Well, I arrived in Auckland a month ago already! I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything New Zealand specific yet! So here’s how my first week in Auckland looked…
Auckland week 1:
I guess one of the things that surprised me the most initially, was how little I was actually alone, even though I’d taken the trip by myself. The guy I was sitting next to on the plane ended up being on my second flight and had a similar plan for Auckland, so we decided to keep in touch. Then on the way to the hostel from the airport I met two girls getting the bus to the same place.
After I spent a day settling in and walking around, I was chatting to my Dad, and I described how it felt to be in New Zealand looking for a job: “It’s like being at home and looking for a job anywhere in the UK but without really having a base and everything being new, all at the same time?”
Day 2: Saturday 7th November
I still feel a bit weird today. I’m considering what to do, and frankly it’s a little daunting when you can literally do anything. I think I’m also feeling a little unsure, as such, I’m finding the idea of doing things alone a little… Unsettling. Coming here has been one of my biggest challenges to date. It’s really pushing me out of my comfort zone which is good for me – I know this, but it’s still a bit unnerving at the same time. I guess I think my biggest fear is getting lost – not metaphorically but literally.
Like literally getting lost and not being sure where I am or how to get back etc. Some people say ‘but that’s the fun of it all!’ But I’m not sure I feel that way. I’m feeling positive though! I ended up heading over to Albert Park with a picnic and my latest book: The Wild Oats Project. It felt very liberating to spend the day reading in the park. It reminded me of my weekends in London when a casual stroll would lead me to Hyde Park.
Day 3: Sunday 8th November
Today was interesting. I met the two girls who I got the bus with from the airport. We were going to go to the food market but it turned out that it was a ticketed event, so we got a picnic to take to Albert park and then the Domain park – which was as impressive as it looked on the map, although I still think Albert park is my favourite. We ended up teaming up with two guys staying at the same hostel. We walked until we arrived at the war memorial on the hill overlooking the whole of Auckland. In the evening, we played pretend poker, I say pretend because we ripped up a leaflet and used that as chips. In the evening, I met a Canadian girl called Chelsea, in my diary I wrote “she seems friendly”. I suppose on reflection I didn’t realise how significant that meeting would be.
Day 4: Monday 9th November
Today has been challenging. It’s been a real rollercoaster of feelings. I went to the bank to sort my account out and then the chatty guy from the plane met me and the two girls. Sometimes the chatter can be intense. I also had my first New Zealand rejection email so I got a bit down, especially at the prospect of essentially starting all over again, to be temporarily settled, so that I could then one day leave again to head home and do all of this all over?
I went around in the usual circles before taking a positive step, and booking my hostel for Wellington. I then bumped into Chelsea again and it turns out she is heading there a day or two before me. We exchanged numbers as she’s the only person I will know in Wellington. It’s kind of a relief. I then had a CV chat with Heather (the careers advisor at the hostel job shop) – she’s so lovely! Everything was better after our chat. She reminded me that everyone feels the same – everyone wakes up panicking (although I can only ever recall this happening once – the morning before my flight to NZ. Interestingly, I had a nosebleed the morning I moved to London – something that has never happened before or since then).
I felt so much better after talking to her, everything was back in perspective and I felt pumped to know one person in Wellington, even if we aren’t going to be in the same place.
Day 5: Tuesday 10th November
Today was good. As my time in Auckland is coming to an end, I’m starting to feel a part of the little group we have created. My hostel and bus are both now booked for Wellington. I’m excited and hesitant at the same time but my back up plan is this: if it doesn’t work out, I’ll head to Dunedin – supposedly the Edinburgh of New Zealand! Not ideal for jobs but it might be worth a look nonetheless, it’s pretty far south on the South Island though.
We visited Devonport – it was amazing.
It reminded me of the coastal Swedish town that we visited a few months ago but with more cars. The houses are all individual and have so much character. They look like old American houses. The landscape was stunning. It turns out that it is not a separate island but is still a part of Auckland – as the ferry man corrected me when I asked how much a ticket to the island of Devonport would cost. I imagine it must be nice to live close enough to the city to get the ferry to work, but far enough that you could most definitely feel like you are away from it. I bet it’s a nightmare during the summer season though. As we’re just slightly out of season I think it’s a bit deceptive.
Day 6: Wednesday 11th November
Today we had another adventure.
This time we had a day trip to the island of Waiheke, (an actual island) about 40 minutes from Auckland by ferry. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be amazing. There were houses poking out of the trees everywhere, they’re literally living in the woods! Every house looked like grand design, nestled away in the hills, painted to blend in. Kevin McCloud wouldn’t know what to do here. At first I thought that they must all be holiday homes but I think there is a biggish community there. Again, I think coming out of season is slightly deceptive but it was beautiful, the beaches were great and the sun was so intense! At times it appears to hang over you in the sky for hours.
Something I am realising in NZ: nothing is as big as it looks on the map. In that respect, living in London before living here was probably a great experience. We managed to cross quite a bit of the island and honestly, I don’t know where the time went. I can’t believe it’s my last day in Auckland already!
Day 7: Thursday 12th November
Today is Thursday, which means it’s a week since I landed and now I’m on the bus to Wellington for 10 hours!
Today was a reflective day.
I mean I had 10 hours (which turned into 11) to think about anything and everything, while also taking in the scenery. I kept having to pinch myself as my mind kept screaming “Am I really here? I am really here! I did it! I’m actually doing it!” But I also had this massive panic that I’m not going to be able to achieve what I set out to (further my career while living abroad – thus testing the theory that I can ‘have it all’). Now I’m thinking that I have not picked the best place for my career.
There were also a few interesting moments on the journey, including when we stopped to swap drivers and the new one didn’t show up… A woman from the company said we could have a 30 minute break, so most of us got up, stretched our legs and had a quick look around the information centre we were parked in front of. Suddenly our new driver arrived, he was sorry, he explained, as he drove off after only 20 minutes, but he was “making a stand”. Just my bloody luck I thought, for a moment I had visions of the film Speed and half expected our big bus to be driven around the streets of this small town while this driver held us hostage.
Fortunately, it was nothing that dramatic. He just explained that he was fed up of having to trawl through people’s luggage that was thrown on without any system. There were obviously some internal issues. After he stopped talking over the intercom, someone told him he’d left some people behind. We headed back and collected the small group of puzzled looking travellers.
And then we were off again.
This caused a slight delay to the overall journey time… As the estimated arrival time to Wellington drew nearer, I started to look more closely at the small town that we were passing through. I suddenly had this feeling of rising panic from deep within, as a small voice in my head started getting louder: ‘please no, this town is too small!’ *rising panic coupled with thoughts of* ‘WHAT HAVE I DONE?!’
But we kept driving through.
Then I saw a sign that said ‘enjoy Levin’. I wasn’t sure if this was a play on the kiwi accent and meant ‘enjoy living’ which I thought was sweet, maybe a bit deep but yeah, great attitude! I would later come to realise that this was actually the name of the town. How I chuckled.
I arrived in Wellington and vaguely followed some other travellers heading in the similar direction as I was having some issues with my phone GPS (it helps if you turn it on right!). I found my hostel in windy Wellie and for the first time this trip, I was glad to have packed my coat – it was cold! I also was struck by the realisation that it’s going to take me ages to even out my foot tan here – schoolboy error!
It’s really small here but has such a different vibe to Auckland. It feels safer here, like as soon as it started to get dark in Auckland, homeless people would start to gather, more than in the daytime. There would also be strange sounds, which was a little disconcerting and vaguely reminded me of 28 Days of Night – although obviously not to the same extent, they weren’t vampires for sure.
I met Chelsea for dinner which was really nice. Especially after my reflective journey. I realised that when I left home, I was quite clear in what I wanted to achieve. But maybe this is part of the problem? Perhaps more flexibility is required, although as I write this, I am aware that I am not willing to compromise and get ‘just any job’. I specifically said that I don’t want another gap year, I can’t come home in the same position as when I left. So I’m going to try with the professional jobs and see what happens. I’ve also had these kind of mini realisations: London was not my place. Auckland was not my place. Wellington could be, at least temporarily. But maybe the whole ‘career thing’ runs deeper. Maybe I haven’t found my career thing yet.
Although I suppose this is what it’s all about, the adventure that we call life.