In November 2014 after 2 months of travelling around China, Vietnam and Indonesia we entered New Zealand for our year’s Working Holiday Visa. We flew with Air New Zealand (weren’t overly impressed with the service) Anyway, we landed into Auckland and checked into Base hostel on Queen Street, we had stayed here back in 2012 so knew it was a good location. It was expensive though, a double room with no window cost $84 per night so we immediately started looking for our own accommodation but struggled to find a well-priced place in a good location, so in the mean time we stayed in a lovely studio apartment through Airbnb. A few weeks later we moved in to 135 Victopia Court, Victoria Street West, one block from Sky Tower, on Victoria Street West.
After getting a phone number and IRD (tax card) we looked for jobs, Pam found a waitressing job at an upmarket restaurant called Sails for a few weeks and had a trial at a bar before both finding work at Auckland council. Shannon tried his hand at waiting tables at Elliott Stables too. Pam then worked 9 months as Mayor’s receptionist and PA for the ‘Champion of Auckland’ meeting a host of VVIP’s including John Key the Prime Minister Shannon had 3 placements, two that were intense at first then tedious, one as Building Support Office, one as Resource Consents Admin and his best was a swimming pool inspector, with a company car getting to drive all around the suburbs looking at people’s pools at their big fancy houses. We both also worked for ‘Platform’ at the Vector Arena and Eden park. Working as stewards, guiding crowds and seating them, during the event watching over them, but it meant we could also watch and listen. We worked at various events, Shannon at the football and basketball and a few gigs. Pam at lots of gigs including Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Sting and Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Roxette and Spandau Ballet. During the 9 months we pondered if we should move on but thought it easier to stay put.
Having 2 jobs each, we surprisingly managed to get out and about every weekend, some places we visited were-Lake Pupuke and Takapuna beach, Cornwall Park where One Tree Hill is located and had spectacular views from city to the Coromandel! Visited Parnell and the winter gardens in the Domain, Mt Eden, Ponsonby, Karanghapa Road ‘K’ Road, Tamaki Drive and St Heliers, New Market, La Cigale French market. (Check out our blog on Free things to do in Auckland)
In the city centre we had plenty of meals in and around the Wynyard Quarter and Silo Park as well as wandering around soaking up the atmosphere and wandering around Albert Park and the CBD.
We visited all the museums- Maritime museum, Auckland war memorial museum, Devonport Navy Museum, which were all interesting.
We took the ferry over to Waiheke Island, Rangitoto and Mt Victoria in Devonport a few times.
Further afield we had days out to Piha, Waitakeri Ranges, Kite Kite Falls.
Auckland and NZ have a few special commemorative days they celebrate each year. Auckland has fireworks on these events and the sky tower is always lit for any type of special occasion, which include Auckland Day (closest Monday to 29th January), Waitangi Day (6th February) and ANZAC Day (25th April). They also celebrate the Queen’s Birthday and have a day of celebrations at The Cloud. Chinese New Year is also huge with a lantern festival in Albert Park. New Year is a big event too, living one block from the Sky Tower we stayed in our apartment for the pre-celebrations before heading out before midnight to join the throng of people. Christmas is in the middle of summer, being in the southern hemisphere, so it doesn’t feel very Christmassy, but it does mean you can go to Albert Park and sunbathe like we did. On the lead up to Christmas there is a Parade which travels down Queen Street.
We went to lots of events and watched the FIFA under 20s football final, NRL 9s, ASB Classics and even the NZ X Factor auditions and boot camps. We watched the ITU triathlon, Americas Cup, Matariki Kapa Haka, and seen the All Blacks in a pre-world cup interview. We also stayed up late one night to watch a rare Blood Moon eclipse!
We also got a ‘cinebuzz rewards card’ where we got discounts at the cinema, so we were there countless times.