Settling into Wellington

We've been in Wellington for a month now so thought it was time for a little update. Wellington is the Capital of New Zealand with a population of 380,000, that's 200,000 less than Bristol. It is fantastic to walk around, even Becky (who has no sense of direction) has been able to navigate around.

We live in Oriental Bay on the side of Mount Victoria, it's an awesome place, our apartment sits between the town belt park and the waterfront next to the sea, it's a 20 minute walk into the city along the beaches and past the marina. It is a lovely walk, but nearly impossible to get anywhere quickly because there are coffee stops, beaches and ice cream shops demanding your time and dollars all the way into town.

As for jobs, I work for a printing company but more excitingly Bex works in Wellington Zoo with the Education Team! Becky has been helping out with the holiday clubs before starting in the office next week. Even these clubs are New Zealand crazy - 'be a keeper for the day' cleaning out cages, making enrichment tools and feeding. One group even made mouse and blood ice lollies for the tigers! It is a bit of a sharp learning curve, the indigenous species all have odd sounding names and pronouniation which Becky needs to get her tongue around! And that isn't even including all the native trees and plants. One big prononciation problem is that anything with 'wh' is said 'f', 'e' as in Becky is said 'i' as in Biccie (which is how Becky is pronounced!) 'r' is rolling and 'i' is said as 'u' as in 'fush and chups'. It is all very confusing, especially when many letters are missed out altogether!

We have been investigating lovely new places to eat, shop and places to visit every day. Our current favourite eatery is the Catfish sushi bar with a revolving middle table just like they have in movies! Nom nom nom! It is difficult not to eat everything with soy sauce and chopsticks. Yesterday we went to the Te Papa bush walk which is included in a waterfront walk, along the harbour and ticked off a native plant rockery, a giant face sculpture, galleries and museums and the fantastic City to Sea bridge which Bob the ray lives underneath and can be spotted lazing in the shallows on a warm day. the bridge is also next to a delicious cafe which sells gorgeous (and enormous) slices of cake.

We are enjoying soaking up the views from our apartment, day or night, the landscape is stunning. The port is directly opposite us, seeing cargo ships and the inter-islander docking a few times a day. The Beehive (the parliment building) is on the left hand side, surrounded by tall skyscrapers and restaurants. With rowers, swimmers, sail boats and jet boat racing happening on the water, we are never short of activity outside our window. In fact, Andy feels guilty if he doesn't run home from work as no one walks, but roller skates, cycles or power walks in and out of town.  In the evening, the brightly twinkling lights reflect in the water which looks even more impressive up on Mount Victoria.

One thing that is a bit of a culture shock is that every bus is on time. Every time! On Becky's first day at the zoo, she arrived an hour early just in case the buses didn't arrive. And they all have WiFi on which is very useful. We have adopted a snapper each(a travel card like the London Oyster card) but you can buy loads of stuff on it, from coffee to newspapers. Very useful indeed.  Becky could walk to work as it's only a few kilometres from home but unfortunately Mount Victoria and Mount Albert are in the way, I finished work early Thursday for easter so walked over the hills to meet Becky from the Zoo, that was an effort but has to be one of the best 'walks to work' ever with amazing views.

One big Wellington experience is the Sunday Market. Next to Te Papa, on the waterfront is a sprawling feast of fresh food, eggs, mobile bakeries, pizza and hotdog stalls, sausage and burgers. But the most impressive thing is the vast quantities of fresh fruit and veges. They are emptied from huge arctic containers and dirt cheap. We bought a huge bag of chillies for $3 which about £1.20, peppers (or capsicum) for 50p each, delicious avocados for a dollar and kiwi fruit for only a few more. We generally go for the atmosphere, the smell and colour but also you can stock up for the week on everything for about $12! (less than £6) It is always heaving, but that is no surprise!

We picked a little apartment in a good location rather than something bigger in town, this has had the added bonus of not needing to buy too much furniture to fill it. We had brilliant fun searching the reclamation and antique shops (lots of bartering) for our sofas and bed. The flat next door to ours is up for sale for a cool half a million dollars so we feel very lucky to live here. It has a very modern and spacious bathroom with a heated floor (very nice!) and a little very organised kitchen, the view is definately the highlight.  Our care package arrived from the UK last week so we now have a bit of wedding crockery, some photos and home comforts.

Becky loves that music in New Zealand shops is about 20 years behind the UK. In the supermarket I've heard Roxette (it must've been love) to Fresh Prince of Bel Air in a clothes shop this morning. It is very funny. Cutting edge music is Boyzone and Sting. Hmmm.

Looking forward to someone coming to visit! We're only a 20 minute bus trip from Wellington 'international' Airport :)