This is the typical Kiwi answer I get whenever I tell a local how much I am suffering from the cold. As a ski instructor AND being Austrian I thought I was used to being exposed to cold weather but it’s a different kind of cold we experience here. Although the temperatures are not as low as in Austria it’s the wet & humid NZ climate that make it so hard to handle. Plus the fact that there’s no heating. Which is probably the worst. Especially when you work outdoors all day…. you would really look forward to coming home, being warm, drying your wet gear and having a cosy evening. But as soon as I open the door to our house it and the expected feeling of warmth and cosiness does not kick in I remember why: We don’t have heating. And that’s not only the problem of our house, if basically applies to most houses in New Zealand. And I must admit: We are pretty lucky that we have a fireplace and double glassed windows in the living room. That’s actually quite modern and luxurious for NZ building standards.
As soon as we realized how lucky we are to have a fire in our house we figured out the next problem: Wood, or rather the lack of it. Wanaka, the town we live in, is completely sold out of firewood so what we do is trying to get through by “recycling” waste wood from building sites, “borrowing” wood or collecting driftwood from the beach. That helps a lot but our tiny little fireplace only heats the living room and kitchen. Both bathrooms and bedrooms are freezing cold and we only get through the nights with electric blankets. And layers, lots of layers. And a beanie sometimes. Making a fire in the living room, snuggling up in a blanket and crocheting to keep the fingers moving and warm. But still – that moment when you know you have to get up in the morning to get to work, you peek out your toes under the blanket or you watch the cloud that your breath makes… it is just terrible and I will appreciate living in a warm house so much more once I get back. My current morning strategy is putting on my ski thermals whilst still under the blanket, having my backpack ready next to my bed and getting as fast as possible from my bed to the staff bus – which is heated.
Here are some impressions of winter at our house. You know you are in NZ winter when…
1) You have to put the “borrowed” firewood onto the chimney to dry it before you actually put it into the chimney.
2) Your tea gets cold faster than you can drink it.
3) You can’t open your window any more because it is frozen and full of ice – on the inside.
4) You need four layers of bedding to get through. Plus a heating blanket and a hot water bottle.