Melly to Welly (“Don’t play with the biosecurity dog”)

Today’s the day guys.

Today we got on a plane, and went to New Zealand, and we’re going to live here til Christmas.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was another early start – Melbourne was meant to be our holiday week, but it’s pretty standard of us to pack as much as possible in! Thanks to Mr Skybus, getting back to the airport was easy peasy, and we were on our way by 10.30.

A few hours later…

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“I want to see mountains – MOUNTAINS, Gandalf! And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book.”

The first time we came to NZ, it was the mountains that captivated me. I grew up in sunny Bournemouth – we don’t have no mountains down south. But here they’re always on the horizon; the shadows framing any view. The first day we had our little green car we had to stop at least every half an hour to just sit and stare at the mountains all around us (and I definitely kept squealing, “Mountains, Gandalf!” at R – it was one of the things that gave me away as a GIANT LORD OF THE RINGS NERD).

I remember coming into Christchurch so clearly last time. R and I just grinning at each other, our eyes almost popping out of our heads; I even remember the song we were listening to! It’s been five years since I saw those mountains and I was expecting it to be a bit emotional. It was like electricity when I looked out the window and saw them again.

(I should add though – my emotions were somewhat heightened by the bloody film I was watching! Has anyone seen Adrift? Oh my god. It’s so good. It’s about this couple who meet in Tahiti, fall in love, decide to sail around the world together then get caught in a hurricane – I wasn’t sure I’d get to the end of it before we landed so when R first nudged me to look out the window I was initially like “SSSH I NEED TO KNOW IF THEY MAKE IT!”…)

Also – Qantas give you ice lollies AND Lindt chocolates. In your face, Air Asia.

The bumpy landing was a pretty good introduction to Welly’s famously windy climate!… We had also heard how strict NZ immigration is when it comes to biosecurity. It just sounds badass, doesn’t it? It basically means protecting the country’s beautiful environment and ecosystems from any foreign pests, viruses, species that could cause it harm. Makes a lot of sense when your country’s this beautiful!

They show you a video on the plane encouraging you to dispose of or declare anything that could be a biosecurity risk – from souvenirs made of natural materials to foodstuffs like spices, seeds or honey (we munched our trail mix on the way!) to sports/outdoor equipment that might have soil attached. They’re strict on health too – when we applied for our visas we had to assert that we hadn’t spent longer than six months in certain countries, otherwise you have to provide a chest x-ray! Makes sense I guess when you think about it (or when you read too many Dan Brown novels!).

We “declared” the running shoes and hiking boots that we both brought with us, but all it meant was the border patrol had a rummage through our bags to check them. Really glad I followed number 1 rule of packing, stuff your underwear in your shoes….! It was OK though, they just gave my boots a bit of a scrub (thanks guys!) and then we were waved through.

For our first couple of weeks we’ve got accommodation through R’s work placement, staying with a guy called Steve and his wife Linda in Kilbirnie, a suburb south-east of the city centre. Steve picked us up from the airport and even shouted the taxi fare back to the apartment! They live upstairs and we’ve got the “basement” – though it’s not underground. It’s bright pink and blue and, predictably, I love it.

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It’s a studio but has literally everything you could need. Steve did a lot of the renovations himself and his built some truly ingenious cupboards and drawers so there’s plenty of room for all our bits and bobs.  I’ve just got to persuade R to keep it tidy!! (Give that boy space and he will FILL IT WITH CLUTTER…). And probably best of all, it has a corner window so that you can really make the most of that view. I’m not going to get tired of that anytime soon!

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We had our suspicions that Steve was an absolute legend after he emailed asking if he could get us anything in for breakfast. These suspicions were quickly confirmed! He’d kindly stocked us up with granola, milk, eggs, coffee and marmalade, which he seemed equal parts fascinated and disgusted by. I’ve told him he’s welcome to try some!

After we’d freshened up Steve offered to show us around Kilbirnie, not that it took very long (in a nice way!). It’s less than 5 minutes to the high street, which has everything we need – bank, pharmacy, supermarket, bus stop to get “downtown”. We were turning back towards the house when I saw something truly surreal – a car registration saying “NWCSTL UTD”. I am not even joking. We thought it could just be a coincidence, but the guy driving it was about 80 years old and… wearing a NUFC Northern Rock training top. It definitely wasn’t a coincidence. Of course, we had to make friends with him stop and say hi!! Turns out he was born in County Durham and could easily have been a Sunderland fan, but his dad took him to his first ever football game to see the Toon and he was hooked for life. Only Rob Goodwin could be in NZ for LESS THAN A DAY and find another NUFC fan!

Steve and Linda further cemented their legendary status by offering to take us out for a curry. It’s pretty flipping cold in that wind, so a piping hot curry was an easy yes!! They’re really interesting people – he’s a history lecturer at the university and she’s a freelance editor, and came here from the States in the 90s. We talked about all sorts of things, from the British royal family (they’re everywhere here!) to immigration, to Maori history, to where we should try and visit if we get a few long weekends (basically – Bay of Islands!).

We said goodnight and cosied up out of the wind with a Almond Slab (told you I was obsessed with the chocolate over here) and Masterchef Australia – yet another thing Aus does better than the UK (I watch it on Freeview at home!).

We’ve got a bit of Life Admin to get sorted tomorrow (bank account, food shop, etc) – but then we’re going to spend the rest of the weekend exploring and getting settled before R starts work (!) on Monday. I already love our little blue house and know it won’t be long til it feels likes home ❤

Slang of the day: Yeah nah (this is so confusing. Kiwis basically say it in response to anything. Sometimes it even becomes “yeah nah yeah”. It doesn’t really mean “yes” and it doesn’t really mean “no”… I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it by December!)

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