Thursday, September 30, 2004

Back Online... Our First Trip Out of Town

Whew - back online after 2 days (yes TWO DAYS ) of not being able to connect - Warren finally got it sorted.... ah, the benefits of being married to an I.T bod!

Well, since getting our house we have now paid the bond (2 weeks upfront) and have opened a Bank Account!! We have gone with The National Bank of NZ - very very helpful - main branch for Chch is in the Palms Mall. They have given us a Select account which is free banking providing our average MONTHLY balance doesn't go below NZ$5000 (others do a DAILY balance min) - so we're very happy with that. Our cards and cheque books are ready to collect on Friday. All we needed to open the account was our passports, driving licences and existing debit cards. No IRD no. needed altho they did want a residential address (PO Boxes aren't really accepted). PLUS - PO Boxes aren't acceptable for Rental Bonds... be warned... they need a residential address.... see if you can use someone elses address if need be - it's just a formality but it makes it very clear on the Bond form that PO Boxes aren't acceptable.

So, apart from getting a washer/dryer sorted for our new rental we don't have anything else to sort except jobs!!!!! We are going to take a break next week and tour around as we haven't had much time to do so since arriving - figured we'd get our money, transport and accommodation sorted first... as a word of advice get transport ASAP - made our life sooo much easier.

Went for a drive over to Akaroa today - WOW WOW WOW - so lovely. Here's a photo of us on the hill above Akaroa:-

Will be back there before tooo long to spend some dosh in the lovely craft shops and, after seeing shivering people coming off the dolphin watching boats we'll leave the swimming with dolphins until the temperature rises!!

Have started to make friends and contacts already, mostly through going around rentals and generally "hanging out" in Sumner. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, once you get talking you never know what the outcome will be - one guy has asked for our CV, a lady who owns a restaurant in Sumner gave us a top business tip and our landlords have invited us to their bach (that's Kiwi for holiday home!) in Gore Bay!!

Watched the new moon rising today over Sumner beach - fantastic and HUGE like a ball of fire..... took some pics but they don't do it justice.

Off to buy our white goods tomorrow - so much shopping to do!!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

We Have Found a House to Rent...

Started hunting for rentals this morning and.... WE'VE GOT A HOUSE!!!!! We are so pleased - looked at several in Sumner / Mt Pleasant areas and eventually found one at 5pm tonight and have sealed the deal!! $350 / week unfurnished (altho agreed to leave a couple of bits of furniture and some white goods for us ) - 2/3 bed detached house with cute garden and 1st floor sun decking right in the heart of Sumner with sea glimpses, close to beach, sun all day and walkable to supermarket and every type of shop u can think of!! (okay, maybe not ALL you can think of, I'm just a little over-excited!!)

Have to say, the state of some of the rentals was appalling considering the asking prices... mostly just bad decor/repair but some were rather smelly and some just plain awful!! Anyway, thought I'd share that... so, in just a few days we have bought a car and found a rental .. it CAN be done everyone... Not only that but one of the landlords was in IT and was interested in Woz's skills and gave him a card and told to call him. If you are house hunting in Christchurch - get the paper on Sat and Wed and just go thru all the To Lets - there are loads... if you go via an agent you will be charged a fee.. bah!

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Rental Search Begins....

Day Four - Sunday (feels like we've been here months already!!)

Had a, errrr "debate" re rentals this morning and then spent all day driving around Christchurch checking out all the different areas and whizzed up to Rangiora too. Back home late afternoon and tomorrow we shall be searching Sumner for a rental...

Some GOOD NEWS... my jetlag has gone!! I feel human again and not so emotional and tired!! (Thank god says Woz!)... I even managed to sleep in until 9am this morning...

MORE GOOD NEWS - my rental agent in UK emailed to say that my flat back in Sussex has been rented out for 6 months ... woohooooo...

EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS? Yep... it's 20 deg and sunny here today...!!

BUT... snow expected on Banks Peninsula tonight and cold cold cold for next few days... ah well, can't have it all can u?!!!

Now, time to cook my $10 chicken with some roasted Kumara (that's sweet potato I hope cos I bought some in Woolies...Yes, Woolworths is a food supermarket here!)... and all the trimmings....

OH, BAD NEWS - can't find Bread Sauce mix here... and don't have a recipe to make it myself... can anyone help...!!!! Ah... Google..

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Day Three - Saturday & Still Jet-Lagged

Hi All - 4.30pm and back home after a quick trip into Chch - met up with Veronica and her hubby (from ENZ Forum) at her fab ski/snowboard outlet and had planned to go to the park (Hagley) but I am really suffering with jet lag so did a quick drive out to Governors Bay, had coffee and fries and read the papers and then had to come back home.... I am trying not to sleep as I need a routine but it's really really hard... I am sooooo desperately tired and irritable and ache all over....

Sumner is packed and we did a quick walk at Taylors Mistake after brekkie this morning - was glorious just watching the guys out on their boards waiting for the waves to come in... will be back there v. soon to collect some paua shells !

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The First 2 Days....

It's Friday 10pm and we arrived yesterday at 2pm - so what's happened?!

Well... are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.... (if this post stops abruptly then I have probably fallen asleep - jet lag rampant in this apartment). Flight from LHR to Singapore (12 hrs) was pretty uneventful - we got to LHR super-early and were FIRST in the check in queue and got great seats (the ones that are just 2 across at the back - so worth the long wait in departures... Singapore Air was v. impressive - excellent service / food / inflight entertainment (40 on-demand movies!!).

Met Sandra from ENZ Forum at Singapore Airport! How cool was that! My chat up line was "are you waiting for someone?" as we obviously hadn't a clue what Sandra looked like!! I went for a shower and a massage (which was FAB and CHEAP) and then we met up and smoked ourselves stupid in the sunflower garden - had to get the nicotine levels up ready for the next 8 hr marathon.... Singapore to Auckland flight was mainly spent catching up on sleep as we didn't manage to get any on the first leg - taking the "elephant" pills the doc gave us sent us off to the land of nod IMMEDIATELY and we slept for 5 hours Not long after Sandra came and found us and we started on the wine (amused the hostess that we wanted wine with our brekkie!!) - chinwagged ALL the rest of the way - a mixture of excitement and worry.

Once arrived we had the final obstacle ... immigration! It was so easy - we even chatted with the officer for a bit after he stamped our passports etc... The three of us waited together at Auckland aiport as we had domestic flights to catch....(Sandra was heading for Palmerston North on the North Island) and then finally the last leg of the journey .. to Chch... I was almost on my knees with exhaustion but when we saw Nicky from ENZ Forum (and my gorgeous bunch of flowers ) we really perked up...

Now Nicky - what a star - if you are heading down to this neck of the woods make SURE you get in touch with Kiwi from the ENZ Forum (aka Nicky) - seriously, the info and advice was invaluable, the pick-up at the airport a life-saver and the stop off at the supermarket an eye-opener! Nicky is such a lovely lovely person too.. and we hit it off immediately - I don't think we stopped talking and laughing from the moment we met to the moment she dropped us at the apartment... and we have been phoning and texting since too!!

(Just had to pause to get some Red Bull down me and nipped outside for a fag (that's a cigarette to all our American friends... better clear that up pronto!!!!))

We arrived at the apartment at about 4pm and dumped our cases and then checked out the coffee shop a few doors down. We are on the seafront in Sumner and it is lovely, really lovely, and that's in the RAIN... haven't seen the sun here yet but it's rumoured to be in the vicinity! We can see the sea from the lounge and bedroom... gorgeous. After our coffee we went for a quick walk around the local area, we were practically sleep walking but wanted to stay awake until later in the evening to try and get our bodies into the right timezone!

Great local shops - restaurants, cafes, a dairy, a bakery, a cinema (tiny one!), hardware store, surf shops, garage, newsagent, 7/11, library... just about everything you could need! Regular bus into town too.... Bought a take away curry ( yep, even here! ) and then back to apartment and, despite all our efforts at staying awake, we had to go to bed at 8pm, we just couldn't stay awake any longer!!

Our Sumner apartment.....

Labels: , , , ,

Day Two on the Ground... Time to get Sorted!

Woke at 6am.

Went for brekkie at a local cafe called "T for Tea" - v. contemporary place with GREAT brekkies and coffees. The first of our NZ experiences happened here.... the first of a few today...!! We arrived at the cafe at 8.40am - the door was open. We asked the girl behind the counter if she was open - she said not until 9am but to come on in..! We chatted and ordered brekkie and then she announced she was leaving the shop to deliver a cuppa to the guy at the garage (down the road!) and to get the papers.... she left us alone in the cafe with the key in the till! Now that wouldn't happen in the UK!! We were gobsmacked....

Finished our rather superb brekkie and decided to catch bus into town to try and buy a car.... we don't hang around!

Whilst a little way away from the bus stop we saw the bus arrive... damn we thought. However... the bus stopped and the driver got out... he walked down the road to the bakery and went in... we got to the bus and asked a lady passenger what was up... she said "he's gone to get brekkie"!!! Sure enough, the driver came back avec coffee and pastries! We chatted with passengers, had a laugh with the driver (we commented tht we knew this place was friendly but a free coffee and pastry with our ticket was just tooooo much to take haha ) and began our first bus ride into Chchurch..... Stopped off at the corner of Ferry Road and Moorhouse (see, I sound like a local already!!) - this area is just chocka with used car salesrooms.

After a few hours of test driving various models we decided on, and bought, a Rav4 for 10K. So YAY... we have a car plus insurance plus AA cover... mission accomplished and we're chuffed to bits with it! All the car sales places were very helpful (funny that, eh?!!) but we found Donniethorne Simms v. good indeed and that's who we bought it from....

Sorted ourselves out with a new sim card (pre pay Vodafone $25 incl $15 free credit) at the East Gate Mall - found The Warehouse there too.. v. cheap stuff... great for basic toiletries etc. Drove home, sorted out internet over the phone with a company called Lynx - costs just $35 / month (dial up until we get a permie place) and that's unlimited usage so not bad at all.... plus they didn't require us to take out a contract for 6mths / 12mths - it's done on a monthly basis and can be used anywhere so can take account with us when we move.... result!

That about brings us up to date after a few days on the ground.... it's now 10.30pm and I'm pleased that we've managed to stay awake so long.

First impressions? Well, we certainly are VERY taken back with the friendly and trusting nature of the Kiwi's - we have spoken with so many people today. The garage loaned us a car for the day whilst they spruced ours up, the surf shop where we bought my fleece gave us LOADS of clothes hangers for free when they overheard us saying we needed some (!), and the guy at the garage where we bought the car gave us his home number so Warren could call his wife about an IT job (wasn't suitable in the end but HEY, it was an opportunity not to be missed!).

Next step is to find somewhere to rent... and Nicky is ALREADY armed with places for us to see... amazing!!!!!! Now... Lyttleton. Hmmm - not as nice as I had expected and, to be honest, was really disappointed Even the locals don't have much good to say about the area ("drunk Russian sailors" !!) so it's going to be knocked off our list of places to live... oh well... I suspect Diamond Harbor will go the same way, and Governors Bay too but we will see what is available. LOVE Mt Pleasant and Redcliffs .. but I have expensive taste so that's to be expected!!!

Sumner is FAB and we shall see what we can find here but again, it can be pricey. Well folks, bedtime, just can't drink enough Red Bull to keep us awake but its nearly 11pm so we have done quite well !! Will post again soon.....

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Big Day... Take Off....

The day has finally arrived. We take off today with Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow.. destination Christchurch, New Zealand. We fly via Singapore where we'll have time for a massage, shower and a ciggy!

From Singapore we fly onto Auckland, New Zealand and from there we catch our internal flight to Christchurch. Quite a hike! We will arrive in Christchurch on September 23rd at approximately 2pm.

Labels: , , , ,