We made it to Wellington!
While that sentence hits home, let me share a recap of our first few days in the wonderful and wild NZ. You might want to grab a sandwich.
We arrived Wednesday after a turbo epic 27-hour travel day. RDU > LAX > SYD > WLG. A couple on-demand movies, a few stilted hours of drug-induced sleep and we descended over the deep blue Pacific to the bushy green hills of Wellington. Home!
A tense 20 minutes with NZ customs officials later – in which four of our 17 boxes were searched – we were set loose, free to breathe that salty ocean breeze of lore.
I was picked up at the airport by Go Rentals and driven to their nearby office while Jess waited with our stuff. I was given keys to a Corolla hatchback and directions to a van rental company, where I was to grab something bigger and return to the airport to scoop Jess and the boxes.
Sounds easy enough, but PEOPLE DRIVE ON THE LEFT HERE! I can’t put into words the stress of driving through downtown during rush hour on the opposite side of the road while trying to read paper directions and switch lanes in a highway tunnel looking for a road with nine syllables. I wanted to vomit it was so silly. Smash cut to me pulling up to the airport curb two hours later. Think I told Jess I’d be like 30 minutes tops.
We loaded the van and drove into the heart of the city. Our temporary housing is a condo called Canvas in the neighborhood of Te Aro. As it was explained to us by our jovial, bushy-haired landlord Robert, we were exceedingly lucky to land the place. As we boarded the plane in Los Angeles, I was told to expect housing an hour outside the city due to high demand. Scoring this place was an immense relief. New, modern, furnished and a short walk to work. So money.
Parking on the other hand. God!
On our first night, I left the Corolla in front of the condo as Robert recommended. It was a no-parking zone, but as it turns out, overnight parking in the city requires you to off your next of kin in the presence of city officials – a box that, even if I was game to check, I couldn’t have due to extreme exhaustion. Flash forward me waking up our first morning to a buzzing intercom (did I mention the airline lost a bag and was there to deliver it?) … I walk out to collect the bag and see SOME MOTHERFUCKER TOWING MY CAR!
I was so steamed. I burst onto the sidewalk, shirtless and shoeless, waiving my passport around, explaining it was our first day in the country and that I was told it would “probably be okay” to park there. It was a Scene. And although I was spared the tow, I was given a $130 ticket. Welcome to welly, yank.
Things have steadily improved. For starters, the weather has been great. Calm and sunny – a rarity for a city whose motto is “can’t beat Wellington on a nice day.”
As is our style, we’ve been exploring at a pace that would make Shackleton proud. We’ve ticked off quite a few hotspots, visiting the Queens Wharf, Mount Victoria, Greg Denton Park and most the major bays and neighborhoods. Yesterday we made our first excursion outside the city to the pinot noir region of Martinborough, and then south to Palliser Bay for a night of beach camping under the stars.
My first day of work at SAS was a breeze. A bright, modern office downtown overlooking the ocean, filled with smart, friendly people. I walked home with a two-beer buzz, an office happy hour spilling into a hilly walk through a clean city. The sun and sea on my side. Things seem quite good there. The job will be a challenge, but I feel my early-thirties gusto will be well received. Can’t wait to dig in.
Jess and I still have so much to do – rent a house, buy a car, get bank accounts, register with the embassy, rob a cafe, etc. But if these first few days are any indication, we’re in for quite an adventure.