A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

Christmas Down Under

rain 20 °C

It's been 3 weeks so I guess it's time for an update....

On our way to see the Foo Fighters at Western Springs we got the call to say our tender had been accepted on the house! Now we just had the little matter of getting my money from the UK so we could pay the deposit. This proved to be a lot more difficult than we anticipated. Knowing that my letter had been received by the Halifax I decided to chase it up with a phonecall only to be told that I had been misinformed and that requesting money by letter is no longer the proceedure and that the only way I can I can access that much in one go is in person! After speaking to various managers and supervisors over several phonecalls I was still getting nowhere and promptly sat on the floor crying at 2am! I was then told to call my bank manager and after explaining the whole situation between sobs she eventually agreed to release my money! When I woke in the morning it was sitting in my bank account. So the moral of the story is, if you are moving abroad sort all your finances out before you leave the country. It all worked out in the end and our settlement day is February 28th, yippee!

We joined our neighbours for a journey along Franklin Road in the city last weekend. All the houses and businesses are covered in a multitude of lights ranging from the classy tasteful kind to brash and tacky! By the time we arrived there the road was bumper to bumper with cars and the pavements were heaving with people admiring the displays and taking photos! Next we headed to the viaduct to make a wish at the telecom wishing tree. The tree of lights is HUGE and at the bottom there are phoneboxes for you to tell Santa what you wish for, as you tell him the lights on the tree change colour as they travel up to the top. It's very pretty!

On Christmas day we headed to Hamilton for Christmas lunch with a lot of Gerald's family (27 of us I think!). I have never seen so many presents under a tree before! The youngest ones in the family handed out all of the gifts and before long the living room carpet was littered in wrapping paper. Hours later we headed off to the second destination of the day, Whitianga. We had a couple of lazy days exploring the area with a bit of geocaching, eating fish and chips, shopping and hanging out in the sunshine.

We got a quite a few vouchers for Christmas so Wednesday was spent at the sales getting lots of bargains for the new house. It was nice coming home with a car stuffed full of goodies without having to touch our bank account!

Next weekend we are doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is a trek of about 19km over steep terrain. The weather can be very unpredictable so we have bought all the gear we may need to aid us in our venture. Yesterday Gerald decided that I should break my hiking boots in before we do the trek, suggesting we go to the Waitakere Ranges for a little trek and try to find some geocaches along the way. So we jumped in the car and headed west for about 50 minutes thinking we were about to embark on a pleasant walk of about 3 or 4 hours. How wrong we were!!! 7 hours later we arrived back at the car after crossing the twin peaks of the ranges climbing up to over 1400ft! We had to cross rivers, navigate our way through tracks of deep, oozing mud, climb under/over fallen down trees and traipse through tracks that were so overgrown you could barely see them. It was most definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. For about the last hour of our trek it rained making the decent back down even more difficult and causing me to fall more than once. We were both extremely pleased to get back to the car and get out of our very muddy boots. Boots which are most definitely broken in!!! We did find six geocaches along the way and we were the first people to find three of them as they had only been hidden in the last few days. By the time we were on the road again the rain was torrential and looking back at the Waitakere Ranges I couldn't even see the tops as the cloud was so low. We were very lucky that we finished when we did as it would have been an impossible journey down with that amount of rain.
All that remains to say is HAPPY NEW YEAR! We hope 2012 brings good health, wealth and happiness to all xxx

Posted by bumblebum 12:57 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Summer days in New Zealand - yippee!!!

sunny 25 °C

Well, as of December 1st, summer officially arrived here in New Zealand and this week has been beautiful with blue skies and temperatures of up to 25 each day.

I now have just 4 teaching days left of this school year. The principal has decided to have a HUGE shuffle up with staff and classrooms, almost every teacher is changing the year group they are teaching and the buildings around school are all being reassigned so I spent yesterday shifting from my little temporary, makeshift classroom into my new one. It has been like an upgrade from economy to first class! Christmas has definitely come early....I now have a considerably larger room that is light, bright and spacious with a huge teacher only area and a seperate little area which will be perfect for small group work and role play etc. Obviously this means my school have decided to keep me on which is great as I don't have to go looking around for a new job and I get to stay with the New Entrants which is what I prefer. It is also good from the point of view of getting a mortgage....

Gerald and I have been doing quite a lot of househunting over the past few weekends and have seen some nice places. One was a 1920's weatherboard villa with all the original features. It was really beautiful but when we went back for a second look we realised it was a little too cosy and when family and friends with their children come to stay we would be on top of one another. A few other houses were also great but we were pretty sure they were potential leaky homes as they were too good to be true price wise. For those of you outside of New Zealand, lots of homes that were built around 10 years ago have developed leaks due to the materials and the way they were constructed, it has cost hundreds of thousands to repair in some cases and has been a big government issue. Even if a house hasn't got leaks as yet they still have the potential to do so in the future and so we are staying well clear! After visiting lots of homes and finding things in each that we just didn't like we have been drawn back to the new suburb, Stonefields. We have been visiting their showhomes and houses ready for purchase regularly ever since we arrived in Auckland and this week we found out the showhome that we have loved from the minute we saw it is now up for tender. We have spent this week trying to get everything organised in order to put an offer in. We now have a solicitor and a pre-approved mortgage deal so it was just a case of transferring the money from my UK account for the deposit. This is where everything went completely pear shaped!!! I spoke to my money exchange agent and got a good exchange rate in place and just had to transfer the money to their account but my bank, Halifax, would not let me exchange that amount of money in one go. It is limited to £25,000 a day and with a cost of £25.00 for each transfer. The tender closes on Monday so this option was not going to work......apparently I have to apply in writing to get access to my own money if the amount is above £25,000. So I have sent off a letter and we have been advised to put in an offer on the house anyway with a covering letter explaining our situation. The very nice people at HiFX money exchange said they will extend my contract date until my money is released so even if the exchange rate drops they will honour the rate they offered me. The exchange rate has been so up and down recently this is great to know. For now we have done all we can, we will put our tender in and keep our fingers crossed that they like our offer and can see we are serious about it. They take 5 working days to make up their minds so we should know before Christmas whether we will be moving into a lovely house on February 28th or not!!!! Here are a few photos if any of you are interested....p4c733391e1957.jpgp486b0aa28148e.jpg
Anyway apart from continuing our fitness stint and another morning volunteering at the cats home that just about sums up our latest events.
Send positive thoughts our way and hopefully next time we blog it will as future home owners.

Posted by bumblebum 21:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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