Saturday, 19 May 2012

Week 1 – ‘Starting Up’ & the things we do for a free meal!

Hello everybody! Well here we are again 6 months on from the last entry, but a very different reason for continuing the blog. – A permanent move to New Zealand!
So this blog will be used as a catch up for friends and family, as well as a little diary of the fun, bizarre and random things that happen along the way. It’s already been a bit of a random week, none more so than Friday when a house viewing turned into a lush free lunch at the ‘Courtney Place’ Rotary Club, courtesy of the enigmatic and colourful character that is Patricia. More of that later…

The week has been made up of the following events:
1)   ‘the journey’ – 26 crazy long hours of flying – this was an epic journey even by my own standards, though the 3 day bus journey from Colombia – Peru still tops the list (see After a long drive from Manchester to London with the folks, and one or two tears at the airport my trip began. First with a 12/13hr flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong. (Heathrow is such a crap airport and not just because it has no massage facility!) Fortunately my carrier (Air New Zealand) were great, with excellent food choices, both Eastern & Western dishes, and more importantly on the long legs of my journey I had 3 seats to myself, and actually slept on the plane! Full marks Air New Zealand. I also met some nice passengers who were sharing the journey, and one (Emma) who was doing the full leg to Wellington. I have to share some of the safety video from the flight as it was hysterical and I thought it was a wind up at first!

The views into Hong Kong were pretty nice, and the 2 hour stop over was much need to freshen up, toilet and use the free internet at the airport to find out that Ashley & the dog had won Britain’s Got Talent! The next flight (10 hours) was equally good, and the sunrise allowed some great photos from the window.
The final leg of the journey required me to pick up luggage and head over to the domestic terminal. I was fortunate to have Emma to guide me through the process and she gave me 2 pieces of advice for life in New Zealand. 1) When swimming on the beach swim in the part with the surf, as the calm bits have the undercurrents, 2) Don’t sit on wire fences, they’re probably electric! 

2)   ‘starting up’  My first few days were a whirlwind, as the week went something like this: Monday – arrive at 12pm (a little smelly), meet Gail, run by the office, sign some papers, go to motel and shower! Get info re bank, find supermarket and buy food. Tuesday – Occ Health visit & blood taken, open bank account, buy computer & ‘smart-ass’ phone, get tax number & sleep. Wednesday – Walk around the city in pouring rain looking at different areas to live: find pub for football, and meet helpful barmaid originally from Didsbury (Manchester for those of you that don’t know it). Thursday – Begin the house/flat search and drinks with work colleagues. Friday – more house viewing, free lunch, and movie. Saturday – Sign lease for new place and find watch live footy!

3)   ‘house hunting’ – Just wanted to quickly mention the search for a place to live. I saw 1 bedroom flats from $500 (250 pounds) per week, to $130 (65 pounds) per week, in shared house. The apartments are all pretty nice, mainly unfurnished but pricey as a single person. The internet usage is not unlimited like at home, and you basically pay for amount of usage and they come in quite specific packages! At one of the shared houses I was met by a Brazilian guy called Alex, who was friendly enough, and even offered me a bed in his room for a night until the upcoming spare room became available… hmmm… though this wooden house looked like something that might blow over in the wind, and it also resembled a united nations squat with people of various different nationalities scattered throughout the property. The additional two houses I saw also had up to 8 other tenants, some passing through travelling and some long stay souls. The bottom line – for 6 months I wanted to know who’s hairs were in the plughole!

Here’s a few pictures from around the city to give you a little feel for the place.
(A few pics of Wellington)

(My Motel)

Wacky Wellington / New Zealand
During the past 7 days I have learned a few surprising things about life here in Wellington.:
1)   Wellington is known as ‘Windy Wellington’ – a bloody fair name, those winds from the South and the ocean are a little nippy – My Northern English roots serve me well 
2)   A bizarre unwritten rule that in rented accommodation you are not permitted to hang your clothes out outside on a balcony or patio – not because they might blow away, but because it’s unsightly!
3)   You don’t legally need car insurance here! (I think that’s a New Zealand thing), no road tax either – just an ‘MOT’
4)   New Zealanders struggle to understand my name because their ‘a’ is more an ‘I’ sound so with my accent they hear ‘Don’ rather than ‘Dan’.
5)   Free 30 mins internet around the city – and you can just click on again after 30 mins!

Random Event of the week:
Whilst viewing properties number 6&7, I was met by a colourful and interesting landlady called Patricia, she was showing me a room in one of her properties, when she happened to mention that after showing me the room, she was going to her weekly Rotary Club lunch (Courtney Place Rotary Club), based a nearby hotel. When I mentioned that in 2010 I had been part of an UK Rotary District (1280) international Exchange Programme to Sri Lanka, she immediately suggested I join her at the club for lunch. Wearing just a casual shirt and jeans, with my sunglasses, I felt a little unprepared, though I was quickly put at ease by the club members. The lunch was seriously tasty with a full meal (fish, potatoes, veg & salad, with cheesecake, pavlova and tea/coffee). I pretty soon had made links to people within the property sector (great advice re places to rent), a guy from the only professional football club in New Zealand, and had been invited to come back the club as a guest speaker in a few weeks – that might be another free lunch! The most random element of this story is that the president of this club had received an email by my friend and Rotarian Dave in Manchester, about my arrival, but had not yet had chance to reply to the email. What are the chances, eh??!

Tips of the week:
1)   Don’t sit on a wire fence: (unless you want a free enema) as the fences are probably electric.
2)   Within Maori culture, you do not sit on a table/desk as it’s considered seriously rude ‘you wouldn’t eat from off the toilet would you?

That’s all for now! I’m still recovering from watching last night’s football (well This morning’s football – games at 2am & 6:45am! That’s the only negative I have to say about life here so far – football in the middle of the night!
Regards from New Zealand

PS – I have just been on an amazing walk up mount Victoria and into Oriental Bay, of which I shall try and add pictures to next week’s blog!


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