May 31 2009
It’s been a week now – a week today I left England and here’s the first moment I’ve had to actually sit and chill, doing absolutely sweet FA. A week ago I didn’t imagine I’d be sitting here now in a 3-bed detached house with panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu from my bedroom and our massive 30sq ft deck… and only be paying £40 a week for it. Every time I look out the window I can’t believe I’m looking at a never-ending expanse of glittering water, surrounded by towering snowy mountains and green hills. In fact, when I was landing in Queenstown, the air hostess asked me if I was ok because my leg was jittering and I was manically grinning. It was only due to the excitement of seeing so many snowy mountains and not being able to comprehend the fantastic scenery I was flying through.
I’d been told NZ was beautiful, but this just made the 33-hours contorted in a plane seat worthwhile. Within 10 minutes of landing, I was dumping my bags at the Base hostel, and 10 minutes after that I was drinking my first beer with the guys I’d spoken to on Queenstown 09 Facebook. Despite the slight delirium at having been awake for several days (I also shouldn’t have slept on my mate’s sofa the night before flying to NZ!), tiredness was wiped away and I couldn’t have been happier.
My first week has gone incredibly quickly. We were meant to go riding on Thursday, but there always seemed to be something we had to do. Setting up bank accounts, getting a phone, finding references for houses, searching for houses, convincing agencies they should give us a house, signing for the keys for the new house, buying bedding and heaters for the house, calling home to get more deposit money, meeting too many people to remember their names, finding grocery stores, and even being invited to meet the Justice of the Peace. This, combined with necessary ‘bonding’ sessions in various bars and attempting to live out of a hostel (avoiding the huge numbers of posh English kids from the Kiwi bus who were solely there to get laid), completed our first week in NZ.
Everyone is so friendly and chilled. And genuinely so. Such as the grocery woman who wanted to make sure I was truly enjoying the buying-powdered-soup-experience, and the bus driver who happily chilled to wait for our mate who had decided to run back and get something. And everyone is willing to just lend us their cars, even if we’d only known them a few hours.
But nothing felt better than to move into our house. I’m living with two guys (plus we‘ve two squatters already!), and now we’ve invested in heaters, duvets, robes, slippers, water bottles, and anything else to try and keep this place warm, we’ve finally settled in. Thanks to the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend, everything is super cheap (think massive Boxing Day-style sales), and everyone is in party mode. Er, long live the Queen we say!
Getting a place really isn’t easy, and there’s still loads of people turning up for the season without jobs and houses who seem to be struggling. But now we’ve time to chill, we’re all desperate to get out on the snow and are heading up to Mount Hutt this week, as it’s opened two weeks early. Locals are heading up to nearer resorts to hike and ride, so we’re hitching sometime this week too for some pre-season snow.
But for now we’re left with lounge-jib-sessions and watching snow movies, while hitting the start-of-season industry parties (we‘re not complaining when we get $1500 bar tabs to rinse) with sick DJs. Despite it being uber-cold (we can see our breath in the lounge) we’ve had so much sunshine this week. But the word on the street is that a snowstorm is coming, so we’re looking forward to June 6th when the resorts open and Queenstown can properly celebrate the start of winter.