Moving to Queenstown, New Zealand

The Big Move!

Well two days ago the move began!

I took a nice long flight on Air New Zealand (where we received MOST excellent service) and made our way down to Queenstown, New Zealand.

Wish us luck!

I’ll keep you informed here during our adventure. It was a big decision to move the family of five here, and we are all very excited! I hope my kids get little Kiwi accents… that would be one of the wonderful little side-effects.

So, what are we dealing with here? Well, it took about a year to officially get our NZ residence visas. It was an exhausting process, but that bit of logistics is over. And then we had to begin the move of all our Stuff. The moving trucks came about six weeks ago to empty out our house in Austin, and they put all our stuff in two containers that are now on a boat en route across the Pacific. They are on one of those big boats that you see Chinese exporters using. I’m a little jealous my stuff went through the Panama Canal without me!

Now we are here in Queenstown renting a flat for a few weeks while we do hardcore house-hunting.

I’d like to buy a place that is on the lake you see below. Or, barring that, I’d like to buy land on the lake and build a house along with my studio next door. We’ll see how all that works out. Or, maybe we will buy an existing house and modify it. Or, maybe we will rent a house for six months, move our stuff in there, then find a permanent house and move in there.

As you can see, things are in disarray with our housing situation! It’s kind of a big deal, you know, choosing this location in which to live. It was too scary to buy a house over the internet – like a pair of blue jeans.

Why am I moving here? Well THAT is a longer story… I get this question a lot… I will write a longer story/video about it soon, but most of the reason is because of YOU. Because YOU have told your friends about the website and helped it grow, we can now have a bit of a lifestyle change so that I can be in a location where I can take everything I am doing to the next level. As always, I am VERY VERY VERY thankful for YOU and your support of me and the website… you have really changed my life.

The Most Beautiful Road in the World I found it!I've looked at travel guides and driven on a ton of beautiful, scenic roads all over the world, but I think this road to Queenstown (on the way to/from Glenorchy) is the most beautiful in the world.  The road winds down one side of a perfect, fjord-like lake, and every few kilometers, the mountain views change dramatically.  Depending upon the time of day you travel it, the entire landscape transforms before your eyes.Wonder what it looks like on the other side of the lake?  You won't believe that it is in the same place!  See this photo called Mountainstorm that I took on a previous trip to this location.  It was shot later in the evening, so I wasn't able to properly capture the road that time.What's the prettiest road you have ever found?  I've seen conflicting guides of the most beautiful roads in the US... I'm sure everyone has their opinion... I'd love to know what you think!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And another New Zealand photo…

The Long Road to New Zealand This is one of countless beautiful roads that crisscross New Zealand.  I'm afraid I've forgotten exactly where I was when I took this photo!   I know that is very lame, but I bet people around here can help me pinpoint the area.As far as the camera settings, this is the kind of shot you can get with something called "compression," a method where you use a zoom lens and zoom in quite far.  It takes images in the distance and makes them larger than life.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And here is a wonderful little video… it was made for an area of Queenstown called Jack’s Point, but it does give you a good idea of the environs…

  • Awesome adventure for you and the whole family – I wish you the best of everything – know you will find a place to call ‘home’ soon! 🙂

  • Best of luck for you and your family, you seem like the type of guy who will embrace the change in culture and make the most of what is a hugely exciting and hopefully rewarding move.

  • bob prangnell

    I’m only writing this here as hdrspotting has no contact information on the site. Anyway, I come across so many bugs that I find it disheartening using the site. I must say the old site was much better.  Much much better. The bugs I just noticed : —A pic of mine that I uploaded ages ago (many many months) is showing up on the Latest page. Also #8 on the Latest page was uploaded in April and there are many many more recent pics than that uploaded. –There are duplicate pictures shown on the Popular panel. –There’s not obvious rhyme or reason for inclusion in Popular (it’s not views or hearts).  Sorry but imho it’s a complete mess and you should go back to the previous version and start again. And also I don’t like the arbitrary forcing of pics into square format. I guess you would object to your art being chopped randomly.

    Well, that out of the way, welcome to NZ. I hope you enjoy it. I’ve been here 16 years now. I do like QT but I wouldn’t want to live there as (a) it’s too touristy for my taste and (b) it’s too cold in the winter. But given that you are moving at the start of the US summer coming to a NZ Winter I guess you must like the cold!  Although you will no doubt enjoy the scenery, I wonder how much you will miss being (relatively) close to Google HQ, Twit TV and all that stuff. But hey, there’s always air travel I suppose. Best of luck with the house hunting. You’re probably going to be better off buying some land and building. It’s quite an easy process compared to many places. Although there is a bit of a builder/tradesman shortage with the rebuilding of Christchurch.

    Looking forward to hearing your reasons for moving here..

    The same lake:

  • Casper van Zyl

    Well what can i say but enjoy your new found adventure.Hope you go from strength to strength in what you want to achieve. Will send you an email on what ideas you my be able to use  for the future but thats up to you. love both pics at least now you have water a plenty.

  • Welcome home, Trey!
    I’ve been waiting for this day since we met in 2010 & can’t wait to get to know you and the family better. I know you’ll find a fantastic place to live and build an awesome lifestyle here in this stellar landscape. Of course you’re always welcome to join us in Gibbston time and time again for an epic meal and good times.I hope the selling in goes well & I’ll catch up with you soon 🙂

  • Martin Tyler

    I spent an hour at sunset at the same location as your first photo about 10 days ago. Now in San Francisco on my way home to London, sadly not staying for the G+ photo conference.

    Are you looking at Kelvin Heights? I saw there was a nice place for 6m NZD there with a 24 car garage and a tennis court 🙂

    If you are still in Queenstown in a few years I might be joining you there. I’m missing breakfasts at the Vudu cafe already.

  • Dave Morgan

    As many others have wondered why the big move, with so much talk of people leaving the USA because of taxes wouldn’t it be nice to have that problem. NZ is high on my list as a destination and having relatives there will make it easier to visit. If I do make it down it would be great to get together and share ideas. Looking forward shooting Fiordland. So wait for me to show up before you start doing alot of hiking up there.-Dave from

  • Tom O’Neill

    Congratulations!  Glad to hear the move has finally taken place.  When my growing blog finally hits the big time there is a little place on the beach in Noosa, Australia that I would like to move the family. A far cry from San Diego,CA. 

  • SharonDeHayes

    Wishing you and your family all the very best on your adventure – you’ve picked a wonderful country for both beautiful landscapes and friendly people. (We lived in Australia for three years, and would loved to have retired in either Australia or New Zealand.)

  • Congrats on your move, Trey.  Sounds like a great new beginning for you and your family.  I can’t wait to see the photos of your new home when you buy/built it!!!  Great photos also!! 🙂

  • Congrats Trey! What an exciting time for you and your family! Looking forward to the journey in photos!

  • Guy Rolland

    What a wonderful area,,,,,and very very very nice video of this country.

    Guy Rolland

  • You finally got there! Congrats on your new adventure Trey!

  • Paul Garrett

    Best wishes with your move and finding a new house!  I hope to get to NZ some day :  )

  • Sherman J. Buster

    Good luck on finding a new home.

  • Carlos Ortega

    Congrats Trey, You have earned everything you have, in my case I have to thank you for resurrect my taste for photography. Thank you Trey and all the best for you and your family in NZ

  • cochrun

    I spent a lot of time in NZ during transitions to and from Antarctica back in the 70’s.  Great place!  Wonderful people!  I had a couple of flats in Christchurch – sad, what has happened to that beautiful city.  I love NZ and I understand why you might choose to settle there.  Best wishes!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks everyone 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – I hope they rebuild

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks Gail 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    24 car garage!  jeezo! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    see you soon at the farm! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks – and I’ll have the team contact you! 🙂

  • Exciting (and inspiring!) stuff, Trey. Will be sending good vibes your way. 

  • Theo Fenraven

    I expected you to say you were moving because the US has become a crazy place, full of extremists and other people not good for the general populace. I contemplated it when Bush II got into office, and I think about it still. However, I don’t have the wherewithal to make that change. I’m glad you do. Enjoy it for all of us!

  • Welcome to New Zealand, Trey!! Can’t wait to see how you capture our fine land 🙂 Don’t forget there’s plenty to do up north too. Say hi if you find yourself wandering around Auckland.

  • RyanHuhn

    I’ve been following you for a while now on twitter and google+ and don’t post very often. But I really wish you and your family well on your new chapter in life. Living your dream is pretty cool dude. Can’t wait to hear more.

  • Stephen Roke

    … and to your friends and family back home …we’ll take good care of Trey and family.

  • Trey,

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful start to this next journey in your lives. I look forward to getting updates as to how you’re doing.

    Take care,

  • I’m guessing you’re moving to QT because it’s the most beautiful place in the world!?

  • Hi Trey, I wish you and your family all the best for this great adventure, that awesome. I’m a little bit jealous here 🙂
    Take care

  • David Kadlubowski


    I have been following you daily,  for quite some time now.  I believe everything happens for a reason and glad that you are following your dreams.

    God bless you and your family,
    Dave K.
    Staff Photographer 
    Arizona Republic

  • Andrea Boyle

    Trey and family:  I wish you the very best!! What a great experience to move where you REALLY  want to live.  And, I feel so included to know that I, as a part of the SIC community, had a part in it.  So my next question…can WE move into your neighborhood?  🙂 We want to live there, too! 
    All the best! Take care on your journey!!

  • Indeed! 😀

  • Man, I can only imagine the adventure you guys are going to have.   We’re moving 30 miles down the road, that in itself is a pain in the buttocks, and the neighboring town didn’t have any immigration paperwork 🙂    The real estate system here, stateside.. is a bit broken methinks.

    I wish you and your family the best of luck in the move — looking forward to reading more about this adventure.

  • Looks like  an absolutely beautiful place to live.  Hope the move goes well.  Can’t imagine moving half way across the world but I’m sure living in New Zealand will be an amazing experience.

  • Scotty Graham

    Trey…I can’t think of a better place to move. I bought a house up on Fern Hill a few years ago, but sold it to finance my house here in Jakarta! I often regret that sale…QT is one of my favorite places in the world!! I wish you and your family all the best as you settle in. I guess it does put you a bit closer to Indonesia….still owe you a coffee if you are ever in the area…!!

  • Amazing shot! wow love the never ending road..the backmountains! beauty!

  • Stephen Roke

    Hey Trey,
    If you ever need help with architecture – we are very knowledgeable about jacks point in Queenstown and the opportunities there – as well other properties and people you know if looking for a great site – sorry about the commercial nature of the comment but not sure how else to contact you.


  • Adrian Simionov

    We will mate, we will!  Come by and say hi if you ever have the chance! Meanwhile, welcome to “the land of the long white cloud”!

  • Good luck Trey. Are you able to have dual citizenship in New Zealand or will you have to give up your U.S. citizenship?

  • Just got back from a week in Queenstown – what a great place to be. The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy, the list of photography subjects is endless. Looking forward to more New Zealand imagery.

  • So, how are hoime prices in NZ compaired to the US. I lnow that is a wide range. Say a $250k house in Austin would cost what in NZ? Are other costs, food gas etc, the same or higher?

  • Santosh Tiruvan

    I have never seen a sports picture on your site but sure do hope that you will do one for cricket now 🙂

    Congratulations on attaining the freedom to move and work from anywhere in the world! Good luck on your future endeavors as well!

    – Austinite

  • Congratulations on the move. I am sure that was a big decision for you and your family. I wish you all the best and looking forward to more of your NZ pics.

  • Vincent Randal

    Pick an epic spot to call home and post epic shots of it!

  • Sean Jones

    US Citizens still have to pay US income tax on their global income regardless of where they reside.
    You can get tax credits on overseas income but its still a messy process.,,id=97324,00.html 

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks everyone ! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe Cricket yes…. or maybe rugby!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    They seem a little like more expensive than Austin but less than California…. at least here in Queenstown

  • JohnCharlesCoburn

    Kia Ora from the land of the long white cloud. May I wish you well for you and your family’s journey to our homeland, Aotearoa. I am a retired ex film pro who has just moved to digital, being skeptical of quality etc until now. Your images and visual perception has opened up a  whole new ideological shift and spatial awareness for me, from my aging concepts of photography to an exciting expression of visual art. Love your teaching and so looking forward to perhaps meeting you down there one day. I have several friends who live there and visit from time to time. John

  • Shaun_Thomason

    Double post

  • Shaun_Thomason

    Welcome to my humble little country Trey! If you ever make the trip northwest to Taranaki be sure to give me a shout. I hope you enjoy New Zealand as much as I have!

  • Wow, you’re moving to my home country. Good luck, mate! Hope it all works out great for you and your family.


  • steve smart

    Your photos of New Zealand make me want to move there

    Sounds like a great adventure enjoy

  • steve smart

    That is great photo, I have not yet tried HDR but I can’t wait to get the software and give it a try

  • N.Z. is a good move! As an outdoor photographer, I’ve been spending my winters in N.Z. for the past 33 years. It’s a photographer’s dream. Let me know if you are into fly fishing…

  • JM

    I lived in NZ for 3 months. Felt far away from everything beyond NZ’s borders. Lovely people…amazing landscapes…and crazy weather shifts. Best of luck. Wonder how it will feel to blog from tomorrow to us in yesterday? 🙂

  • Wow, what a big move. You are certainly an adventurer. All the best luck with the family. Let those Southern Hemisphere images fly!

  • Matt Wooles

    Welcome to the Southern Hemisphere Trey & Family.  What a massive move for you all, but hopefully you will love it all and have the opportunity to experience the diverse environments over NZ and its neighbour Australia.  No doubt all the effort and natural concerns that come with such a big move and more than out-weighted by the experiences and enjoyment that will follow.

  • sizzlingbadger

    I moved to New Zealand in 2005 from the UK with my family (3 very young kids) it was the best decision I have ever made. I hope you enjoy Queenstown, my brother now lives there, it is a wonderful place.

  • This is amazing news! Hope that everything goes well in the move. It is a great thing to hear that you passion has done so much for you! Great job Trey

  • Hey Trey – welcome to the mainland! You got the right island not so sure about the right town/location :-). I personally couldn’t think of anywhere worse to live in NZ than Q’town. You might like that false/commercial/hustle-bustle lifestyle but have you had a real good look around? It’s a hell of a move coming all the way over here with family and kids, would hate to see you regret your choice of startup location. I would seriously consider rent for 6 months  and do some road trips. Just a bit of friendly advice from a local that has lived overseas for twenty years and returned. Cheers

  • Elenor Snow

    Oh I am SO jealous!  What a wonderful place to set up a new life!  Wishing you and your family a wonderful (and easy!)  move into your new home (once you find or build it!).

  • Good luck Trey hope it will all work out for the best! you are lucky to move to such a beautiful place!
    kind regards,

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thank you everyone 🙂

  • Wilfred Phua

    You’re such a lucky man to be able to move to New Zealand! Can’t wait to see more awe-inspiring photos from you. All the best Trey! 

  • mathurin molgat

    Hey Trey. Welcome to town. I have been here 25 years and never a day goes by that I do not marvel at the beauty of this place. The Jacks Point video that you have on your page here is one of ours. I also composed and recorded the music. I am in Wellington finishing a film at Park Road but will be back on Friday and would love to meet up. Give me a ring or e mail and we can chat. 021 5000 50 or [email protected]  I see you are friends with the Brackstones – small world, me too. Ciao, Mathurin Molgat

  • Adrian Titei

    Hey Trey,

    Best of luck to you and your family, in this great adventure. We’ve done a crazy tour of the Kiwi land back in October of 2011 and although we came back, our hearts are still there. After three weeks, 4200 km on the roads, and over 9000 pictures taken, we just didn’t want to return to our beautiful home Canada… I guess, I’m a bit jealous, but I still wish you all the best in settling in. If I may make a kind suggestion, you may wish to consider other places to build/buy a house. As someone else mentioned before, QT is very expensive, touristy, busy, etc. I, personally, enjoy places like aspen, CO, or Whistler, BC or Saint Moritz in Switzerland, but wouldn’t want to live there. My two cents.

    Looking forward to follow your quest over the next months.

    Kia Ora mate,

  • Very cool, moving in their/your winter time, too. Thanks for sharing your perspectives and insights.

    As you take your mojo to the next level, consider broadening and deepening the perspective you share to inspire and leave signposts for ways other artists may grow relationships globally to grow a business with viable means of avoiding “a real job”, starving, going insane-er and especially to facilitate a move to oh, say, New Zealand – really, I have been fascinated by New Zealand for more than five decades. “Now, go have an adventure!”

  • Very cool, moving in their/your winter time, too. Thanks for sharing your perspectives and insights.

    As you take your mojo to the next level, consider broadening and deepening the perspective you share to inspire and leave signposts for ways other artists may grow relationships globally to grow a business with viable means of avoiding “a real job”, starving, going insane-er and especially to facilitate a move to oh, say, New Zealand – really, I have been fascinated by New Zealand for more than five decades. “Now, go have an adventure!”

  • Welcome to our country, I live on the North Island and hope you will tour our part of NZ as well, love looking at your excellent images of the various places you’ve captured.  Thank you for sharing your magic, and I wish you and your family all the best.

  • Welcome to New Zealand Trey 🙂 Sorry for the late, I live in Auckland. I’m very excited to hear you move to New Zealand.
    Wishing you and your family the very best.

  • I’m going through that long and torturous process of getting permission to move the family to  New Zealand right now too. We, on the other hand, are probably looking at Wellington or Aukland  as the most likely places to continue my career, but in either case the high point of moving will be selling off the collection of shovels and other snow-clearing equipment. I did a little estimate this past winter using the dimensions of my driveway and Environment Canada’s snowfall records, and determined that I had moved, by hand, over 270 Tons of snow in 12 years as a Canadian homeowner. Frankly, that’s enough!

    So seeing your photos is a teaser of things to come for us. I hope that your adventure in Kiwi-land is as wonderful as we are hoping ours will be,.

  • Kia Ora Trey – yep no doubt your kids will pick up the accent – ours did 🙂 not wearing shoes much also goes with the territory, as does wearing jandals and saying things like ‘choice’ and ‘sweet bro’ 🙂 you’ll need to learn the proper way to say some of the place names – there is no letter f in maori though anything starting with ‘wh’ is pronounced as such. All the best – Kia Kaha

  • wow, beautiful photos! i kinda wanna move there now 🙂

  • The best decision! I went to South Island in November of 2010 for four weeks to do exploring and filming and now dream to come back there for a longer period of time end of this year and to move one day. Stayed quite a few days in Bubmbles Backpackers in the heart of Queenstown. Everything about New Zealand is really great. You will have many drives up north to Mt. Cook and to SouthWest to Fjordland (my short film from the trip )

  • I’ve just been offered a really good position in Queenstown, with the company paying the moving expenses from the USA. Now I have to decide if I *want* to take the offer. What can you tell us about the infrastructure there? When we were in Australia the internet packages were 60gig/month for $120 which is WAY bad compared to the USA. Similar pricing on the satellite/cable TV and cell phones were still charged by the minute with no flat monthly post-pay options. There’s lots of ‘tourism’ sites for the area, but when it comes to actually living there its harder to find reliable info for day-to-day life. What did you finally decide for housing? Rent, build, house, apartment?

  • bella

    Where would you recommend living in NZ? My bf and I are planning to move there from USA. We want to find a well paying job a good place to live but not to expensive, and not a huge busy city but not a to quiet isolated place. Lots of activities and beauty. That’s why we considered Queenstown. So if u dont suggest then what else would fill this description? 🙂 plus were obsessed with lord of the rings 🙂 thx, julia

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