Arrival: New Zealand

Auckland sky tower. You can jump off this.. if you're insane. Well, it finally happened, after possibly the longest door to door trip I’ve taken in some time (48 hours!), I have arrived in New Zealand, and I am pleased to report, first impressions are good.

I had actually been prepared for a harder time getting into the country than we had. Friends had told me of first hand experiences being grilled by immigration officers as to the reasons for their visit, whether or not they had sufficient funds to live in the country, when they were leaving etc. Others had told me that the quarantine officers were likely to examine my gear to the tiniest detail, to ensure I wasn’t going to single-handedly import something that would go on to wipe out New Zealand’s rather lovely natural flora and fauna.

So I was prepared, both mentally in terms of assuming I was going to be investigated,  and physically, in terms of having printouts of nearly everything I could imagine. Bank statements to prove I had funds, copies of visas, information on where I was staying, the works.

No swimming sign in Auckland. There's no water here..It turned out, to my surprise and joy, that none of this was really necessary. The immigration officer took a look at my passport, consulted his computer and then stamped my passport with the years working visa that I had applied for. Easy.

The quarantine check was a little more thorough, involving a good old look at my walking boots to ensure I wasn’t bringing dirt along with me, and then some jovial questioning as to my wooden drum that I happen to have in my bag. Other than that, all was good. Everyone was friendly, everyone was nice, even at the ungodly hour of sometime after midnight that we arrived. I can’t be more positive about the whole thing.

Checks done, we found a shuttle bus which brought us to our hostel, the incredibly central yet located in a leafy park City Groove, where our keys had been left in the outside letterbox with a friendly note to accompany them. Then we happily collapsed into bed, further pleased that we could sleep in the horizontal plane again.

The next day dawned rather late, our bodies being so confused by the 12 hour time difference and the multiple days of travelling that we sort of missed out on the morning and emerged for the afternoon instead. Mission for the day: sorting out the administration.

Buildings in AUcklands CBD Based on my experience in Australia, I had figured it was going to take a few days to sort out things like bank accounts and so on. However it seems New Zealand is a little different in this regard. An hour and a half from walking into the Kiwi bank branch nearest our hostel, we had an account and ATM cards. It would, we were told, have taken less time, only we chose to turn up just as everyone was going on a lunch break. Plus, they weren’t too bothered about us having physical addresses, as we had e-mail addresses and the accounts were all online manageable. Finally, a 21st century approach to life. Joyous day.

We also applied for IRD numbers, which would let us pay tax on our earnings. Less joyous, but sadly necessary. After this, we just wandered Auckland, which seemed like a nice enough town. There were certainly plenty of places to get coffee, free wireless was fairly easy to get hold of, and a giant supermarket was handily just around the corner. All the essentials.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, housing 1.8 million inhabitants - an entire third of New Zealand’s population calling it home. It is not much different to many other cities, large skyscrapers tower over the streets, a huge central radio tower thing dominates the skyline. The right place, we figure, to sort ourselves out.

Finally, after much wandering, we returned to our hostel, which was having a pizza night, and after a while chatting to various other residents, we filled ourselves with pizza and beer, and concluded that all had gone well with our arrival. Next on the agenda.. job hunting…




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