In mid-March I finally flew the last leg of my journey – over to New Zealand, where I hope to spend a year on a working holiday visa.
I stayed with my friend Jess, her husband and her very cute baby daughter for around 2 weeks whilst I got myself sorted. It’s incredibly invaluable having friends around the world, because it means you have a base to stay and local knowledge of the areas. I met Jess 5 years ago in the U.S where we were spend 3 months living in the same room as co-counsellors at a Salvation Army Summer Camp for underprivileged children – it was so great to see her again after all those years!
Jess lives in a suburb of Auckland called Manukau, which is about 23km south of the city centre, and a 20 minute drive when there isn’t any of the infamous Auckland traffic. I spent much of time my time relaxing, enjoying Jess and the baby’s company and looking for a car. Getting around by public transport in Auckland is do-able but expensive and time-consuming. I took the train into the city on one day – a 30 minute walk to the station and then a 50 minute train ride (that’s why everyone drives!). This is precisely why I wanted to purchase my own car to get around in – and to sleep in whilst on the move.
Having come straight from Melbourne (which is a bustling city with so much going on), Auckland felt a bit… small and quiet. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s interesting parts – especially walking along the harbour, or enjoying the skyline from Mount Eden or One Tree Hill, but it doesn’t rate as one of the best cities I’ve been to.
Nonetheless, Auckland is filled with some beautiful green areas, lovely beaches and detached single floor properties – hence why it’s such a sprawling city. Jess and I visited the botanic gardens, which are beautiful and also absolutely massive – there’s large grass areas, a forest, flower gardens, children’s educational areas and of course a coffee shop.
After a week I finally found my car – a dark green 1998 Mazda Capella station wagon – which came with a mattress, stove and $25 of change (Jess and I treated ourselves in a chocolate cafe) in the front door pocket. This enabled me to get around the city better, and meant I could go out to the shops and buy all the provisions and gear I needed to make my car a home away from home. (Some photos of my car will follow in the next post.)
It’s been fantastic to see my friend again and to be able to relax for a while before my journey in New Zealand truly begins – it truly is a great way to be welcomed into a new country and I’ll forever be grateful to them both for letting me stay.