Tag Archives: wellington

Wellington visit

24 Dec

Some pics of Mum and Martin’s recent visit to Wellington – lovely to see them both and we were thoroughly spoilt. Managed to cram in quite a bit in and show them Wellington and the surrounding areas:

Top of Mount Vic

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Rimutaka Range on the way to Martinborough, a region famous for its wines

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At a vineyard

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Lunch spot

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Not usually a fan of taking pictures of every meal but this was so pretty couldn’t resist

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On the way to Lake Ferry

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Wanganui

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NZ’s only steam paddle boat

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Up on the cable car to the botanic gardens

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Amazing steaks at Crazy Horse

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Te Papa and the World of Wearable Art exhibition

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Po boys at Sweet Mama’s Kitchen

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…And then it was over :( But we had a lovely time during their visit and we are looking forward to family visit round two when Dad and Susan get here in late Jan.

We’ve got a tiny Christmas tree to match our tiny tree and will be sitting down to a traditional roast tomorrow – barbeques in Broome just didn’t cut it last year! Wellington’s blowing a gale today so it is almost cold and nearly feels like a normal Christmas – although the sun sets past 9 here and we don’t have any ‘bonbons’ (crackers) – and then we’re off to Raglan and New Plymouth to visit our friends before the New Year and back to the grindstone :)

Where has a month gone?

15 Sep

We’ve mainly been working and not doing much recently but this is what we’ve been up to in between times:

Wellington on a Plate Festival – the hundreds of restaurants in Wellington put on special offers, courses, menus etc for a week. We took full advantage by visiting Logan Brown which we wouldn’t normally be able to afford to do. They did a five course meal for $65 which was delicious, and is an old bank building so the surroundings are lovely too.

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Went to see ‘Love and Money’ – and introduced to a whole new art form of ‘physical theatre’. People doing amazing things with their amazing bodies!

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Completed another ridiculous walk, this time to try and stave off a horrendous cold (didn’t work sadly). I think we ended up walking around 25 miles around what felt like the whole coast of New Zealand, but the views were lovely. There were some cool wind-themed sculptures by the bay…Wellington is the windiest city in the Southern Hemisphere.

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I also had my birthday (same day as Grandpa, Happy Birthday to you too!) and have been rather delighted to find I am now a spring baby rather than an autumn one. So instead of my birthday signalling the annual six-month darkening, we find ourselves surrounded by snowdrops, daffodils and daisies. According to the paper, this change means that I will do less well at school, be less sporty, be more likely to develop an eating disorder but less chance of having asthma than autumn babies. Excellent.

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Took a walk up Mount Victoria, which sounds very energetic but it’s a bit of a rubbish mountain being only 196m and you are able to drive up to the top. The views are worth the climb though as you can see the CBD and harbour, the many bays and out to the South Island. We’re having a gorgeous spell of weather at the moment (except on my birthday which was freezing – some things never change).

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We have also bitten the bullet and bought a car. Something practical that we can chuck our stuff in and go camping, or trundle around at the weekend making the weekly shop a bit easier.

This?

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No.

This?

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No.

THIS:

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Just another example of our sensible, clinical and logical decisions made whilst abroad. The rest of New Zealand, here we come (slowly)…

 

Rudely awakened/ashakened

24 Jul

Another earthquake shook me awake this morning but not enough for my poor brain to register that anything bad was happening so fell blissfully back to sleep having slept very badly over the last few days as every quiver I felt jolted me back awake thinking the worst was going to happen. Craig didn’t even wake up which is a good sign. As I work for the Earthquake Commission I get emails of every earthquake felt in the country for information – when I got into work on Monday I had 163 emails! Things seems to be settling down thank goodness but people are still very rattled. Today was the first day at work where the building didn’t shake so hopefully that’s the end of it and things can get back to normal!

Having said that, as the royal baby was born the other day, Wellington Port put on a 21 gun salute in celebration. When everyone’s nerves are shot to pieces after the storms and earthquakes, hearing gun fire wasn’t the most reassuring thing in the world!

And another one…

21 Jul

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/21/earthquake-rattles-new-zealand-capital

6.9 this time. We were just settling down to watch a film and our flat started shaking but it soon became apparent that this was a big one so when the washing up started falling on the floor we ran to the bathroom doorway and stood there waiting it out – don’t think our hearts have gone that fast since cross country in middle school…everyone in our block came outside afterwards and said hello and checked everyone was alright which was nice. First thing tomorrow it’s time to get an earthquake kit together I think! We’ve had several aftershocks from the ones over the weekend and the CBD has had glass everywhere and concrete collapse but thankfully everyone seems to be ok. New Zealand has 20,000 earthquakes a year so it was going to happen at some point but was hoping they’d be somewhat further apart!

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/#!/video.cfm?gallery_id=134328

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/8946467/Deserted-Wellington-CBD-streets-after-quake

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In the bleak midwinter…

14 Jul

We have been going a bit stir-crazy recently as Winter has properly hit Wellington which means we’ve been staring at the same four walls for what feels like weeks. We had a storm two weeks ago that was the worst in twenty years, knocking out  power to 30,000 homes, causing landslips and stopping most of the transport – a downside of living close to the centre is that we could definitely go into work. I stood watching glass panels from the office block across the road blow out of their roof and land on the pavement and finally got to see the typical Wellington sight of rubbish bins stuffed with broken umbrellas! Craig tore a ligament in his back last weekend so has been at home bored so we decided to do something fun and hire a car again for the weekend and see where the wind (literally) took us.

The pin on the map said Lake Wairarapa so we packed the NZ equivalent of Wotsits, our new bargain satnav ($50 second hand) and the camera and off we went. Sadly we got a bit carried away admiring the beautiful Rimutaka mountain range – or would have been beautiful had it been sunny – and didn’t turn off so we ended exploring a bit further North than planned. But we found a lovely country pub

 

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that did massive portions of lunch and proper pints for no money so we were happy. The landlady recommended an alternative way home so got to see countryside that was a bit different from on the way up and we were home: essentially, a very expensive exercise in eating a pub lunch. But despite the rubbish weather and lack of actually doing anything, we enjoyed it as it was nice to get out of the city. We assured ourselves the weather would be better the next day anyway, and we would find our elusive Lake.

We did find MASSIVE NZ pigeons which were the size of eagles so it was a pretty good day all in all

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We also went for a little impromptu off-roading sesh in homage to our time at Delmore. This decision was based on “that mountain has snow! I love snow! Let’s go and find snow!” Sadly the driving rain and our lack of 4×4 put us off actually going all the way but it was a lovely/terrifying drive down a little track and halfway up a mountain (hopefully the rental company won’t see this)

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As we were setting off this morning, we turned on the radio and heard that “Wellington will be battered by storm so it looks like an indoors day”. Ha! We snorted. We will not be in Wellington so this will not apply to us, the fools.

 

We stopped off at Petone on the way to get a couple of Macs just in case and although the weather was miserable, we were confident it would brighten up. In fact, if we’d had a wind-breaker and deck chairs, we probably would have stayed on the beach soaking up the sun

 

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Testing out the new jacket:

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I say jacket, I mean jackets. Yes, we have become one of those couples we usually sneer at who have matching jackets. There were no women’s waterproofs available, honest. Nothing says “you’re middle-aged” like a matching jacket and the only defence being “it was the practical choice”. The stories we’ll be able to tell our children…

So we made it to Lake Wairarapa:

 

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Half of what you see here used to be fields until a few days ago because of the rain. It is apparently quite picturesque when not in the midst of a gale.

Not to be deterred, we went to find Lake Ferry. We found it and sat in the car whilst it rocked from side to side because of the wind – I opened the door to get a picture of just how grim it was and nearly lost the camera. This was the best I could do

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And this was the result after 20 seconds outside of the car

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We perhaps optimistically proceeded to a nearby spot to go for a walk but given that on the way there, there were bushes in the middle of the road, the cliff sides were dropping into the road and the sea was encroaching over the tarmac, we gave it a miss and turned around for the three hour drive back. The jackets probably got a five minute outing at the most. Perhaps that’s for the best.

 

 

 

Best. Weekend. Ever.

3 Jun

Due to the lack of a car our weekends have mainly been spent exploring the Wellington city area

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which is lovely but we’re not used to cities so craved some greenery…so off we went last Sunday on a monster walk down the Hutt River Trail – a 20 mile plus walk along the river which was beautiful although slightly marred by the motorway that followed the route so not the peaceful experience we thought it was going to be. It was nice to be outside and doing some exercise though and the views were great

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We walked our little trotters off though – leg muscles are approx. 95% shorter after that!

We walked from Upper Hutt back to the CBD – everyone at work’s reaction was…why!?

I would have posted a more thorough update last weekend but sadly I fell asleep watching Downton Abbey in bed and my laptop fell down the tiny crack between the bed and came to rest 2m down – goodbye laptop. Luckily the hard drive miraculously survived but the computer was no more. Dropping it was exactly how the last laptop died – lessons obviously were not learnt :(

We had a long weekend this weekend because of the Queen’s birthday – went for drinks after work and everyone was asking what we were doing for it…seemed such a waste to say nothing because of lack of car so someone suggested hiring a car so by 6pm Friday we’d booked one and had randomly decided on Rotorua because one of our Broome friends had recommended it…

…Didn’t quite realise it was 500km away but we thought the journey would be worth it. We were not disappointed: the drive was almost like sightseeing in itself.

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Lake Taupo – the largest lake in Australasia

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The mountain range which formed the set of Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films.

Every corner yielded amazing scenery -whether bucolic rolling hills with meticulous rings around them from the sheep going round and round and round or the sea views across the bays towards the South Island or cliffs and rivers

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It was just beautiful. Well worth the seven plus hours in the car! And given they drive on the left and there’s only 4.5m people in NZ, with 1.5m in Auckland and 0.5m in Wellington, the roads were empty so it was a relaxing meander through the countryside to Rotorua.

Once we were there, we set about trying to find accommodation, no mean feat when it’s a bank holiday weekend. Everyone we rang said it was going to be at least $100 per night, which seemed a little steep. Until we rang the last motel who said it was going to be $150 per night, with the magic words “private spa pool”. Suddenly $150 seemed incredibly reasonable and after a quick discussion we decided we’d worked very hard recently and we deserved a proper break :)

Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity so we checked in and had a lovely warm bath in the mineral spa which is naturally nearly 40 degrees. The next morning we went to explore the volcanic valley:

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And ended up having a lakeside lunch

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It looks like the end of the world: steam rising up from rocks – not just in the designated geothermal parks but also next to the motorway, in people’s gardens, next to the supermarket…it was amazing

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THIS AMAZING.

Sadly the pay off for all the beauty was the egg smell, but I am glad we took the opportunity to take the mickey out of each other for farting continuously throughout the weekend, it made us feel a little less old considering we’d essentially come on a voluntary geology field trip and Craig had just bought a jumper with leather elbow patches…

The next day we got up early and went to see the other main geothermal site in the area. It was hugely foggy which just made things better because you couldn’t see where the steam ended and the sky began – it was basically like being in Jurassic Park. We were a bit early so detoured down a little route which looked exciting and ended up seeing a mud pool which we had all to ourselves:

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But the piece de resistance was the park itself – as we got there so early we had it all to ourselves and it was stunning. The colours, smells, sounds of the steam and mud boiling were unreal. From the tiniest things

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To the weirdest things

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it was sublime. Made all the better for having it to ourselves with only the little fantails and finches for company.

Craig developed a worrying love of bridges

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Hopefully with the right medication he’ll be alright in time.

We even got to see a geyser erupt – the area used to be inhabited by prisoners a hundred years ago (after the massive volcano erupted which has resulted in the geothermal parks) and they found by accident whilst doing their washing that soap in the hot water triggered a chain reaction which meant the ground exploded:

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Before

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During

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After

After all the excitement we were a little disappointed to go home but luckily our sat nav decided to play tour guide on the way home and took us on the most random route…down country lanes, over rivers and streams and through little villages so it wasn’t too taxing. And to top it all off we arrived home to find a package from Joy at home containing beers, sweets, nibbles and insanely hot sauce (she knows me so well). Couldn’t have wished to have a better time!

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Lyall Bay walk – Easter Island statue

19 May

Lyall Bay walk - Easter Island statue

Not dead yet John Key!

12 May

The prime minister of New Zealand said in the press this week that in his opinion, Wellington is “dying” and the government has no idea what to do about it. He has since “clarified” his “misspeak” but people here are amazed that their own prime minister would a) say something like that about his own capital city and b) be so wrong!

Here are some images of Wellington, in and around where we live and work. We like the city as it’s not crammed full of people (only 200,000 people live in the centre and the whole region only contains another 300,000 people, which when you compare it to somewhere like London, seems positively empty) and there’s always stuff going on. They’ve even got their own sour-faced grumpy statue of Queen Victoria

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which is nice because we have a similar one of her looking particularly cheerful in Leamington

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Although I am not usually a fan of graffiti, there’s a lot of interesting art on the walls and places you have to look fairly carefully to spot

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There seems to be a bit of a tiny animals theme going on in Newtown

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Weeny giraffe cheers me up on the way to work!

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This pigeon popped up over the weekend

A student decided that the boards around a building site needed a bit of colour and spent a while prittsticking individual pictures up over it…managed to get a picture before the builders scraped it all off again, boo

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Veggie market in Newtown. Usually less soggy than this

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Our local florist’s

 

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The city centre has boards with short stories and poems on

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I never said they were good short stories…

 

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Even the bins are pretty

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My (somewhat distant) view of the bay from work

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Statue over the waterfront

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Every shop has a sign like this. Everyone is warning us to get winter clothes as the winds get up to 120 kph which will take some getting used to :)

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We’ve just booked tickets to see Steve Hughes on Friday at the month-long comedy festival happening here, and are off to the food festival the week after that. On Sunday 26th May, Wellington has an “open day”, so loads of attractions drop their normal entrance tickets to $2, so hopefully we’ll get to go to the zoo, which we’ve been meaning to do for ages (seeing as we can hear the lions roar in the morning from our flat!) for $4 instead of $42. Win!  So I have to say, even though we’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, we already disagree with the prime minister. Feels like being at home!

Island Bay – what a start to NZ

1 May

We decided to take advantage of having a midweek bank holiday and go exploring. What with buying a microwave, setting up broadband, phones, working and cooking we’ve not really had a chance to do much touristy stuff apart from visit the Botanical Gardens, which we try to do in every place we go. That was pretty cool as you get to it via a cable car

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Despite the horrendous weather, the gardens were beautiful. The highlight was definitely the enormous rose garden

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which had some lovely varieties and smelt gorgeous.

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We hopped on to the bus to Island Bay and the friendly bus driver told us which way to walk. We’d picked the walk at random off the massive list on the council website but it turned out to be spectacular – the sun was shining on the bay when we got there

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and I was taking a million pictures of the black sand of the bay against the mountains that frame the whole of the Wellington coast when a woman came running up to us and asked whether we were interested in seeing dolphins. Interested? I nearly knocked her running to see where she was pointing. A little way out to sea (sadly too far for my camera lens to deal with – first thing on the list when our Aussie tax comes back is a few more lenses to cope with New Zealand’s scenery better!) there was a fishing boat with maybe 150 dolphins following it. A nice man next to us leant us his binoculars so we could see them jumping out of the water behind and in front of the boat, which was amazing. He also told us the best places to walk in Wellington for views which was nice of him.

 It was then onto the main walk with sadly worsening weather but still very dramatic views

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A little marred by the consistent stream of 4x4s on the same track but we felt more than a little schadenfreude when one of them got bogged in the sand after driving off the marked tracks :)

We carried on walking for a couple of hours, enjoying the view despite the rain, when we came to a warning sign about hazards…which included seals. We had unwittingly walked all the way to a seal sanctuary! They were very hard to spot (we were rubbish at it and literally had have them pointed out by nearby six year olds) but we eventually saw four live ones and one dead one on the beach.

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An absolutely amazing experience to see seals in the wild lazing about on rocks so close. We couldn’t believe our luck. 

Even the rain was ok as I borrowed Craig’s poncho

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Sarah? Or Batman?

But it soon cleared up and the walk back was just as beautiful. We stopped off at a little café and had a drink and a caramel slice before getting the bus back in radiant sunshine – typical! Looking forward to doing a lot more sightseeing if today was anything to go by!

 

 

Swellington

1 May

Our first few weeks in New Zealand have flown by as I started work four days after getting here and Craig started a few days after that. We moved to a hotel near my work from the backpacker’s we were at but given that I booked it at about 3am due to not being able to sleep, I accidentally booked in for the wrong date but the nice receptionist sorted it out without too much bother. We ended up with a massive queen-size room on the third floor and set about trying to find a place to live for the next year.

Craig came home on the first night to say he’d talked to the Indian lady in the shop opposite and her husband had a flat nearby that was available so we nipped round to be shown an “amazing place” according to the landlord. We were ushered into an “architect designed” flat next door to the shop – which was basically another shop that had been emptied and a mezzanine level stuck in. The downstairs was a kitchen of sorts (a standalone sink, a decrepit oven and a standalone workbench, plus a sofa. He turned the light on over the kitchen and said “now you’re in the kitchen!” then turned the light on over the sofa “and now you’re in the lounge!”…then both lights on…”now you’ve got a party!!”. According to him, the unfinished ceiling was the “loft living look”. We went upstairs and saw a toilet, bath and shower and a space for a bed. The same trick: light on over the toilet “now you’re in the bathroom!”…light on over the bed space “now you’re in the bedroom!”…both lights on…”pool party!” We politely asked him how much he wanted rather than running out of the door like we wanted to and he said unfurnished was $390 per week (£214) or furnished was $420. No heating (which in Wellington is ridiculous) but he explained that away by saying he was warm right now because he always wore four layers. That’s alright then! We had already looked at some unfurnished flats for around $250 per week that came with fripperies such as walls round your bathroom and a separate kitchen, so we did the English thing and said we’d think about it and made a hasty exit. Can’t blame him for trying but that was not somewhere we were prepared to spend a year! 

The next place we went to see was lovely in the suburb of Kilburnie. The agent was late and a queue of people had formed (they like viewing in groups here so it adds to the pressure to sign up) so the tenant let us in…after she had put the cats away. At a guess there must have been at least five and they quite clearly went to the toilet wherever they felt like so it stank of cat wee. No one waited for the agent to turn up and trouped straight out again. 

We viewed a few more fairly uninspiring flats – one was alright but didn’t even come with a fridge or other whiteware so we would have had to spend a fortune. The place we eventually signed up for is in Newtown, one of the closest suburbs to the city centre, which is great because it has a mini-town centre of its own, with a Mediterranean deli, a bottle-o, a butchers, bakers, weekend veg market etc and because it’s so close to the city, almost every bus that goes from outside work goes through Newtown. The bus system is excellent and the bus back from work costs around £1.70. I walk to work at the moment which takes 50 mins – through Wellington cricket ground at around sunrise

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past the homeless people packing up their iPods and docking stations (seriously), through the fountains were the seagulls have a morning bath and up to the main street in Wellington which is a nice start to the day. Once Wellington’s winter really kicks in (with 120kph winds) this may not be possible but at the moment it’s lovely. It’s pretty chilly – well everywhere is compared to living practically in hellfire in Broome – maybe 13 degrees at night and 17 during the day, so drastic action has had to be taken during the evenings whilst we get used to it

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Our little flat is up seven flights of stairs which was fun when we moved in with all this stuff after a marathon sales-shopping session

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– although a nice neighbour helped us cart it all up – but it does mean we get great views over Newton and the surrounding mountains

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Ignore my arms in the pic!!

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We landed on our feet a bit with the flat as it was marketed as unfurnished but when we went to look round, we found the previous tenant had left a sofa, mattress, coffee table, vaccum cleaner, washing powder, cutlery, plates and pots and pans and a load of other useful stuff which has saved us loads of cash. It has a separate kitchen (unfortunately painted blood red) and bathroom, with a lounge overlooking Newtown which gets the sun, and a mezzanine level which is our bed.

We’re paying $280 per week plus power, but were amazed to hear that there are no water bills, no tv licence, no council tax…the landlord pays “rates” which incorporate some of that, but as a tenant you just need to pay £1.70 per bin bag in order to get the council to come and pick it up so our money should hopefully go a bit further here. 

We would have liked to live out of the city nearer the beach, but realistically during rush hour that meant nearly an hour on the bus for me and potentially further for Craig as he is doing agency work at the moment which means his place of work isn’t fixed, which we didn’t fancy. Even if the train journey is stupidly pretty

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We’re hardly to the city borne…Craig spends his time in the city centre ranting about how much he hates skinny jeans on boys and the noise skateboarders make, whilst I plan what I’m going to make in my new favourite thing, our slow cooker. However, the best thing about Newtown is that it’s just a ten minute bus ride to places like Island Bay

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where we went for a beautiful four hour walk on ANZAC Day (their Remembrance Day, a public holiday). I’ll put the pictures up for that in a separate post.

So the last week since we moved in has been a frenzy of buying all the necessities – made bearable by the fact that New Zealand supermarkets are ridiculously amazing. They look like you’re the first person who has ever been in there

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Even the mince is beautifully arranged

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Each aisle has a couple of staff whose job it is to tidy up where you’ve just taken something off the shelf so it always looks perfect. It’s like shopping in Pleasantville. The other two things that make it great shopping there is that the quality and variety of the food is spectacular, and half the price of what we were paying in Oz. They also have a British section where we could stock up on Marmite, Bisto, Fray Bentos pies, corned beef, Branston’s pickle and – do a jig of joy – Hula Hoops. Funny what you miss! I have been having corned beef and pickle sandwiches nearly every day now until I discovered that the labourious process of buttering bread was just slowing down getting the main ingredients in my stomach so have now taken to just mixing corned beef and pickle in a bowl and eating it with a spoon. Jamie Oliver eat your heart out…