I can’t quite believe it, but I’m finally in New Zealand.
The two-day journey was expectedly unpleasant – minor but constant turbulence on flight #1 which my meds barely took the edge off, being delayed and stuck in Guangzhou airport for 10 hours alone, hopelessly sleep deprived and without social media (I never knew the Chinese regime was so militant!). The second flight was more bearable. I think I was so tired and Valium-riddled by this point that no amount of aviophobia could keep me awake. After the first meal, I drifted in and out of consciousness and didn’t fully wake up until we were flying over Brisbane. By then, the excitement of closing in on my long-awaited destination became overpowering. I enthusiastically tried to overcome the language barrier with the Asian lady beside me, pointing between photos of Tom and the terminus glowing on the in-flight tracking system. Willing us safely on, I watched the miles rush by until we at last touched down in Christchurch.
After getting my luggage from the conveyor belt ridiculously quickly, and passing the hand luggage biosecurity checks, the ‘exit’ doors were in sight, concealing Tom from view for the last precious moments of our four-month long distance marathon. I went through the final security checks where your main luggage is x-rayed (biosecurity – keeping invasive plant and animal material out – is a huge deal in NZ, threatening signs being plastered all over the arrivals terminal), excitedly glancing between watching my bags come through smoothly and the tantalisingly close sliding doors. Then, as if to add one final flourish of drama to the journey, bag number three ominously slid to the far side of the conveyor – the side reserved for biosecurity concerns. I started to inwardly panic, running over any possible criminal contents. What on earth could be the issue? I’d been super careful to remove anything that could be deemed a breach in the law, having taken the time to savvy up on NZ arrival protocols, already declared the walking boots I was wearing… I watched other unfortunate tourists have their bags searched by the burly (and very intimidating) staff, some taken away with the illicit items for interrogation. Eventually, the largest of the guards brought over my bag.
“Is this yours?” He asked. Even his voice was menacing.
I nodded, and a series of questions regarding the contents of my bag ensued. I was shown the x-ray, which had strangely shaped area in the bottom-left corner circled in red. The security guy didn’t seem too happy that I couldn’t tell him what the item was – I literally had no idea – and I was asked to open my bag to let him search. Moving expertly to the area in question, the guard gingerly picked out the culprit: my tiger wheatie-bag. I couldn’t believe it. After a hasty explanation of what it was, and the guard muttering in return that they had mistaken the contents for seeds, the ordeal was over and I was sent on my way, cheeks glowing with embarrassment. How ironic that the subject my boyfriend moved here to study almost got me deported as soon as I arrived – and all for a microwavable cuddly toy.
And so, at long last I was free to enter the world lay beyond those hallowed doors. I won’t go into the details of our reunion, but let’s just say running at Tom and leaping into his arms made everything worthwhile.
So now, I’m busy settling into a new house, in a new country, in a new life. It’s strange (and definitely not my favourite thing) living in student accommodation again, although the house itself is really spacious and nice. Most of the houses here are kind of cutesy detached bungalows, and ours is no exception. My favourite part is the wrap around garden, full of flowers and a vegetable garden and Hank – the giant, lolloping puppy owned by our flatmates. Tom and I will be looking for our own place once I’m sorted with a job, and hopefully getting a pet or two to start our little kiwi family.
The morning after my arrival, Hank was so overwhelmed by my sudden presence in his life that he unceremoniously peed on our bed. I’m not talking a little excited dribbling, I mean full-on squatting and letting it flow. It might be the jetlag, but I found it pretty hilarious, and it certainly made for a memorable introduction.
The week flew by in a whirlwind of exploring, errand running, strange sleep patterns and meeting too many new people to remember the names of. We traversed Riccarton mall for phone and bank essentials, ate the most amazing ‘animal rights’ burger and far too many other takeouts, tested the local cinema and spent at least 20 minutes deliberating over which bedside lamp to buy in a store – did someone say old married couple??? One evening we met up with Tom’s research group at cool bar/restaurant called the Laboratory a short walk from home – everyone seemed so nice and it really helped my anxiety about making friends here. Tom’s supervisor even brought along his adorable 14 month old daughter Zelda – such a badass and quirky name which I feel makes my own unusual choices a little more socially acceptable. By far though, our trips to the local coastlines in the blazing sunshine were the best fun. By Thursday my jetlag was subdued enough for a day at the beach – here’s some snaps of us at New South Brighton:
Our plans to go on a mini-camping trip up into the mountains this weekend were rescheduled after a small bout of homesickness the night before, and we decided to instead do some more local exploring and make sure I’m properly set up to start job applications galore. After addressing the boring stuff like IRD numbers and phone plans, on Sunday, the last day of freedom before Tom had to get his head stuck back into his PhD, we decided to take a day trip around the Port Hills and Governor’s Bay. Aside from a heated debate on the benefits of spiritualism, we had the most beautiful day. You can check out what we got up with this cute video…
(shout out to Avalanche City, a band I’ve loved for years and only recently discovered is kiwi!)
Despite the profound beauty of the landscapes and super-friendly locals, my favourite thing is still laying in bed with Tom, just cuddling and catching up on lost time. At the end of the week, we were dozing beside one another, and our bleary-eyed conversation went a little like this:
Me: Thank you for showing me around and looking after me this week
Tom: Thank you for coming
I would have said ‘no problem’, but…