We have now been in New Zealand for just over 6 months and our time here is coming to an end.Hannah has 2 weeks of work left as a Project Manager in Financial Reporting with Assure New Zealand and I only have 1 week left at BNP Paribas as a temporary fund accountant.On the 10th of July we are scheduled to fly from Auckland to Melbourne and commence the second half of our travels.
Both Hannah and I have enjoyed our time here in Wellington immensely, helped to a great extent by having Drew and Laura living next door (although that has lead to me being the butt of far too many jokes) and the visits of Colin, Billy & Mo and Pam & Keith.This blog is an attempt to sum up the last few months or so living in this land of stunning scenery with roads and trains from a bygone era, populated by rugby loving, meat eating, boy racer Holden driving, Kiwis we have come to love in our brief time here.
One thing we have not mentioned too much so far is the weather here is now cold and wet, you could say very similar to Glasgow in December.When we arrived, in the peak of summer, we found a big spacious, light flat with large glass doors onto a balcony, for a very reasonable weekly rent. Sorted we thought as we sipped the beer and Lindaur in the sun.Then it turned.Suddenly we were aware that the flat had no central heating, in fact no form of heating what so ever, little in the way of insulation and a serious case of athletes ceiling; something to do with it not drying properly.Each evening we huddle round our $30 fan heater, cuddling our hot water bottles dressed in our full body thermal cat suits dreaming of those summer months.At least it's cheap!
You may have noticed the references to money above.There were more than a few instances which led to Brian receiving a hat from the Wallaces with one of the slogans of the NZ stay "Tight/Frugal" on the front. Our flat was kitted out with freebies from Brian's colleagues (he must have told the ladies a good sob story), freecycle donations, charity shop purchases and a garage sale where we got coffee tables for $2!Shortly after walking home with the coffee tables as we are too tight to get a taxi and fed up of walking everywhere we bit the bullet and decided to splash out on some wheels.18 gear Milazo mountain bikes were purchased from trade me. The bikes were so cheap the chains we bought to lock them up with were worth more than the bikes!Still, the art of trying to cycle home from the supermarket with the weekly shop balanced on the handle bars has been mastered.Brian has also frugaled about 2 months worth of free gym memberships from Les Mills and LifeStyle, promising at each free trial that he is really interested in joining the gym- honest.
We were lucky enough to be around when both Chompy and Billy & Mo came to visit New Zealand.Good times were had by all which included a Super 14 classic between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders, test match at the Basin, decent run for Billy in the Senior New Zealand Match Play Open and not to forget the trip to Eastbourne to see the Jazz legend Pugsley Buzzard, who spookily enough Hannah had seen before.(Sometimes I wonder why everyone is laughing and I'm not.) Both visits were a real treat making home not seem so far away.
Hannah's mum and dad also made the trip out to New Zealand which was fantastic.We had a great weekend in Chistchurch when they first arrived via Sydney and Bangkok. We met them at the airport and after a few hugs checked in to our luxury city centre hotel (Keith was paying), this was a real treat for Hannah and myself.Christchurch was very nice and we visited the cable car, botanic gardens, art gallery, took the tram and the definite highlight went to the Antarctic centre to experience a reconstruction of an antartic storm.This was ferocious and bitterly cold, little did we know it was also a reconstruction of the conditions in our flat throughout June.
After Keith and Pam spent a week in the south Island we met up again in Wellington and had a week in the bottom half of the north island.We traveled from Wellington to Taupo and visited Rotorua.Highlights were a plenty despite the torrential rain for three days in the middle.We made it to the Wellington cable car, Te Papa,all the geothermal parks, HukkaFalls, hot springs,the buried village and of course Te Puia New Zealand's premier Maori culture and geothermal visitor experience!
It was at Te Puia we went to a Maori cultural show which included the Hakka but this was not the highlight. The visiting tribe (the audience) needed to present a chief to be welcomed to the village and you've guessed it Chief Keith was born.Looking the 6 foot 6 almost naked warrior in the eye as he shouted, danced and stuck his tongue out in front of him Chief Keith placed the leaf of peace confidently at his feet. A true leader who shares an uncanny resemblance with the Happy Buddha of Thailand.The rain was absolutely torrential during our visit and when we went to leave the exit to the car park was flooded, thankfully the rain let up slightly and we made it out eventually.
Another thing to remember was the flight back to Wellington on the 10 seater propeller plane.A fair bit of turbulence was experienced especially by the unlucky gentleman in the seat directly behind me.
Being in New Zealand we were very excited when the test match season came round and the opening All Blacks fixture was in Wellington against Ireland.Tickets were purchased well in advance and when the night came round the four of us treated ourselves to a nice dinner before heading down to the Westpac stadium early.At this point it was a fine evening and apart from a slight wind perfect conditions for Rugby.We took our seats four rows from the front and awaited the teams and the Hakka.
Just before the teams ran out the weather took a dramatic change and it became bitterly cold, windy and the rain started to fall sideways.As the stadium was still quite empty we retreated up to the back of the stadium in search of cover.Thankfully it was a poor crowd and we got to keep those seats for the full game.It was so cold and wet the game was not a great spectacle and the crowd subdued, but we have now seen the All Blacks live, beating Ireland 21-11 after a tight first half.
As every Scotsman living in Wellington knows the Gaelic society puts on a ceilidh every second Saturday of the month at the pipe band hall in Newtown.We made the journey across the city and after stopping for a few drinks on the way headed out for a night of dancing.Greeted by a few men in kilts selling drink tokens worth half there face value we entered the hall and took our seats.It was already in full flow and there were several dances we had never seen before but a special request for the Gay Gordon's got us all up.We then blitzed the Canadian Barn Dance, Dashing white sergeant and strip the willow.Who'd have thought it ceilidh dancing in New Zealand while the Lambrinis were ceilidh dancing in Cameron House to celebrate Kat and Fraser's wedding!We found some apple sourz to mark the occasion in Lambrini tradition.
Onwards:And so it is nearly farewell to New Zealand.We are celebrating Christmas next week on 25th June as it feels cold enough that it should be Christmas now.The opposite to when we arrived at the end of December.We still have so many countries to see in the next 6 months but the good news is we have bought tickets to come home so will be back in Glasgow at the start of December!Until then we will keep you updated with stories from the return leg of our trip!