We have lived in New Zealand now for a bit more than two weeks so it’s time to share our first thoughts and impressions here on the blog. As we have spent most of the time in the countryside doing volunteering, we haven’t seen that many places yet. But we have already formed some first impressions and here are some of them.
Many prices are not as bad as we expected. Yes, it is true that New Zealand is a very expensive country regarding many things. But we have also been positively surprised that some things are cheaper than in Finland. You can, for example, get a meal in an Asian restaurant for 5 euros as well as a bottle of local wine in the supermarket. On our first days, we also found cheap shopping places like The Warehouse, Kmart and Op shops which are local second-hand shops. Johanna bought a pair of second-hand jeans for 1,5 euros and several t-shirts for a couple of euros. We even found new clothes easily for 5 euros and under in the shops mentioned above. That’s not too bad! We might change our opinion about the prices though when we start traveling around at some point. And we have had some hard moments in the supermarket when even the basic products seem to be unbelievably expensive.
The weather changes like somebody just pushed a button. Even when the sun is shining from the blue sky, a heavy wind can suddenly start to blow, followed by a huge rainfall. The rain normally stops as quickly as it started but there is normally some rain every day. Many people have told that umbrellas are useless in Auckland as they break immediately in the heavy wind. Therefore a waterproof coat with a hood is the thing here. Luckily the summer is around the corner and the temperatures are already close to 20 degrees.
It’s nice to understand everything and to be able to talk with anyone. This the first English speaking country on our trip which makes communication easy. Even though the New Zealand accent has its own tricks, it has been super easy to deal with all the everyday things and we haven’t had any language barrier even once.
People are laid-back and friendly. When we used the bus for the first time without any bus cards or sufficient cash, the bus driver sold us a children’s ticket and just told to get the bus card for the next ride. The cashiers in the shops throw relaxed small talk and the service is nice overall.
Auckland is a very international city. There are lots of people from different countries on the streets and you can hear many different languages all the time. Especially the Asian cultures are strongly visible here and Auckland has lots of Asian restaurants and ethnic grocery stores. This is only good for us because if we happen to miss Korea or Vietnam, we can treat our longing easily.
New Zealand has many common things with Finland. Besides the same size of the population, there are also many other things that remind us about Finland especially after staying in Asia. Clean and quiet streets, the buildings in Auckland city center and supermarkets make us occasionally forget that we are on the other side of the world. Other common things with Finland are also a high-quality health care and paying aid money like student allowance.
Updating the blog is challenging because of the time difference. After we came to New Zealand, we had to start thinking about our blogging schedules in a different way. Normally we try to update the blog at times that are ideal for Europeans which means early evenings. With a 10-hour time difference, this basically means spending time at the computer early in the morning or scheduling the posts automatically. We are still looking for our rhythm but we will hopefully soon find an ideal time for this as well.
Overall, we have very positive feelings about New Zealand and our new life phase. We have spent this week arranging flat and job-related things and a lot has happened in a couple of days. More about that later. We will soon write about how to get the New Zealand working holiday visa and what kind of costs there are in the process.