Feb 5th 2007 – Public Transport – The Trains

Having no car and not really needing one in Welly as its like 5 mins walk to Scott’s work and 10 – 15 to the train/bus station, plus the whole city is like a half hour walk from one side to the other, I have discovered the joy of public transport, and I can honestly say what a joy it is.

The train station as I said is like a 10 min walk from the Quest apartment block that we’re in and is very clean and tidy barely any graffiti, mainly because if you get caught, you get fined and they mean it. In fact the only graffiti that I have seen is on some station stops where they are not overlooked by any cameras etc. The kids are too well behaved to think about it. You have to use the ticket office especially if your getting on at Wellington, I have been told on numerous occasions by Train Conductors that if the ticket office doesn’t get used then they are going to shut it down and put the ticket prices up. The ticket office has two booths open at best of times one for the scenic train and one for the trans-metro and I have only ever seen a queue of more than three people once, and I am travelling a lot. The tickets are like any anywhere I guess, you pay the same price on the train as you do from the ticket office, so this is why people don’t use the office and the guy sits in there reading the Dominion Post all day (poor bloke). But the ticket office is so charming and again the sales guy is so nice, you really should get your ticket from him just to say good morning.

So an average short journey being anything from 5 to 40 mins long will cost you about $2 or $3 off peak which I think we worked out to be out Β£0.66 how fantastic is that?? And a longer journey taking on average 40 mins to an hour anything from $4 to $8 off peak. Still that’s €2 or about Β£ 1.25. For an hours journey ! We haven’t been any further than that yet so unable to comment on longer more scenic journeys.

The trains themselves are very old fashioned like the ones that they had in England in the 70’s. I think they actually shipped them over here when they upgraded, but they are comfortable and some trains even have those change direction seats which I think is so cute. The Conductor attacks you as soon as you board the train especially if you are travelling off peak. Personally I think they like the human interaction rather than just sitting on the train all day talking to no one. So far almost every Conductor has managed to strike up a conversation with me even if it has been short lived. The doors open by key and they actually stop at every station even if no-one wants to get on or off, and the trains cross the road a lot which makes the bells go off, (note to self, no buying a house near the level crossing).

Kiwis don’t like to commute to far outside their working area, so a 20 min commute to work is almost too far, the further out you live the more likely you are to get a seat on the train. But on the same note the trains/bus’s do get packed with school kids and office suits between 7 and 9 as I agree the price is really to good and it keeps cars off the ever so jammed M1 and M2 the only major roads into Wellington.

The big thing I love about being on the train is the view you get, in fact I got on the train once going in the wrong direction because I knew it would eventually get to the end of the line and have to turn back again, and meanwhile I could admire the most beautiful hill sides, coast line and valley. Plus it gives you a great view of where to look to buy a house, you get a really good reality check when you see what hills you have to walk up. And surprisingly it doesn’t cost you any more than a normal ticket. One thing that makes me smile about the train route is that they number the tunnels, I think that’s great.

The trains are regular and mostly on time, the people are friendly plus its so cheap, definitely the way to get around.


Feb 5th 2007 – Thoughts on People

Blanket man – A famous local of Wellington, famous for being homeless and wearing a blanket. πŸ™‚

The people in Wellington to me usually act as if they are constantly high, I say this because generally people are very laid back and don’t often hear you the first time you say something to them, at first I just thought it was the accent and to be fair sometimes it still is, but the main reason that people don’t hear you the first time, is because they are not listening or sometimes don’t even acknowledge that you are standing there. Once they realise that you are standing there, waiting to talk to them genuinely they couldn’t be more helpful.

The bus drivers for instance, if you don’t know exactly where you want to get off the bus, just ask for their help then they will make sure you get off at the correct stop, or will just stop the bus anyway for you, even if it’s not at a bus stop.

All people in Wellington are either really quite young between a child’s age and mid to late 30’s or really old like 70, 80 + I don’t seem to see much of the age gap in between. I don’t actually know why this is, but it’s a little freaky.

Anyone working in the service industry smacks on a smile and will usually go out of their way to make sure you get what you want, and others seem like Kevin the teenager and serve you reluctantly, luckily for me the helpful ones outweigh the Kevin’s, and the further you go out of town the more friendly life becomes.

Welly is a weird place for people, there never seems to be that many hanging around, not even at lunch time. In the capital city you would think that you wouldn’t be able to move at lunch time in the street, but you can, and you can even get a seat at your favourite lunch time hang out joint. Early in the mornings or late in the evenings no one ventures on to the streets at all in the capital, its like a ghost town you would never think that people actually live here.

There are lots of different races of people here, Islanders, Maoris, Kiwis, Thais, Orientals, and I suppose that there is a lot of tourism here, as people travel through New Zealand. I know it’s cruel but I can’t genuinely tell the difference, between any of them, and often mistake a girl in town for someone I know. Which is another thing, I have to double take most days as I swear I see Lynne Turner walking in to Lush (yes they have it here too) or Bill Law is hurrying around in his suit. I guess I miss Germany a little, but it’s strange that I only think that I see certain people and not others.

Making friends is hard, and especially if you don’t really know anyone to start with, and you’re not working. I mean you can’t exactly go up to a stranger in the street sit next to them with your frappichino from Starbucks and say “hi my name is Tina, will you be my friend.” That said as I took an agonising trip up to Tawa yesterday afternoon walking a long way in the hot sunshine I forced myself to go into shops that I didn’t need anything from in order to make myself talk to a local. You can’t do that in Welly though, if you went into a shop here and started asking them about their day they would look at you like you just escaped the sunshine coach and someone would be along shortly to rescue them from you. I guess that’s because you get the city feel here, like being in London, only a lot lot smaller. That’s why we have decided not to live in the town itself, much more of a community if you get just a few km’s outside the city.

Saying I have no friends isn’t strictly true, of course I have my best friend here. my husband Scott who despite being very busy most days still have time to send me the odd email or text message to make me smile. Andrea is nice, but I often feel like she doesn’t want to put me out by ringing me to make arrangements, and as she has a family and a house to take care off, I feel the same way about putting her out. So we don’t seem to socialise all that much at the moment.

I have people I chat with on NZ forums also and got to know a few faces at the last monthly meeting, but most of the people that we met, are well established in NZ already and so they already have friends/jobs etc, which is great for advice but sucks for someone to grab on to and stay friends with. One lady seems quite friendly though, Carol, from the forum, again she has a family and has been out here a while but she has made the effort to talk to me and tell me the ups and downs of Tawa, as she also lives there. Looking forward to meeting her. Then there’s Lee, our landlord, what a guy, a builder and a Billy all hats. He knows everyone in every trade and has gone out of his way to make life a little easier for us, his wife also seems very nice, they have got some money though, they own at least 12 properties, or sites, I think, plus a beautiful house of their own.

The Kids in NZ wear very strange school uniforms the kids would be up in arms about wearing this is the UK, and most would rebel against it, however the kids here have the same laid back attitude as everyone else so apart from the few Goths and dare to be different kids, they are cool, hey our kids will be like that πŸ™‚ I was quite shocked the other day following a teenager through town as a tee shirt or something blew of the rail it was holding on to in the street, and the kid picked it up and put it back. If you asked a kid to do that in the UK they would have said “no I didn’t knock it off so why should I? “The beauty of it is, this kid didn’t even blink an eyelid, it was like second nature, good well behaved children.

January 29th – 4th Feb – The Sevens

Went for walk around Cuba Monday night and Wednesday night did the same to find a place called the San Francisco Bathhouse. They hold a comedy club on Thursday nights so we wanted to make sure where it was. We went on Thursday night, quite good, most of the comedians were actually good, apart from one Jewish one who seemed to take pleasure in downing every other religion in the world. He went down a storm. Lol. Tina applied for her IRD number Wednesday to be sorted for Income tax when she gets a job. Thursday Tina finished the MAF paperwork for the inbound container, sent both the passports off to confirm ID. Fingers crossed we get them back πŸ™‚ Friday started a long weekend for most New Zealanders. Tuesday 6th of Feb is Waitangi day and is a national holiday, and most people take the Monday off as well to make it a four day weekend. Nice. Friday started the Rugby 7’s in Wellington. The streets and bars were packed with people in costumes and enjoying themselves.

Saturday we thought of going across to Eastborne on the Ferry, but by the time we got down to the ferry terminal at 12:30, the next ferry was at 2:15. Never mind, we walked up to Oriental bay and hired one of those two seater canopied bikes, and peddled back down past Te Papa, then turned around and all the way back up the coast to Oriental bay again. We took the photo at the top of this blog while we were there.

Sunday, finally got up early enough to catch the ferry, Travelled across to Soames Island and Eastborne with the French Rugby team on board, had a look around Eastborne and lunch in the Lifeboat. The public swimming pool wasn’t that full but the sun was really hot and there wasn’t much shade in there, so we wandered along the beach again and found some shade under a tree. Tina sunbathed while I read my book in the shade, nice. Ferry back and an evening in treating each other for sunburn. πŸ™‚

January 22nd – January 28th – Wellington Day and Paraparam

22nd of January is a public Holiday in Wellington, the founding of the City, so everybody gets a three day weekend, nice. We went to view a very nice place in Ngaio but again they wanted 12 months. Found out later in the week they accepted a couple who wanted it from them for 2 years. Wednesday after work we both went up to Tawa to see a place that is specifically let for 6 months, well up to September. That should give us long enough to get a new house bought and sorted out. We met the man who owned the place, and the couple who are in there and leaving. Turns out he wants to physically move the house that’s there, in September, and move it to another plot. He’ll then sub divide it and build two new houses on the same area. Its small but nice and fills our needs perfectly. It should be good. So we shook on it and we move in on 17th Feb.

Lee (our landlord) then heard about us staying in the Quest and how much it was costing us, and promptly offered us his parents house while they were away, and the hire of a car. Blimey. It was a bit much actually, blew us away how friendly everyone is here. We talked about it and had to turn them down on the offer though. No Internet and moving from that luxury into a cabin with no furniture would have been extra hard. Lee also showed us the place north of Tawa where people leave their cars by the road for selling them. Some good motors there were going to have to get one, one day. Tony picked us up and took us to his for a couple of beers and a chat.

Saturday we went to the Welly Rocks meeting for Expat’s in the Mac’s Brewery in town. Mix of South Africans, Brits and Yanks, but seemed nice folk. We had to leave early as we’d agreed to baby sit for Tony and Andrea, but were looking forward to the next meeting in March.

Sunday we took the train up to Paraparaumu , or Paraparam for short. About an hours ride up the coast, we saw all the country side , and after another map reading mis guess, walked down to the beach in about an hour. Note: get the bus next time. Wonderful little seaside town, very American looking on the way in, but a nice little beach. Lots of driftwood though and dark sand, but the parks and the little shops were nice.

January 15th (Tina’s Birthday) to 21st

Tina’s Birthday today, the 15th – Got flowers from her mum delivered direct to the room in the Quest. Tina’s spending the morning hunting down rental accommodation for us in the mornings and enjoying the city and the sun in the afternoons. Skype is working well, and we’ve had Tina’s family and mine all working and seeing each other. Our EIO was submitted on Tuesday and got accepted on the Wednesday πŸ™‚ big relief as that the first hurdle over, now we just need to be assigned a case worker and then gather all the information required together. fingers crossed this wont take to long.

Friday Tina went house hunting in Kandallah, bless her, no car to drive up those big BIG hills and the first one was right at the top. Saturday we got up early and got the press. Once we found the rentals section ( which isn’t in the property section, but is in the Business Day section ) we managed to call around and make a few appointments. The car we hired from Hertz died in front of the Quest 20 minutes after we picked it up, turns out someone had filled it with Diesel earlier that day and when they cleaned the fuel lines they didn’t tighten them enough, so when we used it, the fuel lines came off and the fuel was dumped. Oh well, a free lift to the airport and we got an upgrade to a bigger car an got the whole thing for free on top of all that, nice.

None of the houses we saw wanted 6 month contracts, they all wanted a 12 months, some were really nice, but to far away from the station, others were close to the station but no garden, it was a little frustrating. On Sunday, after we took the car back, Tina found a viewing on a house in Norway street which “is really close” in the A to Z. Two hours later and after a hike along the Terrace and up Aro street we see the pokey little place and turn around and come back. Found a little fruit and veg market at the top of Cuba on the way back.

January 2007 – First week for the two of us

Β Well the first week went fast I wasn’t due back into work till Thursday so I had three days to get over the Jet lag and show Tina around the city. It was like two walking zombies for the first few days, and I’m sure I blew Tina’s head off showing her lots of different places whilst she was half asleep. By the Thursday we had the sleep thing pretty tied down, and were managing to stay awake till 10pm at night before collapsing. You try flicking your body clock by 12 hours. πŸ™‚ I took Tina all around the City, Cuba area and Courtney and even up the Cable car to the Botanic Gardens. We went up to Kandallah on the Friday night and had a couple of drinks with Tony and Andrea, who’ve just made the move across themselves. It was Tina’s birthday the following week and I booked her a treat for her birthday and to show her around our new home. Just a 10 minute tour around the city on a Helicopter but it was fun. I uploaded the video to Youtube and you can see it here.

Then after the Helicopter ride, dinner at Coyote in Courtney then we went to Reading Cinema and watched the movie DejaVu.

January 2007 – Arriving in Wellington

Β The first thing we did when we arrived was to take the airport shuttle bus into Wellington. This bus winds through some of the airport suburbs then go through the bus tunnel under Mount Victoria. We got off in the CBD ( Central Business District) and the first person Tina saw was Blanket man πŸ™‚ a local sort of tramp who refuses to wear clothes and just wraps up in a blanket, famous in Wellington. I then showed Tina how to get up from Lambton Quay to Gilmer Terrace where the Quest was and we got a room, a slightly bigger room this time. And tried to keep Tina awake as long as possible. We both managed to get through to about 8pm that first day. Flicking your body clock by 12 hours isn’t as hard as it sounds. It just took about 4 days to actually flip. Staying awake as long as possible is the trick. 8pm, then 9pm, then 10pm for a few nights. The Quest itself it nice enough, but its location is terrible. Don’t get me wrong, its close to town and to work and all the attractions, but they built it in a vacant lot beside two hotels and 4 multi story car parks. You’re constantly being woken up by squealing tires, or trucks beeping whilst they reverse out of the dead end, or our favorite, the 4am bottle bank emptying. We soon bought some foam ear plugs and face masks to block out the sound and the early morning light.