Karen’s Letter #4


Another letter from Karen. Again the photos are not related, they’re just pretty.


September 2011

Dear all,

More on driving

Another snippet about driving – this time about my drivers licence- I arrived here on a Friday night and on the Saturday morning Steph took me off to the AA where I joined the AA and also applied for my license. Right there and then at the counter I did my eye-test, paid at the same counter, signed etc. A week later my driver’s license arrived in our post box.

I am very relieved that NZ has just increased the driving age – otherwise Juliette would be allowed to drive on a restricted license right now. Are they crazy? She can’t even peel potatoes and they think she can drive a car!!


Houses in NZ are generally smaller than houses in SA, but some are pretty big. The houses that we can afford are small and ugly, but there are some nice houses out there. There are no shanty towns and the houses for the indigent are pretty decent houses with garages and gardens.

You often find several houses on one plot- sometimes with looooong driveways that disappear towards the back, as I have said about our house- I don’t know where the land of our house starts or ends. We have no fence and no gate. Steph’s car is parked in a garage, but mine gets parked on the drive-way. Many cars park on the side of the road overnight. My neighbour leaves his car outside at night with his GPS clearly visible on the windscreen.


Regarding security in NZ- there is none- I have not yet seen a single house with burglar bars, garden walls are low or decorative and gates are almost non-existent. You quite often get security doors covering the front door; they look like a thicker version of chicken wire and I am sure a good true – blooded South Africa criminal would not find them much of a challenge. Our only security is a glass front door that you could easily break and turn the door knob to open the door.

Nandos has the same irreverent adverts even here - this is what they had for the RWC.

Stores have cameras and the big stores (like Builders warehouse type stores) have a security officer at the front door- who is basically a friendly retiree who you can ask where to find the screwdrivers when you arrive and who says “see ya later” when you leave.


Winter was really not half as bad as we expected. It was much like a Cape Town winter- except that there were not whole days of rain- rather minutes of drizzle, sometimes rain, interspersed with lovely sunshine. There were some lovely days of bright sunshine with not a cloud in the sky; it was quite summery. Then came spring. Give me winter any day- this is crazy!! The last 3 days have been miserable, rainy and extremely blustery. There are lovely spring flowers out all over; lots of daffodils in the public gardens, and mixed bulbs in private gardens- but the flowers are the only sign of spring so far.


Yes, the RWC has come to town. There are quite a few flags around, but it is nothing like SA was last year. One of the problems is that it is almost impossible to find the flags. I spent last week driving round looking for car flags- nothing, zero, zip!

We went to the harbour for the opening ceremony- we were not quite able to scrape together the R16 000 for the actual ceremony and game at Eden Park. There was more than enough to see and do at the harbour and I am sure you saw us on TV when they showed the crowds at the harbour. They were expecting 50 000 fans and 380 000 turned up, so yes, it was a bit crowded. We went into town by ferry and all public transport to the city centre was stopped soon after we boarded the ferry. We left soon after the fireworks.

Taken on a stroll through our local golf course - about 200m down the road.

We went my friend Wendy but decided to split up when we got to the  City center- it would have been too difficult to all keep together. We some nice SA’s on the ferry on the way there and on the way back met an Irish family, parents of a friend of Juliette’s on the ferry. There are not many Kiwis around- everybody came from somewhere- at some stage, even the Maoris. Many of the people who I would think of as being Maori are actually Samoan or Pacific Islanders. I have no idea how to tell the difference; they are all big and all look like Jonah Lomu- which means I don’t spend too long checking them out, in case they notice me.

I took some nice photos of South Africans at the harbour- will put them on my Facebook page.

News re the family

Steph is off in Hong Kong again, Jules has had to choose her subjects for next year. She will be doing the Cambridge stream and will be taking History, Geography, Biology as well as the prescribed subjects: English, Maths and Physical Education. Etienne will be taking part in his first cross-country race – and I mean the first; there has been no training in this ghastly weather.

Please send lots of news, I love hearing from you.


Karen and the Kiwis



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