Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Job Searching on a Budget

Once I moved into my first NZ flat, I spent the next three weeks in a routine of getting to know Wanaka, searching for a job, finding climbing partners, and contributing to Blog4NZ.  On Wednesdays, I went out in the morning to get my copy of The Messenger and sit by the lake to read through the ads looking for work. Thursdays I headed up to Basecamp, the indoor/outdoor rock climbing gym, to volunteer with their youth climbing club after school. The other days of the week I spent writing cover letters, dropping off CV’s, going to interviews, wandering around town, updating my blog, and finally catching up with some friends from back home.

View from my room

I applied to numerous restaurants, ski fields, the local swimming pool, Wanaka Paragliding, and inquired at nearly every establishment I could think of that might need staff. Unfortunately the resounding message from most places was still that I had arrived at the wrong time. I was able to remain hopeful with the occasional interview, and finally saw a glimmer of hope with the paragliding job!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Dogs, Marquees, and Keeping House

I set out again with a handful of CV’s and a positive attitude. I stopped at restaurants, retail shops, bars, and even walked out to the local vineyard trying to encourage someone to hire me. The general consensus was that nobody was hiring yet, but come back in a couple months and I should be sweet. Sometimes employers wouldn’t even take my CV to give me a false sense of hope.

Through the job agency, I arranged to do a shift at the hotdog stand during the A&P (Agricultural & Pastoral) Show that weekend. To translate, that means working the food cart at the county fair! While I was in the job agency office arranging it, I also heard the lady on the phone struggling to find “guys” for a shift on Sunday. I asked what the shift was doing – emphasizing my past experience doing stage/technical crew work, and explaining that I can hold my own around “strong guys.” After some hesitation, she gave in and signed me up to help take down the marquees at the conclusion of the A&P Show. Sweet as. I was only in town for a few days before I already had two random jobs arranged to earn some income!

I left my couchsurfer host (Tony)’s place early enough to walk all the way downtown and found the main gate at the show grounds. I was stopped at the gate and asked to show my staff pass, which of course I didn’t have. They insisted I would instead have to pay to enter the show grounds, but I wasn’t about to pay in order to earn money. I called the contact number I was given, and waited for one of the hotdog stand chefs to come retrieve me. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Welcome to Wanaka

When I first determined that I was definitely headed to New Zealand, it was right around the time that my brother, Keith, and sister-in-law, Cristin, were on their honeymoon. They spent three weeks traveling around New Zealand, and upon their return had quite a slideshow to present! They were able to explain their impressions of different areas of the country, and seemed eager to tell me where to live. Of all the places they visited, they recommended a town called Wanaka.

Wa-Na-Ka. It sounded so foreign at the time! The only way for me to remember it was by noting how it rhymed with Hanukkah. Keith described how it was similar to Queenstown (the adrenaline capital of the world) but less touristy. They assured me there were just as many outdoor adventure activities, but not quite as many shops or tourists. Cristin talked about the spectacular views and both showed off pictures from their visit. The town sits right on Lake Wanaka, nestled in some beautiful mountains, and, upon a bit more research, I discovered it has heaps of climbing crags quite close to town!

I was sold. Though, I continued to consider alternate places to spend a good portion of my time. I found that Nelson was also in close proximity to some outdoor climbing, and was also attracted by its location in wine country. Nelson is at the top of the South Island and competes with another nearby town for the most sunshine days in the country. I determined that both Nelson and Wanaka were going to be places to spend some time, and decided that Nelson’s weather sounded ideal in the summer, and Wanaka looked like the perfect ski town to spend my winter!