Well, we have kept ourselves busy! We have already looked round two flats, with two more to come. The first, which we saw on Sunday evening, was in a gorgeous location, high up on the hills, with bush all round. Right on the edge of Karori, which would be our ideal place to live. Unfortunately, it was also one of those places which was built right into the hill, with not a particularly fantastic access – on the lower side, it was a concrete slope at an angle of about 50 degrees, and on the upper side, it was a set of brick and slab steps, a number of which were broken or breaking (not the surest footing to inspire confidence). The flat itself was small and dark (and it didn't help that the boyfriend smoked – he was technically not breaking the “no smoking” conditions as the cigarette was outside the flat...), and given that the current tenants were the ones trying to find someone else, they hadn't cleaned up at all (knowing how long it took us to clean down our flat, and that they wanted to move out straight away, it didn't inspire me with confidence that we'd be moving into somewhere clean at all). Added to that, the roadway up there didn't have a pavement for a good 15 minutes of the walk, and the only local bus (which stopped when the pavement did) didn't run on a weekend, so we decided that it wasn't for us!
However, the flat that we looked round on Monday was amazing. It's out this side of town, in the Lower Hutt area (which means a 20 minute train journey into Wellington if we get jobs there), a beautiful semi-detached bungalow, with front and rear garden (including a greenhouse), huge rooms, and a brilliant location for local shops. (10 minutes walk in one direction to the main shopping mall, and 5 in the other to a number of takeaways, a butcher and greengrocer) We do have a couple more places to look round today, so we didn't jump on it straight away (also, the landlady is going to make a decision about who she wants to take it on Thursday – I hadn't realised that we were being interviewed as well!!) But if the two places today don't come to anything, then I really hope that we are able to get in there – it was lovely.
We also spent yesterday opening up our bank account – we didn't have to go all the way into Wellington itself after all, but just a short bus ride down to the Petone area. We then spent a good hour or so with the representative from Westpac, who was incredibly helpful. She explained a lot about NZ banking, including the places where it differs from the UK, and sorted out a bank account which actually won't give us any charges (unless we want to write a cheque, or get money from within a branch rather than an ATM or using our EFTPOS card (almost a debit card – it can't be used on-line, though). She's also set us up for electronic banking, which means that we can keep our interest-earning account (the migrant account that was set up for us in the UK), and just transfer money into our every day account as and when we need it. And if we can't get online, then we can actually transfer our money using the ATM – a fantastic innovation! We left there very impressed (and with our eftpos cards – they actually issue them then and there...!), and hope that our future service from the bank will be just as good.
We then had a good bimble round the Queensgate shopping mall in Lower Hutt – John needed a new pair of shoes that didn't bring his feet up in blisters, and I wanted a pair of slippers – we got those both at a very cheap department store, spending far less than we thought, so we treated ourselves to a very nice coffee / hot chocolate at a chocolate store (basically an upmarket Thorntons, which happens to do hot drinks as well – they gave away a free chocolate with every hot drink sold, and I was in heaven! I will have to do my best not to go past there every time we go to the mall, otherwise I think that the magnetism of the chocolate will drag me in...)
We are heading into Welly proper today – our diary is fully booked! I've got a meeting with a recruitment agent at 11, then we are going to look round a flat up in Karori at 12.30, then meeting up with another agent (who I met on the ENZ forums, and has already put me forward for one job) at 3, and then another flat at 6. Possibly finding some food at some point, and a bit of supermarket shopping (we have now used up all of our bread, fruit, veg and meat from our last shop, and I don't think we can exist on coffee and peanut butter for long!)