If you're interested in reading about stunning vistas and fantastic experiences, skip this post; this is meant for people planning a trip similar to ours.
While preparing for this trip, I tried to get a few ideas of what needed to be done to move our family across the world. I read a few blogs from other people and I thought I would add my experience into the mix. The preparations can be divided into leaving our life in Montreal and preparing for our life in New Zealand.
The first step was to firm up the timing of our trip. Trish and I were pretty rigid about having our ten year old son Harrison back in Canada to start Grade 5 in September 2011. I'm not sure how we decided on 8 months instead of 1 year - could have been my boss or our reluctance to miss Christmas at home or an entire hockey season. :) So then it came down to Jan - Sept, 2010 or Jan - Sept, 2011. As it turned out, too many great events and other things happening in 2008 & 2009 to save enough money to make this work, so it ended up being Jan - Sept 2011.
The next step was to find a job. I contacted a few recruitment agencies who specialize in health care placements in Australia and New Zealand. Most seemed weak, but Wavelength and Plexus emerged as strong contenders to help me plan our trip.
Our first choice was to go for a "beach" type place in Australia since that would be so different from our regular lives in suburban Montreal. However, all the companies were fairly consistent in their message that 8 months was too short a period for Australian hospitals; they usually insisted on contracts lasting at least one year. If we were to try for an 8 month locum, the hospital would probably be less than pleased at my intention to take the family traveling for two months. And besides, what kind of place would settle for an 8 month contract when the norm was 1 year? Somewhere that was desperate. Not interested.
New Zealand, on the other hand, was used to shorter term contracts and was happier giving me a six month contract which would leave a month on either end of the trip to travel. Perfect!
In May 2011, Gillian from Plexus arranged a telephone interview with a hospital in Invercargill at the very southern tip of the south island. They seemed like nice people, but with over 18 days of rain every month and the coldest temperatures in New Zealand, the weather seemed almost ... Canadian.
In July, 2011, Niki and Nicola from Wavelength connected me with a hospital in Palmerston North at the southern end of the north island, about 1.5 hours from Wellington. The people seemed great, the anesthesia practice seemed similar to mine and all the information I could read about "Palmie" was positive. Good weather, young population and an easy gateway to explore the rest of New Zealand. I was sold.
So after some negotiation on the relocation allowance (very generous!), I signed on the dotted line, learned how to send international faxes and after a few days of cold feet, began the fist confirmed step along the road that would lead us to NZ.
Next up was dealing with immigration.