Wandering to Windy Wellington, New Zealand
After just two days of being in Auckland, it was time for us to head to Wellington, New Zealand.
Wait, you just got to Auckland, and you’re already heading to Wellington?
The short answer is, Yes. But of course it’s more complicated than that. Our initial plan had included us sleeping in at least 5 different places between the USA and New Zealand in just over a 2 month period before finding a place to settle in for a few months of continuity. We had initially planned on just landing in Auckland and staying there while we put together a plan, but circumstances swayed us to come down to Wellington.
I don’t think anyone has been more aware of our plans to move to New Zealand than our friends Simon and Sally Eyre (pronounced “air”, like Jane Eyre we came to learn). Simon and I met online back in 2010 as enthusiasts on a carnivorous plant forum (yes, I used to grow a large variety of carnivorous plants as a hobby and Simon still does). I had mentioned back then that we were hoping to move to New Zealand and Simon mentioned that he lived there. His wife Sally then introduced herself over Facebook, and we’ve been talking ever since.
When we mentioned to Sally that we were FINALLY actually going to make it to New Zealand, and after Sally gave a perfectly non-committal response that sounded like “sure you are…”, she proffered a suggestion. It was roughly, “If you aren’t solid on your plans to live in Auckland, why don’t you come down to Wellington where I can help you a bit easier”.
Divinity and I noodled on this for a few days and ultimately decided that it sounded like a great idea. Beyond her helping us get settled in, we also knew she had two daughters close in ages to our own daughters and that it would help ease the burden of changing our children’s world if they had friends to play with.
So catching back up with the story, we jumped on a one way flight from Auckland to Wellington. Our kids were now quite proficient at the whole airplane thing and having invented all manner of things to do to while feeling bored, they settled in for some light reading.
After a short flight, we arrived on a lovely overcast Wellington day.
Meeting the Eyres
Once we had landed and exited the plane, all of the children once again had to use the restroom and after getting them squared away, we wandered out of the terminal to meet our dear friend and stranger, Sally Eyre. As we walked out, we could easily pick out the only person standing to the side holding a colorful sign made by her and her daughters welcoming our motley crew to Wellington. Hugs were exchanged and we were all excited to meet this mythical, nearly Mary Poppins like person who had helped us out in so many ways prior to actually meeting her.
Sally took us on a tour of the airport and showed us all of the awesome Lord of the Rings related features it held. I didn’t capture a picture of it, but the airport literally says on the side of it where you can clearly see it while landing, “Middle of Middle Earth”.
After our brief tour, we went downstairs to collect our mountain of luggage and Sally whisked the family away in her car on a scenic route to our lodgings while I jumped into a shuttle to get our rental car.
We arrived at the AirBnB property that we had selected a few months earlier to meet Karen, our hostess, who invited us into her home. The kids ran off excitedly to explore the home while we listened to Karen’s instructions and got the keys. Karen also pointed out as she walked out the door that she had baked us a cake for our arrival.
Yes Americans, that is a cake. No frosting, and vaguely resembling one of our favorite things to cook, banana bread. It was quite dense, but very most and had some kind of caramelized coconut baked into the top. Naturally, the kids all made funny faces and Kaitlyn especially turned her nose up at it, but we were starving and all had a slice. It was quite tasty! Sure, like most things here, there was a lot less sugar than we were used to, but it was good all the same.
Sally left us for an hour so that we could settle in and relax a bit (as if) and we took in our surroundings. The home had a beautiful view of the Otari-Wilton Bush https://youtu.be/zEajZBNG7Vg.
The Bush is a beautiful preserve filled with the native plants of New Zealand and I went there several times to wander around and even got lost once for about an hour. Why “exercise” when you can hike around a place that is as beautiful as this.
Once we got settled in, Sally came back over with her girls to meet us and then we went over to Sally’s home, where she was already hosting her “Mum” from the UK and we spent the afternoon chatting and getting to know each other for real. They Eyre’s were and continue to be so kind to us and prepared dinner so that we wouldn’t have to venture out.
One last fun experience before I wrap up the post. As we were getting the tour from Karen about her home, Sally noted that the house had Sky TV, and immediately burst out asking Karen if she had the sports channels. When Karen said it did, Sally immediately turned to us and said she’d be coming over to watch the last round of the Bledisloe Cup rugby tournament between the New Zealand All Blacks and Australia. We were thrilled at the prospect.
When I had come over to New Zealand in 2010, one of the only things I did during my brief stay was learn a bit about Rugby from watching the All Blacks on TV with some friends of mine. From that period in my life, I already had a brief introduction to the sport but the rest of the family didn’t know what to expect. It appears that the family is fairly split on the topic of Rugby. Taya and Evan got really into the game, joining Sally and I with the jumping and shouting, while Divinity and Kaitlyn took to reading books and occasionally glancing up to see what all the ruckus was about.
In what wound up being a nerve racking game where the All Blacks didn’t put on their best performance, the All Blacks still won the game in tremendous fashion, 37-10.
We’re grateful to be in Wellington, New Zealand and to have finally met in person our dear friends the Eyres. While much of the future is still unknown to us, we’re confident that we’ll be spending at least a few months here in the capital of New Zealand. While colder than we were expecting, it’s a beautiful city built into the mountain side and right next to the ocean. Now we hope to hunker down, get stabilized, and start exploring the country!