Saturday, 30 May 2009

Queenstown and finding a place to reside

I arrived in Queenstown early evening, having only a vague idea where the hostel was. The coach journey, which to be honest I was dreading, turned out to be more than bearable in the end.
During the ride down, we stopped off for a lunch and toilet break at a lake called Tekapo. It's not quite pronounced "Take-a-poo", but given the nature of the stop I duly christened it so. Photos can be found here.
Once here, I dragged my sorry ass and 4 huge bags down the road to the hostel, checked in, and then went out for dinner with a few friends from Canada, one of whom is staying in Queenstown for the season and has offered me a room for a while.

I had visited Queenstown during the winter of 2007 when I was based in Wanaka. Having been in Wanaka (population: 4) for most of the season, I found Queenstown to be quite a large intimidating place. Having now been here a few days, it is smaller than I remember, but largely uphill.
Situated by Lake Wakatipu, it is a town that feels like it was designed by M. C. Escher, as it tends to defy all gravitational and logical laws that would suggest that you would walk an equal distance downhill as you would up. I seem to have just walked up. I feel like I should be at the top of Everest by now. If it weren't for the fact that I am some thousands of miles away from it.
Since being here I have joined the plethora of individuals running around town, handing my C.V. into various establishments in the hope of finding work. And somewhere to live.

As far as finding somewhere to live goes, after viewing many nice places, many not so nice places, I narrowed my choice down to 3. Out went the spacious room at the top of a hill occupied by a Japanese guy called Yoshi (honestly! The whole time I was talking to him he slowly morphed into a little green dinosaur), who had what seemed to me to be an unhealthy obsession with ensuring all plates are rinsed after washing up. Something he told me that people from the U.K. and New Zealand don't do which is the oddest racial stereotype I can ever recall having fallen into. Out also went the Japanese girl who opened the door with a cigarette in her hand who seemed totally non-plussed that her pit-bull terrier was fiercely determined to chew off my genitals during the tour of bedrooms to rent with mattresses on what used to be the floor, but actually resembled a landfill site.
The 3 I had to choose between were:
  • 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 current occupant - English fella, 1 occupant yet to come
  • 3 rooms, 1 bathroom (that I saw), Kiwi couple owning, potentially renting other room to another couple
  • 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 current occupant - English girl - whose bedroom was mezzanine and opened up into the lounge/kitchen meaning living in my room while she was asleep/in bed.
After consulting friends for advice, I was told to avoid living with couples, or someone I might shag. So the first one it was. I move in on Monday.

Now finding work has been slightly harder. The ski season really kicks off later in June, and the Queenstown population is expected to expand in the next few weeks, so most places won't be hiring for a week or so yet. I have had limited success; in following up a few leads my 2 seasons at Olympic Park in Calgary as a ski instructor have helped me get a foot in the door with people familiar to the park, but as expected everywhere seems to have a stack of about 20 million CV's to trawl through. Ideally, as with most people here, I am looking for something that is not Monday to Friday 9-5, as I am here to ski and ride. So working at a bar would be ideal for morning riding and evening working. And as you should all know, I have a LOT of bar experience, albeit the wrong side in this situation. But I am at that age where I know that in this town right now there is a ton of more suitable people for the job, who are younger, have blond hair, big blue eyes, and massive tits.

Which leaves me with fewer options. Ski rental shops would also be ideal, as the hours can be irregular and it is in the industry in which I have experience, but they are few and far between.
So essentially I have applied for anything and everything. My diligence has got me an interview on Tuesday - kind of. Quiksilver are opening a branch in Queenstown soon and I have scored a group interview (as they have had a ton of applicants, they are interviewing all in group sessions), which includes "Meet & Greet, Q & A, Group Games". This instantly strikes fear into my heart, as it screams "role playing" at 16 million decibels through a megaphone the size of the Hubble space telescope at me. And I hate role playing almost as much as I hate that smug-twat-with-a-major-God-complex Bono. It is an informal interview, so we are meant to go along in clothes that we would wear should we get the job. I have t-shirts with me depicting the brand of many Quiksilver rivals, but none of Quiksilver. So I may have to go topless. Here's hoping my massive tits get me a job there.
Wish me luck.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Auckland - Christchurch - Queenstown

Without going into any boring details, the flight to Christchurch was painless. In fact unbelievably so. After travelling through UK and US airports, where even being 1kg over the weight limit generally adds a billion pounds to your airfare and a thorough fingering up the jacksy, it is a positive relief to fly internally in NZ where it seems the only thing you need to do to identify yourself is look in a mirror and say "Yup, that's me". I think I went through more rigorous identification checks going into bars in Auckland.
I checked into the hostel at Christchurch, which is just opposite the Cathedral. I took no photos, but it is quite an impressive building. In fact, to avoid any disappointment in some, and to evoke elation in others, I took no pictures whatsoever in Christchurch. Although to an extent, I wish I had a picture of the beggar outside the Cathedral, as he played tunes on the recorder. Which I thought no-one played after the age of 7.
Having heard about the penthouse in the hostel I was staying, I decided to fork out the extra buck per night and stay there. 3 rooms, with a total of maybe 20 beds spread between, but with the bonus of a kitchen, bathroom, sky t.v. and Playstation 2. There were 3 Israeli guys already in there, one of whom had hair like Sideshow Bob. And two big fat black eyes from a fight in Australia.
The room wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It was just under the roof, which I can only assume was made of balsa wood, and had a corrugated plastic skylight. Given that I arrived in the midst of what seemed to be a 3 day hail storm, sleeping would have been easier if I was buried up to the neck and consistently stoned for 72 hours.
I moved out after three days, into a 4 bed dorm room which had one current occupant. Another Israeli guy, this one called Serge. A memorable character, he sounded a little bit like Borat. The room itself was a mess. Cigarette butts on the carpet, rubbish strewn all over the place, and an odd smell. Serge offered me "chocolate sandwich". I politely declined, in case that was a jew-phamism for something undesirable. It wasn't, it was actually a nutella sandwich. As he was making the sandwich, he started singing.
Now, for those of you that don't know, I have a recurring fantasy about Celine Dion and Alanis Morisette duetting while lying naked, face upwards on a bed of molten cheese while I am repeatedly stabbing them in the abdomen with a pitchfork. This "singing" of Serge's was not unlike how I would imagine that duet would sound. The only other times I have heard this is when it is on the news, sung by guys waving AK-47's in the air. I promptly made my excuses and left.
Most of my time in Christchurch was spent hanging around the hostel watching season 6 of The Shield on my laptop, or hanging out with a friend from Canada who lives there. Or trying to subtly cough very loudly and for a very long time while watching season 6 of The Shield on the top bunk while Serge begins making the bottom bunk rock oblivious to the fact that I am up there.
There really seemed to be very little else to do there. On the way back from a bar one afternoon we drove the mountain route, which took us around the top of the Gondola. The views from up there were amazing, I never thought Christchurch could offer such views. But that was it.
So on Sunday 24th I packed my bags, walked to the bus stop and embarked on the 8 hour coach ride down to Queenstown.

London to Auckland . As summarised by a close friend.

I had pretty much an entire diary of the first 10 days of this, my most recent excursion to a place where there is snow. New Zealand actually. Where I intend on staying until late October if I can find gainful employment. It was sent out in an e-mail. Some of you may have deleted it immediately, some may have skimmed through to get the general gist after realising there is not much there to read, and that any debauchery or illicit activity was omitted to spare me shame. There are a few that may have read it. And then strained so hard at the tediousness of it that you gave yourself an anal fissure. To those of you, I say well done. I got a helpful e-mail in reply from a very close friend summarising my activity in 3 short sentences, which I have repeated below, as I can't even be bothered to cut and paste that entire dross into this, my first blog entry. So here we go:
  • Flew in (could have caused the plane to crash) - expl. my mobile turned on in my pocket as I slept. I began panicking as it vibrated with "welcome to New Zealand" texts on the landing approach.
  • Bummed around not getting drunk nearly enough
  • Saw some sights but didn't know, or particularly care, what they were
Beautifully put as it goes, and more concise than the original mail. So thanks buddy!

My time wasn't completed wasted. I was shown around by the sister and husband of a friend from home, and a cousin (of which I was very grateful, as I would never have ventured out of the city otherwise), and took in some amazing views, a lot of which can be found in this facebook album.