E noho rā Aotearoa

Hello.

Remember us? Of course you don’t, we did a blog months ago and then stopped for ages.

The last time you heard from us we were planning on settling into Wellington for about 3 months and trying to find tedious jobs to sustain such a lifestyle that we could afford to go to movies and restaurants. I suppose you could say we were successful…

Apologies for the sudden stopping of blogs, it was down to a few reasons.

Firstly, things obviously slowed down a lot whilst we were in Welly. Whilst we were travelling we were doing new things and seeing cool stuff and meeting lots of people every single day. In Wellington we still did the same things but at a much slower rate, so it was hard to motivate ourselves to blog about a week of getting up and going to work and then going to bed and then maybe going to the pub on a couple of nights a week. Hardly exciting stuff for you either.

Also we lost our camera battery charger. The blogs involved lots of pictures and we couldn’t take any.

I say ‘lost’, it turns out it was in Leigh’s clothes drawer for 3 months but we only found it when we left. At least we didn’t spend any money on a replacement eh? (Now we both say “eh?” at the end of every sentence because we’re real North islanders, which will either catch on or just annoy you all when we come back eh?)

So, what have we been up to??????

The City

Wellington’s a really good city with lots going on. It’s very small for a capital (it is about the same size as York and considerably smaller than Wolverhampton) which had its pro’s and con’s. Probably the biggest pro being every time anything happens in New Zealand the new reports come from places you recognise.

There’s lots of good food/coffee/drink outlets and we enjoyed those. After moving around for a long time it was great to have a flat to call home and to really get to know a city and learn our way round.

Our flat was pretty much perfect for our needs. Our flatmates were all really great and it was right in the heart of the CBD. We had a comfy mattress and met loads of great people in our time in Wellington. That was probably the biggest success in our time there!

Also Leigh saw Martin Freeman in the supermarket.

Which brings me to…

Work

Initially me and Leigh both got work through a Hospitality Temp Agency. Within a week we’d usually between us get paid plenty for rent and food but not really a lot on top of that. The jobs were varied, here are some examples using the medium of bullet points:

  • We both worked a 1000 person dinner for Harcourts estate agents who were all drunk and stupid. This was not fun.
  • We also worked at an historic Maori dinner for them signing a treaty and getting lots of money. This was quite good.
  • I (Dave) worked a business lunch for the trans-Tasman business association where the richest people in the region had lunch. The speaker was the head of NZ Oil and listening to his logic of the way the world worked was disturbing. This was OK.
  • I worked in the first class lounge at the airport cleaning up after people. This was very boring but people were always really friendly so I didn’t mind much.
  • The job I got repeatedly was running a bar at Deloitte when they had functions. The kitchen staff there were genuinely brilliant and I loved it. When I wasn’t doing anything else I would have done it just for something to do, I didn’t tell them that though.

Leigh quite quickly got a job at a hotel called the Wellesley and after a couple of near misses in a call centre and craft beer pub my job situation got bleaker and bleaker and I was only doing whatever Temp Centre shifts I could get.

With about 6 weeks until it closed for earthquake repairs I also started working at the same Hotel, which meant we both were, obviously.

It wasn’t really any fun at all to be honest. The chef was a trumped up Gordon Ramsey-wannabe with a teeny-tiny fuse. Turns out it’s not that much fun working in a restaurant where you have to persuade the chef to cook the food, so morale was pretty low and everything was really just more stressful than it needed to be. Masterchef is way less enjoyable than it used to be.

We’ve saved up a fair amount for Australia through that job though. Was it worth it for the stress and the amount it affected our enjoyment of Wellington as a whole? Probably not, but it’s definitely a lesson learnt and we won’t do that again. If there aren’t any reasonably enjoyable jobs in Oz available to travellers then we’ll probably see you all in England before Christmas! Anyway…

Sport

One thing I obviously missed from England was Sport. But in all honesty that’s not been much of a big deal and has been a bonus of being here.

Firstly, they love Rugby Union here. In the Northern Hemisphere Union is largely a war of attrition as one big guy gets smothered by another big guy and they try and win a penalty for a little guy to kick over the posts. That attitude is certainly not the case here as they reject penalties often to try and score a try and spread the ball quickly. It’s a completely different sport and 1 billion times more watchable!

A case in point is the Super 15 game we went to see. The Highlanders from Dunedin beat the Wellington team, the Hurricanes 49-44 (93 points!). That doesn’t happen much in English Rugby.

I’ve also had a good time playing football myself. Sprig and Fern FC (a pub team) has been really fun to play for. I’ve been on pretty good form and it’s been a good social thing. Also played for a few 6/5 a side teams. Soccer’s not massive over here at all, and at least half the players in the league probably are not Kiwi, but you do see plenty of hats and scarves for the Phoenix (Wellington’s A-League team) who do get higher attendances than York, for a similar population…

Weather

Windy Welly has been quite windy for us at times, but to say it’s winter it’s been really quite tame.

Of course, the big deal has been…

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are almost something to put on a ‘to do’ list for New Zealand. Having been involved in a few I would strongly recommend against them.

Wellington has over 20 known fault lines running through it. 20. Not one, which is more than the UK. 20. More than that, they’re not really sure and finding new faults all the time.

Generally Wellington wobbles a few times a year, but the past few weeks have been pretty intense even by Wellington standards.

The first quake we were aware of, sort of, was a 5.7 magnitude I think. To compare, the biggest one in Britain, the Market Rasen one about 5 years ago was 5.2 in the epicentre. I woke up to a wobbling room and fell back asleep, I think that was on a Friday morning.

On the next Sunday there was a similar one at a similar time which I slept through. It was an eventful day all round. I played football in the afternoon and got knocked unconscious and got a concussion and stitches. After a trip to A&E, which I don’t really remember, me and Leigh went for a walk, mostly to keep me active. On that walk we saw James Nesbitt. Hooray.

Then at about 5:15 a pretty big quake hit, 6.5 is pretty big by anyone’s standards. The room shook loads and one of our windows smashed. After Christchurch these things cause some real worries. Wellington is built of tough stuff but anything much bigger or with a closer epicentre could have been bad. The news for the next few days mostly consisted of people wondering if there could be another one in the coming 2 weeks. After hours of discussion they decided it was possible but that they had no idea really.

Bar a few aftershocks things calmed down a lot after that and the 100 year old building with huge cracks we worked in managed to limp through its final few weeks before renovation. That was until another 6.5 quake hit over 3 weeks later (last Friday to you and me). Again no serious damage was done but it’s hard to explain how weird they are when they’re taking place, and it shows how vulnerable Wellington is. To try and put it into context, if a 6.5 quake hit York then the station, Minster, walls, Clifford’s tower, most bridges and the majority of buildings, certainly anything vaguely old (of which we seem to have a few) would be in big trouble.

They’re kind of cool in theory, but it will be a relief to get out the region!

After Welly…

… we went to helpx on a small farm near a town called Carterton for a week. It was proper countryside, they even had a pet lamb until she got a bit stroppy and they had to send her to the field.

It was really nice getting out of the city for a few days and meet some new people. We did some painting and drank lots of beer and didn’t come last in a pub quiz so that was good. It was nice to actually get some job satisfaction for a change!

After that we then went back to Wellington for the All-Blacks game against Australia. It was cool to go to see the best team in the world playing Rugby and the event was really big. It wasn’t the best game of Rugby but it was well worth it to say we’ve seen an All-Blacks home test. They won quite comfortably but they had an advantage that Australia kept giving them the ball back for the whole game. Silly them.

For our flight to Melbourne we needed to get to Auckland. We stopped off on the way and stayed with Jan and Ingrid who had hosted us back in April. There was a big party and we got a chance to catch up with loads of people from Rotorua which was the perfect way to end our time in NZ. I met my other girlfriend Ivy the cat again and it was beautiful.
Then we got a flight to Melbourne, but I’ll let Leigh tell you all about that… HOORAY!

Our time in New Zealand has been amazing. The 6 months we’ve been here has gone unbelievably fast. When we stop and look back at all the stuff we’ve done and people we’ve met we realise how much we’ve crammed into the short space. The country is completely ridiculous. Whoever looked at it’s impossibly jagged mountains, vast amount of volcanoes and tendency to rock from side to side vigorously and thought “This seems like a nice place to settle” was a complete idiot. But I’m pleased they did.

Thanks to everyone who’s made it possible. From Waipu, Auckland, to Katikati, Rotorua, the south island (mostly Simon), Wellington and Carterton we’ve had a great time meeting some really great people.

I will put on some picture soon.

Peace, D

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About Penny Leigh

I was just minding my own business and now I'm fighting fracking.
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