Wednesday, 21, 2010
Today has felt far from the glamourous travel experience you might think we are having! We have been dealing with paperwork, banks, errands, and all the other errands that it takes to set up a life in NZ. It's not all bad, but some of it is frustrating. On the good side, we got a great lead on a van from two Israeli guys at our hostel last night. The van is great, has everything we need, and would cost us NZ$4,000, which is US $2,900, less than we anticipated paying for a campervan. The only obstacle is that we need to be able to pay for it by Friday night, or they'll sell it to someone else, and it turns out doing an international wire transfer from our banks at home to our new bank accounts with Kiwibank is not as easy as our home banks told us. Instead, we need to have access codes that are only supposed to be texted to US phone numbers. I ended up calling my bank with the phone card that IEP gave us, but am still having trouble with it. I think it should all be straightened out soon though. Our accounts with Kiwibank are all set up, and very accessible because Kiwibank is in every Post Office branch, so every town of any size has one. We also submitted our paperwork for our IRD (tax) numbers, and had our IEP orientation this morning.
We are staying at least one more night at the hostel here in Auckland, and perhaps another one if we can't get the van by tomorrow night. That will all be played by ear.
Yesterday afternoon we had a nice little "tiki tour" by wandering around Viaduct Harbour, Victoria Park Market, and back up to Queen Street for a stop at the bookstore. We had hoped to get out to Devonport yesterday or today, but all our errands and the ferry schedules have dictated that we won't be able to right now. The weather here is still blustery, switching from rain and wind to mild sun in a matter of minutes. Apparently this part of New Zealand has been under a giant gale for quite some time, and last weekend it dumped 4 meters of snow (12 feet!) on the skifields at Ruapehu, indefinitely extending the ski season.
We are beginning to adjust to the Kiwi culture, accent, and language. There are great posters in the toilets at the IEP office regarding "How to Talk Like a New Zullander." They include such gems as "iggs ecktly = precisely", "sex= comes before sivven" and "beers=savage predators inhabiting North America." We were informed in our orientation of the important distinction between Kiwi (New Zealand inhabitant or national bird) and kiwifruit. One should never say they would like to eat a kiwi (which we say in the states), as here this indicates a desire to engage in cannibalism.
In spite of bureaucratic frustrations, I am enjoying the small things: the fact that my wireless card and computer adapter work perfectly, that Kiwibank will cash out a travelers check with no commission, and the exchange rate (I cashed a US $100 check and received a payout of NZ$134). We are surrounded primarily by Germans, and have met several Brits and then discovered that the guy sitting next to us in orientation is from Yakima, Washington! Small world.
I will update again soon. In the meantime, here's a few photos I couldn't upload yesterday:
Browns Island, which also has a Maori name I can't remember. It is an extinct volcano that last erupted 18,000 years ago, and is now a nature sanctuary.
These are a plants on Rangitoto Island. I got a guide to New Zealand forest plants yesterday, but this plant is not in there, as far as I can discover. Isn't it beautiful, though?