Moving to New Zealand didn’t come without a few speed bumps, a few very early on too. If you’re going to move abroad don’t expect everything to go perfectly smoothly because honestly it won’t and that is a promise we can make with confidence. Some of the problems we ran into weren’t our fault and some were 100% our fault. Our first mistakes in New Zealand taught us a lot.
Mistake #1 – Book a hostel early
We had planned on originally staying in Queenstown, living and working there, but that certainly didn’t go as planned. The lesson we learned was to book a place to stay when we arrived a lot earlier. We tried to book a hostel about two weeks before our flight, shouldn’t be a problem right? WRONG. When we actually looked for a hostel to stay in we discovered there wasn’t anything available, and we mean anything. Which forced us to find a different town to welcome us into the country. Wanaka was the next closest town and at first glance there weren’t any hostels there either, second glance we got lucky and got the last private double room in the town. Our second week we got lucky again and managed to obtain a room in Queenstown. Looking back, we probably should have booked a place to sleep maybe two months before we arrived.
Mistake #2 – Research the job market, once, twice and a third time.
We took a surface look at the jobs and thought, ‘oh ya tons of jobs’ but upon arrival it was a whole different ball game. Jobs don’t last long in Queenstown or even Wanaka during their busy winter months, places in Wanaka even had signs up saying they didn’t require help. During the summer months it is easier to find jobs because more places are usually open. We certainly didn’t expect to have such a hard time finding jobs.
Mistake #3 – Underestimating the availability of houses
We extremely underestimated the housing market. We had been looking for housing pretty extensively before leaving and even though there wasn’t a lot of apartments available it wasn’t extremely slim. We figured it would be just a matter of setting up quite a few places to view upon our arrival. Although when we got there people who had managed to found jobs were still living in hostels because actually obtaining one of the seemingly available houses was near impossible.
Mistake #4 – Campervans are readily available in every town all the time
After discovering we might have problems finding jobs and housing we decided we would experience more of NZ and live in a van travelling around the country for as long as possible and find work in the summer on farms to gain back some of the money we spent. Which brings us to lesson number four. The assumption that campervans in busy towns will be easy to buy. Campervans as a whole in New Zealand are easy to come by but when you’re in peak time in a busy town it’s not overly easy to find a great one before someone else. Before buying a campervan or car in NZ check out our tips here. We did look at a few campervans in and around Queenstown and Wanaka but they had some issues, so we ended up having to pay for a bus ride to Christchurch because they have a bigger market for buying a campervan. Had we done more research on jobs and housing before arriving in Queenstown we would have learned that it may have been better to start off in a bigger city in order to find a van to call home. Knowing that ahead of time would have also saved us money on flights too.
Mistake #5 – Assuming every place would take credit card
Now most places in NZ will obviously take credit cards, but they may not accept your foreign card. We opened a bank account when we arrived and it was quite easy to do and this allowed us to transfer money from our accounts to debit cards (called eftpos here) and those were accepted everywhere usually. We also make sure to carry around cash just in case.
The main thing we learned was don’t get down on your luck, after all you are in New Zealand! Things may not be going the way you thought but that’s okay because that’s what travelling is all about. Experiencing things and learning from those experiences. In twenty years we will be able to look back and laugh about the mistakes we made (honestly we already are laughing about them). Travelling is about the story you create and all of these things will make for an entertaining story down the road. Embrace the lessons you are learning and just enjoy every minute of it!