Monday, November 26, 2007

Life at Wellywood

Since I will be living at Wellywood Backpackers indefinitely, I thought I would give you a glimpse into my living situation. The name Wellywood comes from the fact that Wellington has become the center of NZ's blossoming film industry--It's also Peter Jackson's home town.

The outside of the hostel stands out quite a bit--it's painted like a zebra:

My room is small. Depressingly small. Two bunk beds in about 150 square feet.

But I don't spend much time there anyway. Most of my spare time at the hostel is spent in the upstairs lounge and kitchen. The kitchen is in the back, and it's quite big. There are two TV lounges and tons of sofas to lounge around on.

So that's my home for the next few months. Next week, I'll introduce you further to my neighborhood: where I work, where I play, where I drink. And it's all just a short walk away!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Zealand is full of animals

No, I'm not talking about drunken backpackers at 3:30 on a Saturday morning. Since I have my computer now, I've been able to sort through and edit some of my photos. For starters, here are some of the animals I've come across in the last couple months. Unfortunately some of the coolest ones that I have seen were not captured on my camera...

Mitsy and Teddy Bear chase after Muffin the cat at Lancaster Citrus

One of many New Zealand lambs

Cows near Le Bons Bay, Banks Penninsula

Seal takes a nap at Kaikoura

Ducks swim on crystal-clear Lake Wanaka

Seal pup on 90-Mile Beach


Look closely for penguins on Milford Sound

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

It's just another Thursday in New Zealand, but it's certainly an important one back in the States. Or will be tomorrow, that is. I definitely have a lot to be thankful for this year.

  • I'm no longer a corporate whore.
  • I get to spend nine months in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
  • I have very supportive parents who not only taught me to be self sufficient and independent, but also let me stay in their basement and eat their food for nine months in preparation for my trip.
  • I've got great friends who actually e-mail me, asking for more blog posts, if I go more than a couple days without an update.
  • And, ultimately, I have the luxury to have dropped all my responsibilities and buy a one-way plane ticket to the other side of the world. It's not something I take for granted in the slightest.

And, yes, I will have more updates quite soon. I will have posts on many things, including my living situation, Wellington and New Zealand culture, and plenty more.

Also, if you have anything in particular you'd like to see me do or write about, or have any questions about what I'm up to, let me know. I'm happy to oblige my readers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doing my thing

Well, for now I have decided to live at the hostel. I am now in a "long-term" room that is smaller than my freshman year dorm, yet has two bunkbeds. It's tight. But there's a lot of fun people here (lots of Irish) and as I said before, it's extremely convenient.

I work my third shift at the restaurant tonight, and my first waiting tables. I've gotten to know the menu pretty well, but it's still going to be a test to keep up with the service expectations.

So now I'm just trying to get into a bit of a rhythm. It can get kind of boring with lots of people doing daytime temp work and me working nights. But I think I'm going to get some roller blades (they're freakin expensive over here!) once I get paid, so that should keep me a little busier. And once my computer gets here, I hope to do some freelance articles and sell some photos to online content stores like Associated Content.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm still alive

I know you were worried--more than two days without a blog post. Your finger must be hurting from clicking "refresh" so many times over the last 72 hours. Take an aspirin. Go ahead; I'll wait.

Better? Good. OK, so I've been enjoying my new home the last few days. I worked my first shift on Thursday--it's going to be interesting. It's a great restaurant, but it's very fast-paced. There's a lot of things on the menu that I've never heard of, and we do everything manually. That is, we don't enter the orders into a computer. Rather, we have an old-school triplicate order pad that we hand to the kitchen. I've noticed that this seems to be the way things work in restaurants here in NZ. I'm convinced that much of this country is stuck in 1989 America. More on that in future posts. Anyway, the job should be a fun challenge and should help me ease my savings account's pain.

As far as accomodation goes, I have been staying at the Wellywood Backpackers, casually considering my options. One is that I can get a weekly rate here for quite a bargain of a price. A lot of the flat rooms and house rooms available are only free for the summer, or until about mid-February, as they're pretty much all sublets from university students. And many of them cost more than it would cost to stay here. And at the hostel, I'm a three minute walk from work, a one-minute walk to many of the popular bars and five minutes from anything else I might need. It's hard to argue with that. So it's likely that I'll start with the weekly rate here and if something good comes up elsewhere, I'll take it.

Lastly, I probably will be having my laptop shipped to me. (I didn't take it initially because that's a hell of a liability to worry about when you're traveling constantly and sharing rooms with seven people you have known for less than two hours.) This (I hope) is good news for you, as I will be able to provide some enhanced content: more videos, gorgeous panoramic shots that I've taken, etc. And it's good news for me because I won't have to use dodgy shared computers that run Windows.

More exciting things to come soon--I've been sketching out a bit of an "editorial calendar" in my mind. And please don't lose hope if I go a couple days without an update. I have a lot of bars to hit and only six or seven months to do it in.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sights of Wellington

Since I'm not working yet (some training tonight and first shift next Thursday), I've been taking the time to get to know the city I'll call home for the next several months. Every city has its iconic places that are must-sees. New York has Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Paris has the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

Can you name any of Wellington's iconic sights? I didn't think so. But you can now:

Being the capital of the country, Wellington hosts New Zealand's parliamentary offices. Are the prime minister and her cabinet set up in some grand building of marble and towering pillars? Nope. They're in a Beehive.

Wellington is only half the size of Omaha, yet it feels at least twice as big. The downtown area is a buzzing place. Lambton Quay (say "key") is the heart of the downtown area.

If you want to get out of the concrete jungle, Wellington's got a great option. The city's cable car has been hauling people up the hill since the early 1900s.

At the top station is the city's botanical gardens. They make Omaha's garden look like an amateur's backyard.

There's all sorts of New Zealand flora to walk among, including many things that I've never seen before in my life...

So that's a glace at some of Wellington's important features. You'll hear plenty more from me on this awesome city over the next several months...but I won't let it get boring, I promise. Next week, I'll give you a glimpse at the odd things that Kiwis tend to find fashionable. Let's just say some of them seem to be stuck in the US in the late 80s/early 90s. Full House, anyone?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I applied for a job, had a trial shift and was offered the job all in less than 10 hours today. I think zibibbo will be a great place to work.

Looks like I will be on the schedule next week. Now I just have to figure out my living situation. Sweet as.

My new home

After much back-and-forth over the last three weeks, I've decided to live in...


And as you can see, the weather was much more hospitable on my return.

My journey to Wellington was quite fun. I opted to take the train from Christchurch to Picton, before hopping on the ferry. Much of the track runs right along the Pacific coast, and there's an open-air viewing car. Very cool.

So, I will renew my job search today. I think my employment prospects will be a lot higher here. That, and I get to live in one of the coolest capital cities in the world!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Where am I?

Good question. I'm not telling yet. You'll find out soon.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Milford Sound

Today I took a day trip to Milford Sound, one of the (if not the) top natural wonders of New Zealand. It was formed over two million years of glacial activity.

View Larger Map

We stopped at a mountain stream on the way. The water was as good as water gets.

To get to Milford Sound, you have to drive through a mountain via a one-mile tunnel, as well as a no-stopping avalanche zone.

Welcome to Milford Sound. The mountain on the left, Mitre Peak, extends one mile out of the water.

Looking into the sound from the Tasman Sea.

This waterfall is 150 meters tall--three times the height of Niagara Falls.

And a video to give some more perspective:

These photos hardly do this place justice. It was amazing. In addition to the natural wonders, we also saw penguins and fur seals.

So what's next for me? Summer job, for sure. But where? That's a hard question, and one that I haven't entirely decided yet.

-I'm leaning away from Queenstown, because it's an over-commercialized tourist haven, and I would spend all of my money. I love the place, but I think it suits me better as a vacation spot, rather than a place to settle for five or six months.

-I'm in Te Anau now. Very nice town--much smaller than Queenstown though. But far less commercialized, and quite friendly. I have a job offer here to work at a hotel. That would probably help me save a lot of money, but it would mean I'm dealing with package-deal tourists from Germany and Japan all summer. I think I've already learned once that money shouldn't be your deciding factor when seeking employment.

-I am leaning toward going back to the North Island and settling in Wellington. I've always been more of a city person, and Wellington really caught my attention.

So, I'm weighing my options now and will make a decision soon. I've definitely seen some of the top sights on the South Island, so I won't regret it if I head back north. Stay tuned for updates!