Weekly Recap – So what’s happened so far?

Our first full week in New Zealand has come to an end and so we thought it might be a good time for time for a quick recap of the week and some of the insights we’ve gathered so far.

Alright, so you haven’t really heard from us all that much in a while. Throughout the last few days I felt like there was nothing really out of the ordinary. But I guess there have been some insights, so I thought we’d just give you a quick little summary of what happened over the past week. Let’s see, here are a few highlights of our first week in Wellington.

Stylized map popular destinations in the Wellington region.

The Most Lively Airbnb We’ve Ever Been To

Long before our arrival in Wellington we decided to spend the first 8 nights in one place in order to fight the Jetlag (done!), calm down (done!) and collect our camping gear (done!). We booked an Airbnb just outside of Wellington for 8 nights. Accommodation in New Zealand is relatively expensive – not really a surprise – we knew that before and so we chose an affordable Airbnb with a private room in a shared apartment. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve seen our share of Airbnbs over the years in various different countries. However I would also say that the one in Wellington is definitely the most lively shared apartment we’ve ever been to.

Imagine a big shared house, not shared by students but by a a whole bunch of different singles/couples who either work here permanently, temporarily (a few months), are traveling around or who simply live here…God knows what they do. At any given time there are at least 9-10 people staying on the premises and throughout the last week we’ve probably met at least 15 different people from all over the world who live(d) in this house. Australia, the UK, Moldova, Germany, Austria, the US and in some cases, we still don’t know where they are from.

Some live in this house temporarily, some live here a bit longer, some only stay for 1-2 nights. It’s truly fascination to see how this place works despite the fact that there are only 2 proper bathrooms and one big kitchen. The first few days, we were surprised how many people were actually staying here. We didn’t quite realise that it was one big community.

Despite the noise that comes with all this commotion and incredibly thin walls, we’ve gotten used to it and actually enjoy the fact that you meet somebody new people almost every day for breakfast. Our latest chat was with a retired American conductor. Originally from Chicago, he finished off his career at the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva and now lives there with his Chinese wife.

Oh…and did I mention that the view from this place is absolutely breathtaking? That’s a bonus as well. See for yourself.

I’ve Already Had My First Doctor’s Appointment

Haha, I guess this must be Murphy’s Law. I usually never need to see a doctor. Especially my teeth tend to be super healthy and dentists don’t get tired of telling happy they are with my teeth.

But have you ever experienced one of those moments where you look into the mirror and you identify something that seems “off”? I had such a moment when I got into the plane in Hamburg. I know, the perfect moment to find out that something might be wrong with you. But I had this one tiny light-brown spot on one of my incisors (German: Schneidezähne) which I could have sworn was not there before. Well, although I’ve never really had any issues with cavities and wasn’t feeling any pain, I didn’t want to take a chance on that little spot and so I decided to see a dentist in Wellington on Tuesday.

Conclusion: If you ever feel like something might be wrong with your teeth while travelling, New Zealand seems like it might be the place to be. After 10 minutes of Google Research on Monday, I had already booked my appointment for the next day. I did not have to wait for long, the dentist was a super friendly nice lady (to be honest, she seemed to be more interested in our travel plans than my teeth) and luckily she also told me that it definitely wasn’t the onset of a cavity. What a relief! Just to be on the safe side she decided to take some x-rays.

When I saw the final bill, I was quite surprised. The whole examination including the x-rays only cost 70 NZD, so roughly 50€. Insurance will cover everything anyhow, but compared to what this sort of visit would have cost me back home, it was relatively cheap. Good to know!

P.S. No, we don’t have any pictures to share on this one 😉

I Had to Show My ID for the First Time in 10 Years to Buy Wine!

Yes, I am short. I am very well aware of this fact.

And yes, I’m not wearing any make up while we’re traveling.

And yes, I’m wearing sneakers at the moment…all the time.

But still, do I really look that young? 😀

Well, I’ll take it as a compliment. Thanks go out to the young lady at the New World supermarket on Willis Street in Wellington for asking to see my ID to buy a bottle of wine and making me at least 12 years younger than I actually I am! To be honest, we’re pretty sure she was younger than myself.

We Have Sorted Out All Our Camping Gear

The most common way for longer term tourists to travel around New Zealand is to buy a camper van in Auckland, ride all the way down to Christchurch and then try to sell it again once you get there. Some people do it the other way around, but the majority kicks off their trip in Auckland.

We did the math on this one for our own particular situation and decided to not go down that route. The main reason for this was that we’re only planning to stay in New Zealand for about 6-7 weeks. Buying a camper van does take some time and we did not want to spend our initial days in Wellington scanning various Facebook Groups for a van that was affordable and still met our needs.

And although renting a camper van is an option, it’s prohibitively expensive for someone traveling on a budget. Plus, we really weren’t sure whether we’d want to always stay on camp sites throughout the trip and thus opted for the more flexible approach. We decided to rather buy camping gear and simply camp out on unpowered grass sites for tents. This would allow us to same on accommodation and still give us the necessary flexibility, should we begin to crave a proper bed and 4 walls.

Several shopping malls and outdoor outlet stores later we had sorted out everything we needed and it literally only took us one afternoon. So much of the stuff was on sale as well, so we also got quite lucky. We spent about 300 NZD on a tent, inflatable mattresses, a pump, 2 sleeping bags, a cooler bag, a portable gas stove, cooking utensils and all sorts of other items. So from a purely economic point of view, we only need to camp for 8 nights to break even. So much for theory…we will see how that goes… 😉

The Most Active Week in Ages

We’re currently doing a lot of walking, which is good. My step counting app tells me that we’ve done at least 10,000 steps every single day since we arrived here.

We walked up Mount Victoria.

We did the short but sweet Camborne Walkaway near Porirua, which is a nice coastal walk north of Wellington.

We walked into town and visited the fascinating Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

We went on a day trip to the Putangirua Pinnacles (check out Chris’ blog post for details).

And we did a whole lot of walking through downtown Wellington.

Yay! I will definitely make sure we keep that up 😉

We Experienced Some of the Worst Weather of New Zealand Summer

It is supposed to be summer in New Zealand right now. This is what every weather app and all climate charts indicated to us before we arrived. And from everything people have told us since we arrived, that should be the norm…even in windy Wellington.

But when we arrived we experienced something very different. 10°C during day, 5°C at night, rain, wind….what the hell? New Zealand, or at least the region around Wellington, is apparently experiencing had one of the coldest summer weeks ever. Whether it’s linked to the bushfires in Australia? We really don’t know. But this was definitely unexpected for us. However, it was a good first test to see if we can manage to “survive” with the one sweater and the one jacket we brought for the colder days of our trip. Tick in the box. It seems to be working out. But still, we were freezing!

In the meantime the weather has improved quite a bit. It’s still very windy, but at least it’s mostly warm and sunny. It can really only get better from this point.

We Were Introduced to Workaway.info

For those who might be considering a longer trip themselves but want to save some money, we’ve got something for you: Have you ever heard of Workaway? We hadn’t.

At the beginning of the week we met Sven. Also from Hamburg, he spent 2 nights at our shared Airbnb house. Sven had already been travelling for nearly half a year and told us about his experience with Workaway. It’s basically a platform where people who are traveling can offer their services and labor.

What kind of services, you might ask? Well, really whatever you can possibly think of. To give you a few examples: Sven told us that he had worked as a vegan chef for 3 weeks for a guy who lives just outside San Fransisco. In return for cooking vegan meals every day, Sven received food and accommodation for free.

Another time Sven worked as a house-sitter and took care of a house, the garden and the cats of a couple that had gone on holiday. And on another occasion he spent a few weeks working with a buzz saw an helping someone build a shack.

Even though we haven’t tried it out ourselves, it seems to be a cool thing to do and would definitely allow to travel longer and save some money. Particularly because there is no exchange of money at any point in time. that makes it’s particularly convenient because it allows you to work and travel on a basic tourist visa.

We Completed Our First Parkrun in New Zealand 🙂

For those of you who still don’t know what Parkrun is: It’s a uniquely global community of people who just want to stay active and socialize at the same time. It’s an awesome experience and you should definitely try it out, no matter where you live. Chances are there might be a parkrun close to where you live already.

For those of you who live in Hamburg and don’t mind running in the middle of winter: Your next opportunity to do so is this coming Saturday. You don’t need to worry about when this blog post was written because the cool thing about parkrun is that it takes place EVERY Saturday, always at the same time.

So for the Hamburg folks: Alstervorland Parkrun is the place to be for you at 9am next Saturday. If you live somewhere else, checkout the parkrun homepage to find your closest parkrun and make sure you stay for coffee afterwards and get to know some nice people. Today we finished our first parkrun in Low Hutt, probably the most windy parkrun we have ever done. But I still loved it. 51 more to go – right Chris? 😀

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