Starting Work and Visiting the South Island

On
Monday 21st April came the real shock to the system – our first day
at our new jobs. We left the hotel and handed back the hire car, and then
Sandie walked to NZCER (New Zealand Council for Educational Research) and Ian
walked to the Ministry of Education. We both had people to meet and practical
details like desks and computers to sort out, and now we are both on steep
learning curves, getting to know our new colleagues, environments and what we
are supposed to do. We hope that soon we may start to be useful!

 

On
Monday night we met up after work, and walked out of town to the south to visit
our new house for the first time. After a long walk, mainly uphill, we reached
Liardet Street and were greeted by the family who own the house, who were very
friendly and welcoming. They showed us round, gave us some food and afterwards Andy
drove us back to the hotel.

 

On
Wednesday 23rd we checked out of the hotel, leaving all the luggage.
After work we did some shopping and went back to the hotel, calling a taxi to
take us to the house. We asked for a large taxi – but it was impossible to fit
in both of us and all our luggage, so a second taxi had to be called. Finally
we arrived at the house and started unpacking. After living in hotels, it was
lovely to have our own home again, with lots of space.  The house is perched at the top of a steep
path above the road, but with a nice secluded garden. It’s single storey and
has two bedrooms, a large lounge and kitchen-diner as well as a utility room.
Like most Kiwi houses, it has no central heating, but they have left us with
three electric heaters and instructions on how to light the fires in the lounge
and dining room. It was supposed to have central heating installed, but apparently
it wasn’t feasible. We seem to have survived so far, so we hope this will
continue into the winter.

 

We
didn’t intend to go away again this weekend, but we discovered that Friday 25th
was a public holiday (ANZAC Day), so our first working week was only four days,
and having another long weekend was too good an opportunity to miss.  Flights were all booked, but we managed to
get a cheap deal on the ferry between north and south islands.

 

On
Friday morning the sun was shining brightly – a complete contrast from earlier
in the week, when it was cold and wintry. We sailed out of Wellington harbour
and into the Cook Strait. It was slightly bumpy at one point, but mainly pretty
smooth. We approached South Island and sailed down a narrow channel (Tory
Channel) between hilly islands and into Queen Charlotte Sound and landed at
Picton. Picton seems nice but small – we did some walking on the cliffs along
the inlet with great views before heading off in the hire car over the Queen
Charlotte Drive to Havelock, with lots more wonderful viewpoints.

 

Havelock
is small (pop. 500) but quaint. We stayed in a lovely room at the Havelock
Garden Motel, ate next door at the Mussel Pot (green-lipped mussels are a
speciality there), and had drinks at the Clansman Scottish pub. That about sums
up the excitements of Havelock. The next day we drove on to Nelson, a much
bigger town, and then on to the Abel Tasman National Park for a coastal walk.
The weather stayed good and the scenery was wonderful. We stayed overnight in
Nelson, with a much bigger choice of restaurants and nightlife.

 

Sunday
was wet, so we mainly just drove back to Picton, with a shopping trip in Nelson
and a visit to a winery on the way. The ferry back was crowded with families,
but we got home to our little house on the hill eventually, and cooked
ourselves Sunday dinner.

 

What
do we think of New Zealand so far? Wellington is a lovely city, with great
scenery and lots going on. Kiwis seem a hardy race (you often see them wearing shorts,
even on cold days!) but very friendly. Our brief visit to the South Island
impressed us, and we look forward to exploring more of this country, both north
and south.

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