Sarah takes us through her year in New Zealand; from being an Au Pair in New Plymouth to traveling through the country via train. She wanted to share her epic adventure with others!
I signed up to Work in New Zealand with BUNAC (highly recommended, by the way), and after a lot of help from them getting flights and visas etc. sorted, I made my way to London Heathrow. I left England on July 7th and my Dad and best friend were there to see me off. I was nervous, scared, excited, happy - so many different feelings!
I spent a few AMAZING days in Hong Kong with all the other BUNAC group flight'ers. The Group Flight trip was so much fun and something I am so glad I got to experience. It would be cool to go back to Hong Kong and spend a bit more time sightseeing when I'm not jet-lagged or hung over!
I had a job lined up well before I left the UK - I found a family on a backpackers website that wanted a live-in Au Pair, so after 2 fun-filled days in Auckland days with the others I got on a bus and headed to New Plymouth.
I can remember feeling so alone on the bus ride, I was in a strange country and didn't know anyone! This feeling lasted about 10 minutes ... and then I was just SO excited to be here, exploring this beautiful place. I couldn't wait for all the new things I knew I would experience.
I lived with a family for the first 4 months Au Pairing for their 4 children. I was so grateful that they were such a nice family - I had no idea what they would be like! My mom thought I was a bit crazy, picking a family with 4 children, but I trusted my instincts and I'm so glad that I did.
There is always something going on, the kids have tons of after school activities. It's a very busy house, and so much fun.
While I was there I was able to do some really cool things! I sledged on a Mountain, got a tattoo, participated in a chocolatiers course, took an art course, saw a live Rugby World Cup game, made a quilt, got a job in bar, shot a gun, went away on weekend trips, acted in a play (about birth, of all things!), went on countless bush walks, read 11 books, saw the Wellington Ukelele band live, touched a giant windmill on a wind farm and visited LOTS of museums. Ok, so some of those things weren't THAT cool, but the fact that I'm doing them UPSIDE down is pretty cool eh?!
Other than that, I was just 100% absorbed in family life . My days were filled with playing, entertaining, cleaning, cooking and all the other things that come with a family of 4 children.
I was in Stratford until November 24th and after that I hoped on a bus and back up to Auckland. I didn’t have a solid plan, but I thought a trip up north to Paihia was going to be the best idea for now
I spent my summer in Paihia, in a beach house up a huge hill which overlooked the bay. I managed to get a room in the house for $115 a week, well worth it for that view every morning! From a mountain to a beach - beautiful!
I found a job easily when I got to Paihia, I worked in a restaurant called Titos. I loved working there. It was a new place that had only been open for 3 months when I started, I learned how to make AWESOME coffee, and got to meet some cool people.
Christmas was a weird one! We decorated the house with snowflakes made of cut up pamphlets, and beermats with hand drawn pictures on, and my roommate made an advent calender. I had my Christmas dinner at work, then went for a swim in the sea, and then had Hash Browns for my 2nd Christmas dinner ... It was strange and I missed home, but I had a nice time.
New Years I spent on Waiheke Island which was beautiful! I went with Claire, Carl, Claire and Phil (all BUNACers)... We had SO much fun!
I bought a bus pass from a company called Stray Travel. The pass I bought was valid for 1 year, and allowed me to hop on or off where and whenever I liked along the route. I think it took me to 42 different places all over both Islands, and Stewart Island too. I was a bit unsure at first, moving on every day, knowing no-one etc, but I completely and totally loved it. I have been to Thames, Hot Water Beach, Hahei, Paeroa, Raglan, Waitomo, Maketu, Rotorua, Taupo, Whakahoro, Tongariro, Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Abel Tasman, Cape Foulwind, Pancake Rocks, Greymouth, Hokitika, Franz Joseph, Haast, Makarora, Wanaka and I am currently in Queenstown, about halfway done on my trip. I have been caving and seen glow worms, hiked a glacier, went on a lot of bush walks, seen some of the Lord of the Rings filming areas, partied in the Capital, saw a seal colony, enjoyed a traditional Maori night, hiked lots of mountains, corrupted a young American and laughed so hard I cried ... I have done so much I can't even remember!
And so it was time to leave New Zealand ... only temporarily of course! My destination? THAILAND!
After my trip to Thailand I spent another month with my Au Pair family in Stratford, before returning to the UK.
My advice to anyone is to travel. Anywhere. I truly believe there is nothing better for a person than to broaden their horizons - and what better way to do that than to go and experience life in a different culture, with different customs and ideals. Travel until you feel like you've seen what you want to. Don't say to yourself 'maybe one day ...' because before you know it 'maybe one day...' will have turned into 'I wish I had...'. Just do it!
Did Sarah's story inspire you to start a New Zealand adventure of your own? Contact us with any questions about the program!