Semi live from New Zealand

Old Dec 4th, 2022, 08:15 AM
  #41  
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More typical Fiordland weather.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 09:19 AM
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How are the prices in NZ currently?
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 09:19 PM
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Dinner Main in the 40NZD area, wine by glass $12-$16. Lodging varies widely but there is little available in the lower end anymore.
Gas is $2.60 ish a liter.

Today I finally ticked Stewart Island. It's raining so kiwi hunt is probably off.

Either pizza or more blue cod for dinner. We spend the night here at the South Sea Hotel.

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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 12:37 AM
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You can check the exchange rate at xe.com
https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter...rom=USD&To=NZD
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 07:27 AM
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Yeah, I know how to check the exchange rate. I was just curious if NZ was suffering from the same post COVID insane prices that we are here in the US.

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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 03:06 PM
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I think international tourists on tours with included transportation and who are not having to shop for their own groceries would notice rising inflation less as they are not paying daily fluctuating prices at the petrol pump or grocery store or looking for housing. I think they would notice how the exchange rate would affect their purchases.

The staff shortages that mlgb mentioned are severely affecting the hospitality industry. This has been caused by a multiplicity of reasons, too many to get into here. For example, this article tells of how one owner of three Queenstown restaurants is "having to turn away hundreds of customers a night because they were so short-staffed, and could only open five days a week instead of seven." Her restaurants depend on workers with working holiday visas. 20,000 people on working holiday visas have arrived in NZ since the border re-opened but they don't seem to be filling the vacancies, possibly because they're traveling and haven't yet run out of money and needed to look for work. It's an interesting article. Such articles appear in NZ newspapers daily and are covered by other media as well. Restaurants and hotels have also had to raise prices. I remember reading about one Dunedin restaurant that recently closed because it was costing so much more to run their business that they felt that in order to remain open they would have to raise prices to an unsustainable level.

As for food inflation that NZ residents and businesses have had to deal with, according to Stats NZ, "food inflation was 10.1 percent for the year ended October, the highest annual increase since 2008." You can read a more details in this short article. About NZ inflation in general, you can read about that here. Food prices have gone up a little bit more in the US according to this CNBC article.

Having moved here from California more than a decade ago, we always thought food and petrol prices were high, but thought the advantages of living in NZ outweighed these high prices for food and petrol (and still do). Food prices rise especially high in winter. I remember one winter about 7 years ago when I photographed bell peppers selling for NZ$8 each; they were imported from the Netherlands. I've also taken pre-Covid photos of ridiculously high prices for kiwis, tomatoes, and avocados. And there are weeks when the salad shelves are empty because a storm has destroyed the harvest. To beat such high food costs, we mostly buy locally grown food in season; we also buy as much produce as possible from our local growers. But, they, too, are affected by rising prices and shortages. When bad weather affects local crops, we can cope without salad or cherries or whatever, but feel very bad for our local farmers.

When we lived in the US we saved money on food and other goods by shopping at Grocery Outlet discount market, Trader's Joe's and Costco, where we could buy in bulk. We don't have that variety of choice here (though I'd say we're lucky to be close to Australia)..NZ consumers have recently been up in arms about our local supermarket monopolies and have pushed for change. In September, Costco opened its first NZ store. Some people slept in front of the store the night before its opening. One month later, customers were still eagerly lining up.

I also get the sense that Kiwis as compared to people in California are more likely to have a little vegetable patch in their garden. But I've never read anything to this comparison.


NZ housing prices have recently dropped a lot, mostly due to rising interest rates. But during the first two years of Covid, housing prices shot up. Rental costs are still rising. Of course, health care is mostly free, though some prescription medications are not covered and one might have to wait a long time for elective surgery. I waited a year for my recent knee surgery, but then it was fully covered as was physical therapy. The cost of private health insurance has risen.

The issue of "post-Covid insane prices" is a complicated one that even NZ economists are having trouble explaining.

Last edited by Diamantina; Dec 5th, 2022 at 04:03 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 04:15 PM
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i wrote, "I also get the sense that Kiwis as compared to people in California are more likely to have a little vegetable patch in their garden." I should have written, "It seems to me that non-farmer residents in Dunedin are more inclined to grow their own vegetables than my more former neighbors in Marin County, CA--even though we haad pretty good growing weather."
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 03:54 AM
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Interesting discussion. The South Sea Hotel restaurant here in Stewart Island is one of the few that seems adequately staffed. I imagine worker housing costs factor in also.


Southern Royal Albatross.

We were able to go kiwi spotting tonight at the air strip. Also a very successful pelagic birding excursion out to Wreck Reef. Seven Albatross species! About 20 of the big Royal Albatross and a rare sighting of a "Light-mantled" Sooty Albatross. Usually seen only in the Subantarctic waters. Possibly a silver lining of the front that came in yesterday.

Dinner was pumpkin soup and a piece of battered blue cod.


Last edited by mlgb; Dec 6th, 2022 at 04:21 AM.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 05:21 AM
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"Dinner was pumpkin soup and a piece of battered blue cod." Looks delicious if an odd combination. Was that on the menu or is it a mlgb invention?

Intersting to note the staff shortages there. Our nieces were asking where they should go for their gap year next year . I will point them south to NZ!
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 09:18 AM
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mlgb invention. I didn't want a full main and a big soup (that was the half order of soup), added an extra piece of fish to friend's order. Last night was the last tour dinner (salmon of course) at Mint Folk & Co was superb. I was gobsmacked that Twizel now has a posh restaurant but apparently there are now three. We did have decent weather during successful day long survey of black stilt habitat.







Roses Twizel mall.

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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 04:01 PM
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Raining my last day (Auckland). Took the Sky City shuttle from airport where I stowed bags in self service lockers. Smith & Caughey's Christmas windows, Art museum and dumplings.



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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 11:40 AM
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Back home and going through photos:


Feeling a bit like this after the long flight.
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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 11:43 AM
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Just a word of warning for near term travelers, don't plan on winging it, book well in advance (hotels and restaurants that take reservations). A few nights we barbequed at the motel facilities to avoid dinner taking 2 hours with reservations. Going to a supermarket too late might mean that stocks were low!

Pack your patience.
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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 02:37 PM
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mlgb -

You've convinced me that it's too early to return to NZ. I think I'll wait a bit.
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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
mlgb -

You've convinced me that it's too early to return to NZ. I think I'll wait a bit.
Since you tend to go off season and not to "the usual" maybe it won't be so bad. They are trying to implement more visas for hospitality workers.

Four of my travel companions were scheduled to fly out of Christchurch via Fiji to LAX. Their flight was cancelled due to airplane failure ("technical issues") and it took them four hours to find a hotel, nearly everything was booked. They did get cash vouchers from Fiji Airways but they said it was chaos.

My flights AKL to HNL and then HNL to LGB were more or less uneventful, although there was too much turbulence in the last hour of AKL to HNL for breakfast in the back of the plane. In Honolulu one has to collect and recheck luggage after customs and then walk to the new domestic terminal. Fortunately Dunkin Donuts was open near our gates. Three hours was enough time for the transfer even though the flight was a little bit late.

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 15th, 2022 at 04:07 PM.
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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 06:39 PM
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Oh yes, fuel worked out to about $5.80 to $6/gallon, vs about $4.50 to $5/gallon now in Southern California.

I did on occasion go into a grocery store to buy my own wine and snacks, as well as breakfast foods after the tour ended. We also ordered off menus for dinners and picked out what we wanted at bakeries and cafes for lunch, so had a good handle on what typical foods would have cost tourists in NZD. My beer at the Bealey worked out to under $6 (remember no tax or tip) and a bottle of decent wine was 15 to 20 NZD in the supermarket. We always figure that most goods are priced as if it is 1:1 NZD to USD but then the conversion and included tax and tip knocks off another 30 percent or more.

In Te Anau, I didn't like the offerings in the dairy, so went to a food truck and ordered a wild venison burger for $12NZD, which turned out to be slices and not ground and was wonderful. Typically flat whites and ice creams were about $5-6NZD ($3 US) and sandwiches and pies in the $6 to $12 NZD ($8 US or less).

My lodgings before and after ranged from $75 (Auckland Rose Park) to $108 (Best Western Pioneer Motel Airport), but I was still off season and booked in advance. The Rose Park is a bit dated but can't beat that value for a location in Parnell, and they have parking. Plus, right down the street is Rosie where I had that awesome Blue Cod dinner ($36 NZD or about $24 USD).

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 15th, 2022 at 06:46 PM.
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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 11:15 PM
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Interesting reflections on your time in NZ mlgb. Labour shortages in the hospitality industry are an issue here too in the UK , though mainly because immigration restrictions post Brexit but not , it seems to the extent you experienced in NZ. Our nieces finish University next year. Both supplement their income working in hospitality and both are looking to take a year out. I will be suggesting they consider NZ as an option.

As far as supermarket stocks are concerned , NZ and Australia are two places where seasonality is the name of the game still. They tend not to import food from elsewhere and prices fluctuations can be enormous at any time of year. Those fuel prices seem remarkably cheap by UK standards!!

PS re post# 52 - that is one weird looking bird!
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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 07:00 AM
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Other than gas, those prices don't sound bad.

Surprised that gas is still that high in CA - I paid $2.32 here in Colorado yesterday (Costco).


Thanks for the report - not enough action on this forum.
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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 03:34 PM
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Don't rub it in, LOL.
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Old Jan 4th, 2023, 06:20 PM
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hello migb, i really enjoyed your trip report. You are definitely a bird person, and foodie. I really enjoyed the pictures of the birds. The restaurant staffing is also a problem here in the Northeast. Many businesses have had to shorten hours or days to stay in business. I am amazed how many looking to hire, jobs are available, and not just in the hospitality sector. Seems that Covid has truly had a world wide impact. You posted prices on some menus which had my jaw dropping, it is very fortunate that the US has such a strong dollar. Gas prices have finally started to drop, we can find gas at $2.89 per gallon which is the lowest in over a year. The weather, climate and skies remind me of Scotland when we had more cloudy days then sun and hiked in the rain which was chilly at times (and that was in July), but the beauty of the landscape and people were so wonderful the weather didn't put too much of a damper on it. The Scottish have a saying, "no such thing as bad weather, just not wearing the right clothes." Seems that is the way in New Zealand. Thanks for redirecting me to your report. I understand you have brutal weather coming to the West coast, so batten up those windows.
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