Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Zealand, I Love You

Somehow, it is already the 21st of January and we are leaving Wellington tomorrow.  Not quite sure when this happened considering I still think I am going to work on Monday. This year has been nothing short of extraordinary and my last week of work I was shown some great love. 

I spent the last week at work having lunches and saying my goodbyes to all my retailers and co-workers.  The Centre Security team threw me a surprise lunch and gave me such a special meaningful gift.  Rose presented me with a Pounamu.  The Pounamu plays a very important role in Maori culture. It is considered a taonga (treasure). I am absolutely honored to receive such a thoughtful gift.  They have been so great to work with, no other security team will compare!

 The security team and I (Monika hiding in the back!)

Wednesday I was also treated to a farewell lunch in the office.  We had a vegetarian (mostly) lunch and it was a very nice time with everyone.  I once again received a very generous gift to take home with me.  Karen Walker earrings!  She is a New Zealand designer that I absolutely love, and now I have some jewellery!

Friday night we had our last team drinks (probably won't be able to bring that back to America!)  Everyone hung around a half and hour later to say goodbye and enjoy our last Friday drinks. I am going to miss my Centre SOOO much.  Everyone I work with is amazing, genuine, nice and easy to work with.  It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life getting to work with this talented group.  I have learned so much personally and professionally which I can bring back to America and beyond.

Saying goodbye was defiantly a hard time for me (there were tears, and more tears later on in the night) but I guess that is a pretty solid indicator of how special this group of people are.  :(  I will miss running into Jaime's office and discussing oh so very important things, walking the Centre, hearing Jan's stories and her being 'quite concerned' about a situation.  I can only hope we all stay close and that some day Colin and I get back to visit the team.

 The Customer Service Desk in the Centre.
 My Centre - level 1.  - not quite the size of ones in America, but still pretty good!
 Jan, me and Jaime. 
 The office - Keith, Nadine, Jan, Me, Jaime, Glen, Murry and Cheryl.

After the hard goodbyes we headed over to Jaime and Steve's new house for one last hang out.  Fish and chips (veggie burger for me!) for dinner and some bubbles while we delayed the goodbyes.  Jaime has not only been my boss but become a really good friend and we have enjoyed hanging out with the two of them so much.  It is going to be really hard not seeing her every day or coming around for dinners/drinks. 
 Colin and Me with Jaime and Steve on their amazing deck.

After basically crying myself to sleep we woke back up for our last day in Wellington.  It consisted of packing - Colin saying I have too much stuff, me saying get over it and then packing some more.  We went into town and out to a great HUGE rope swing near the water.  After that it was time for some lunch and back to our place for one last afternoon laying on the deck in the sun.  - Oh and OF COURSE playing with kitty! 

Kitty my love - 

One year ago, Colin and I hopped onto a plane bound for New Zealand, some crazy foreign country where we would be starting a life from scratch.  No idea what it would bring, or where we would be staying, it has now become our home.  As exciting as it is go see friends and family (in only a few days!!)  it's also extremely sad to leave.  This is the first place we have been able to call home together and the experiences were beyond incredible.   

New Zealand is much more than a stunning country with sweeping mountains and lush green grass, this country takes my breath away from its natural beauty and caring Kiwi's.  People have opened up their homes for us and taken us in for dinners/furniture and friendship.  We couldn't be any more lucky.

The last few days spent in New Zealand will be soaking up the sun in Taupo, zorbing down the hills in Rotarua and spending one last night in Auckland.  We then will hit the sky's departing our beautiful country and spend 6 days frolicking on the beaches of Fiji. 

Our life is pretty amazing and as this adventure comes to a close, a new exciting one is about to begin... Back in America.

Until next time New Zealand - I love you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One week to go....

I can't even believe I am saying this.. but I only have two days left of work and 4 days left in Wellington!  Where has the time gone, how have we lived here for an ENTIRE year already!  It doesn't seem real!

New Zealand is amazing, it has been our home for a year, we have met many friends, co-workers and flatmates.  I will miss the Kiwi life style - stores closing at 6pm, all the English sayings (bugger, keen, reckon, heaps and many more).  Colin and I have decided it seems like we are just packing to go on another fun trip and we will be back, it hasn't hit us that we.. are... leaving.. New... Zealand....

A lot has happened in 2012 already (17 days into it!)  We welcomed in the New Year playing board games and drinking champagne because the weather was horrible,  We spent the next weekend with my co-worker/friend and fiance (recently engaged) crossing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (voted one of the best day hikes in the world!) and most recently I got offered the Marketing Coordinator position at Westfield Southcenter!

Below are a few photos as our time in New Zealand starts to wrap up, the goodbyes have started.. (tear, tear)
Just another day at work!  My wonderful photographer and great stylist working on our last style blog photo shoot. (I am SO going to miss them, they are great!)

Video of my trying to pop open some bubbles - yummy celebration of my new job (Thanks Curry Family!!)

Nelson's Family - our Kiwi Family - We will miss them!!!

Happy Birthday Colin!

Flat family photo
Moving into the flat - day one!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The South Island Road Trip - highlights

Well the much anticipated South Island road trip has come and gone... time got the best of me and I didn't really post anything about it.  I decided since we have obviously moved on from then just to give you some highlights of the beautiful South Island. 

All I can say is New Zealand, you are freaking beautiful!!  The photos below are from all over the island I have tried to just put in some highlights of all the stunning locations we visited.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from New Zealand!

Hello Everyone,

Hope you all are staying warm in the frightful weather!  Colin and I would like to say to everyone at home Merry Christmas!  We are sorry to not be there (Though I have to say this amazing summer weather is pretty nice!) but can't wait to see everyone in a month and have a delayed Christmas.

It's Christmas Eve here today and traditionally people spend it doing last minute shopping and going to church/spending time with their families.  In New Zealand its quite popular to go down to the local pub for the evening with friends to celebrate!  - No we didn't do that, but we did spend the day in the sunshine in town for lunch and ice cream on the water front. (its OK to be jealous of our summer weather!)

Friday at work was afternoon Christmas Tea, I made plates of "American" cookies for everyone, they were a hit!
 Our boardroom turned Christmas table, so much fun!

Below are some photos from today down in the CBD, such wonderful weather!

From New Zealand to all our friends and family at home, Merry Christmas! We love and miss you all! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update on Life in Wellington

I can not believe we are moving back to America in less than 50 days!  Where has the time gone, how has a year already gone by?!!   This experience living in New Zealand has been amazing, I have learned so much, met so many wonderful people, had a wonderful job, saw stunning natural wonders, traveled to multiple countries and got to spend it all with my lovely partner! 

The past few months have been very crazy, Sam and Martha came to visit us for a month and we got to visit the Coromandal in norther New Zealand and did a 10 day tour of the South Island.  We spent time in Wellington showing them the sights and taking them to good restaurants, soaking up as much as possible. And now that our time is counting down, we are making our lists of things to do before we leave (Scary!)  We still have lots to do and I hope we can fit it all in before we leave.  I love New Zealand and know someday I will be back to visit the amazing country.

Christmas in NZ
Work has been very busy since Christmas is almost here.  Funny though, you can call Christmas Christmas here!  no Holiday only crap.  We have Christmas carolers in the Centre, Father Christmas - kids send him Christmas letters which you can deliver to any NZ Post shop!  And the Christmas music throughout the Centre isn't regulated to the extreme.   Its even normal for friends to get together on Christmas Eve and go to the pub!

It is crazy to think that Christmas is only a week away, especially since it is now summer!  I don't know what I think about my first Kiwi Christmas, but it should be a nice day bbqing in the sun with Nelson's Family.  Though I have to say it doesn't really feel like it, yes we have a mini Christmas tree, and the Centre is blasting Christmas music but its just not the same! (a co-worker from Europe warned me about this!)

I am working on Boxing day (the day after xmas) which is one of New Zealands biggest shopping days of the year, so hopefully I can find some good deals!But in true New Zealand fashion the Centre is only open from 9am - 7pm (Kiwi's are winding down during this time of the year, most go on holidays and lots of businesses shut down for a few weeks.) 

Recently Wellington has had 2 earthquakes which as has kept things exciting.  The first one was while we were down on the South Island it was a 5.7 but 40K deep so not too strong.  Colin and I felt it, though others around us didn't.  The second one, less than a week later was a 4.0 but only 20k deep,  This time I was at work (and Colin at home).  One of the major factors into feeling the quake was the creaking of the buildings each time.  Even if you only felt a jolt or a sway of the building it was the creaking of the building after the movement that defined it. Luckily even after both quakes there was only limited damage.

During our time on the South Island we got to spend a day in Christchurch, it was fascinating to see but devistating knowing these quakes are still happening on a daily basis.  Its not news at home anymore but there are multiple 3.0 or 4.0 quakes a day.  The city has no longer has a CBD (downtown area), thousands have fled out of fear, and the place is deserted.  Walking around the 'red zone' was odd, it was a nice hot day, sun shining but no one was around, just fences blocking off the broken buildings, or areas where buildings used to stand but have already been demolished.

Below are some photos of the 'red zone' throughout Christchurch.  After seeing these, be extra thankful that you still have a job, home, city, etc.