My name is Joanne Marta and I’m a Registered Nurse from Canada that came to New Zealand in March. The entire process took me about 14 months.
Looking back, I think the easiest part of the process was convincing my husband that it would be a good idea to move to the other side of the world! Our decision to relocate coincided with his retirement from the Air Force, so it seemed like a good idea to start the next chapter in our lives in a new country following our dreams to travel the world and experience life to the fullest.
The most challenging part of the process was gathering and submitting all of the documents required. Although the process was tedious at times, it was quite manageable by doing it one thing at a time. When we made the decision to move to New Zealand we weren’t in a rush, so it was easy to take our time and do one thing at a time. The first step was to apply for my RN license, and this was easier than I expected it to be, thanks in part to some advice one of my professors in my first year of university gave me. She advised all of us to start a nursing binder and to save all of our nursing documents throughout our education and then our careers. I have always done this so it was relatively easy to put a comprehensive package together for the NZ Nursing Council. If I remember correctly from first submission of documents to receiving my license the process only took about 4-6 weeks.
Looking back now I think that the most stressful part of the move was arranging for MIQ and travel. After receiving a job offer we were trying to book our space in MIQ and there were none available that would get us here in time for my start date. After speaking to Kristin about this I logged in to the booking site and just kept hitting refresh – for hours – and when the first space came up I took it!! It worked out okay because we were also able to book reasonably affordable flights for the same time frame. About a month before we were set to travel the Canadian portions of our flights were cancelled, so we had to get creative in rebooking travel that would get us to Los Angeles in time to make our flight to Auckland. It all worked out in the end, and we were able to enjoy a little mini vacation in Vancouver on the way!
I believe that the process wasn’t as challenging as we initially expected because Kristin was always just an email away and was always able to provide us with the information we needed. From day one she broke things down for me and made it easy to tackle all of the tasks by focusing on one thing at a time.
When we arrived we were rushed through the airport and put on a bus to travel to MIQ, so we didn’t really get to experience much more than the drive to the hotel. Coming from rural Canada our first impression was that Auckland was hot, humid and noisy! MIQ was a much better experience than we were expecting. The staff was very welcoming and helpful, the room was not too bad (although it was starting to feel a little small after two weeks), and the food was pretty decent. When we arrived in Dunedin the weather was pretty good and we were able to get out and explore for two weeks before I started work. We were very impressed by the beaches, the museums and the botanic gardens.
We are still in the honeymoon phase of our adventure, so everything is the best right now! At this point in time I would say that the walks/hikes are pretty great, and we are also loving the weekly farmers market for fresh local veggies, cheeses and honey. And the meat pies are awesome! What I miss the most is being warm and dry! When we left Canada winter was just ending and when we got to Dunedin winter was just starting, so we have been experiencing either cold or wet weather for around 9 months now. We are anxiously waiting for spring to arrive!
If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand take the chance and just do it. From the day we started planning there have been ups and downs and more than once we have wondered if we were making the right decision, but ultimately it has been a dream come true and we are loving every minute of it.
Like anywhere else, there are many positive as well as negative aspects to living in New Zealand. On one hand rental accommodations can be expensive and hard to find, and appliances/furniture is pricey, but on the other hand grocery prices are comparable to what we paid in Canada and there is an abundance of free things to see and do. Every day is an adventure and there is enough experiences to keep a person busy for quite a while. Also, coming from a country where we drive on the right side of the road, remember to look both ways when you are walking across the street when you are here! It took us a couple of scares when we looked the wrong way for oncoming traffic and almost walked out in front of a car, but it gets easier pretty quickly.
I think that one of the biggest differences between my current role in NZ and my previous one in Canada I see is in the staff/patient ratio. Although still not ideal, I believe that my workload in New Zealand is more manageable that it was in some of my previous positions in Canada. I am appreciating that with the staffing ratios here I now get to spend more time connecting with my patients and sharing their journey with them. Another important difference that I see is in the salaries in New Zealand. The pay here is slightly less than in Canada, but it is still adequate enough to get by on. Although the pay is a little less, I think it is a small price to pay for the benefits that come with it.
The transition for me has been relatively seamless, due in part to the wonderful team of healthcare providers I am working with. There are quite a few differences in medications, documentation, and laws in NZ and the team that I am working with have all been very willing to share their knowledge and to guide me with my own learning. I feel as though the one biggest difference I notice in NZ is the focus on teamwork and building the strength of the team. I notice that on the ward I am working on now we do debriefs after every incident and we also have a monthly meeting to address any issues on the ward and to brainstorm to come up with possible solutions. There is a real focus here on being proactive rather than reactive, and on trying to make the work environment safe and enjoyable for all staff.