How I came to live in Wellington

Hello, Internet, it’s Friday, November 9th, and I am going to tell you about Wellington, and how I came to live here.

It all starts with Xena.

Warrior Princess of my heart

Remember Xena? And Hercules, the Legendary Journeys? They played back to back on Saturday afternoons when I was in school, and I. freaking. loved them. They appealed to my love of twisted history. They played around with mythology. They were beautifully campy, complete with occasional musical episodes. Bruce Campbell played Autolycus (legendary Prince of Thieves, donchaknow), and he’s a genius. And Karl Urban was both Cupid and Julius Caesar, which, in addition to being a hilarious piece of casting which only the most awesome of campy shows can pull off, began my life-long and continuing crush on Karl Urban.

You can’t tell me you don’t love him too

And while these two shows are set in Ancient Greece, they were shot in New Zealand, and I think somewhere in my 14-year-old mind I was like “maybe, if I go to New Zealand, I can work on Xena!”

And then, somehow, that naive teenage career goal became an overall attraction to the place.

Then, Lord of the Rings happened. And that was awesome… for all the reasons that you all already know.

…including Karl Urban’s brilliant performance.

And the need to get to New Zealand became stronger. I mean, just WATCH Lord of the Rings and tell me you don’t want to see those mountains in person. I dare you.

By then, the idea of working on Xena, or even Lord of the Rings, had been overtaken by a desire just to go see the place, but getting to the opposite side of the world is pretty ridiculously expensive, so it wasn’t the kind of thing I could embark on as just a plain old vacation. If I was going to go to the other side of the world, I was going for long enough to see everything. Not just everything in New Zealand, but everything I could manage: some of Australia, Fiji, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, etc, etc… and that would be much easier if I could set up camp somewhere for a while in the middle and make some money. So, I did some research and found the Working Holiday Visa.

But, at the time, I was in school, and I wasn’t going anywhere until I’d finished my degree.

Then, about 20 seconds after I graduated, I was introduced to Zita Cobb and wound up working for her and the Shorefast Foundation for 4 years. I loved that job. It was dreamy. Steady, in my field, for and with passionate and compassionate people… it was awesome. But it bound me to North America, so I waited a little while longer. And, when I decided to leave that job to move on to my other passions, getting to New Zealand was no small part of that decision.

Then, in late August, a perfect storm: my summer contract ended, my rent went up enough that I had to decide whether or not to move, I was single (I don’t talk about my love life on this blog for a number of reasons, but seriously, this was a consideration), and I had managed, in 5 years of living in St. John’s, not to acquire any real estate or vehicles. So, I packed a suitcase, stored some bags and boxes in a dear friend’s basement, gave away everything else, and moved to the other side of the world.

The trip I had been dreaming about for literally one half of my life was finally happening.

I knew it was likely I would want to live in either Auckland or Wellington, since they are the two largest centres and I am undeniably a city girl. So, I decided to check them each out and then decide which one I liked best.

When I got here I spent a week in Auckland (you can read some of my initial thoughts here). Overall, I really liked the city, and all of my connections – old friends, friends of friends, casual acquaintances from a past life who were just as excited as I about the prospect of seeing someone they knew – are there. Auckland is a big city. It’s full of awesome museums and galleries, and the downtown core is a weird mish-mash of style and atmosphere that reminds me of Time Square, Oxford Street and Gastown in turn. There is fun hiking and the surrounding area is just packed with cool things to do.

Then, I got to Wellington.

So, a few days into my stay in Auckland, my oldest friend came to visit for a week. We did a couple of days in Auckland, and then she bravely drove across the island (she is very brave) and when we came into Wellington, I was like “Ooooh.” And my friend was like “What’s happening, I can’t take my eyes off the road.” But what had happened was that we had rounded a bend and the city had risen up along the shore of the harbour and the water was this shade of blue that NEVER HAPPENS in the Atlantic Ocean and I was just awestruck. And then, that evening, I bought my friend a beer for being so brave and we were in this Irish pub and they played a bunch of songs I know, and my friend said “Choose Wellington. You want to live here.”

(Feel free to correct any part of this story, Rabbit!)

And ever since then, Wellington’s been great. I found a flat with relative ease, and I adore my flatmates. I met some lovely Canadians who introduced me to their friends, and now it seems I have friends. I found a job… the job is iffy, but there are more jobs out there, and at least I have an income. I have been cast in Antony and Cleopatra, which is taking place in the Botanic Gardens this February and March, and will both satisfy my love of Shakespeare and introduce me to MORE FRIENDS! Wellington has, in effect, welcomed me with open arms.

And I love it a little bit more every time I walk down the street and there is a live jazz trio playing in a cafe, whenever I take a few extra steps to avoid getting splashed by the poorly-planned public fountain on Cuba Street (I’ll take a picture sometime… it’s pretty hilarious), whenever I walk through the downtown core and find another book store. I love it a bit more whenever I discover a new market, a new street-performing venue, whenever I see a poster for a performance I can’t wait to get to. And I particularly love drinking wine that was made an hour’s drive from here on a Friday night while blogging.

mmmm…. Martinborough Pinot Noir…

Wellington seems to be full of art and culture and life and hope. And so far, I love it.


POSTSCRIPT: Back at home, my friends at Chinched Bistro just WON Gold Metal Plates! Go to this website. Now, see that guy at the top of the podium with a gold medal around his neck? That’s my friend Shaun! YAY!