Any country with penguins is good by me
July 10, 2007 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Heading to New Zealand for a year. I feel like I have a good handle on the basics of work and living, but I still have a lot of questions.

I'll be in New Zealand for a year beginning in September. I have a one-year work visa, obtained through BUNAC. Here's the plan: I fly into Auckland and make my way fairly quickly to Wellington, where I'd like to settle for four or so months. I've picked Wellington mainly because it's smaller and more manageable than Auckland and just seems a bit cooler. I want to earn as much money up front as possible. I have a list of temp agencies, businesses, and shops to contact. I also have a skill set that may allow me to freelance. After a few months of working and saving money, I'd like to start traveling around, picking up work when and where I can. Is this the best way to handle the whole working holiday thing? What's the best way to find rooms in central Wellington for sublet? Is there anything I should be doing, reading, watching before I go to help me prepare? I'm particularly interested in educating myself about the culture and politics of New Zealand and possibly getting involved with environmental or, more specifically, urban sustainability groups while I'm there.

I've read the previous NZ plans, but any other (general or specific) NZ advice is appreciated. Sorry about the anonymity. My employer doesn't yet know I'm leaving.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm under the impression that rooms for a period of months or more (ie flatting) are a more scarce than usual in Wellington at the moment, so I'd suggest checking the classifieds online in some local papers to get a feel for things.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:51 PM on July 10, 2007

How much you can earn will mostly depend on what you do. I know people who make a good living doing IT contract work of various kinds in the Wellington area and also people who make a decent living doing more admin/secretarial oriented temping in Auckland (we have a good temp market here). Assuming some level of savings and a useful skill set I don't see why you can't earn enough to be able to travel too. Now is a good time to be looking for work in NZ.

I mentioned places to look for jobs online in this question. They will give you a good idea of what the job market is like here and might help with your planning. For temp or contract jobs there are plenty of agencies around and they'll be listed in the yellow pages and/or advertise in the newspapers.

What's the best way to find rooms in central Wellington for sublet?

In my experience local newspapers are always the best way to find a flat in NZ, although I haven't lived in Wellington itself so there may be something else local I don't know about. There are also a few websites which are gaining steam: flat finder, nz flatmates (beware, stupid noisy ads on that one), and trademe. I've had luck finding short term flats with trademe and know someone in Hamilton who found a good flatmate through flat finder, but don't neglect the newspaper, word of mouth and local noticeboards and things (possibly around the Uni?).

possibly getting involved with environmental or, more specifically, urban sustainability groups while I'm there.

You may be interested in the Karori wildlife sanctuary in Wellington and associated groups. It's a cool concept, a big fenced off area of native bush right near the city. We had fun with NZ Forest and Bird when living in the lower North Island. They organise regular walks in the mountains and stuff and are experienced, something you'll need to keep in mind coming here (you can die from hypothermia even on a day walk in summer in NZ bush if you're not adequately prepared). Wellington is a really cool city so I'm sure there are other slightly more urban groups you'd be interested in too, hopefully someone more local will chime in.

As for culture etc, living here and talking to us and reading the newspaper and just participating is probably going to be the best way to learn. We're generally pretty friendly folk and openness on your part should be welcomed by us.
posted by shelleycat at 9:58 PM on July 10, 2007

I recommend following Wellingtonista for a while.

A good left-leaning blog with high standard writing on local affairs is Public Address.

The phrase you may be looking for for "rooms to sublet" is flatmate wanted.

I hope you have work permits etc organised - you can't just turn up here and get a job, unless you find someone willing to pay you "under the table".

Feel free to email me at address in profile with specific questions that arise.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2007

PS: as per tag guidelines, tag this thread "newzealand".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:59 PM on July 10, 2007

any other (general or specific) NZ advice is appreciated

General advice for somebody arriving in NZ in September?

Two words: All Blacks.

Two more: World Cup.

Take it from there, and I'm sure doors will open all over the place for you. Ignore my advice & you probably won't be able to join a conversation until 2008 (or until 21st October, as the case may be...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:43 AM on July 11, 2007

I found Michael King's A Penguin History of New Zealand (Amazon) to be an excellent and informative read. The country may be small and not uber-populated but there's a lot worth knowing and at least some of the history (probably a lot of it, really) informs what's going on in New Zealand today.

There are some smaller practical matters that it's worth being aware of. It's quite offensive/culturally insensitive to sit on tables, put your feet on tables, etc in many parts of the country in a way that it isn't in North America. Don't do it! And, if you plan on driving, know that traffic turning right (ie - across traffic) has the right of way over traffic turning left (ie - with traffic). This is the opposite of what you're almost certainly used to. As I'm sure you know, the scenery in New Zealand in spectacular. Try to spend some quality time outdoors. And, lastly, I heartily agree with UbuRoivas' advice about the rugby - get up on it and enjoy it! Wellington's a great city and New Zealand's a great country - you'll have a wonderful time.
posted by lumiere at 6:00 AM on July 11, 2007

You might want to check out Beethoven House. It's a hostel in Mt Victoria in Wellington. Very pretty suburb. At least then you'll have a place to stay while you look for a sublet (umm, flat -- good news is that one-year leases are not standard like they are in the US).

Umm, googled it: Beethoven House, 89 Brougham Street, Mount Victoria, Wellington +64 (0)4 939 4678.

Places to look that are cheap-ish but still close to downtown: Aro Valley, Mt Cook, or maybe out near the Basin Reserve & Athletic Park. Mt Vic, Oriental Parade, Thorndon and Roseneath are fantastic but more spendy. Karori & Northland are suburbs & really, really dull ;-) Beware of mold: many downstairs flats get pretty damp in the wintertime.

Wellington's a fantastic place to live - I miss it! Make sure you go to the Rialto movie theater and have a scoop of Kapiti feijoa ice cream.
posted by media_itoku at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2007

Don't forget to save Happy Valley.

Ignore my advice & you probably won't be able to join a conversation until 2008 (or until 21st October, as the case may be...)

Oh god let us be elimated as early as possible. Though maybe not so early that the weeping into beer brings on a national depression like the last time.*

Read about The Tour to start you off on culture and history etc. But seriously Wikipedia has a nice little page of event from this year. Some of it will give you leads into politics etc.

Don't know what line of work you are in but there are tons of govt jobs in Wellington. The Department of Labour has a list of skills shortages which may give you some ideas.

Be prepared for it to be cold. The temperature outside may not be that cold compared to what you're used to but NZ houses generally do not have central heating or air conditioning and are often drafty, poorly insulated and damp. Try to find a flat with sun. It's imperative in Wellington.

*Expressing such opinions in NZ is considered by some to be anti-social. First check how the person you are talking to feels about rugby. Once you've sussed out your audience, you can enthuse about/bash the sport as much as you like.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:47 AM on July 13, 2007

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