I have been reminded that people might be curious what our life in Dunedin looks like. Andrew and I have been living in Dunedin since early June and, to us, it doesn’t feel like we are tourists anymore here.
Where we are Staying
It was somewhat fluke that Andrew and I managed to find the flat that we are currently living in. One of those ‘it was meant to be’ type situations.
We all do it. Standing in a long line at the grocery store, we start to check out the trolleys of the people around us. Does their dinner look better than ours? Hmm…maybe I should have picked up milk. and ice cream.
The kind lady in front of us had a cart full of icing sugar, butter, flour, and the makings for a pretty decent looking barbecue. Our own meagre cart of rice, ramen, vegetables, and whatever meat was on sale this week looked somewhat lacking in comparison. Andrew jokingly said that he wanted to be invited to her house since it looked like she was going to have a more entertaining evening than ours and she, unfortunately (or fortunately!) overheard.
We got to chatting and it turned out that her and her husband had a small section just outside of Dunedin central. A section in New Zealand is larger than your standard housing unit, but smaller than a lifestyle block. My guess would be around about 1/4 acre or so? They had been living in a small flat beside the garage while they built their main house and had just finished the interior of the house when we met her.
We got along fairly well and by the time she was done purchasing her groceries we had exchanged numbers and she had said she would talk to her husband that night. Lo and behold, we had somewhere to stay! We had already booked into the holiday park for the next 2 nights, but we went up to look at the flat afterwards and it was beautiful. Especially after living in just the campervan for 6 months!
We were starting to feel a bit cramped and a bit cold, especially since, despite our best efforts, not all of the campervan is insulated. Particularly the water tank….we kept waking up to no water and had to wait for the lines to thaw so we could make breakfast.
It’s somewhat of a bachelor suite, with the only door being located between the bathroom and the rest of the living space. U-shaped, the living/dining room is off the main patio, the bed is in the middle, and the kitchen forms the other part of the U with a half-wall up the middle to separate the kitchen from the living room.
If you are looking to come visit, then you can check Booking.com for a great list of nearby places!
One of the main reasons that Andrew and I came to Dunedin was to work. We had done our research and Dunedin seemed ideal for our needs: decently large city with engineering work, on the coast, minimal earthquake risk compared to other parts of NZ, and good weather.
Andrew has a job as the assistant head chef at Ratbags, which specializes in pizza but also offers mains such as curry and ribs, an assortment of delicious appetizers (kumara chips with chilli sauce), and a variety of other dishes.
He was invited in for a trial at the end of June. A trial, in New Zealand, is basically a practical interview. Come in and work for 2-3 hours so that the management can see that you are capable, that you fit with the team, and have basic social skills in a real environment. I hung out at the library doing my job search while Andrew did his trial.
Afterwards, we decided to go back for lunch since their food is fantastic and Andrew got offered the job on the spot! He was also asked if he would be able to come back that night to start work and work two other days before his official start date. They really liked him!
He started out as a sous-chef and, with training and other staff departures, has moved up to be the assistant head chef. Plus he has learned to make fantastic pizza that I talk him into making at home too.
Leith Valley Holiday Park
Remember how I mentioned that we stayed at a holiday park right after meeting our nice landlady before we moved into her house? That’s right, it was at the Leith Valley holiday park! Everything fell into place within about 24 hours after nearly a month of searching.
While checking in at the holiday park we mentioned how everything was starting to work out: we had found a flat to rent and Andrew had a job…now if only I could find one. At this point I was asked if I could clean and if I would be willing to do a trial the next day. They offered to let us stay for free the next night in exchange for the trial, which was quite kind.
I was asked to go clean the apartment at the holiday park. Clean the kitchen, scrub the bathroom, make the beds, and make everything nice and tidy. I guess I did a good job because I was offered a job the next day. It’s part time, casual work whenever she requires someone extra. Occasionally she will ask Andrew to come in as well, particularly if there is computer or hardware work to do (although he helps clean too!).
After a couple of weeks I was also asked if I would feel comfortable taking over management of the place while they went on vacation or out for the occasional evening or family event. I was also placed in charge of laundry when necessary. I’ve gotten a lot faster at ironing since starting work at Leith! Managing has been quite challenging at times since people have a habit of asking the most bizarre questions after the owners have left, but it is also fun and entertaining.
The City of Dunedin has lots of different options for activities. Since we are here for longer we are kind of spacing them out and waiting for things like baby albatross to hatch, the gardens at the castle to bloom, and travel deals to come up for half off of admissions.
Still to do during our life in Dunedin:
- The Otago Rail Trial bike path (257 kilometers through New Zealand wilderness!)
- Visit the world’s only mainland Albatross colony
- Visit the blue penguins and the Yellow Eye penguins
- Beach horseback riding
- Take the train up the Taieri gorge
- Visit the Cadbury Factory
- Tour the Speights Alehouse
- Sailing lessons
Lots to keep us busy during our life in Dunedin! We are probably staying here until the end of March or so, although, depending on how much work we get over the summer we might stay longer. We’ve also been offered spots on the local rugby team come beginning of March, so we might stay in Dunedin a little bit longer and then travel the rest of the south island for our last few months in New Zealand.