply 'op shop'.  

The way I see it, if something doesn't cost you a lot you don't feel so guilty about leaving it behind if space in your suitcase/backpack is tight.

08 July 2014

It pays to shop around - these photos were taken within minutes


As a follow-on from our post about the various places you can shop for food, I thought it might be helpful to qualify what are average prices for us here in New Zealand.

Presently we shop weekly to a meal plan for 7 people, at a supermarket and an Indian grocery store (milk, potatoes and rice); with occasional visits to one other supermarket (marked down meat); and rare visits to a food warehouse and an epicurean shop when needed.

What we buy is usually the cheapest and includes seasonal specials, clearance prices and any discount we can find within reason - sometimes it's not viable to chase the last cent at the cost of spending dollars doing it though!

Our average spend over the last 12 weeks has been $160 per week.  This is probably not normal as I know a bachelor whose budget is $129 per week for food; and ours was $300 per week for the year previous. 

Incidentally some supermarkets offer you a fuel discount voucher when your receipt totals a minimum amount.  This may be at their own service station or an allied station.  The average is around 6 cents per litre discount (whether petrol or diesel) with some going to 20 cents or more during a particular promotion.  This is one way of saving on fuel especially if you don't have access to, or don't want to, sign up for a fuel card through membership organisations.  The discount is usually capped.


So without further ado, here are a few figures for you...


FOOD ITEMS (2nd quarter 2014)

    Price per kg
unless otherwise stated
apples, rose 1kg 0.98 0.98  
apples, gala 1kg 1.98 1.98  
bacon 1kg 10.14 10.14  
bacon, smoked streaky 250g 5.00 20.00  
baked beans 410g 0.68 1.66  
basmati rice 5l 10.99 1.09 per litre
biscuits, super wine 2 x 500g twin packs 7.00 7.00  
bread, toast wholegrain 600g 2.14 3.57  
broccoli 2 heads 3.00 1.50 each
butter 500g 3.69-4.28 7.38-8.56  
cannelloni 200g 3.19 15.95  
carrots 1kg 0.99-1.38 0.99-1.38  
chicken, boneless breast 354g 5.94 16.78  
coriander, ground 30g 1.94 64.67  
cream cheese 250g 2.99-3.48 11.96-13.92  
creamed corn 418g 0.48 1.15  
cheese, edam 1kg 9.40-9.48 9.40-9.48  
chicken breast, smoked 300g 5.92 19.73  
chickpeas  2.5kg 5.99 2.37  
chocolate bar 50g 1.00 20.00  
coconut cream 400g 1.09 2.73  
condensed soup 420g 1.48 3.52  
corned beef 1kg 6.00 6.00  
cream 500ml 3.36 6.72 per litre
cottage cheese 500g 4.48 8.96  
curry powder 40g 1.04 26.00  
dishwashing liquid 750ml 2.80 3.73 per litre
eggs size 6 x 20 tray 3.98 0.20 each
frozen mixed berries (1kg strawberry & blackberry) 8.44 8.44  
grapes green 900g 5.98 6.64  
gluten free bread 650g 6.99 10.75  
gluten free lasagne 200g 4.09 20.45  
honey 500g 3.89 7.78  
jam  350g 1.00 2.86  
jelly 85g 0.70 8.24  
kumara, orange 1kg 2.99 2.99  
kumara, red 1kg 3.48 3.48  
leeks 2 2.48 1.24 each
lamb rump steak 300g 6.72 22.40  
lamb, diced 373g 5.22 13.99  
lettuce 1.98 1.98 each
marshmallows 200g 1.88 9.40  
milk 2l 2.99 1.50 per litre
mince 1kg 10.99 10.99  
nashi pears 1kg 2.98 2.98  
oil spray 200g 4.65 23.25  
onions 5kg 4.98 0.99  
orange juice 3l 3.99 1.33 per litre
paprika, ground 40g 1.94 48.50  
passata / pasta sauce 680g 1.99 2.93  
peanut butter smooth 1kg 5.99 5.99  
potatoes 10kg 7.99 0.79  
potatoes, brushed 100g 0.98 9.80  
rice, medium grain 1kg 1.98 1.98  
sausages 450g (GF) 6.39 14.20  
silverbeet, bunch 1.68 1.68 per bunch
sour cream 500g 3.99-4.48 7.98-8.96  
spinach 300g 4.98 16.60  
sugar, white 1.5kg 2.78 1.85  
sultanas 700g 4.99 7.13  
thyme 15g 1.99 132.67  
toilet paper 12-pack 5.00 0.41 each
tomato paste 140g 1.99 14.21  
whole peeled tomatoes 400g 0.99 2.48  


Note that we currently have a goods and service tax of 15% that is included in all transactions including food (unless otherwise stated).


Added: Also, if a cashier asks if you want any bags at the end of processing your groceries, the cost will be extra and added to your bill.  So take your own plastic bags or use your own re-usable ones.

01 July 2014


It used to be a lot easier 30 years ago to know when a store would be open.  We had 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, with only national chains open 9am-1pm Saturday, and Sunday all would be closed.
Unfortunately now in many places there are no normal opening times.
Generally it could be said that most stores are open 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday, although some stay open until 5.30pm.  Many are also open on a Saturday from 9am until 1pm, 2pm or 4pm but don't count on it; and some are open on a Sunday with variations of hours from 9am or 10am until 1pm, 2pm or 4pm.
Specialty businesses like mechanics and warrant of fitness testing stations can be open as early as 7.30am; while service stations are usually manned in some form or another 24 hours.  Supermarkets are typically open 8am until 10pm or midnight.  Banks close early at approximately 4.30pm and generally are not open on the weekend.
Some suburbs/towns/malls may also have a late night until 9pm or 10pm - usually Thursday or Friday, and this is personally something I miss about where we live.  Late night shopping can be entertainment in itself in a town starved of productive evening activities - but it only works if all the stores are open together and the public can rely upon it.
Then there are the public and anniversary holidays. All stores must be closed Christmas day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday; and ANZAC day until 1pm unless exempt geographically or as a particular kind of store.  
If there is any take-away from all of this, it's that there is no normal outside of perhaps 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday; and that if you are relying on a store being opening it would pay to phone ahead to make sure.