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!
I applied on a whim when I saw the ad for a Tandem Paragliding Assistant. I fit nearly all the qualifications… except I knew nothing about paragliding. Still, I was interested in getting into adventure tourism in NZ – what better place to gain experience in the field? Sure enough I was called for an interview and we planned to have training the next day!
|Paragliding "office view"|
I learned the first day how weather-dependent flying is, as our training had to be postponed due to rain. No worries, I at least had some potential income! Richard, my boss, had four assistants, so each of us took 1-2 days a week to be on call. I decided the first day we were up on the mountain that it was a pretty good place to work!
|A $12 balance can help stimulate the job search!|
Back in town, I continued my search for more regular employment and even put up some babysitting fliers around town. $12 in your bank account can make you feel a little desperate. I learned a great lesson in stretching each penny as I strived not to touch my American savings account or credit card! I became a master of spending no more than $20 on food each week, cutting out chocolate, alcohol, and entertainment from my budget, and getting creative with things like baked beans and pasta.
|Yoga in my room... a free activity!|
In addition, I found various activities to keep myself occupied for free. I read the Millenium series, updated my blog, took walks around town, donated blood, slacklined by the lake, practiced yoga, sat in my favorite tree, earned some Recreation Therapy CEUs, bugged the lady at the job agency, fought the urge to give in to my flatmates’ television habits, started a “soup train” and edited the dish every night for a week, and made friends with my flatmate’s Labradoodle.
I may not have had everything falling into my lap and fitting nicely into place, but I was living in a beautiful town where I knew I could stay for a while. Sure, there were moments where I felt like moving on to a different part of the country where I might have better luck on the job front, but for the most part I was happy to be here! I did feel a bit restrained when it came to fully experiencing the town (a community that relies on tourism doesn’t have that many free things to do) but there are heaps of ways to explore – and I still feel like haven’t even made a dent!
|Overlooking Roy's Peak, Mt. Alpha and Lake Wanaka|