Life as an F3 Doctor in Canterbury, New Zealand
Moving abroad as a junior doctor can be scary, so knowing what to expect before you make the move is really important. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Canterbury in New Zealand to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your F3 year in Australia or New Zealand.
Where is Canterbury?
The Canterbury region stretches down the East coast of the South Island of New Zealand, and is the country’s largest region by area, with a population of around 620,000 people (13% of the country).
Its a popular place for British expats to settle, with migrants from the UK and Ireland making up 36.5% of Canterbury’s overseas-born population.
The major city in the area is Christchurch, the biggest city on the South Island and the second-biggest in the country, behind Auckland. The urban area of Christchurch is home to 377,200 people.
The city unfortunately suffered a series of earthquakes between September 2010 and January 2012 which did a lot of damage, but the disasters have given a fantastic opportunity to rebuild the city and give it a complete makeover. This has created lots of business opportunities and jobs, with $40 billion having been invested into the project.
Christchurch is served by the Christchurch International Airport, and from here it is a 45-minute flight to Wellington, the country’s capital, and a one hour and 20-minute flight to Auckland. There are also direct flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore.
Things to do in Canterbury
Canterbury is home to beaches, mountains, rural villages and big cities. But wherever you are, it is unlikely that you will be far from something vast, epic, and beautiful. There is a very good reason why Peter Jackson filmed much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy here.
This mountain range spans across the region and provides a stunning backdrop. The highest point - which is also the highest point in New Zealand - is Mount Cook/ Aoraki (which means ‘Cloud Piercer’ in Maori) at 3,754 metres high. If you want to explore the Southern Alps, the best bases would be the villages of Springfield and Arthur’s Pass, which are around a two hour drive from Christchurch.
Cathedral Square is the heart of Christchurch. It comprises many buildings that are registered as heritage items with Heritage New Zealand, most notably the ChristChurch Cathedral.
The city has also been known as The Garden City, due to the vast number of public parks that exist there and their well-developed public gardens. In fact, there are 740 parks in the city!
The Canterbury Museum is also worth a visit, which contains a large number of artefacts and a lot of history to do with the exploration of the Antarctic. Christchurch has a close link with Antarctic exploration since several explorers departed from the port of Lyttleton just outside Christchurch.
A stretch of beautiful coastline 2 hours north of Christchurch, home to the iconic sperm whale (the third biggest whale in the world). As well as whale watching, you can also swim with dolphins, plus it’s one of the most accessible places in the world to see open ocean seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.
If you drive for an hour and 20 minutes south-east of Christchurch, you’ll reach the small town of Akaroa, which was the only French settlement in New Zealand. There is still a great French influence there to this day, represented in the architecture and food of the place. Many dolphins can be seen in the area, too. The population of the town is only around 700, but it’s definitely worth a visit for something a bit different.
For all of you wine drinkers out there, viticulture is very important in Canterbury. Wine growing is concentrated in two areas, Waipara and Burnham, and wine-tasting is never far away.
What's the weather like?
The Canterbury region of New Zealand has quite modest temperatures. The summers there are warm and dry, with a mean daily maximum temperature of 22.5º C. In the winter, the Southern Alps can be seen covered in snow, and snowfalls across the region happen on average 3 times a year. The average daily high during this season is about 11ºC, and at night temperatures will frequently fall below 0ºC. The region averages 2,100 sunshine hours a year.
How does the cost of living compare?
Christchurch is much cheaper than Auckland on pretty much all measures. Rent prices are 31% lower and consumer prices are slightly lower. A monthly transport pass is about half the cost of that in Auckland (£53.73 compared to £105.22), and while renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Auckland would cost £928 a month on average, the cost would only be £706 in Christchurch. Restaurant prices are slightly higher in Christchurch, however. See the full breakdown here.
Although it might seem obvious, it’s interesting to see just how much cheaper Christchurch will be compared to London. Rent prices are a staggering 60% lower, with consumer prices 12% lower and restaurant prices 21% lower. Full statistics here.
Rent prices are 31% lower in Christchurch than in Auckland
Hospitals in Canterbury
The Canterbury District Health Board is the second-largest of the 20 health boards in New Zealand, is the largest employer on the South Island and is a world leader based on its people-centred approach to healthcare.
The most prominent of its hospitals is Christchurch Hospital, the largest tertiary, teaching and research hospital on the South Island. It also has the busiest Emergency Department in the whole of Australasia, treating more than 83,000 patients each year, so if you work here you won’t be lacking things to do. Another prominent hospital is the Christchurch Women’s Hospital, which provides maternity care as well as gynaecological and obstetric services. There is also Burwood Hospital, a centre of excellence for rehabilitation and elective orthopaedic surgery.
Here are some extra links to information about Canterbury and Christchurch, if you’d like to find out more about the region:
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