Nicki Chapman catches up with the Cummings family from the north of Scotland, who sampled life in New Plymouth on the coast of New Zealand's North Island.
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Welcome to Wanted Down Under Revisited.
Today, we're catching up with the Cummings family
who we first met back in 2008
when we gave them the chance to sample the life in New Plymouth on the coast of New Zealand.
The Cummings family, from the far north of Scotland,
were considering a move much further than most.
The family is young enough that we can start fresh, as a family.
Dougie had left the Navy after 23 years and wanted to get back some time with his children.
I was away for a lot of it and I came back and...
I mean, Sarah didn't even know who I was.
But 11-year-old daughter Sarah needed convincing.
She made it quite clear that she didn't want to go.
-Can you see yourself here?
If they moved, they would be leaving a lot behind.
They've got it all back home, so what's the point in coming here just to get exactly the same?
Their family and their friends are on the other side of the world.
After weighing everything up, what did they decide?
You think to yourself, we could be making the biggest mistake of our lives
or we could be making the most fantastic decision of our lives.
Wanted Down Under puts British families to the ultimate test
by giving them the chance to try life in New Zealand.
They have just one week
to find out about homes, work and lifestyle
before voting on their future, but what happened next?
We've caught up with some of our original families to find out where they are now.
For stunning scenery,
Scotland is hard to beat.
The Cummings family already lived in an enviable setting close to John O'Groats.
Duncan, or Dougie to his friends, and wife Laura
have daughters Sarah, eleven, and Jo, ten,
with twin sons, Gareth and Stuart, aged six.
They're a large family.
Over the years, Dougie had hardly seen them.
I joined the Navy straight from school when I was 16
and on a ship, you can guarantee being away for six months, seven months a year.
Doug was away an awful lot of time and when our first daughter was born,
he literally left four days after she was born and he was gone for, like, three months.
In my last year on the Ark Royal we were away for ten months and I came back
and Sarah didn't even know who I was.
He missed most of the children's birthdays, which was hard, but that's part of being a Navy family.
So, after 23 years of service, Dougie hung up his Navy hat and was looking for a new direction.
Now, it's nice to be leaving it behind and spending some more time with the family.
Dougie's skills as an electronics engineer were in demand Down Under
and with the kids in mind, mum Laura had set her hopes on New Zealand.
But 11-year-old Sarah loved her school and friends in Scotland and didn't want to leave.
I don't like going to New Zealand because I don't want to leave my friends. It'll be a big change.
We don't want to drag them away from their friends or split them up from what they're used to
but I think... I think they'll thank us for it in the end, I really do.
There was a lot for the family to think about.
The decision to emigrate
or not to emigrate is the biggest decision that we've ever had to make in our lives,
so, really, you kind of think to yourself,
we could be making the biggest mistake of our lives
or we could be making the most fantastic decision of our lives.
To help the Cummings consider the huge risk they'd be taking,
they were put to the ultimate test in 2008,
on a trial week in New Plymouth in New Zealand.
Situated in the shadow of the giant 2,500-metre Mount Taranaki,
with the stunning coast of the Tasman Sea to the west,
there's a multitude of places to explore.
There were three different lifestyles to choose from.
One in the city, one in the country and one on the coast.
Each option included the offer of a job for Dougie.
The beautiful countryside around New Plymouth
would have offered the Cummings the outdoor living they wanted,
set against the backdrop of Mount Taranaki.
For Dougie, an electrical engineering job was available
at this specialist technology company.
With a starting salary of £30,000, it offered flexible working hours.
And in 2008, country property prices were very reasonable here.
£185,000 would have bought the Cummings a four bedroom home
with four acres of land.
New Plymouth city offered the Cummings a friendly,
family-oriented place to live with impressive architecture,
such as the museum.
At this electrical contractor,
Dougie could have earned a salary of up to £35,000
working in the oil and gas industry.
With this company,
he would have had the option to work as a project manager,
a site supervisor or a technician.
And in 2008, the good news was
a four-bedroom home in a central suburb started at just £150,000.
Overlooking the Tasman Sea,
coastal New Plymouth boasts an all- encompassing waterfront lifestyle,
from the scenic splendour of the seven-kilometre cycle promenade
to the thrill of some of the best surf in New Zealand.
Homes close to the sea would have cost the Cummings a little more.
This spacious four-bedroom home, a short drive from the seafront,
was on the market for £240,000 in 2008.
There was a £30,000 job available as a project engineer
in this company serving the thriving gas industry.
General Manager Mark Hatch was keen to meet Dougie.
As a project engineer you'd take projects from design through to construction and completion.
We have flexible working hours. It gives you plenty of time with the kids.
Swimming, fishing, sailing, 200 metres from the office.
It's a brilliant lifestyle.
Transfield Worley's a great place to work and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
We look forward to seeing you here.
The Cummings trialled life in coastal New Plymouth.
Overlooking the Tasman Sea and with work for Dougie,
it all looked very inviting,
but did it live up to their expectations?
From the top of Scotland to the bottom of the world,
getting to New Plymouth needed four different flights
and took a gruelling 36 hours.
They found themselves over 11,000 miles from home and for such a long journey with four children,
they seemed amazingly perky.
Absolutely exhausting, but good fun.
I think the best scenario this week would obviously be really nice weather
and seeing and experiencing as much as we can.
Worst scenario would be pouring down with rain
and us not being able to get out and about as much as we'd like.
It was time to head for the rental accommodation.
Oh, wow, look at that! Look at that volcano, look!
Is that a real volcano?
It's a real volcano!
It was only a ten-minute drive to New Plymouth. For their trial week,
the Cummings were staying in a five-bedroom, single-storey house, a few blocks from the sea.
It wasn't just the timber construction that was black and white.
Inside, owner Judy had tastefully furnished the whole place to match,
but what did this colourful family think of it?
LAURA GIGGLES Isn't that lovely!
-Hi, nice to meet you.
Go on then, you lot.
Judy had collected designer furnishings from all around the world.
That huge mirror at the end, it's beautiful.
That's a genuine antique and I think it came out from England many, many years ago.
Genuine antiques and fine design, hopefully the boys behaved!
The dream kitchen had everything fitted
and there was even something to keep Dougie cool.
This is my beer fridge, apparently.
Outside, there was plenty of room for the children to play in or, in the case of Stuart and Gareth,
somewhere to get into trouble.
Look, Gareth, that's a rope.
Leave the rope alone. Gareth, come out of there.
Come on. It's not... Out!
It's our little place.
Taking the huge step and uprooting your lives from the UK
for a new life in New Zealand can be a traumatic experience
so you'll want to find a nest for your family as quickly as possible.
Properties in New Zealand are visually quite different to the UK
with timber buildings the norm and open-plan living a key factor
but there's a good reason for the use of wood in a country where it can get pretty cold and wet -
Houses are built with this in mind as New Zealand averages between 100 and 150 quakes
that are big enough to be felt each year.
New Zealand properties are not as cheap as they once were
but generally you can expect to get more house for your money than in the UK.
Prices range from area to area, with the average house in the Auckland region costing around £220,000,
but for the Cummings something similar in New Plymouth would only set them back around 135,000.
For the Cummings family, finding the right home was a vital consideration,
but they had to be impressive to be better than their house in Caithness.
In 2008, back home in Scotland,
the Cummings were used to having open space around their seven-bedroom property.
It was built in the 1970s and was worth about £170,000.
If they could sell it they would have been looking to spend up to £200,000 on a New Zealand home,
including a small mortgage and needed enough space both outside and in to let the children run around.
In 2008, we found them three homes to get a realistic idea of what they could afford
if they made the big decision to emigrate.
Property One was only minutes from the seafront
and well within their price range at only £140,000.
It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a generous garage.
The chalet style made heavy use of local timber
and the property was set in its very own rainforest,
very appropriate with the change in the weather!
Oh, dear! We brought the rain with us from Scotland, I think!
Oh, wow! Look at all the windows.
I bet in the sunshine this is really, really bright, isn't it? It's gorgeous.
It kind of like a... It's got a Swiss feel to it, hasn't it?
A log-burning stove heated the cosy living room and connected kitchen
and if they weren't warm enough there was always the hot tub.
-Do you like spas?
-It's like a mini swimming pool.
-A bubbly bath.
-That's lovely and warm.
Once again, the boys had made themselves at home.
Let's go in here, this is the boys' room. Come and have a look.
There was certainly plenty of room for the children.
It's so overcast outside and yet the rooms are still bright because of the windows.
-Is that a New Zealand trait, lots of windows?
Upstairs, the master bedroom was very light and airy with its own en suite.
Would it tempt Sarah?
Is this your size of room, is it, Sarah? Cos your room at home's quite small, isn't it?
-You'd quite like an en suite, would you?
-You'd have to clean it yourself!
While the kids let off steam down in the garden, Mum and Dad talked money.
New Zealand is 348, so that would relate back to about £140,000.
140? That's really good.
Laura was excited by the price.
Let's go look at the next one!
It was early September 2008 and still winter in New Zealand.
As the rain really set in, Property Two could become a welcome shelter
and was described in the estate agent's notes as a contemporary hideaway.
It, too, was secluded by trees, had four bedrooms
and was remarkably good value in 2008 at £135,000.
But it was not only their appetite that had been whetted.
Oh, it's soaking!
I thought we came here to get away from the rain!
They couldn't wait to get inside
-and were immediately impressed.
-This is lovely.
That is gorgeous.
Oh, my goodness!
The open-plan living area linked through to an unusual first floor conservatory
that took full advantage of the home's green surroundings.
I just love all the trees and the greenery. It's just smashing.
You're about a quarter of an hour's walk from here into town...
And you don't have to come out onto the roads or anything.
The twins were happy here, too.
Upstairs, all the bedrooms were on the top floor.
That's lovely. Actually, I love the way it's on all the different levels, it's really nice.
The children would have plenty of space and the last bedroom was perfect,
if you like grapefruit for breakfast!
Oh, look at the fruit out the window!
You could just wake up in the morning, open the window and grab your breakfast!
..Er, why's that?
We've had strong interest in the high 300s, low 400s,
which equivalent to your English pounds...
-Sort of about your 130, 135,000 English pounds...
-That's very reasonable, isn't it?
-It is very reasonable. It's gorgeous. It's huge.
It was a lot of home for the money, but for the first time Laura wasn't happy.
This is a lovely house, but I kind of feel like I want to pick it up and plonk it in a field.
What do you think, Sarah?
Sarah was finding it hard.
Viewing properties had made a possible move seem much more real,
so before Property Three, the family went for lunch and a chat,
but there were tears over the hamburgers.
No, I just don't want to live here.
She got a bit upset over lunchtime because we'd actually sat down for the first time since we've been here
and we just talked a little bit about it, how we were feeling.
She's frightened, in a way, to tell us how she feels because she thinks we're going to be disappointed
but we said we want her to be honest. But I think, ultimately, she's just frightened of change.
Perhaps Sarah would be cheered up by a trip to the countryside.
Mum Laura was keen to view a property surrounded by fields,
just like their home in Scotland.
But that comes at a price,
so in 2008 we showed them a property priced at £240,000.
Although it was 40,000 over their budget
it would have given them an idea of what a top-end home was like.
-How are you?
-Pleased to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-This must be the crew!
First it was the massive living room that got the big "wow".
The open-plan design took great advantage of the views.
This is lovely. This is, you know...
The sink looking out at the greenery and everything,
and I just love the family space.
It was ideal for the children and for Mum and Dad,
the master bedroom had a clever hidden walk-in wardrobe.
So, could they see themselves living in this upmarket property?
We know this one's up at 240,000, which is well out of our budget, but you can see why.
I mean, it's beautiful. I mean, just... I mean, that's probably worth 140,000 as it is.
It's got it all. If you just stand here,
there's no traffic, you know,
you can hear the birds,
but we would have a huge mortgage
and we wouldn't basically have the time to sit back and appreciate it.
We'd hardly be at home,
we'd be at work all the time to pay the bills!
Once the rain had stopped, it was time to vote.
Right then, you lot, it's property vote time.
Do you prefer the properties in New Zealand or the properties back home?
Ready? Three, two, one, vote!
It's a 50-50 split!
Looks like Mum and Dad had their work cut out convincing the children.
After trying out life in New Plymouth in 2008,
the Cummings family had to weigh up the most important decision of their lives.
Did they take the plunge and move Down Under or did they stay in the UK?
So, where are the Cummings family in 2010?
They've bought a house five minutes from the bustling centre of New Plymouth.
It's a dramatic change from the country homes they dreamt of,
but it's surrounded by forests and has enough outdoor space to keep those energetic boys happy.
So, let's get inside and have a look.
Hi! Welcome to New Plymouth, welcome to our home.
Come on in and I'll show you around.
It's a three-bed wooden home
split over two levels that they bought on arrival
only nine months ago for £185,000.
They've had to make an extra bedroom for Sarah in the office
but have a great living area, den for the kids
and the all-important outside space with decking,
a balcony, a good-sized garden, but it's work in progress.
When we first came here, the kitchen was, erm...
Well, there was a brick...
There was a wall all the way up here, so we've basically taken that down
and made it sort of open-plan just to try and get a...
more of a family feel going on in the room, it was very, very separated.
-But we've got a lot of work to do, haven't we?
You'd hardly notice they were so close to the city.
It's really nice in the summer, cos we can...
All these windows slide back
so you feel like you're living amongst the trees because we're living on the first floor.
Outside, there's a great entertaining area.
We've got the decking outside
with the table and chairs as well. We haven't got to use those yet,
having moved here sort of in the winter time it's been raining, but it's...
We're looking forward to the summer, which is just around the corner.
Sarah's made the downstairs study her own space, whilst upstairs Joanne's room has a beautiful view.
Even Gareth and Stuart seem more relaxed here.
Hello, this is mine and Stuart's room.
And North Island life certainly seems to suit them.
The environment back in the UK is to protect and to wrap them up in cotton wool kind of thing
and for children like Stuart and Gareth that have just got so much energy, that was suffocating,
whereas here, they're celebrated. It's been the best thing that's ever happened to them.
Mum and Dad's room is a haven of peace and quiet.
It's beautiful in the morning. You wake up, you sit up and you look out of the window
and just listen to the morning. It's fabulous.
We've got our own balcony, so eventually we'll have a little chair out there,
have our morning cup of coffee watching the birds.
Sarah was the family's main concern, so how has she settled in?
She has a good group of friends and she loves being here
but she does miss her family back home.
The make-up and hoop earrings and a lot of the things that were starting to creep in, I felt, too soon,
that's gone. So they're all allowed to be young girls.
They're not trying to be older than they are,
which is really quite refreshing.
But there's no way of stopping her from growing up.
One thing that scares me is Sarah could learn to drive in two years' time.
Yeah! Don't go there.
Does anyone know where to get a big bumper car?
Originally, we thought we'd want to go to the countryside, you know,
and we didn't want to be in the town
but if you just have a listen...
DOG BARKS, BIRDS WHISTLE
Now, we're five minutes from town - we're in town.
And we are in the country as well, which is... It's brilliant.
But being so close to the city comes at an unexpected price.
Unfortunately, the only downside is that it was more expensive to buy in the town,
so we got less physically, the house,
than we would have really wanted. We really wanted a four-bedroom,
so we've gone back in the property ladder in a way.
They were desperate to get to New Zealand so sold their UK home for £140,000,
much less than they'd hoped.
Whilst they planned to buy a new property outright,
it hasn't turned out that way.
Property, especially in New Plymouth,
is a lot more expensive than we anticipated.
So, not only did we lose money on the house but we've also had to get a mortgage
and the house we bought does need a lot of work,
so I've gone back to work sort of three, four days a week,
which leaves Doug to look after the children at the weekend!
The cost of leaving friends and family back in the UK
has been hard on Sarah.
Sarah, although she won't admit it,
she's a bit of an emotional wreck at times.
I mean, she misses my mum and dad, she misses, like, Laura's mum and dad, she misses the family.
She really misses her friends.
But they've all felt the distance.
Whenever anybody from home rings,
and we speak to our family, like, every week,
something just fires in your heart
and you just get this, "Oh! I really miss them!"
And then you kind of just have to get back on with life, sort of thing, don't you?
But it has been hard, there's been a...
Especially me, I've had a couple of moments, where I've been, "Oh, my goodness!"
That's what you've sacrificed to come here and I think that...
That is so... It's so hard.
Fingers crossed that the sadness of leaving loved ones behind
diminishes with time.
If you're thinking of moving to New Zealand,
remember it's not just the lifestyle you'll need to research.
There's the small matter of a job, too.
There's a points system in existence,
with different skills, qualifications and other factors bringing different scores.
Going through an immigration expert is the most straightforward way to apply
as they can help calculate your points, advise you where your skills are most wanted
and process your application. You'll be earning New Zealand dollars,
so most can expect a wage drop,
but if you can get the all-important work-life balance right,
you might just find you've made the best move of your life.
Back in 2008, the children were up early playing doctors and nurses.
Dougie's blood pressure was on the up.
He was on his way to try out the job
that could have provided the all-important lifestyle they wanted.
Today's quite important because, basically since leaving school,
I've only had one employer, apart from Dounreay,
and that's been the Royal Navy, so it's quite nerve-wracking today.
But I'm going to get as much information as I can
and see what work they've got here and what they're after.
While Dougie was at work,
Mum and the children decided to check out the coast around New Plymouth
in an old lifeboat.
It gave them a chance to mull over their big decision, that's if Gareth could find his sea legs!
Come on, you'll be safe. Hold my hand and I'll look after you.
He was a little bit frightened. Never done this sort of thing before,
so this is a bit of a new challenge, innit, Gareth?
I don't want to do this.
I know, darling. Don't worry, it'll be fine.
Dougie was just as nervous,
as he was keen to make a good impression on his first day in the gas production industry.
Morning. Mark Hatch, Transfield Worley.
-How are you doing?
-Welcome to New Zealand.
Today, we're going to Methanex. It's one of our clients' plants.
They're recommissioning one of their chemical methanol plants.
Dougie was being tested as an electrical engineer
at one of New Zealand's biggest gas processing plants and safety was all-important.
It was an alien environment for him, he was used to large naval vessels
but the scale and complexity of the engineering there was daunting.
In the Master Control Room, Mark needed to find out how easily Dougie would understand the systems.
Doug, we're in the final stages of commissioning at the moment.
I guess there's parallels to what you've done in the Navy?
Perhaps go through what you'd do to recommission a new piece of equipment
and how it compares to what we're doing.
We've got a trials group that would deal with checking equipment
and what they do is they look at this valve here...
-..and they'd check that it was correctly installed,
it's got the correct wiring, check out the wiring continuities.
He seemed to know his stuff. No alarm bells ringing yet.
That's very similar to what we're doing here.
-No, it's not an emergency!
But back in 2008, it was time to launch the lifeboat
so that Laura and the kids could explore the local coastline.
-I told you!
-Because of the nature of what we're doing,
I'll take you round the harbour and get the wee lad familiar with it.
Are you ready to go out in the waves?
-Because there's lots of seals there.
Perhaps the idea of watching seals would distract Gareth from the big waves.
Good boy! Welcome back, Gareth.
As little Gareth relaxed, Laura's thoughts turn to Dougie's job,
and the important challenge of making ends meet.
We're probably going to get less for our house than we really wanted,
so that's going to need to be topped up with a monthly wage
in case we have to get a mortgage.
So, it's really important for Doug today because, obviously,
us emigrating depends on him getting a job.
While Laura headed out to sea,
Mark wanted to know how well Dougie worked with other engineers.
We might set you a bit of a test to see if you can help us with it.
It looked like he was in for a rough ride and he's not the only one.
It wasn't long before they got to the seal colony.
-See over here?
Oh, yeah, right up on the top.
See those holes there? They're actually puffin bird holes.
Oh, look at 'em all. Look!
-Wow, look at that. What do you think about the seals then, guys?
-Did you see many?
It was crunch time for Dougie.
He'd been taken to the far side of the gas production plant
to perform a remote electrical test with the control room.
Doug, what I'd like you to do is give Steve a call-up on the radio,
tell them we're ready to a loop check and see if we can do it.
Steve, this is Doug. Radio check, over.
Control room to Doug.
OK, I've got you loud and clear.
Are we ready to go for a check on this valve?
Yeah, hi, Doug.
We just want to do a check on pressure control 02100, please.
For the safety of the plant it was crucial Dougie knew how to take accurate measurements like this.
And 0 is correct, 50 bar.
So, how did Mark think he was doing?
I think he's doing a fantastic job.
He was good in the control room, knew his way round the DCS screens, loop calibrations,
and in the field he's done all the right things with the loop checking,
worked well with Steve. I think he'll fit in well with us.
-Roger and out.
That's great, Doug. Excellent.
Dougie had impressed them,
but could he see himself working in this very unfamiliar gas industry?
As the family headed back, it was time for Dougie
to vote on whether he found the job a gas - ha, joke!
I've had a fantastic day today.
I've learnt lots about the oil and gas industry over here
and if I had to vote for working here or the UK,
my answer would be -
It's a year on
and whilst Dougie's already at work,
Laura has to contend with the usual pre-school debates.
What have you got round your ankle? Take that off, please.
-What, you're allowed it at school.
-No, take it off, please.
Give me that, please.
No, because you'll end up wearing it at school.
Wear it when you come home.
You don't want to wear an ankle chain?
Laura's got time to take the boys to school.
Come on then, up you go.
She's even gained a few of the neighbours' children in the process but it's hard going.
This is good for the old calf muscles!
Gets the heart beating fast, doesn't it, pumpkin?
In town, Dougie's taken up the job offer with the company he tried out with last year,
and is now a project manager on about £40,000.
He's taken the skills he gained with the Navy and has transferred them
to working in the oil and gas industry in New Zealand.
So, has it been a tough transition to make?
It's been quite a challenge.
For me, it was quite a new move to the oil and gas
and it can be quite sink-or-swim.
It's all new work for me, it's all new stuff and the regulations aren't the same as the UK.
It's subtle differences which can drop you in it if you're not careful,
so I've had to learn a lot more.
And he's discovered something surprising about the New Zealand work ethic.
People work hard.
I mean, people in New Zealand...
I don't think people appreciate, they work very hard, this work-life balance.
They expect you to work for your money!
After missing out on so much of the children's early life whilst in the Navy,
has moving to New Zealand given him the chance to spend more time with the family?
I've got home every evening for nine months and it's brilliant, you know?
I get to put the kids to bed,
I get to shout at them and moan about the mess they're making. All the, like...
It's like being a real dad!
But not everything's been such a happy discovery.
It is quite expensive to live in New Zealand.
We thought it would be a cheaper lifestyle, but it's not.
I mean, petrol's cheap as chips,
but food is more expensive and with four kids we go through a lot of food in our house.
Laura's working, we didn't think she'd be working or have to work
but she's enjoying it, she's got a bit of independence.
Just down the road, Laura's taken to the workplace like she'd never left.
When I was younger I went to hotel management college and worked in hotels for many, many years
until I had my family and then I left the hotel industry,
so I'm just absolutely delighted to be able to be back doing a job that I love
in an industry that I really enjoy being a part of.
Working three days a week was essential to boost their finances
to help establish the family in the city life they decided upon.
We really wanted a home in the countryside,
but when we rented first here in the town
we just began to appreciate how everything was on the doorstep.
Obviously living within the Central Business District property prices are at a premium,
so what we did really was get the best house that we could afford so we did have to get a mortgage.
For the Cummings family the transition from the UK
to New Zealand was aided by the great deal they were offered.
It was a dream come true for us when we got back to the UK
and Transfield basically emailed us with an entire relocation package.
We couldn't believe it. Basically, they paid for us to come here.
Our flights were paid for,
the container ship was paid for,
so we are obviously contracted to Transfield.
If we were to leave within a two-year period then we would have to pay all that back.
So they have to stay with the job for two years.
Dougie seems happy for the time being and let's hope it stays that way.
Back in 2008 the Cummings family from the far north of Scotland were looking for a new start
on the dramatic west coast of New Zealand's North Island after Dougie had left the Navy.
They had a trial week Down Under to sample what was to become their new life.
Having made the move they've settled into a home they love, but daughter Sarah remains unconvinced.
She does miss her family back home.
Did they make the right decision? Given the chance, would they make the same choice again?
Emigrating to New Zealand could offer your family the opportunity to maximise the outdoor lifestyle,
but in 2008 the Cummings' trip Down Under was still hampered by rain.
Everyone said before we came out, "Don't forget it's winter and it'll be damp,"
but I was hoping would be nice!
My impression of New Zealand weather at the moment
is it's... It's just like what I've left behind at home.
They'd hoped to encourage the children in Egmont National Park with a walk to Goblin Forest,
but high up in the mountains they were almost in the clouds
and it was more like a tropical rainforest.
Back in Scotland they were a family that loved the outdoors,
but the wet walk here proved heavy going for everybody, even Dougie.
At least Mum was putting on a brave face.
Apart from the rain and the cold it's pretty beautiful, isn't it, walking through the forest?
It didn't take long for the boys to get into the spirit of Goblin Forest.
Oh, there's a goblin in the bush. Look, he's moving!
They're all crazy.
As the walk continued the beauty of the woods still hadn't convinced Sarah.
Because I've got it all back home.
I've got the forest and the boats and all that sort of stuff.
I've got it all, so what's the point in coming here just to get exactly the same?
The weather was making even Laura uncertain about the move.
You can see we're tired.
It's been quite intense and we've done a lot of things this week.
But, I don't know, there's a pressure I think to try and make a decision
as to what we want to do and I'm finding that quite challenging.
You know, I didn't fly to the other side of the world to be freezing cold and wet!
I really felt that I would come out here and it would be 100% yes, or no,
but I must admit today if I had to make a decision it would be to stay at home.
It's a once in a lifetime thing, she's listening to us!
So, back in 2008 how did they all vote on the New Zealand lifestyle?
All right then, crazy gang, all in all, do we like the lifestyle in New Zealand or UK?
We're going to vote, three, two, one.
OK, so what have we got?
We've got two New Zealand, three UK and one half and half.
So, youngest daughter Jo couldn't make her mind up
and the rest of the family were split down the middle,
but their spirits were still surprisingly high.
Now, having made the massive move to New Zealand, how are the Cummings enjoying their new life?
While Dougie's at work Laura has taken the clan on a typical after-school trip to the beach.
This is our favourite beach. It's just absolutely breathtaking here.
We had wonderful beaches in Caithness and we did go there an awful lot, but,
I don't know, it's just so beautiful with the sunshine
and the blueness of the sea and it's just lovely down here.
Sunshine, well, that's a definite improvement on last year's day trip!
So, are they making the most of the outdoor life in New Zealand?
Our children have always been very outdoorsy anyway.
They've always liked coming down the beach and going for walks
and cycling, that kind of thing, but here there's just more opportunities.
The active lifestyle is encouraged in the school curriculum, too.
The girls are doing kayaking. At Sarah's school they're doing sailing.
They do at least four hours every week, plus additional sports after school.
Do you mind, young man?
They're throwing sand!
No, don't throw sand, please. You mustn't do that.
Well, it looks like the twins are as energetic as ever.
It's been the making of Stuart and Gareth.
They can just go out on their bicycles.
All their energy they can just...
Just use, you know, naturally.
And they do, they go bike riding, they go walking, we come down the beach.
There's just something on offer all the time
for them to channel their energies into,
so it's just been fantastic for them.
Before the Cummings made the move to New Zealand Sarah was desperate to stay in the UK.
Worried about leaving her best friend Chloe seemed too much to contemplate.
New Zealand's OK, I guess. It was OK to begin with.
Like, I didn't have that many friends, but then after a couple of days
they all came round and started being really friendly with me
and I didn't feel like the odd one out because I was Scottish, English, whatever.
In New Zealand Sarah has made some close friendships
and she spends a lot of time with classmate Crystal.
I met her, in class. She's in the same class as me.
On the first day we were, like, instantly, like, really good friends
and we've kind of like, become, like, that.
So, how did she cope with leaving the UK and everyone there behind?
When dad got the job and told us that we were coming here
I had a few strops and a couple of other things like that, but...
-You were unhappy.
-Yes, I was very unhappy.
I'd love to visit the UK again,
just to compare now that I've tried this life again.
While Sarah still has mixed feelings, Jo seems a lot more convinced by life in New Zealand.
I don't think I could ever go back and live now. Here's, like...
You're, like, free to do whatever you want, basically.
But Sarah understands the move has been positive for Doug and Laura.
Mum and Dad are, like, getting on really well now.
I think they love it because there's, like, loads for them to do as well,
like taking the dogs for walks and they've all got, like, really good jobs now and all that.
Back in 2008 the Cummings had been invited by Dougie's potential boss Mark and his family
to support the local team in a rugby match.
It was a chance not only to witness the razzmatazz of the game, but to see how well everyone got on.
Do you get much chance to go to the games?
I've been to most home games this year. They're really good.
Is it expensive or quite reasonable?
You can get a ground admission ticket for about 12 bucks or sit up here for about 24.
It's not bad. Really good, actually.
After doubts about the weather, the stadium atmosphere was starting to bring Laura back on side.
Everything's becoming more alive, more real, you know?
Sort of becoming a part of things now. It feels good.
It's fantastic. You can't beat live rugby, all the violence on the pitch,
the kids are being fed, excellent company and we're huddling up nice to keep warm!
Most importantly, Sarah seemed to be getting on well with Mark's daughter.
Are you warming up to it a little bit, Sarah? Just a little bit?
-A little bit.
-A teeny bit? A little bit? A teeny bit?
-She's warming up to it a teeny bit!
-It's a win!
Taranaki won the match, but had Sarah been won over?
It was time to vote.
All right, crazy gang, what do you think about making friends in New Zealand?
Is it easier in New Zealand or Britain?
On three, two, one, now!
-So, back in 2008 that was three votes for New Zealand, plus half a vote from Sarah.
It was the first time she didn't vote completely for the UK.
One year on and whilst Sarah and the other children have made friends at school
and Dougie's done the same at work, it's been Laura who's had to put herself out there to make friends.
She's met up with Jill, a fellow Brit,
who made the move at a similar time, but didn't arrive with high hopes.
-You weren't that keen, were you? You were...
-That was an understatement.
I did not want to emigrate at all. No.
So, husband's idea, husband's fault, but I have to say, begrudgingly, I actually do like it.
-And a lot of that was really thanks to Laura because, I mean...
Aw, I know, I can be nice!
But she was my support network.
They've explored life in this new country together.
We just kind of discovered New Plymouth together, didn't we?
We went to all the museums and went to the art galleries
and we drove out and about, didn't we? And we went up the mountain.
We were ladies that lunched quite frequently.
We did. We went to lunch all the time.
And then you got a job and she left me.
But it's not been all fun.
I'm quite lucky in the fact I've not had any homesickness at all.
No, you're very lucky.
-Well, yeah, I know I've had a bit.
But it has helped I think with our friendship
because we've been able to talk to each other.
I know I've talked to you when I've been feeling a bit low
and it's just nice to have a pal, you know, that you can share things with.
Despite forging close friendships quickly,
Laura still feels pangs for loved ones back in the UK.
I just wish I could scoop all my family up and bring them here,
if I had just one wish or a million dollars,
and then life would just be perfect.
The Cummings had to face up to the prospect of leaving loved ones behind in the UK.
Back in 2008 we showed them some recorded messages from their friends and family back home.
Go on, Jo, play this film.
Hi, Sarah and Joanne, it's your best friends here.
Hope you're having a good time, but we'll miss you a lot.
I hope you're enjoying New Zealand, you've went on about it often enough,
and I'm really going to miss you if you go.
For me he's always just been Dougie, he's an adventurer.
That's a part of his mental make up.
He's done what he set out to do,
has a family, married a smashing girl.
Laura is... She's the type of person that you just can't dislike.
She's just too nice.
She's just too bubbly and too happy and she gets on with everybody.
The only person I think it would really affect
is their eldest granddaughter, Sarah.
I think she has expressed comments that
she may not like the thought of going out there.
I love having the children around.
-But we will see them, they're not going to the moon.
We shall go out hopefully every third year or something.
Yeah. It's not the same as popping round for coffee or...
But it's true, it's not the same as just coming round. It's true.
Basically, we don't want him not doing something
that he really wants to do because of us,
because we don't want him to spend the rest of his life
sort of with this little thing in his mind that says, I could have done it, but didn't.
I'll really miss you, you know,
if you decide to go to New Zealand,
but, you know, you will always...
I just miss you, Laura.
Nana and granddad love you very much indeed.
You know very well that grandma and granddad
would miss you extreme... A lot.
And I am sure that everything will work out.
Whatever you decide to do we're with you 100%.
Laura and Doug, if you decide to go then we're all very happy for you.
I don't want you to go.
I'll miss you loads.
I can't do any more, sorry.
There's a lot of love going around.
It's... It's hard.
It's hard to imagine a day-to-day existence, you know, not seeing them.
Are you a bit upset, baby? Oh, sweetie!
A year on and the family have made a life for themselves in New Plymouth,
but being separated from those they left behind never gets any easier.
As they settle down to watch a new set of messages,
you may notice someone is missing.
Sarah, as you may notice, isn't here.
We asked the Sarah to sit with us to watch this, but you just found it too much.
But this was what made the decision so hard.
If it was just a case of do you live in the UK or do you live in New Zealand, then I mean, there's...
You know, there's... It wouldn't be a problem.
It's do you leave your family to live in New Zealand?
So, to see messages from them is bound to be quite raw, isn't it, you know? Because we miss them.
We do miss them.
With emotions already running high
it's time to see how their loved ones in the UK are coping without them.
-Hi, gang! I hope you're all well.
When Dougie said that they wanted to emigrate and they were thinking of New Zealand I cheered,
because it's the chance of a better life for them and for the children.
I wouldn't say I was worried for them, but I did feel at the time
that they maybe hadn't researched it or been in the country for that long
to have made the decision that they had made.
The day prior to moving out of the country, or the night prior to moving out of the country,
I took them down to Inverness to stay overnight
and they were catching the plane the next morning.
As I was leaving it was rather dramatic and traumatic, as well.
I think Laura and the older children realised for the first time
they were actually going away for a long time.
I think it affected them,
it affected me in the same way.
It was horrendous.
My heart just broke completely, didn't it?
Saying goodbye to those children was the hardest thing I've ever done.
I was just didn't think it was going to happen and then suddenly, you know,
Christmas came and went and New Year and then it was they were gone,
so it was quite a sad... A very sad time.
There didn't seem to be a permanency to it at the time.
It was almost as if they were just going off for a couple of months on a really fantastic holiday.
It was only really... March, April time this year
that we first sort of really realised that they weren't actually coming back.
Everything you miss about them, you know?
The pile of pillows you had to clear up after they'd gone,
the sweet wrappers that you had to dig out
from under the furniture after they'd gone.
It's all the things that made you smile.
I miss them coming round all the time and just not seeing them grow up
because, you know, we used to go and see their sports days and...
at schools and that and you just can't do any of that now.
We won't be able to be a part of their growing up.
We both feel they made the right decision.
They really seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, which is absolutely fantastic,
and that was one thing that was concerning me, especially with Sarah
because she was the one that seemed to be really upset and didn't appear to want to go.
She says she misses us, which is nice.
I want you to know we love you and miss you loads. See you soon, bye.
I hope to see you when you come back in 2011,
although it seems quite a long time! Take care. Bye.
We're obviously missing you still.
We're looking forward to seeing you end of October, can't wait for it.
Look after yourselves
and I'll pass you on to Granny now.
And Granny's going to fly!
Ah ha! We're making your mother fly!
Oh, that was lovely.
I actually enjoyed that. It didn't make me feel upset.
-That just made me really look forward to seeing them soon.
Even though you have your times where you really miss your family, we speak all the time.
They know everything we're doing and we know everything they're doing.
And I'm just so looking forward to seeing them next year.
Really, really can't wait.
And how was it for Jo?
-A bit sad to begin with, but then there were smiles, so it's all right.
So, with such a positive reaction to the messages, how did they think Sarah would have coped?
Sarah doesn't like change, so...
And she finds it really hard to leave something or let something go
so I think she would just find it too upsetting.
I think she just finds it easier to not think about home
because I think she's frightened of dealing with the emotions
that come along with thinking about everything, everybody back home.
So, rather than face them she just tends to put them to one side rather than face the feelings.
And I think deep down she realises that we made this move for their future.
So, for the Cummings family it looks like the future is looking bright.
I think, really, the only expectation or the only thing
I wanted to achieve from this move was the happiness of the family.
You don't want to live your life and then when you're too old to do something like this
to look back and say, "What if...", or "I wish", you know?
It's too late. You get one go at this, yeah?
And if... We've had a chance to make a difference to our kids' lives, there is a cost,
but I think it's worth it.
Back in 2008 the trial week was a revelation for the Cummings family.
Both Dougie and Laura started enthusiastically and the houses never failed to impress them.
That is gorgeous.
Oh, my goodness!
But the weather make them question their determination to make the move.
I didn't fly to the other side of the world to be freezing cold and wet.
All along it was older daughter Sarah who needed convincing.
Because I've got it all back home.
I've got the forest and the boats and all that sort of stuff.
I've got it all, so what's the point in coming here just to get exactly the same?
Back in 2008 they considered all their feelings for their final vote,
it was Mum Laura who found it hardest to decide.
When you're in a, no, I don't really want to emigrate mood,
you kind of look for reasons not to go and obviously not having a job and having to find a job
would have been a big reason to sort of delay us emigrating.
But to have a job offer there makes you think, "Oh, gosh, is this fate?"
Is this saying, "Well, give it a go"?
As the sun finally came out it was big decision time.
Were the Cummings going to come?
So, you've had a week in beautiful New Plymouth in New Zealand.
We've all had a wonderful time.
Three, two, one.
-Half and half.
So, back in 2008 it was only Dougie with a full New Zealand vote,
three votes for the UK and Gareth and Laura were still undecided.
Despite the split vote they still made the move.
Dougie's settled into his new role, but it hasn't been easy.
People work hard. I mean, people in New Zealand, I don't think
people appreciate, they work very hard, this work-life balance.
And Laura occasionally feels homesick.
I just wish I could scoop all my family up and bring them here.
Sarah's still torn.
I'd love to visit the UK again just to compare now that I've tried this life again.
There are still big questions over their 2008 decision to emigrate,
so in 2009 will their votes change?
Right then, crazy gang, it's final vote time.
Are we going to vote for New Zealand or the UK?
Ready, vote now!
Well, I think that's a majority, isn't it? Yeah?
Sarah, are you still half and half?
So, life in New Zealand hasn't persuaded everyone.
The Cummings have made the move to New Plymouth and, despite how hard it's been,
Laura and Dougie feel it was the right thing to do.
The children seem to have settled in very well, but Sarah still misses her life in the UK.
Join us again next time when we catch up with another family on Wanted Down Under Revisited.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Wanted Down Under Revisited catches up with some of the original British families who tried out life in Australia and New Zealand to find out where they are now.
In 2008, the Cummings family from the far north of Scotland sampled life in New Plymouth on the coast of New Zealand's North Island. Dad Dougie had left the Navy after 23 years of service and wanted to get back some time with his wife and children. The family thought New Zealand might offer them the opportunity to be together and enjoy a better quality of life. But 11-year-old Sarah wasn't convinced. So what happened? We get up to date with the Cummings and see if they made the move.