The land of sheep and chocolate

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Two Weeks In New Zealand

It’s now over two weeks since I arrived in New Zealand and I am, I think, doing quite well. I have bought a car and I am buying a house and I have settled down in a backpacker’s hostel in Palmerston North whilst the purchase goes through. When I arrived in New Zealand I was determined to hit the ground running and now I am feeling rather pleased with myself.

Buying a car was easy. I don’t know anything about cars; as far as I can tell, one Japanese hatchback is much like another. So why worry about it? I bought a Mazda 323 and it seems to be a lovely car. I might have paid too much, but I might not and if I did, I’ll hopefully never find out about it.

Buying a house was a bit more stressful, although less so than in the UK. It could be argued that it is a bit rash to buy a house within two weeks of arriving in a new country, especially with Jo not having seen it. Certainly, my boss Tony thought I was barking mad when I started looking the day after arriving. However, we need to find somewhere to live and the quicker the better. I don’t fancy renting and having to move again and I don’t want to stay in an expensive caravan park for weeks if I can avoid it. More importantly, the dogs are arriving in 6 weeks and we need to have somewhere to put them.

The house is a lovely 1960’s bungalow (unusually) made of bricks, with a tin roof and it has been nicely done up inside with tiled floors and a new kitchen. It has a huge garden and a garage with a “sleep-out” at the back (effectively a spare bedroom). There’s also a vegetable garden (hooray!) and a shed (every house in New Zealand has at least one shed). I am soooo excited about it. The house will be ours on 24th August.

The thing I was most worried about when I came over was meeting Tony and staying with him and his family. It was very nice of him to ask but it was still a daunting prospect; I was terrified we’d fall out before I even started work, or that I would get drunk, say something stupid, lose all respect in his eyes and never be able to recover it. Fortunately, he and his family have turned out to be really nice and I was glad not to be alone.

Tony and Linda live on a “lifestyle” block a couple of miles outside Levin. A lifestyle block is a house in the countryside with a great big garden (Tony’s is 10 acres). Tony keeps cows and chickens and Linda has a miniature horse (the horse is called Smudge and looks cute, but has a tendency to head butt you). They live under the Tararua Ranges, the mountains that divide Levin from the east coast. The hills are often obscured by low cloud and mist, but on a clear evening they are stunningly lit up by the orange glow of the fading sun. The countryside around here looks gorgeous but I haven’t given myself the time to explore it yet. And besides, it’s rained most of the time since I’ve been here.

So, I’m just over two weeks into this adventure and there are just over two weeks before Jo and Lily get here. I must admit I can’t wait to see them both again. It’s been OK without them, but I’ve had a lot to think about. Now that the big things have been done, there isn’t so much to distract me from the fact that I am here on my own.


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