We were pleasantly pleased to find a 3 bedroomed bungalow with dishwasher, micowave, washing machine, TV and DVD player plus wi-fi! Garden to back and front with the hospital across the road - so no long commutes! Also a welcome pack with milk, tea, coffee, bread, cheese, fruit etc. I don't remember that sort of welcome being given in the UK!!! It's usually no key waiting or a room either with dirty sheets or someone actully in the bed!
Also waiting for us in the house was the key to our car plus some MRSA swabs for me to stick in various orifices and take to the lab. Unfortunately, there was no car number on the key just a note saying 'in car pool' so we wandered around the various car parks of the hospital clicking the remote action key at every Holden (equivalent to UK Vauxall I think) with the wind howling and almost horizontal rain, hoping the hospital security didn't think it was suspicious. Also there were lots of police cars around - which we later found out was because they were on an exercise. We eventually gave up and rang my HR contact (Jan, who has been brilliant in organizing things for us here) who rapidly appeared with a welcome smile, a g'day and took us to the 3-year old car.
The following day, after a good night's sleep in a very comfy bed we drifted around Invercargill and visited the local department store and supermarket. We were pleasantly suprised with Invercargill - even the weather was a bit better.The Tullochs took us out for dinner that evening - very informal dining here and tends to be earlier than the UK but the food and wine were both excellent.
The weekend was wonderful - beautifully warm and sunny - and spent driving around to orientate ourselves and do a bit of sightseeing.
Went to Bluff (famous for it's oysters) which is almost (but not quite) the most southerly point of NZ and to Oreti Beach - 27 Km of sand which you can drive along and park anywhere. It reminded very much of the Gower (but on a bigger scale) and in particular, Llangennech bay and Worm's Head with it's rolling waves and dunes.
I had my shorts on and even paddled - must admit the water was on the cold side of cool.
On the way back we stopped off for a fantastic lunch (outdoors in the sun!) in the Cabbage Tree restaurant - no worries about dress code. Pudding was delicious - a NZ Tiramisu drizzled with Tia Maria and served with ice cream and cream... heaven!
Guide to NZ life 4: Usual response to 'Thank you' is 'Good as gold' which I think is similar to the Italian 'grazie' and 'prego'! This is one of the most common phrases we've heard. Also very popular is 'cool' and 'awsome' - e.g. 'here's my credit card' and reply is 'cool' or 'I'll have a glass of house sauvingnon please' to which you get 'awsome'.
We were met at a very windy Invercargill Airport (it has one skyway and one runway but no international flights) by my colleague to be David Tulloch. He gave us a quick tour of the town and drove us to our accomodation.