For the past two weeks we have been living in Wellington, in a fully furnished, self-catering apartment. We gave a lot of thought to the location before moving and chose the most central apartment available, which turned out to be a three minute walk from Jeremy’s office. It is really convenient for sight-seeing and finding our way around the town too, as everything is within walking distance . A central location something which I would thoroughly recommend if you are moving abroad, even if you are a country bumpkin like me! The apartment has all of the gadgets we could possibly need: crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and refreshments as well as a washing machine, tumble dryer, hairdryer, dishwasher and microwave. Even dishwasher liquid and laundry powder are provided, meaning clean and dry baby clothes at the drop of a hat. This has definitely made settling into the country much easier than if we had been staying in a hotel. As the apartment is cleaned every couple of days, it really does feel like a holiday! I’m still not sure that the reality of us being here for two years has kicked in yet.
First things first
The day that we arrived we were collected from the airport by Jeremy’s boss, who showed us where the nearest supermarket and pharmacy were on the way to our accommodation. The next day we found the nearest doctor surgery and registered Sophia straight away. Because we both have two-year work visas, Sophia is entitled to free healthcare for the duration of our stay. If we didn’t have these visas we would need to pay for each appointment and every prescription. In hindsight, I really did take the good old NHS for granted. The surgery provided me with details of the local out-of-hours emergency medical centre and healthcare helpline (the equivalent of NHS direct) just in case we needed it, which two days later we did…. Unfortunately Sophia must have picked up some bugs on the plane, coupled with the sudden cold NZ temperatures and as a result came down with a nasty chest, throat and ear infection. ‘Poor wee pet’, as my Mum would say. Thankfully our visit to the medical centre was quick and painless even though it was a Friday evening (perhaps because appointments are charged for?). We didn’t have to wait long for the ‘script’ (prescription) and we were home within the hour. After all that excitement and once the had antibiotics kicked in, we made it our mission to get a car and long term accommodation sorted, then we got cracking with seeing the sights that were right on our doorstep.
Wondrous Windy Welly
There is so much to see and do in Wellington, which I now realise is nicknamed ‘Windy Welly’ for a very good reason. The waterfront boasts a panoramic coastline and even on a cold, wintery day you can enjoy the most beautiful views of the glistening water on the sunlit harbour, albeit whilst getting mildly battered by the wind. Clearly the suitcase space that my hair straighteners took up could have been better filled with something more practical as I don’t think I will be needing them this winter! Growing up in ‘Norn Iron’ you may mistakenly assume that I am rather hardy with the elements, however having lived in England for over a decade now, I have acclimatised to the warmer shores and am now a southern pansy through and through (!!). Never the less, I donned my stylish rain mac, thermal layers and new winter boots (we won’t dwell on the fact that they are NZ size 10) and bundled Sophia into the buggy. Dressed in about five layers of clothing, buggy rain cover in place, we set off to brave the elements and see some of the Lonely Planet recommended sights. We forgot to ask if there was a lift at our apartment when booking it, so Sophia had a few bumpy buggy journeys up and down the spiral staircase to and from said sights. Never mind! First stop: coffee.
My first taste of NZ coffee, in what is said to be one of the coffee capitals of the world, was from Mojo coffee on the waterfront. The delicious beans roasted on site did not disappoint and this coffee chain has locations all over town which I will definitely be taste-testing. After coffee I set off for the harbour, which was filled with epic views, spacious parks, arty sculpture trails, beautiful bays with beach huts, eclectic craft markets and quirky espresso bars. There are lots of steps and walkways all over the city and at first wondered how I was going to get the buggy to all the sights. I keep a bike lock and the baby carrier in the bottom of the buggy just in case I need to leave it somewhere safely. So far I haven’t needed to, as I have been able to access everywhere easily by using the variety of lifts and ramps around the city.
Rainy Day Sights
After walking around the beautiful but blustery waterfront I swayed towards warmer indoor climates. City Gallery is currently displaying two fantastic exhibitions: Sister Corita’s ‘Summer of Love’ and ‘Jealous Saboteurs’ by Francis Upritchard, a New Zealand-born, London-based sculptor. The gallery is admission free and open daily. Not only was it a haven from the wind and cold but the mix of Maori-inspired artefacts and pop art posters was very interesting. Both exhibitions run until 16th October.
Te Papa, which aptly translates as ‘container of treasures’ is the museum of New Zealand. It is located along the waterfront and is filled with interactive resources and loads of exhibitions including NZ wildlife, natural disasters and Maori history. There is no wonder that it is named on the Lonely Planet’s list of top 500 places to visit on the planet. Our favourite exhibitions included the dinosaurs, earthquakes and volcanoes area as well as the Maori meeting houses. Entry is free and the museum is open every day of the year, until 9pm some evenings.