Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me ....."

Autumn is here. Its getting dark by 5.30 in the afternoon and we can no longer go round in just t-shirts and shorts (although a significant number of rather odd people seem to be immune to the cold and wear flip flops and shorts year round).
This week has been extremely busy. Having put in our Expression of Interest a few weeks ago, we have now been invited to apply for residency. So I have been organising medicals, police certificates and all the other information that immigration needs to check that we are who we say we are and we are not going to cost the health service loads of money.
All these things cost loads of money. If you are planning to apply for residency be warned! It will be a significant strain on your bank account. I was shocked to be quoted over $1000 for our medicals. This does not include the cost of the X-rays that are needed to check we have not caught any nasty diseases in the time we have been in the country. We had all this done only 14 months ago just before we arrived in New Zealand but apparently it all needs to be done again.

I have been repeating the mantra - "It will all be worth it in the end!"

New Zealand is a long way from anywhere else. Although I knew this when we first moved here it has been driven home this week.

Any visits home will always cost a fortune. We accepted this when we moved here and planned for it. However the unexpected always happens. I have a very important family occasion this September that we had been planning to go back to the UK for. However we need to apply for residency sooner than expected and the cost of it has been a bit of a surprise so we have had to postpone our visit.

It has been a really difficult decision and I know that we have disappointed a lot of people but it appears that these are the kind of decisions you face when you move this far from everyone you care about. It is, I guess, one of the biggest pitfalls of living in New Zealand.

We introduced the girls to the joys of Wagamama and a bit of Japanese food. They weren't very impressed with the food but they liked the chopsticks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Residency, Visas, Permits and all the other hoops!

This week I have been mostly filling in forms!

I thought I had completed all the steps in order to teach in this country but I was sorely mistaken. Not only do you have to send off all your qualifications and proof of your work experience and get them checked by the New Zealand Qualification Council (cost $200), plus get a work permit or visa (cost $200), but you also have to pay another $200 to get registered with the Teachers Council. I understand the reasons behind it and think that all these professionals looking after children need to be thoroughly vetted but blimey - its a lot of paper work.

We have also begun to complete our residency application forms so we now have to start getting medicals, more police certificates and the rest. I just keep reminding myself it will be worth it in the end.

To remind us why we love this country so much we took the girls to Belmont Regional Park and took a walk to Korakora dam.

My girls have been obsessed with finding bugs and anything small and creepy. So my husband, who helpfully has been equally enthusiastic, found these lovely exoskeletons from (we think) cicadas. Lovely aren't they!
Jungle explorers studying bugs.
My two intrepid mountain climbers.

It was a long walk for the girls but the view at the end was well worth it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Autumn Sunshine and stalking cows at Battle Hill

I love this time of year. The air is fresh and crisp but the sunshine is still warm. We took the girls to Battle Hill Farm again today but decided on taking a different route and completed the "red route".

This area is the scene of one of the last battles between the Government forces and Maori led by Te Rangihaeata in 1846. The Government forces outnumbered Te Rangihaeata's men by over 200 but still no one can apparently claim victory. Eventually Te Rangihaeata fled north to Levin and the land was sold for farmland. In 1987 the land was sold to Wellington Regional Council when it became the Farm park it is today.

I like cows, I think they have beautiful faces but I also find them slightly scary. They tend to follow you in a menacing and somewhat threatening way. Its as if they are sizing you up. If they think you are looking at them in the wrong way they will squash you like the tiny flies that constantly surround them. My husband thinks I'm nuts and he is probably right but i still find walking through fields of cows very nerve racking. This cow decided we were really interesting and stalked us for a good twenty minutes. Very scary!

The Swampy Gully.
Taking a well earned break.

Celebrations as the summit is reached.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lift off in Levin

This Saturday night we braved the traffic on the SH1 and headed out towards Levin to watch the Balloon Night Glow event. The Levin Balloon festival is on for the whole of the Easter weekend and involves mass ascensions, splash and dash games and other events to highlight the balloonist (balloon pilots?) skills. We decided to go and see the Night Glow as it sounded spectacular and we weren't disappointed.

It felt rather risky watching the balloon's inflate. We were allowed really close and were told to just run very fast if at any minute it looked like it was going to move in our direction. Really good safety measures!

I am not sure if A really understood what was going on or why we were sitting in a field watching very big balloons being blown up, but I think she enjoyed it.

As dusk fell the scene became surreal as all the balloons began to inflate on mass.

The small wicker baskets do not look at all secure or strong enough to me.

I was really surprised that we were allowed so close to the balloons - what with the huge flaming gas jets everywhere!

It was clearly a late night for everyone!

Beautiful and somewhat alien looking shapes in the night.