To start, a quote from The Hobbit, watched on our flight from Hong Kong to Auckland (flight 2 out of 3). Gandalf says to Bilbo: “The world isn’t in maps and books. It’s out there.”
Hayley and I aren’t venturing through goblin-infested lands to steal a magical stone. But Gandalf answers the question that lots of people have been asking me, and that admittedly I asked myself a few times: “Why are you going to New Zealand?” (and what they’re really asking is: “Why aren’t you getting a job?”).

People still underestimate the value of travel. They have clearly never moved to the other side of the world with a truly awesome friend and made a life for themselves. We may not be facing the same toils as Bilbo Baggins, but the last week has proved we are on our own kind of unexpected journey… We came with a plan to find a job and flat in Wellington, taking trips on weekends. We are now moving to a small town on the West coast of the South Island called Greymouth to work in a hotel, travelling via Abel Tasman National Park on a 5-day hike. And it was not a simple road to this point. But keep a good humour and a good nature, and not only will everything work out fine, but you’ll have an insanely good time.

A week into our life in Wellington, proof of Gandalf’s wisdom could not be plainer. No amount of Lonely Planet reading could have given us a sense of this small and lovely capital. Initially we felt underwhelmed – its status as a capital city is definitely misleading. But a week in and I’m blaming that initial low on the human desire for instant satisfaction. And perhaps the haze of jetlag. I expected the city to fulfil my hopes and dreams within 3 hours of arriving. But Wellington is a city in which to spend time and enjoy living. It may not have a long list of “must-see” sights to be recorded in a photo. In fact, the first information leaflet we perused listed the same library twice in the city’s Top 10 Attractions. But Wellington has a bounty of places which just make living great. A personal favourite is the Karaka café/bar by the water – sit on a beanbag with a pint, wearing a sunhat* and enjoying the view, and you’ll wonder why you might live anywhere else.

So why are we leaving Wellington? New Zealand is a country to be travelled. By staying in one city, we wouldn’t be playing to the country’s strengths. A Working Holiday Visa is designed for short-term work, followed by incredible adventures. But the great thing about being away is that every day is new and one to be remembered. So keep reading here if you want some helpful travel advice for New Zealand, and any persuading that making the trip is a fantastic idea!

*Bring sun-cream – the UV is much stronger here!