I feel like I’m having to dust off the old cobwebs that have collected on this blog as well as my design site. I’ve been MIA for a while as Derik and I have been galavanting around New Zealand for a little less than a month. It’s been a whirlwind adventure, and a bit of a refresher before we buckle down and make New Zealand our home for the next year.
Thanks for sticking with me and my lack of…ehem…presence around these parts lately. I did such a great job in January and February with prescheduling 20+ posts for you all to make you think I was still around, and then this time I just dropped the ball. Truth of it is, the break was really nice. I missed seriously blogging and really getting into writing my posts, but during our trip I found myself haphazardly slapping up pics for you all to look at as I felt guilty about not blogging at all. Apologies.
We finished our campervan experience last Wednesday, and have literally been at full speed for the past 5 days buying a car, viewing rentals, signing a lease, unpacking, doing laundry, and getting our wifi to work. Although we’re still running around 100mph, things are starting to slowly decelerate back to a pace where we can start living ‘normally’ again.
I feel like before I start sharing New Zealand with you, I need to answer some questions as to why we chose this place to live. I wrote about why we left Korea, but most of you want to know details of New Zealand! I’ll be here sharing those details within the months to come (yes, slowly but surely, as I still have tons of travel posts I’m behind on that I need to share with you as well). Please feel free to ask questions in the comments as it helps me figure out what you want to know and what I should write about!
Ok let’s do this.
“Why New Zealand?”
…Why not? When we were looking for places to go right after we left Korea, the UK, other parts of Asia, Australia, and finally New Zealand came up. After researching visa requirements (more on that soon) and a few other things about New Zealand, there weren’t any initial red flags that would hinder us from packing up and settling into life easily and quickly. With New Zealand rated as one of the top 3 countries to live in the world by the UN, and also generally known as on of the most gorgeous countries on earth, you can see why we were easily charmed by this country.
Also, Middle Earth. I’m not a huge LOTR junkie, but the fact that the series (plus the Hobbit movies) were shot in New Zealand did peak my interest. Who wouldn’t want to visit The Shire, or go tromping through the woods of Rivendell?
“What are you going to do there?”
We’re going to work and travel. As most Americans under 30, we applied for the Work-Holiday visa, a visa which allows us to work…and travel for a year within this gorgeous country. We are eligible for the same benefits as other NZ workers: 4 weeks paid vacation, holidays, and x amount of sick days. We are already considering applying for a different visa (Skilled Migrant) that allows us to stay however long we would like. As I learn more about these visas I will be writing about them. I’ve only been here 3 days short of a month, so you’ll have to hold your horses until I can educate myself more and share with you accurate details.
We ultimately would like to travel every 3-4 months out of the country and visit Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, and a few other places. So there’s that for you.
“So what’s this Work-Holiday visa? “
As I briefly mentioned before, it’s a visa where qualified 18-30 year old are granted a year to work and ‘play’ in New Zealand (check to see if your country is on this list to see if you can qualify for a Work-Holiday). Some call it a gap year, some call it scouting out potential places to settle down, some call it diverse job opportunities. Either which way, it’s an awesome deal. Every country is a bit different with it’s individual qualification process, but I can tell you getting a Work-Holiday visa was ridiculously easy as being a US citizen. Easier than getting a silly 30 day visa to Vietnam.
If you’re considering applying, just note that you will most likely get denied if you have any criminal records or bankruptcy, Tuberculosis, or are pregnant. If you lived outside of the US like Derik and I did, you’ll have to go through an extensive Tuberculosis test complete with special X-ray forms you have to send in separately.
All applications for Work-Holiday visas (also known as the Working Holiday Scheme) are done online through http://www.immigration.govt.nz. The immigration officers and staff are extremely helpful if you have any questions that pertain to moving to New Zealand legally.
“How did you decide where you were going to live?”
Well, that’s the main reason we took our 21 day road trip. We had no idea where we wanted to settle down, and didn’t want to have our heart set on one area just in case after the Google Images we pulled up didn’t reach our standards of where we wanted to live. Our heart changed 4 times on the trip. First we were totally digging Wellington on the North Island. Then after arriving on the South Island we fell in love. The tiny town of Nelson was the second place on our ‘we can move here’ list, but was scratched off quickly when jobs and housing wasn’t really available. Also, it was pretty far from everything. Third on our list was Queenstown. We actually stayed there for 4 days because we liked it so much.
Queenstown remains my favorite city in New Zealand, the only downside is that it is e.x.p.e.n.s.i.v.e. Everything from food to housing was ridiculous; a studio apartment cost approximately $265 per week. The part that was hard for us to swallow was the price for such a tiny place, and we only had about 4 to choose from. Queenstown is always busy and there just weren’t any good rental properties available.
We took our campervan eastward and ran straight into Dunedin. Between the young, vibrant, city life, gigantic historical old buildings, the abundance of rental units, and of course the Cadbury Chocolate factory, right away we knew it was the place for us. Oh and penguins! There are squishy yellow-eyed penguins just 10 minutes from our rental flat!
Well, that’s about all you’ll get out of me today. Stay tuned to hear more details (and pictures) from our New Zealand adventure! Keep asking those questions!