9 weeks today is my last day at work. Which means 9 weeks on Wednesday… is D-day. Departure Day. 9 weeks!!
We are starting to get our heads around what we’ll actually need to do before then (while also trying to narrow down 900+ wonderful wedding photos to just 60… send help!).
First and foremost, we are booking in LOADS of fun times with our mates before we go. We’re telling ourselves the four months will go quickly and that we could quite easily go that long without seeing some of our mates anyway, BUT… our friends mean so much to us and we’re really going to miss them. And the summer always slips through your fingers doesn’t it? It goes from endless evenings in the beer garden to wondering if it’s a bit too chilly for no tights in the blink of an eye. So: spontanaeity. Less “I really want to go for more walks this summer” and more “What are you guys doing on Wednesday?”
Technically, the most important thing that we’ve now ticked off the list is our visas. We both did them through the Immigration NZ website and I was really impressed by how clear and simple it was to use.
I did think it was a bit cheeky that you have to pay for your visa before you’re approved, and if for any reason you aren’t approved, you don’t get the money back! I understand there are admin fees, but $160NZ is a bit steep for opening an email!…
Rob’s took a bit longer than mine to come through; his is more complicated as he has a specific job offer, whereas I wanted something pretty open. I could technically have travelled on Rob’s (one of the benefits of marriage..!) but decided to get my own as I want to work too when we’re out there, so I’ve gone for a standard Working Holiday Visa. It’s one of the most common types for foreigners to have, so potential employers won’t be fazed by it (if you run a coffee shop in Welly… hit me up! *waves*), and it doesn’t restrict the type of work I can do out there, only the timespan: I can only stay for up to 12 months, and have to either have a return flight booked or have the funds to do so.
Speaking of flights… we now have both the outward and return legs booked. Now, R and I like to consider ourselves pretty experienced at this kind of thing, but no matter how used you are to the long-haul life, the journey is not something to be underestimated! With that in mind, we decided to make it a little bit easier for ourselves and stop over in Kuala Lumpur for a night on the way out.
We looked at a few different options and thanks to the flight times, it actually worked out in our favour to do it this way. We leave on a Wednesday afternoon, get to KL late on the Thursday, then head on to Melbourne on the Friday morning (we’re there for a week before finally touching down in Welly!). I think if we’d had to kill time in KL on the Friday we might have reconsidered – it’s a balance between making the journey a bit less painless and just getting it over with!! I also quite like that we’ll have been to KL a grand total of four times this year – one of the many things I probably wouldn’t have believed if you’d told me on New Year’s Eve 2017…
We’ve gone for the “just get it over with” approach on the way home… We board in Wellington on 19th December and finally touch down in Heathrow some 30 hours later. Honestly? I’m trying not to think about it. And hopefully we’ll be able to just grit our teeth and get through it by thinking of how awesome it’s going to be to get home for Christmas!! I LOVE Christmas and think about how ridiculously extra amazing it’s going to be when we’ve been in the Upside Down for four months!? Also, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the build up to Christmas is possibly even better than the day itself, and I’m quite happy to attempt to squeeze 20 days’ worth of advent chocs / Love Actually / cinnamon on everything into 5…
We’d been toying with the idea of staying out there for Christmas, and I think if Mum and Dad had been able to fly out to spend it with us out there then we would have done. Unfortunately the dialysis unit in Wellington doesn’t have a space for Mum, which put paid to that plan. But the silver lining was that nobody,at any stage, told her she couldn’t medically fly. So we’re booking a trip to Sicily for next Spring instead! I’ll admit I was heartbroken when we found out she wouldn’t be able to do it. But Sicily will be bellissima, and sometimes when life closes a door you just kick open another one.
So: we’re allowed into the country, we’ve booked flights into the country… next up is to sort out somewhere to lay our heads on arrival!
We’ve booked our first couple of weeks’ through someone at R’s placement. It’s a Balamory-looking blue-and-pink granny flat, and the owners have even said they’ll pick us up when we land! Kiwis are seriously the nicest people on the planet. We just thought we’d book the first 2 weeks to begin with, as we might decide we want to move to a different part of the city once we’ve got our bearings. We’re also not 100% sure what the cooking situation will be like (though tbf we will happily just BBQ our way through to Christmas…) so we may decide we need somewhere a bit more practical!
I found a really useful blog called Lost in Silver Fern which gave a fantastic overview to all the different parts of the city, comparing them to areas in London. Isn’t that a great idea!? So many times we’ve been trawling Airbnb or Lonely Planet trying to decide where to base ourselves, without much clue of what the vibe of the place is like. I will definitely be digging through that guide to help decide where to move on to. I also quite like the idea of just booking month by month, so we can possibly experience a bit more of the whole city.
My little brother is (an absolute legend) coming out to stay with us for just under 2 weeks so we’ve gotta make sure it’s got a sofa bed! He lands on my actual 30th birthday and when he walks through arrivals I will probably (definitely) cry…
So what’s still on the list? We’ve got a rough plan and a few Airbnb ideas saved for our time in Melborne (basing ourselves in the CBD/near the Laneways for the first few days, then heading out up the Great Ocean Road, then back to St Kilda’s for some beach time).
I’ve also done a bit of research into where to stay for the Auckland Half – we’ve booked the internal flights but I need to pull my finger out and get us somewhere to stay sorted! Think I’m just basing it on what the Great North Run was like… I don’t think it’s as big a race as that! But it does start at 6am, meaning I’ll need to be on a ferry to Devonport at 4.30am (NOT EVEN JOKING OH MY GOD WHY DID I SIGN UP TO THIS), meaning we’ll need to stay somewhere very nearby!! The two options I’ve found are not only 5 minutes away: one has a rooftop pool and one has a hot tub!! The actual dream after 13.1 miles!!
We also need to do a lot of life admin: tell the phone company, the bank, the gym, ouncil tax / suppliers… the boring stuff! Airbnb’s with their own hot tubs have been a lot more interesting so far, but this stuff is pretty important (and, I reckon, might be worth telling more than a month in advance in case it takes a payment cycle to pause our payments). Dull but must be done!
Hopefully we’ll make a bit more progress this week. And whittle down the wedding photos a bit more too!