So we arrived in Auckland in mid – July, in the depths of the Kiwi winter and it was colder than we thought it would be, not England cold but cold enough for heating! We had pre-booked a hostel in an area called Ponsonby which is just a 20 minute walk from the city centre. The hostel was called the Red Monkey and our first plan was just to stay there for a few weeks before looking for a house share somewhere else. We really liked the hostel though, it was quite homely. We had a fairly nice room with wardrobe, chest of drawers, bedside table and lamp which is quite rare in hostels! There were shared bathrooms and kitchen and a communal lounge with sky TV. Our priority in Auckland was to find work as soon as possible so we applied for our IRD numbers at the post office (tax number), opened a bank account, printed out our CVs, got some rather stone age mobile phones and then had the painful task of buying office clothes. We forgot how bad the NZ shops were! There are virtually no big name shops anywhere and we can honestly say that Worthing high street is like Oxford Street compared to Auckland city centre shops! Anyway we found some eventually. Then the big job hunt began, we both were worried it would be hard to get work like at home so we signed up to nearly every recruitment company we could find and applied for loads of jobs online. The recruitment agencies all wanted us to do Microsoft office, psychometric, maths and typing tests which was pretty draining (and slightly over the top). Within two weeks of arriving in Auckland though we both had landed jobs in the city centre. Mine was with a Government department called the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as a client service processer. The job involved checking and approving directors and shareholders for new companies and processing incorporated societies and charitable trusts. Probably the best bit of my job was being working on the 18th floor, the views were pretty awesome! Kam got a job with Southern Cross which is a private health insurance company a bit like BUPA working as a contracts database administrator which he really enjoyed.
Our next mission in Auckland was to find a good church, we just googled a few and found one in the city centre called Equippers. As soon as we walked in we knew we didn’t want to look for any others to go to! They had a great worship team, great songs and some excellent preaching. We also just happened to sit behind a couple one day called Aaron & Tracy who started chatting, they said they were starting up a new home group if we wanted to join! God had us where he wanted us to be!
So very quickly we got into a routine of working, church, home group. We also got quite settled in the hostel, there were nice people staying there and we made good friends with another English girl called Penne. The winter weather was pretty bad through July and August and quite a bit of September. They have so much rain – a lot more than home. We decided to start looking for a van as we really needed our own transport and in October we found a Toyota estima which we bought from two snowboarders. We named him Cyril the green b**** as he is bright green! He had the seats taken out in the back so you can have a bed. He just needed a bit of tarting up which we did; we made some curtains and built a storage unit in the boot. It was great having our own transport again, it meant we could go exploring at the weekends. There are some absolutely stunning little beaches in and just on the outskirts of Auckland. There are also some nice regional parks like Shakespear and Tawharanui and the wine region around Matakana. The west coast beaches like Piha and Karekare are really beautiful and remote; the water is extremely dangerous though with strong currents dragging people out to sea! We climbed up Rangitoto which is an old volcano just a 25 minute ferry ride away from Auckland. Rangitoto has no roads or houses on it, it has just been left natural and it’s amazing – there are hard black lava rocks with trees growing out, like nothing we had seen before and the views from the top were pretty awesome too.
We had the opportunity to housesit and look after a cat for six weeks over Christmas in a really nice area of Auckland called Remuera. We were quite thankful by then to get out of the hostel, quite a few foreign students had moved in and they weren’t particularly clean and a tad irritating for example someone enjoyed singing at 3am every morning! There were some other lodgers who got on our nerves too like the bloke who liked to have a row with his girlfriend at 5 in the morning and someone else who stole people’s cheese! Anyway the house in Remuera was lovely, it overlooked the Orakei basin and was very peaceful – the cat was so lovely too, his name was Tulio and he was a Tokenise. He was so so sweet and he slept in between us every night! It was really nice to have the place to ourselves and we had friends from church and the hostel over on Christmas day for a BBQ which was a really lovely relaxed day.
We then had to move back to the hostel for two weeks at the end of January which was a little bit of a shock to the system after all the freedom of the house, we also really missed little Tulio!
So that was six months in Auckland in a nutshell, it was a really great to actually live and work in another country instead of just travelling. We can certainly see why Auckland is voted one of the top ten most liveable cities in the world. We have noticed such a difference in the workplace to home. Things are definitely more laid back here, the working day is shorter – in both our jobs we haven’t had to work past 5pm. There doesn’t seem to be this big stress looming over everyone like at home and a lot more emphasis is placed on family holiday time – which is so important. Quite a few people walk around in their socks in the office too! Our waistlines have expanded since these jobs though as there is a kiwi thing called morning tea – which seems to happen every week for people’s birthdays etc. They just bring in a load of food like pizza, noodles, and cakes and then it is usually all devoured before 10:30am! Some things we may not miss about Auckland though – we have never known so many fire engine call outs a day, all day long there’s just fire trucks with their sirens blasting out nearly running you over but there never seems to be any fires! Also we won’t miss the parade of prostitutes on one of the roads we walk to work on, one morning there was one who must have been fairly old dressed as a ballerina! Prostitution is legal in NZ so it’s a bit more in your face, like a brothel we also walk by everyday where they advertise as every hole is a goal…nice.
So now we get to set off and explore the country in Cyril! We are planning to get a few odd jobs here and there to keep us going yay!