My NZ Story so far... - Part 1
Now, if at the point of me booking my flights here you would have told me that I would spend around 8 months of my time in New Zealand staying in Auckland then I would have been very surprised. Of course, when you organise to spend around a year on the other side of the world you have all these dreams of spending all of your days on beaches and islands, doing skydives and mountain walks. I must have spent at least a full day just staring at pictures of the stunning south island on Instagram straight after my flights were booked, but unless you have thousands of pounds or dollars then it isn't always possible. It especially hasn't been possible in my case, I've had the time of my life in this country but I've had to do it in parts over the course of a full year, as you'll see through my story.
If I'm being completely honest, I should've saved a lot more money than I did in the lead up to travelling here. I booked my flights in July 2018 and travelled here at the end of November via short stays in Moscow and Tianjin (see my last post for more on that). That left me with 4 months on a fairly decent wage to save enough money to do some serious travelling around this beautiful country. However, an English summer packed with music festivals combined with my at the time terrible ability to save, some seriously low will power to stay in and a holiday chucked in there all caused me to arrive in New Zealand with the equivalent of around $800.
I arrived in Auckland on December the 11th 2018, one day before my good friend Joe who I met through my sister. Despite my low budget, I was able to see quite a lot of the north island of New Zealand and even though I've told him this a lot, I wouldn't have been able to do that without Joe. Within 24 hours of his arrival, he convinced me to jump 182 metres off the Auckland Sky Tower and from that moment on, I knew that the several weeks we were about to spend travelling together would be filled with spontaneous fun. Through meeting other legends in hostels we were able to travel to several places by hitching lifts in their cars and vans. In addition to this, Joe has family members dotted around New Zealand who were kind enough to let us stay with them. I cannot begin to describe how much I appreciated their hospitality toward someone like me who had never met them before, I left their houses feeling like a family member. When leaving them, they always told me to come back whenever I want, which is an offer that I have taken up on several occasions.
Fast forward from that tower jump in December right through to the end of January this year and we were back in Auckland, having travelled through a vast amount of the north island. We spent Christmas in Paihia, Bay of Islands enjoying the tropical rainstorms and then headed to Matamata for New Year, celebrating the year of 2018 for more than just one night. We stayed in Matamata for 2 weeks, using it as a headquarters to see many other places with Joe's family who were the best hosts and guides around NZ. Together we enjoyed so many new views and activities from climbing Mount Maungaunui to hungover walks through Putaruru and going from seeing Huka Falls near Taupo to relaxing in the Mermaid Pools near Matapouri, it was so bliss and provided me with the best possible start to New Zealand life.
In my situation I was extremely lucky to have a helpful travel companion at the time of arrival who also had family here so I immediately got to see these amazing places with free travel and accommodation. However, there comes a point when you've got to stop living off other people and start working, after all it is called a working holiday visa. It wasn't just that, our trips to the places I’ve mentioned above left me with a grand total of around $70 in a country that is just as (if not more) expensive than the UK. This clearly wasn't going to get me far and I needed to find work as soon as possible.
Up stepped Auckland to be my absolute saviour...