Ups, Downs and Plateaus of a temporary Wellingtonian

I have been living in Wellington, “the coolest little capital in the world” for over three months. I’ve had six jobs, three homes, too many ciders and too many nights danced away in the hip bars. I’ve visited the Zoo, wandered through the Botanic gardens and got lost in Te Papa museum. I’ve had brunch at the infamous Maranui cafe, honked whilst driving through Mt Vic tunnel and shopped at the Sunday markets. I’ve watched All Blacks rugby games at the pub, walked the skyline trail and taken a ferry across the harbour. However, it’s not all been rainbows and butterflies, I’ve had some serious setbacks whilst in Welly and thought I’d share my not so instagrammable drama with you. The other side of the rosy travellers photos.

Wellington City seen from the harbour

It all started when I decided to undertake an internship at the Science Media Centre (SMC) in Wellington. I was currently staying at my family friends (or honorary grandparents) in Christchurch at a cross roads point, from here it was either up north to Welly or back south to Queenstown for the snow season. Amazingly the SMC said yes. So that decided that. I was going to Wellington. I booked my ferry across to the North Island for the very next day and drove straight from Christchurch all the way to Picton and arrived for the ferry 35 minutes after check-in (whoops).  I greeted Wellington in the near darkness and now had the challenge of finding my hostel. I had spent the last month at this point driving around the South Islands empty long roads and hadn’t seen a road with more than two lanes. Wellington as I discovered is not car-friendly, there are one way systems everywhere, there are very few parking spaces and there are so so so many cars everywhere. Upon reaching the hostel, I had to park on yellow lines whilst I emptied my life out of my car and then find a free spot 10 minutes walk from the hostel. This was going to be my nightmare for the next few weeks. What had been my saviour on the South Island of having my own transport was now the biggest annoyance of being in a city.

Lush empty roads on the South Island

That first night I met up with Beth who was a friend of my friend Morgan from Queenstown. I got directions to the supermarket, got a banging bottle of vino and went to meet Beth. Safe to say we got along really well and have had many adventures since. That night however was eventful in more ways than one as well simply put I tripped over my own feet/pavement and ended up spraining my right ankle pretty badly. I got it checked out at the hospital the next morning (after proceding to dance on it for 3 hours after the incident…) and thankfully it wasn’t broken so the doctor strapped it up, gave me strong painkillers, and a pair of crutches to get on with. Not exactly the dreamy start to Wellington as I had envisioned.

One of my adventures with Beth in the wind, rain and sheep sh*t

So this was major mishap number one. Not being able to walk in a new city to explore, find a job, make friends, get food, or move my car was a real struggle. After a couple of days of rest and ice, I ditched the crutches and hobbled off to meet the team at the SMC. We agreed I would start the following week giving me time to settle in (and mend) before I started work there. I now needed a part time job for extra money as the internship wasn’t going to pay very well. Whilst limping home I walked into the first pub/restaurant I saw and got offered an induction straight away without any previous hospo experience. Score!

The waterfront in Wellington harbour

So less than a week in I had an internship, a part time job, and friends so all that was missing was a home. I had it in my head that I wanted/needed to move out of the hostel and into a rented room in a house or flat. I liked the social aspect of the hostel but after sharing a room for the last 6 months I was ready to have my own space, especially since I was expecting to stay in Wellington for the next 6 months. Flat hunting was entertaining to say the least, I met the most interesting people and saw all manner of homes. It took me a good while to find a place where the price, location and people were right for me. Eventually, I moved into an awesome house in Thorndon (conveniently close to my work) with true Wellingtonians. I had a spacious downstairs bedroom with basically my own bathroom to use and parking on our driveway. Winner!

Unfortunately the view from my new room is no where as awesome as this view from my old room in Queenstown

However, money was a big stress for me. I basically ran out in my first few weeks and had to rely on my overdraft which I hadn’t wanted to do. But I really didn’t want to have to borrow money from my family, as this trip and venture was my own and I wanted to be completely independent. Everything was starting to add up, from the house requiring a deposit plus extra money to buy a bed and curtains to my car breaking down and needing to be fixed. Plus I wasn’t getting as many hours as I would of liked at the pub and although I did get some money from my internship it wasn’t alot. It wasn’t a lot of fun living in a new city with no money. I wanted to explore and eat and drink and visit places which is pretty hard to do on a skint as budget. But I got by, as you have to.

Sylvia enjoying the sunshine with a view at Nelson Lakes

After 6 weeks at the internship I felt it was time for me to leave. I had an awesome time learning all about the work they do, helping out on their new website and writing short news pieces. I made some excellent contacts and I am happy that I have done something in the field I am interested in. But now it was time to move on and get a full time job (and more money). I signed up to a temping agency for office work and a week or so later got a job at the Ministry of Education working in their Data Quality team and quit the pub. So for the moment I am thoroughly enjoying regular healthy paychecks. (I also did the odd shift at the Rugby/football stadium, a law firm and as a receptionist at a big corporation inbetween interning)

The view from the Skyline Trail running behind Wellington City

So I now I have a reliable job with money, my car is fixed and I’ve got an awesome place to live. So it seems for the moment, my life here has reached a steady level and I have turned into the mindset of “living for the weekends” as well as “saving for Asia”. I am trying to make the most of the days off and explore as much of the greater Wellington area as I can. By being stuck in the city I don’t feel much like a traveller anymore. Well let’s be honest I’m not, I have rent to pay, a 9-5 job and a gym membership. I have given up my travellers hat for the time being and am embracing being a temporary Wellingtonian. I am excited to see what that will bring over the next few months!

Exploring Red Rocks

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