Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Arrival in New Zealand

I arrived in Wellington as a pretty bad storm was finishing itself off. As we took off from Melbourne the pilot announced that though Wellington airport was currently closed, it should be open by the time we got there. I did wonder what we would do if it was closed once we got there but fortunately I didn't find out as at just after midnight our plane landed. My introduction to Wellington was a delayed flight, a broken conveyor belt at baggage reclaim and rain, lots and lots of rain. After months of sun, sea and diving it was a bit of a culture shock.

It wasn’t all bad however. A friend I'd met on one of my reef trips earlier in the year had offered to collect me from the airport. She and her boyfriend waited for my delayed flight and took me to her place where I claimed their couch as my first NZ bed. Since she was working and studying I didn’t see much of her but it was good to catch up when we could and I was glad that I had a day to catch my breath before booking into the YHA and starting my job search. 

The first day I was in Wellington it continued to rain all day. My friend’s flatmate took me in to town where I bought some more appropriate clothes: mine were all suitable for a winter in Cairns as I had hoped to extent me stay there when I packed in the UK. It is safe to say the winter in Wellington and winter in Cairns are two very different things. To be honest after 24 hours in New Zealand I was beginning to wonder why I had always wanted to see the place. Then on my second day I woke up to the sound of silenced, it had finally stopped raining!! I stepped out of my friend’s front door and was greeted with a glorious sight. I was surrounded by green hills and nestled amongst the trees were houses, not one or two but suburbs worth of houses. They didn't clear the hills and build on them here they cleared the space for a few houses and left the rest and the effect is stunning. Even now a year later I haven't tired of the sight of the houses popping out of the trees wherever you look up from the city.

My friend had a busy day ahead of her so she and her boyfriend dropped me off in the city centre fairly early and I got my first view of New Zealand’s capital city. The city centre is flat but there isn’t much of it and as soon as you start up in to one of the hills it's the same green view as you get in the suburbs. The YHA is at the end of the main street and I found it a good place to stay as I got familiar with the city. It's a large hostel and the rule that dorm bed can only be booked for a maximum of 10 days means that most people staying are tourists passing through. Since I was planning on staying I was happy to move out at the end of my 10 day to a long term hostel but if I had been visiting like the friend I met then 10 days could be a bit restrictive, fortunately since she only wanted to extended a few days before she moved on they were a bit more relaxed about this rule and she was able to stay a few extra days. 

I am a fan of YHAs to a certain extent. You know what you are getting and they should have a certain level of cleanliness and security but I am starting to find them a build-a-hostel. My stays in independent hostels have usually been more enjoyable and I have found them friendlier and less clinical. Since I was new in town I thought a YHA would be a safe bet to find my bearing but sadly though the hostel itself was as expected the staff let it down. I wasn't told that the supermarket was across the road and though it is obvious once you know as a new comer I didn’t even know what name to look for. By the simple mistake of turning right instead of left out of the hostel I completely missed it and wandered instead in the directions of the bars and restaurants. Now I know where it is I feel extremely foolish for having missed it, it does look rather large and obvious every time I pass it but as a newbie a little direction wouldn't have hurt. Anyway, despite the unhelpful hostel staff I found some food, and my way round the town soon enough the next day. 
All in all not the best start  to my new adventure bit certainly not the worst and thankfully things were about to get much better.