Many people view New Zealand as a mystical places, some don’t believe it exists, some aren’t super interested. I was one of the people who didn’t have much interest in seeing it.
A year ago I was planning a move to Australia with my 3 best friends. One of those friends got the working holiday visa when he spent 3 weeks in Perth the previous year. Unfortunately, the only way to do two years on a working holiday visa is if you spend 3 months doing agricultural work in one of the stated locations. He obviously did not do this. Which meant his application got denied. Luckily the rest of us did not pay the visa application fee because we wanted to see what would happen to his. This meant Australia was off the table even though it is my dream place to live.
We discussed our 2 back up countries; UK and New Zealand. Even though I absolutely hate winter, my vote went to the UK because it is so close to Europe which means so much stuff to do for super cheap especially with Ryanair. However, I got out voted because New Zealand is warmer and it’s close enough to Australia that we could go still. (Been here almost 5 months and still have not seen Australia.)
So, here I am. Tauranga, New Zealand. I did some googling about the country before coming, not much cause there wasn’t a ton of time. One of the things I googled was fast food in New Zealand. I wanted to know where I could get cheap food when broke because there will always be periods of being broke. When this is googled from Canada, the only things listed are McDonalds and Domino’s. Of course Domino’s. It is everywhere. It is my life saver for good pizza everywhere except back home in Canada. I hate it in Canada for some reason. Anyways, the truth is there is much more. Subway, BK, PizzaHut, Wendy’s, and Carl’s Jr. McDonalds in New Zealand is not great and Subway is more than double the price than Canada. Guess what place is the best for cheap and yummy food? BK! They have an app in New Zealand that gives you coupons which are really good deals and you get points when you give them a code from the app so you can earn a free meal after a few visits. It’s AWESOME. As I said above Domino’s is also good because it is good in every country except Canada. It is especially good here because they have 5 dollar pizza’s and one of them is this cheesy garlic pizza. It is absolutely addictive. Another good cheap food option here is that the sushi places have happy hour for the last hour they are open and all the pieces are a buck. SOLD! When we found this it was done.
Another thing I googled from Canada was the New Zealand living expenses and grocery prices. I could not find anything from after 2014. The prices were completely wrong. Most of the prices I found for general food items were similar to the price of Canada. However, getting here lettuce was 5 bucks for a little tiny head, cucumbers were 5.50 for the same size as one that costs a buck in Canada, the cheese prices were just absurd. A little bag of mozzarella cost me 12 bucks…..ON SALE! Parm is just not getting eaten the entire time I’m in this country because of the cost. I found some pepperoni sticks like the pillers and they cost 6 bucks, that’s cheaper then what I pay when the pillers are on sale back home….WRONG. It is 6 bucks for 5. 5!!!!! That is like a third of the amount you get with pillers. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON GRAPES!!! I’m going there. Grapes are my favourite snack. I munch on them all the time. They are expensive in Canada when they aren’t on sale in my opinion. Wrong again. Here they are 8 to 10 bucks a KG. I have not had grapes here. Haven’t touched strawberries either. They are double the price of Canada for half the amount.
You know what food is cheap here? Eggs, Ramen, noodles, speghetti sauce, deli sliced lunch meat (do not even look at the packaged ones), and bread. That is what I have lived off most of my time here unless things are on sale. The veggies are finally becoming decent priced now that we are going into summer. It’s crazy though.
Speaking of going into summer. The on and off season. Where I’m from this is not really a super thing so I did not even think to google that. If I had, would have postponed coming here by 4 months. The difficulty to find a consistent job in winter as a back packer is quite hard. You would think it would be easier for 4 people who decided to settle in one city for an entire year instead of moving around. However, it is not. It took months for us to find work. Well, not the guys because this country is extremely sexist in their work. They will straight up tell you that a job is for a man just because it requires lifting 25-50kg. I know lots of women that can lift that. I can’t lift more than 25kg but still. I could probably do most of the jobs they say require men.
Finally, RUSH HOUR! Apparently the city we decided to live in, is mostly a retirement village like Florida. Rush hour is still a serious thing here though. Do not try to get anywhere between 4 and 6pm. Also, do not go near the mall at any point during the day. It is rush hour there all day long.
I’m sure this probably sounds like I do not enjoy New Zealand, but I actually do. We live on the water and have beach access a block away. It is beautiful and there are so many different activities here. It is an extremely active country. There is archery a 5 minute drive from our home, roller derby twice a week like 15 minute drive, and plenty of hiking locations all around. I do recommend coming here even if you aren’t a hardcore lord of the rings fan. It is worth it.
P.S. Bring lots of sunscreen. Apparently, the ozone hole is directly above New Zealand and you will get a sun burn even on the most over cast and cool weather days.