New Zealand (South Island)

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Aussie families are increasingly heading overseas to reap the benefits of international mining. But what's it really like? Mining Family Matters women spill the beans on living and working across the globe ...  

By Ann in Dunedin, New Zealand

In 2008 my husband and I were looking for our next mining move when the opportunity came up to move to NZ and work for an Australian-based company. We moved and are based in Dunedin on the South Island.  

Dunedin is a city of approximately 110,000 people with one of NZ's premier universities. The mine is 90km away and is a 1 hour and 15 minute commute by car or slower by the company bus. There is also a head office in Dunedin (we're based there). Dunedin has great walking and mountain biking around its hills and has a harbor and surf beaches (although the local sea lions can be a tad grumpy). It is four hours from Queenstown (six ski fields and lots of hiking), and 4.5 hours from Christchurch by good roads.

South Islanders are very friendly and the health services and care facilities for children are great. Assuming you are planning to stay more than two years, maternity care is free. You have a dedicated (free) midwife throughout your pregnancy and up to six weeks after birth. General medical for children to the age of five is free.

Day care centres are great (waiting lists do vary) and staff/children ratios are generally better than Australia. Carers also take on a more teaching and development role. There is 20 hours (a week) government funded daycare or kindergarten from the age of three.

While everyone goes on about the cold weather in Dunedin (it does snow once or twice a year), we haven't found it too bad. It is no worse than Tasmania (West Coast). Also with a city the size of Dunedin there is plenty to do in poor weather: art galleries, cinemas, theatres, museums, play centres.

The airport has flights direct to Australia but better connections exist from Christchurch.

Downsides include: the salaries are definitely lower than Australia and cost of living (especially food) is high. Long days if mine based. Only 2% superannuation (and is optional). Tax system is very different. NZ drivers lack of patience and strange road rules.

Upsides: no snakes or (nasty) spiders, quality of living similar to urban/city based Australia, quality of food including availability of organic food; great farmers market; somewhere different but still with a fair few similarities to Australia and there are also a fair amount of Australians over here.

Other great testimonials from overseas:

Q&A: what to expect when moving overseas

Ever worked and/or lived overseas for an international mining company? We'd love to hear your story!