Living and working in Wellington
15.12.2012 - 07.07.2013
Hello, hello, hello. Yes it has been over 6 months since my last blog! And unfortunately that means that yes, we have been working our butts off for over 6 months. And it sucks compared to travelling.
So where did I last leave you? We had just got back to Wellington, I had started my new job in a spa in the CBD, Jonny was still looking for a job and we had just moved in to our own little place. And blimey, Christmas hadn't even happened yet!
Well lets start with a few photos of where we have been living...
So that's our little room and the beautiful view from our window. These next photos are the communal area on our floor - a kitchen and a little balcony, again with beautiful views!
It's not much but it's come to feel like home to us now! We're located right at the top of Willis Street which is very central so we can pretty much walk to anywhere in the city.
So after I'd been working for about a week, Jonny managed to get himself a job with an I.T. company that would send him out to different places around the city for contract work. He wasn't going to be starting until mid-January but at least he knew he had a job! Next up was Christmas, which was pretty rubbish really. There was an unexpected heat wave in Wellington that saw the city sweltering in over 30c heat on Christmas day. Unfortunately our little room is on the top floor and we only have one window that opens a small amount and another little window in the bathroom. This meant that our little room very soon became a little sauna and we were finding it difficult to breathe and stay conscious! Our land lady was putting on a BBQ in the courtyard that we had promised to attend. There's no shade in the courtyard whatsoever so sitting in the direct heat didn't really feel any better! We wanted to escape to a park or the beach where there might at least be some shade or a breeze but we felt bad leaving as they had bought all the food based on the numbers of people who said they would come. We thought it would be a good opportunity to meet other people in our building but there was hardly anyone there and it was really just a bunch of strange people that had nothing in common! The whole thing was pretty lame and unfortunately the food wasn't even nice... we went back to the sauna and watched some snowy Christmas films which all just seemed very wrong and we just generally felt homesick. We did get each other some presents though - I got Jonny a Bear Grylls book and a Green Lantern t-shirt and he got me a gift voucher for a massage. We also made ourselves a Christmas dinner a couple of days later when it wasn't so ridiculously hot, but other than that, Christmas sucked. So lets move on.
The spa was very quiet in the between-Christmas-and-New-Year days so my boss said I might as well have the time off to explore Wellington with Jonny as he wasn't working either. We decided to do a full day Lord of the Rings tour which was good fun. We were picked up in the morning and hopped onto the mini bus (named Biblo) and met the other people on our tour. It was a small friendly group and we all got on quite well. Our tour guide was a fully bonafide geeky LOTR fan and his knowledge of the films was almost worrying. What I thought was quite impressive is that all the LOTR tour guides for this company are genuine fans and were not really given any help by people who actually made the film - they just poured over the hours and hours of DVD extras and set off around Wellington to identify the film locations by just comparing pictures from the film to what was in front of them. And mostly, that involved trees. As all the elaborate painstaking efforts of buildling sets, taking them down again and CGI-ing stuff into the finished scene leaves no real clues or trails, the only thing that would really remain are the trees. They literally scoured woods and other locations until they could recognise the same trees from the still frame. And even that was a struggle because it turns out that in the Fellowship of the Ring when the Hobbits are hiding from the black rider under the roots of that enormous tree - it wasn't even a proper tree. Tecnically it was half a tree. That they had cut down and specially delivered into a wood full of other trees. BUT the three trees BEHIND the imported half tree are real and are still there. It just made posing under the slight ledge for a photo not look quite as impressive.
Our tour guide, although very knowledgeable about LOTR, soon became a bit of a bore as he had this tendancy to go off on a complete tangent talking about other movies that the actors had been in and bragging about the fact that he got to go to The Hobbit premiere and aftershow party and actually touched Peter Jacksons shoulder or something and had a conversation with Frodo's body double. At one point he went so completely off topic that he ended up ranting about endangered eels and bird calls. I can't even remember why. Due to his rambling it was a very long day and the tour went on for a lot longer than advertised. We were picked up at 8.45am and didn't get dropped off until 6.30pm! The tour also involved a trip to the Weta Cave in Miramar. Miramar is a suburb of Wellington where Peter Jacksons company Weta have the movie studios and post production. The Weta Cave is a small sort of museum open to the public where they have props from the movies they've made (mostly LOTR) and a short film about how Weta started and what they do. There is also an exhibition called Window into the Workshop where you get to go into the Weta workshop and see how they make things like Gollum! Unfortunately that wasn't included on the tour and you have to buy tickets for it. Only thing is that you can't buy the tickets online or in advance so you can only buy them at the Weta Cave on the day and as it is only small groups there is no guarantee that there will be availability. As we'd have to get an expensive bus journey all the way to Miramar without the guarantee of tickets we haven't actually seen this exhibition yet but will definitely make sure that we do before we leave.
Here are a few other photos from the tour but for a full account please see the album I've done on facebook as I also put in all the still frames from the film so that the photos I took on the tour actually made sense. It took me ages. And yes it's all about recognising the same trees!
During this time we also went to Wellington Zoo which was a fun day out as we love watching all the animals.
We also went to the Botanical Gardens which are in the city but situated at the top of a big hill so the easiest way to get up there is by using the cable car. Unfortunately the cable car was a bit of a let down after being on the ones in San Francisco and was just as expensive. Despite this I always see a massive queue for it when a cruise ship full of tourists arrives in town. It was a beautiful sunny day and the walk around the botanical gardens went slowly downhill until we reached the rose garden where we stopped for some lunch in the cafe there and then ended up walking back into the city past the parliament buildings and past where I work.
The locals told us that we have been here for one of Wellington's best ever Summers and we made the most of the sunshine going out and exploring the city. The waterfront is especially spectacular on a sunny day.
The 6th February is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. This is a public holiday every year to mark the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori Chiefs in 1840. We went down to the waterfront to see the celebrations.
We became friends with an Italian couple called Alessandra and Massimiliano (Alex and Max) who were living on the same floor as us and we started to spend some time together and even cooking for each other! They made us an epic lasagne and we made them a traditional English Sunday roast! We went to Matiu/Somes Island together on the last proper day of summer and had a great time exploring. Matiu/Somes Island is the largest Island in Wellington Harbour and has a lot of Maori history as well as European. It was used during wars and also as a quarantine for humans and animals. We caught the ferry from the waterfront and saw some great views of the city behind us as we travelled to the island. We took a little packed lunch with us too and had a picnic whilst we were there. Then we got told off for sunbathing on the picnic bench...
We had a nice long weekend off work for Easter and went to Petone which is a little town on the opposite side of the harbour. We got the bus instead of the ferry as it was quicker and cheaper. We had a little look around, had some lunch and sat by the water for a while just chilling out. There is also a British Goods store in Petone so we went there and went a bit over the top buying lots of English sweets and stuff! Although they have Cadbury's here it tastes different so we had to buy the proper English stuff! Unfortunately I didn't think to take my camera to Petone so I don't have any pictures.
Alex and Max introduced us to some of their friends in Wellington and went out a couple of times but sadly Alex and Max were leaving at the beginning of May to go back to Italy. It was sad saying goodbye to them but hopefully we will see them again if we make a trip to Rome or they decide to come to England! As one set of friends left a week or so later another set of friends arrived. Our friends Todd and Beki from back home set off on their travels 3 weeks before we did but they are going around the world in the opposite direction to us! They started off in India and then did South East Asia and were going to go to Australia next but decided to come to New Zealand first instead so that they could be with us! Well they'd also heard from several people that New Zealand was better than Australia but I like to think it was because of us! And they were lucky to have us because not only did we manage to secure them the room right next door to us in our building but we also bought all of the stuff from Alex and Max that they no longer needed such as bedding and kitchen equipment etc to give to them! We both took a few days off work so that we could go and pick them up from the airport and help them get settled in and show them around Wellington. We arrived pretty early at the airport and ended up waiting over an hour for them as it turned out they had been stopped at security and made to unpack every single thing in their backpacks and repack it all again! Luckily there were no rubber gloves or "internal" inspections though! They bounded through the doors looking very tanned and malnourished but even though we hadn't seen them for 9 months it was like we'd never been apart! We had a great few days exploring the city and getting all the boring stuff like bank accounts and sim cards sorted out and before long both of them found jobs as well. It's so great having them here and we're having so much fun.
A couple of weeks after Todd and Beki arrived Jonny and I went to see Tenacious D! Back in March we had heard they were touring and coming to Wellington for one night only and we managed to get tickets so had been looking forward to it for a couple of months. We were in the very back row but quite centered and the Wellington Opera House is really quite small so we weren't actually that far away from them! It was an absolutely awesome night and I can honestly say the best live perfomance I have ever seen.
We are now over the half way point of working and we're starting to think about the next leg of travels. The only other major thing we need to do in New Zealand is go to Matamata where the set of Hobbiton is and the Green Dragon Pub which only opened recently. We have already booked our flights from Auckland to Sydney on the 3rd November and have arranged to meet my parents in Sydney and spend some time with them. After that we have a rough idea of what we want to do in Australia. We've decided not to plan ahead too much and just go with the flow and see what we feel like doing. We've touched the on the surface of some plans for South East Asia and will hopefully get a rough plan together in the coming months with the help of Todd and Beki who have already been and done it. We'll be having our jabs for Asia done tomorrow so we're making sure that we're taking care of the boring important stuff first! We're doing quite well with our savings so far and are being careful with our money but we don't want to deprive ourselves and want to make the most of this opportunity of living in Wellington, the coolest little capital in the world! Luckily we've managed to get our hands on discount vouchers for lots of places all over the city which makes enjoying days and meals out on a budget much easier!
I think the next blog I do will be just as we're leaving Wellington at the end of October, so until then the blog will be quiet again!