We have started a new adventure, living in New Zealand for a year. We were unsure how the adventure was going to start because Katy was successful in getting her visa in less than a week, but mine never came through. We decided to give New Zealand Immigration a call; after 105 minutes on hold a cheery woman answered and politely informed me that the current processing time for my visa type is 40 days, and my application was in a queue in the New Zealand consulate in London. She recommended I upload a copy of my plane ticket so once it was assigned to a human they might process it faster. I decided to call back the next day, and after 95 minutes on hold I was able to talk to a gentleman who said there is no way I would get my visa in time and that he would email the London consulate and ask them to rush my visa and to call back the next day. The call the next day yielded the information that they have read the email, but my application had not yet been assigned a human. I was then to call in at 4am Denver time Monday morning for another update. My fourth call yielded the most unhelpful person that insisted the time frame was the time frame, but I was able to convince her to look into my file, and they had assigned my file to a human, win. About five hours later Katy got an email that I had received a visa. It was a little stressful not having a visa the day before we were scheduled to leave (plan B was to try to get a tourist visa on arrival).
Mac took us and our backpacks, 8 boxes, ski bag, bike box, and carryons to the airport, and we were able to successfully checkin and pay $1200 for our bags. We then did a tour of the lounges in the Denver airport and headed to Houston. Our flight from Houston was delayed a bit, and we discovered that one box did not make the plane. We then participated in a tour of Asia in the front of the plane courtesy of airline miles. We used United miles for our flight, which we got in part of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. We flew from Houston to Taipei, then to Singapore, then to Melbourne, then to Wellington, since the long way around was the only way we could get award seats.
We arrived slightly jet lagged and piled our boxes onto two luggage trolleys (please note that they are trolleys, not carts, but don’t get them confused with trundlers at the grocery store which certainly aren’t carts or trolleys…). While waiting for the last bag someone came up to us and told us the last bag didn’t make it, but would be here tomorrow. When it did show up, it was a box of 70 pounds of Katy’s clothes and shoes that was tossed and exploded; it was completely covered in tape and the cardboard had lost all structural integrity (you could roll the box).
We then fit all of our stuff into a Ford Ranger pickup truck with a cab that was rented from Hertz. It was a rather large vehicle to be introduced to driving on the left hand side of the road with. We spent three nights in Wellington at a cheap AirBnB getting some logistics like cell phones and Katy’s medical license sorted out. We also purchased Yoshi, a 2010 Toyota Prius, which was a fresh import from Japan. The nav system is in Japanese (and still thinks we are in Tokyo), some of the dash is in Japanese, the warning alarms are in Japanese, and when you get in the car you get a friendly Japanese greeting. At least that is what I think it is.
We then drove as a caravan the 4.5 hours up to our new home in New Plymouth. We had rain for about half of the drive and are learning that rain is a very common occurrence. Driving on the left side of the road does take some getting use to. We initially decided that whoever was driving was the person who went to the driver side of the car, even if they had forgotten that the US passenger side is now the driver side. We have turned on the windshield wipers a good number of times instead of the blinker, since they are transposed in left drive vehicles. We have not gone through any roundabouts the wrong way, and it took a quick second to realize that on the very few New Zealand roads that have two lanes, the left one is the slow lane.
We arrived in New Plymouth during a light drizzle which lasted for most of the next week. Our seasons are all screwed up. We left Boulder in July and spent a month in Mongolia wearing long pants and puffy jackets instead of shorts so it seams like we missed a lot of summer. We are now in spring in New Zealand and will skip a winter. The downside is that we will skip summer next year when we come back to the states.
New Plymouth is a town of 70,000 (9th largest in New Zealand), but it is very isolated. It is about a three hour drive to get to a larger town and both Wellington and Auckland are 4.5+ hours away. It has the reputation of being a rural place that many locals don’t stray from. There are two main industries, dairy farming and oil/gas. The most common mechanism of injury for a 20-40 year old women is falling off a horse. The town has a six mile long coastal walkway and a downtown area that has a good number of restaurants and shops. It also has two bike shops.
It has been a great adventure to get to New Zealand, and I am only two months late getting this posted, not enough spare time.