We’re finally settled down.
A lot has happened since we’ve arrived in New Zealand. We’ve driven more than 3500 miles around most of the north and the south islands. I ran into the same problem as when we were traveling around the US/Canada: it’s hard to update a blog and edit photos when your access to power and internet is unreliable. You can see just how quiet the few weeks been from my 1 Second Everyday post. Expect real posts soon, but you can catch up on our travels from my previous 1SE posts on Instagram! I’m trying to better about capturing our everyday life instead of just the highlights.
We didn’t come to New Zealand with the intention of ending up in Wanaka, but it was the first place that we got a job. Brandon is working as a cook at a restaurant in Lake Hawea. I’m still looking for a job (p.s. someone pls hire me). As soon as Brandon landed the job, we started looking for a place to settle more permanently. It’s officially winter here, so sleeping in the car was getting cold!
Unfortunately, there has been a huge influx of people like us searching for accommodation – seasonal ski workers, professional skiers, etc. Basically everyone is here for the ski season because there are two big ski areas within a 45 minute drive from Wanaka.
While we were chasing down accommodation leads, the owners of the Lake Hawea Holiday Park took pity on us. One a day when it was pouring rain, they offered to let us stay in a room across from the bathroom/kitchen block for $200/week. The campground was great – cozy, quiet, and right on Lake Hawea.
A lot of accommodation searching was reaching out to people listing room availability in shared houses…and then having them never respond. We finally found a place in Lake Hawea and signed a lease for a small studio apartment until December. It is within a five minute walk to Brandon’s work, has power, internet, a kitchen, and a bathroom! You may be thinking, “Jackie, you are way too excited. Those are all normal things and studio apartments are tiny.” This place feels like a mansion compared to living in our mini-van or the room at the campground! It’s such a luxury for everything to be in one heated space and not go out in the cold every time you want food or use the restroom!
So that’s the current life update. We’re living in Wanaka. Brandon is a cook. I am readily searching for a job. We’ll be skiing and snowboarding all winter. If anyone has suggestions for other cool Wanaka things to do, let us know!
But are there any New Zealand specific dishes Brandon is learning to cook?
Also, I recently ran across this relationship advice from Bill Murray:
“If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t just think in your ordinary mind, ‘Okay, let’s make a date, let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
So there isn’t too much in the way of New Zealand-specific cuisine. British imperialism really did a number on the local terroir, so most of the food you’ll find is basically English. There are a few kiwi twists on it though: beetroot seems to find its way into everything and of course the tropical fruits like kiwis, kiwanos, feijoas are common. They also have a native sweet potato called the kumara that can be used in almost identical ways to our sweet potatoes. Maori hangi is cooked wrapped in flax leaves or certain young ferns, but this isn’t much more commonly served than, say, Native American cuisine would be in the US.
What you’ll typically find at the cafes and takeaways is fish and chips and meat pies. I’m convinced that the English haven’t yet encountered a type of meat that couldn’t be turned into a pie. There are fish pies, lamb pies, mince pies, steak pies, liver pies, butter chicken pies, rice and bean pies, you name it. At the restaurant though, I’ve done lamb every way you can imagine, fried chicken, steak, lasagna, desserts, and made enough fish and chips for a lifetime.