HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

on December 31, 2011

Mattt and I just got back from our camping trip along the East Cape - unfortunately earlier than planned because last night we got flooded in our tent *boohoo* I woke up in a puddle of water this morning and was soaking wet! As was most of our gear. Thanks to cyclone whatever your name is *grrr* Anyway... so we packed up and drove all the way back to Whangarei just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve back at the hostel *sigh*

I'll post more about our mean trip (once again did more than 1000km in less than a week) including some pictures in the next few days. Just wanted to let you all know I'm still alive *heehee*

Wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Hope wherever you are you're having a hell of a party, heaps of fun and an awesome start into 2012! My thoughts are with you, my dear friends.

Lots of love from Aotearoa...
Mara

Never turn your back to the sea

on December 14, 2011



I learnt heaps today. About fishing. About Matt. About me. About us. About the sea... Since I get to use a friend's car while she's overseas Matt and I went on a spontaneous fishing trip this morning. Got up at 4.45am and drove out towards Whangarei Heads to one of his favorite spots. The weather, however, wasn't very pleasant. Lots of rain, harsh wind, high waves... so the rock we climbed on was pretty dangerous even for his standards so we decided to go somewhere else.

Well, if I had thought the first place was bad - the second was AWFUL! Or actually... not so much the spot. We climbed down a grassy cliff which wasn't too bad, but then had to climb out onto rocks about 50 to 100 meters offshore. The climb there was already quite adventurous for a city girl like me. I still remember when Pia and Philip took me out to the waterfall on their farm a little more than a year ago. I had a little meltdown then because I wasn't used to balancing over rocks, through rivers and whatever else mother nature beholds...

Anyway... I felt the same today. Climing onto the rocks was hard enough and I recovered while Matt was fishing away (or trying to - not many fish around today...). But then the tide started coming in and the more often I looked back to those rocks I wondered how on earth was I ever going to get back? It was slippery as, the tidal waves were MASSIVE and the rocks that I already had trouble balancing on on the way in were now under water. I could actually see myself either falling off those rocks, banging my head somewhere and drowning - or simply being stuck until the tide was going out again.

Well... it's been a hard return journey, believe me. Once again I had a little meltdown, I was scared to shit and close to weeing my pants (little wuzz...). Matt wasn't sure whether to yell at me, laugh, cuddle me or simply leave me behind. I guess in the end he did a bit of everything - except leaving me behind. He carried my stuff over first (why on earth did I take my expensive camera with me?!?) then waited more or less patiently for me to calm down and helped me make it back to the beach in one piece.

I did manage and now, a few hours later, I am actually proud of myself and what I have achieved today. But man I was soaking wet from head to toe, fuming and crying all at once... I wish I could show you some pictures to share the adventure - but I had a few other thoughts on my mind than getting snapshots today... Got this one though off the rock, nice scenery, isn't it?

Getting closer

on December 13, 2011

My first week as officially unemployed is not as work-less as I had feared it would be. I'm still helping out at the restaurant a few times so there's still money coming in. And I'm keeping myself busy hunting for jobs. Handed in three more applications today AND I HAVE A JOB INTERVIEW!!!!!! *woohoo* Next Monday... for Education Support Work - which is working with special needs kids. Mostly accompanying them to kindergarten and helping them interact with other kids, helping them learn and grow. I'm so looking forward to it and would love to get that job. A friend of mine has a daughter who's in need for an ESW and they still haven't found someone. Wouldn't it be great if I got her "case" to start with?

I'm also motorized again which makes life soooo much easier and better. A friend of mine who's gone back to Scotland for a few weeks left me Basil to look after *heehee* Already took him out for a little drive today and spend a wonderful girly night with former colleagues. Tomorrow I'm finally seeing one of my dearest friends again that I haven't talked to FOR AGES!!! And on the weekend I'm hoping to go up to the farm and spend some time with my host family. I love it =D

Btw - big event coming up this weekend. Friends of mine are getting married :-) It's meant to be a beach wedding so I hope the weather changes because for the past few days it's been raining and raining and raining *sigh* I thought winter was over, but the clouds still haven't left...

Taking a risk

on December 07, 2011

I've always been a sensible person, tried to do the right thing, planned ahead, made sure I had an emergency plan for back-up. Well, I don't know what's gotten into me but I've decided to for once in my life leap of the edge. I'm referring to my post from a few days ago... And what I mean mostly is: I have quit my job. There's only two days ago and next Monday - for the first time in my life - I will officially be unemployed.

Am I scared? Getting there. Am I starting to panic? Slowly. Do I feel relieved? A lot. I know with my visa and all that it is a big risk. But I just couldn't commit to something I knew wasn't going to make me happy. And I have been unhappy for too long. I only live once and I want to enjoy my life, make the most of it while I can. And continuing working where I am just to get my visa and stay in the country? It's not worth it if staying meant that I wasn't able to actually live my life, be happy and spend time with the people I love.

So what am I going to do? Right now I'm above all looking forward to having some time off and going on another little holiday. Matt and I have planned a camping trip between Xmas and New Year's. I'm really excited as he's going to show me where he grew up and I might even meet more of his family.

As for immigration... I will do as I was advised by the officer on the phone and apply for a new visa. I'm starting to get some paperwork together and there are a few people I need to talk to. My friend Sandra from Germany was a big help in this. She's been living in New Zealand for a few years now and just got her residency *yay* She's all safe... I first met her in June when Dan and I went up north for a weekend trip. We haven't known each other for long but she's been a dear friend of mine especially when I was going through a rough time after the break-up.

Anyway.. I went to see Sandra and her boyfriend last weekend just before their 4-week-trip to Germany. She's dealt with immigration so many times now and gave me heaps of advice and an actual "To-Do-List" :-) Typical German efficiency... but I've been feeling a lot better since talking to her and know that all is not lost. Nothing that really matters will come easy in life so I will keep on fighting for what I believe in.

Matt has also been a big help just by being there and supporting me, tolerating my moods and lending me his ear. The longer I know him the more I feel that he is my soulmate, the part of me that's always been missing. I know I am hopelessly romantic. But if you don't believe you've already lost. Haven't you?

Jobwise I had to learn that things in New Zealand are a looooooot slower than in Germany. I've sent about 8 applications in the last 4 four weeks - and have only heard back from 2. Unsuccessful :-( But I'm invited to an interview with the one job that I really really want. Unfortunately the lady and I keep missing each other on the phone so we still haven't found a date... but I'm getting there. Haste makes waste. Gut Ding will Weile haben...

A helping hand

We served an older couple at work today that has been hit hard by destiny. Their 8 year old grandson - mentally disabled - somehow managed to burn down the entire house so the older couple was left with nothing - apart from their lives. They don't even really have a place to stay and were desperately looking for somewhere to crash for the night.

I don't know the full story because one of my colleagues talked to them. But when she came back and told me little bits and pieces I instantly thought about the hostel where I have found a temporary home. So I rushed after them and told them that "we" still have rooms available, furnished and either long- or short-term. The old lady was so grateful she nearly cried. I handed her the detals and told her where to go - and guess who just moved in this afternoon :-) Have to go downstairs and talk to her tomorrow see if everything is alright. It's such a good feeling helping others and knowing that made their day just a little bit brighter...

Signs of desperation

on November 29, 2011

I'm sitting in front of my computer bawling my eyes out. The last few months haven't been easy and it seems to get tougher instead of things settling down. As previously noted I've quit my job as a waitress/Duty Manager and only have 2 more weeks to go. Unfortunately I still haven't found anything new even though there are a few applications out there where I'm still waiting to hear back from people. However, at this stage, I will be unemployed in two weeks.

There are so many things right now that I need to work out, need to organise and sort out. It just doesn't get less. And above all the biggest worry is back - I might have to leave the country. Maybe even sooner than later? I was just told by an immigration advisor that my work visa is actually not valid anymore and I need to apply for something new. Be it for work or as a visitor or whatever.

Now what am I supposed to do? Why are they making it so f*** hard for a trustworthy, honest, reliable and hard-working person to just live their life? Everything could be so much easier. With Matt I know I have found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. We are thinking about getting a place of our own and eventually, in a few years time, starting our own little family. All we want is to be happy. But that won't work if I'm oceans away on the other side of the world.

Where is the damn problem? I'm not going to live on government benefit like probably half of the population especially up here in the north! I've always stood on my own feet and will keep doing so. I might be unemployed soon but I know it won't be for long. Actually my current but soon-to-be ex-boss has shown sign of willingness to keep me employed. Looks like they value a good worker after all. And now that some of the staff has left things seem to be changing for the better.

So should I stay there and at least have a little chance of getting a new work visa instead of taking a risk and pursuing what I actually want to do? And am I already illegal anyway? And what about Matt? Right now I feel like I'm torn into pieces. I neither belong to Germany anymore (and don't want to anyway) nor am I at this stage accepted in New Zealand (though Aotearoa feels like home and I do want to settle here with Matt). What the h*** am I supposed to do? Does anyone have some answers for me?!? Please?!?

Kia ora Mr. Strang!

on November 19, 2011

For those of you who don't use Facebook here's my picture of the day..



That is me with a very special customer I served today who had my heart thumping and me drooling *lol* This is Blair Strang - one of the main actors of my favorite Kiwi TV show Nothing Trivial. It is about a pub quiz team, their lives, dramas and sorrows and everything else life has in stock for you. I absolutely loved it (the first sean just finished a few weeks ago) and can't wait for the second season to start!!!

I served Mr. Strang and his family like any other customer but when I brought over the bill I couldn't resist asking for an autograph and this lovely picture :-) He was more than happy to fulfil my wish and we even had a little talk. Apparently he's been to Germany even before the wall came down!

Thank you Mr. Strang for this unforgetable day =D

What I really wanna do

on November 16, 2011

I've been quite unhappy with my work for a long time now. Being a waitress was alright for a while, but it's not really what I want to do for the rest of my life. Also with sommer coming up I don't want to be spending all my time at work while my friends are having fun at the beach. Especially since I might be kicked out of the country next year and I realyl don't want to go back to Germany telling everybody I haven't seen much of the country because I've been working all the time. After all that was one of the reasons why I left Germany. And now I was making the same mistake allover again? I don't think so. My body has been telling me weeks and weeks and weeks ago that it's had enough of those irregular hours. It wants a break. As does my soul.

I've been talking about a career change for more than half a year now. Ever since working for Pia and Philip as an Au Pair I have realized working with children is what I really want to do. Being a waitress I just never found the energy or the time to actually pursue that career and find out what my options would be.

Well, during my holiday (pictures and more information on how beautiful the South Island is are yet to come) I realized that I really don't just need a break from hospitality. I am OVER IT! I am ready for a change, ready to move on.

So the first thing I did when I went back to work last Friday - I handed in my notice. Now I have about 3 weeks left to find something new. Otherwise I will be unemploeyed by Christmas. It is quite scary - but on the other hand I feel really relieved. All the sudden all those things that have been bothering me at work don't seem that important anymore. Because I know I don't have to endure them for much longer.

And all the sudden I also find the energy to step towards my new career. I have send 5 applications in the last 5 days. Not all for childcare, but at least 9-to-5-jobs with regular hours and a regular payment. Those words sound like heaven on earth in my ears... Also a few opportunities have arisen to get a foot in the door with early childcare. I will keep you posted. And please keep your fingers crossed that I will find a new job before the new year arrives!!!

Save the dog :-)

on November 08, 2011

Just a quick note tonight as my free wifi at the hostel isn't working... Milford Sound yesterday was absolutely stunning!!! I'll write about it when I'm back in Whangarei and can show you some pics. But let me tell you it's one of the most remarkable places I've ever seen...

Today I decided to catch the bus and head into Arrowtown - a former goldmining town with a Chinese settlement. You get there via local transport, it takes about half an hour and costs $16 return. There's pretty much just one main street and everything reminds you of a typical western country town. There's heaps of cafes though and shops to spend your money.

Far cheaper are the walksaround the area. The easiest is called the Centennial Walk and takes you in a loop along the Arrow River. It's very scenic and only takes about an hour but there's a few spots to stop and relax. At one little patch of beach I helped an elderly lady rescue her dog *lol* or should I rather say I saved the lady from getting wet? Her dog had jumped into the river and wouldn't come back out and she'd lost the leash. Not sure how long she'd been standing there and shouting by the time I came along but she looked pretty desperate. So I took off my shoes, rolled up my pants and went into the ice-cold and knee-deep water to grab her dog. You should have seen how relieved she was!

Back in Queenstown I treated myself to a proper meal. Can't live on crackers and apples all the time. Found a pub by the waterfront that had steaks for $10!!! Choice :-) Ran into a nice German girl who was so hungry that she finished my leftovers *lol* ended up spending the evening together and then had a huge ice-cream cone from Patagonia. My tummy will hopefully forgive me. I've sinned quite a lot today foodwise and will probably be sick tomorrow

How to save money in Queenstowm

on November 06, 2011

After having arrived in Queenstown on Friday Matt and I had paid the $25 each to get up on Queenstown Hill via the Gondola. It was worth it but surely you don't want to pay that much money every time you feel like getting a good view over the city. So today after having had a proper sleep in til almost noon I followed the advice of my hostel staff and hiked up the hill.

The guy had told me it was going to be steep - and he didn't exaggerate! It takes about an hour to complete the walk all the way up to the top of the gondola. It's a constant climb in zigzags where you climb over rocks and tree roots. I really had to fight my asthma on this one and of course I have left my asthma spray behind in Whangarei.

But I made it eventually and was able to enjoy the view from above with beautiful sunshine :-) Spent a few hours up there watching people going on the luge or bungee-jumping. You can also go on a flying fox up there or hire a mountain-bike and cycle back down the hill. Heaps of things to do!

Tonight they have a roast lamb dinner at the hostel which you can join for only $8. Tomorrow I'm off to Milford Sound for the day. The hostel staff arranged a special deal for only $145!!! Normally you pay $20 more at least...

New Zealand's West Coast is WILD

on November 05, 2011

Half of my holiday is already over. After spending three days in the bush along New Zealand's West Coast without cellphone coverage or internet connection Matt and I arrived safely in Queenstown yesterday. I don't even know where to begin to tell you about all the fantastic things we've seen along the way! Until now I never really quite believed people going on about how much more amazing the Sth Island is compared to the Nth. But having been here for almost a week I completely understand their admiration. None of the stories have been exaggerated.

I wish I could share some of the hundreds of pics with you I've taken so far but that will have to wait until I'm back in Whangarei next week. In the past four days I've driven approx. 1000km all the way from Christchurch to Queenstown via Arthur's Pass - New Zealand's highest settlement - Hokitika, Franz Josef and Fox glacier and through the beautiful wilderness of the Haast.

One of my most memorable moments was spotting a little seal right at Haast Beach
Matt's favorite thing was fishing his way along the West Coast lakes but unfortunately our planned trout dinner didn't happen. He did catch a perch though after only 5mins but since we've both never heard of that fish we let the poor fellow go again.

The only thing spoiling our trip a bit was the weather as it was pouring down most of the time. Especially around Lake Wanaka we were freezing!!! But the coldest ever awaited us yesterday in Queenstown. It was SNOWING!!! And not just a little bit. It was enough for me to show Matt how to make a proper snowman :-) he said that was the second time in his life he's seen snow..
Well I honestly didn't think I'd experience a proper winter in Aotearoa. Especially not in November! Last year this time I was sunbathing at the beach *lol*

Dropped Matt off at the airport this morning feels weird to be alone again and I do miss my travel buddy. But I've started exploring the city on my own already and found a beautiful walk from the airport into town along Lake Wakatipu. More information will follow later accompanied by heaps of pictures :-)

Might drive into Arrowtown tomorrow and depending on how much money I have left I'll book a day trip to Milford Sound for next week. I'll keep you updated...

A city struck by nature's force

on November 01, 2011

Matt and I have safely arrived in Christchurch. Today we set off to explore the city - or at least what's left of it. After the two massive earthquakes this year you can still see signs of destruction everywhere. The entire CBD is fenced off and there's cranes and piles of bricks everywhere. Reading tourist guides for Christchurch doesn't make much sense right now as the major attractions such as the Cathedral aren't accessible. We've taken heaps of pictures while walking walking through what felt a bit like a cemetery. The only beautiful thing was the little river that winds its way through the city. I couldn't believe how clear the water was! Pictures are to follow soon, forgot to take any with my phone to share and my laptop is back at the Y in Whangarei.

BTW our hostel here in Christchurch is awesome! I found one right next to the beach on New Brighton, only 5mins ffom the pier. We started our day with a stroll along the beach this morning enjoying a beautiful hot and sunny day. Matt got some tips for trout fishing as he's going to take care of our food supply once we get to the West Coast :-)

Picking up our campervan early tomorrow morning. It's been downsized though to a 2ppl one so it will easier for me to drive *lol* Off to bed now got a lot of driving ahead of us tomorrow.
.

Cheap as a budgie!

on October 11, 2011

My little trip to the South Island is getting a face =D Thanks to a friend of mine I have just hired a campervan to get from Christchurch to Queenstown - for only $5 a day!!! It's called relocation. When someone hires a vehicle but instead of going in a circle only drives from A to B the rental company needs to get that vehicle back to A - without spending too much money. So instead of putting it on the back of a truck they give it to poor travellers like me and have them drive it back for them. For very little expenses.

Of course there are a few downsides to it. Limited kilometers (you pay approx. 50 cents extra for each kilometer you're over the allowance) and limited time. We will have 2.5 days to get from Christchurch to Queenstown which doesn't sound like a lot to begin with. But since we only have a week in total anyway that's really not too bad. The few major things we really want to do and see on the way we'll have no problem fitting into the schedule. So all sweet *woohoo*

So one thing I really need to get done this week is getting my Kiwi driver's licence. Gosh I'm excited =D

Oh, it's been too long...

on October 06, 2011

Guess what - Maerchen will finally be back on the road in less than a month *woohoo* My last real holiday seems ages ago and with all my hours working during the Rugby World Cup I've been able to save a little bit of money. And you all know what I love spending my money on most :-)

I already talked to out Assistant Manager about taking some time off once the crazy times are over and all the rugby fans have left town. She's more than happy to let me go for a week or two before summer season hits. Makes it easier for her giving everybody else enough hours. So I decided to explore this beautiful country a bit more - and go down south.

Thanks to grabaseat I just managed to get a ticket from Auckland to Christchurch for only 59 dollars!!! My plan is to spend a few days there (hopefully without any earthquakes), then grab a car/campervan and "relocate" it to Queenstown. Relocating means you help the rental companies get their vehicles back to where they belong after people have hired it but only drove from A to B instead of going in a circle. It's cheap as!!! You get deals for about 5 dollars and between CHCH and QT they normally give you 4 or 5 days to complete your journey. Doesn't matter which way you go. Found out about this via Dan's cousin who told me about it a few days ago. Thank you Ryan =D Just hoping I'll find a good deal for the time I'm going there.

If everything works out the way I plan it and I find some good couchsurfers to stay with I should be able to get quite a lot out of this trip for little money =D And I might even have someone to join me, at least for part of the trip. But that's another story ;-) I'll tell you more once the trip itinerary becomes more detailed...

Free pizza anyone?

on September 24, 2011

Do you know that awkward feeling when someone asks you to come along to a party but you neither know the hosts now anyone else except the friend asking? Well, I always get a bit shy around heaps of strangers so when I was asked to come along to a BBQ tonight where I neither knew the hosts nor anyone else apart from my friend I was indeed a little bit nervous. Mixing and mingling has never been my thing, I hate introducing myself over and over again, making a bit of small talk and then standing around on my own again because I am the odd one out.

Well - thanks to Domino's pizza there was no need to worry about that tonight. Why? I was the hero of the evening by pretty much getting free pizza for everone! Unintentionally, but nevertheless it happened...

My friend hadn't prepared anything for the BBQ but instead had the idea of just ordering some pizza and have it delivered to the party. One of the girls at my hostel works at Domino's so I volunteered for calling up and maybe getting a discount. I told her the address and that we will need about half an hour til we get to the party. Turns out she thought the pizza needs to be delivered within half an hour...

By the time we got to the party everyone was already happily munching on pizza inviting us to join them. They were all really happy because the pizza guy had sold them three massive pizzas for just ten dollars thinking that he'd got the wrong address and was never going to find the person who originally had ordered the pizza - me! Of course nobody at the BBQ knew my name so when Domino's had turned up they told him they didn't know anything about pizza nor the person having ordered it. The poor guy must have been extremely confused - and ended up dumping the pizza on their doorstep for a real bargain :-)

We arrived about 5mins after the pizza guy and when my friend introduced me everybody starting laughing! Yep, I was the pizza girl. You're very welcome :-) I've never experienced the ice breaking so fast between people. No need for long introductions and explanations who I was. I was the hero of the evening *lol*

This is crazy!

on September 22, 2011

Did I actually say sometime last week that I wish it was always Rugby World Cup? Must have been blinded by the heaps of tips I made that day. Now I just want it to be over *uff* Here's just an overview of how this week is going to be like...

Monday - seemed to be a quiet start into the week with me not starting work until 4pm. Didn't get home until after 1am though because we had late-night dining customers and drinkers that just didn't want to leave.

Tuesday - Back to work at 11 o'clock in the morning. No breakfast - because I haven't had time to do grocery shopping in more than two weeks. As the day went on we got busier and busier and actually had to call in more staff to help out during the late lunch rush. By 4.30pm I was officially starving and finally managed to go on a 10 minute break to shuffle some food into my body. Dinner was busy as well with heaps of Japanese fans coming in and for some reason quite a few French people, too. Finally finished work at 10pm - after an 11 hour shift - but hung around the restaurant for another hour or so to wait for my flatmate so we could walk home together. A chocolate bar and a glass of cider helped my body to regain some energy and fall asleep at the same time.

Wednesday - ok, today was probably the worst EVER! Had to open up the restaurant at 8am and Gosh my friends now I'm really not a morning person. At least I managed to have a short breakfast break around 10am - and that was going to be the only food my body would see until about midnight... Once again we got SLAMMED!!! I guess being the official World Cup Bar has its downsides, too. We're just too popular a spot to be...

By the time I was supposed to sign off there were still heaps of people around, all wanting to have dinner before tonight's game: Tonga vs Japan in Whangarei. Dishes needed to be cleaned, cutlery to be polished and rolled, tables to be set, napkins to be folded... so I stayed until 5.30pm, then rushed to the hostel to have a shower and get changed for the game. Because - WOOHOO - I had bought myself a ticket *yay*

The game itself was good. I still don't know that much about rugby but I'm learning. And it was great to be at the stadium, experience the atmosphere. Compared to soccer games in Germany this is a whole different world. You get so close to the players you can almost shake hands! Barely any security around (lots of police patrouilling but apart from that all was easy-going and cruisy...). For 30 dollars me and my friends had perfect view over the field, sitting on picnic blankets on the grass cheering and enjoying ourselves.

Now my original plan was to maybe go for some drinks after the game. But instead what did I do? Went straight back to work. Because one of my colleagues had gotten sick and we were short of staff. And part of me just can't forget that I used to be a worcaholic *sigh* So I worked a few more hours, the chef was so kind as to cook me some steak and potatoes because by midnight I was not only starving but close to fainting from lack of water and energy. Finally got send home at 1am even though our place was still packed, the band still playing and people ordering one drink after the other. It was CRAZY!!!

Do you know the feeling of when you're past the point of being really tired? Your body just goes nuts and even though there's nothing you want more than close your eyes and go to sleep - you just can't. I guess that's why I'm sitting at my computer at 1.30 in the morning when I know exactly I have to get up in less than 6 hours and go back to work. For another 9 hour shift...

So in 3 days I have already worked more than 30 hours. There's going to be 8 or 9 more hours tomorrow - and the week is not even close to over... At least I have Friday off. My only day. Then at least 8 more hours on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. That will get me a new record - and oh my wallet is already singing about all the cash it will see.

I'm just sooo looking forward to this whole madness being over. Even though the rugby crowd is mostly easy-going and cheesy-peasy to handle - I'm yearning for sleep, a nice sleep-in in the morning, going out at night without counting down til you have to be back at work... I'd like to go on a vacation soon. Somewhere warm with lots of sunshine and beaches and cocktails and hammocks and hot guys *heehee* Would love to join a friend who's going to Bali soon but for that I don't have enough money yet and probably no time either *sigh* But soooooooon!!!

When little boys are bored

on September 20, 2011

Tonight was the second time since I have been appointed Duty Manager that I had to deal with the local police. This time, however, I wasn't really involved but instead did my duty as a loyal "citizen".

One of our customers witnessed some guys smearing graffiti allover the wall right across the street. And you know what those dumbarses did next??? Walk right over to our restaurant and sit down at the outside tables - even gave my colleague an attitude when she walked out and asked what they wanted (to get a better description of them). How bold is that?!?

Well, I called the police straight away and told them about the incident. 20mins later a policeguy came in and told me they caught those little rascals. All of them Maori boys aged 13 to 16 from the way they looked. Wonder what consequences they have to face? Just pity the shop owners across the road they won't be too happy when they come to work tomorrow...

The truth can hurt

on September 18, 2011

I saw Dan on Friday. In the last two weeks since the final break-up I've done some rather stupid stuff. They say love makes blind. But so does anger. And when are you ever angrier than when someone you truly love hurts you beyond imagination. Well, I've been really really hurt by Dan so no wonder all my anger was directed at him.

Once, however, the anger fades away all that's left is emptiness and sadness. And you wake up realizing how stupid you have been. So I did what I thought was right. I went to see him to apologize. It was horrible, awkward and seemed completely unreal. He didn't slam the door in my face which I guess was a good thing. He even accepted my apology and I got to say my final goodbye.

And while I was there I not only realized that it is really over. I also had to realize that - no matter how much it hurts - he was right. We are not compatible. What we had was beautiful. But we are at different stages in our life and it wasn't meant to last. We want different things in life, have different goals and ambitions. It's hard realizing that now. But at least now I can look back at what we had and remember the good times with a smile on my face.

Now I'm really ready to move on.

It's time to move on

on September 09, 2011

It's been excactly a week since Dan has dumped me. I'm not using the term "break-up" because for me a break-up requires an actual talk about things - just telling someone it's over without giving him/her at least a reason, an explanation or SOMETHING to work with - that is dumping. And I have been dumped like a hot potato. Why - I still don't know. I can only speculate. Maybe now that he's got a well-paid job he just doesn't need me anymore? After all - even if he doesn't like hearing me say that - I have supported him for half a year, paid all the bills - while he lived of his parent's money and played computer all day long. I have believed in this relationship, it has been special to me. And until a about two weeks ago he has made me believe that he cares for me, loves me and wants to be with me. Well, apparently not. Because he just dumped me.

On Tuesday I picked up my things from his place. Most of it he had neatly stacked on the kitchen table, had put it all out there for me - plates, kitchenware, put my CDs and DVDs in a plastic bag. Ready to go. Like saying "Now get the hell out of here". Hard to believe that not too long ago I thought he was the sweetest guy I've ever met. Maybe that's why I've found it so hard to move on.

But that's over now. It's time to start living my life again. He is not worth even one more tear. Actually I find him quite pathetic now and realize that I am better off without him. Someone who doesn't have the spine to face a problem but runs away like a little child has no place in my life.

So I've moved into my new "home". It's just a hostel for now, but a very nice one. Right in the middle of town so I can walk anywhere I need to go - even for a few drinks without needing to worry about how to get home ;-) I've got my own room - furnished - and awesome neighbors. There're five girls on my floor. One works at Domino's to support her studies, one is a chef at a local restaurant. We haven't cooked together, yet. But we're having slumber parties, DVD nights and are going out together having lots of fun. For now it's just the right place to be. Even the shower is hot *woohoo*

And I'm sure the next few days and weeks will be quite eventful so there's no more reason to pull a sad face. The rugby world cup starts tonight and we've been busy setting everything up at work for ages! There's a band playing tonight and we're showing the games on six or seven TVs plus a large screen. Looking forward to meeting all the sports fans from allover the world =D Should be a fun crowd. Heaps of tips, too - I hope...

Some people should rather stay alone

on September 02, 2011

A few mins ago this post was a long essay about the asshole who just broke my heart intending to make him feel miserable until eternity. Then I realized it's not going to change a thing and it won't make me feel better on the long run, either. I'd rather just stop caring and move on with my life.

So all I'm telling you tonight is that I'm single again. If you want to hear the bitch in me tell you the truth about what happened - feel free to ask.

And for all you guys out there: Yes, a relationship IS a commitment. Yes, it DOES involve a lot of effort and work. If you just wanna screw around for a while but aren't really interested in anything long-term - STAY AWAY FROM ME YOU BLOODY BASTARDS!!! I've had enough of your lies and false pretends. And one day, when you're old and wrinkly and bald and toothless and fat and impotent I hope you realize how lonely, empty and miserable your life has been AND is.

Arrested, but not charged

on August 13, 2011

Just before the rugby game started (Mid Northern lost this time) I got another call from the police. The guy who wacked me over the head a few weeks ago has been arrested today. But apparently it's been the first time he's done something like that so he'll get away with an "official warning". At least it will stay on his record for the time being - I hope that'll teach him! The constable said next time he won't get the soft way out...

Oh, and guess what... that guy had the constable pass on his "sincere apologies" for "overreacting" that night... no comment...

The follow-up

New Zealand police has strange work hours... It took them four weeks to get back to me on the incident that happened at work more than four weeks ago. I would have thought cases of assault are solved faster but apparently not. Anyway... they finally called - 9am on a Saturday morning!!! My first weekend off in ages, I'm sick (of course) and tired in bed - and the police calls... Oh well.. at least they are now following it through and will get back to me shortly. Wonder if I will have to go to court. Here in New Zealand I get to do all these things I never had to do before - and actually could have lived without a bit longer...

Well... I'm off to watch a rugby game. About a year ago Philip's team won the championships (still not too sure which ones, need to update my knowlegde about local/regional rugby) and they made it back into the finals again this year. Should be fun =D

Antsy pantsy or whatever...

on July 28, 2011

Today really isn't my day. Could it be because I have been working 8 days in a row doing who knows how many hours of hospitality work? It started in the morning when I had to ask our kitchen staff approx 5 times in half an hour to open up the office for me so I could turn on some music (which also attracts customers - but mainly helps me to wake up and keeps me from being cranky all day...). When she finally did open the office I had to discover that the music computer was broken and there was only silence :-( Should have known that was a bad sign...

After work I had an appointment with my bank because I need money to buy a car. Now that Dan has a job again - which is in the opposite direction of town and involves shift work, too - we can't share his car anymore which means I will have trouble from now on getting to work and back (which especially sucks at night because the only way of getting home would be calling a taxi which will cost me a fortune).

I was hoping to either get an overdraft for a while or a personal loan just over 2000 NZ dollars - a bit more than 1000 Euros. Should have known that it's not going to work out - not being a resident makes things SO FUCKING COMPLICATED!!! Excuse my language but why do things have to be so hard for people who are settling in in a different country? I currently neither qualify for an overdraft, nor for a loan - not even for a credit card! Now I have a credit card for my German account - which has no money in it. And the accounts that do have money in them I don't get a credit card for. No more booking of concert tickets, plane tickets nor any of the other thousands of things that nowadays require a credit card. That is SO STUPID!!!

So how am I going to be able to afford a car? I could save up for it - which will only take me a few months. But no - wait - I won't be able to save because I'm broke getting a taxi all the time :-(

And to finish things I just got home to find this...


Looks like the ants have found a new home now that we aren't using the dishwasher anymore. I was just going to pop some toast in when I noticed something black moving around the toaster... there was only 40 or 50 of them around *wäh* even turning the toaster on didn't help they are happy exploring it anyway... so no food right now either :-( guess I should just go to bed and hope tomorrow will look better..

Rugby players like it sweet

on July 27, 2011

The last few days since I've been granted my new work permit have been rather uneventful. Dan started his new job and seems to be enjoying it so far (just was a bit bored as it was mostly office work to get him started...). For me a 24-hour-week at the restaurant was followed by a 40-hour one where I've been acting as temporary duty manager for the first time *yay*

All my paperwork is filled out now and I've just been to the council today to apply for my General Manager's licence. For all the none-Kiwis - you need that licence over here in order to manage any premises that sells or supplies alcohol... I've already sat a test in May where I was taught about the legal situation involving everything around selling/supplying alcohol to the public and how to be responsible in certain situations.

Been to the council today to hand my application in and they said it normally takes around 2 to 3 three weeks to process the whole thing. I'll also need to sit an interview with a police officer to make sure I am capable of managing our restaurant while on duty. I wonder whether that's going to take them as long as getting back to me on the assault 2.5 weeks ago... Still haven't heard back from the police though I am sure they know who the guy is who smacked me in the head...

Well... like I initially mentioned - with working all the time the last few days/weeks have been almost uneventful - until today... we weren't very busy during the day at the restaurant but all the sudden this massive group of about 20 guys walked in wanting hot drinks. Turns out it was the Taranaki rugby team!!! They are playing Northland tonight, the local team... They must have loved the hot and iced chocolates we made them - even though the coach (?) took away most of their marshmellows. Why? THEY LEFT US FREE TICKETS TO THE GAME TONIGHT - Northland vs Taranaki!!!!! They normally cost around 35 dollars! Not sure yet if Dan wants to come along as he starts work really early in the morning. But I'm definitely going *woohoo*

A moment of joy

on July 12, 2011

There aren't many things in life that make you so happy you just want to cry. Well, I just had one of those moments today. I went to the post office to pick up a parcel the courier wasn't able to deliver yesterday. And guess what that parcel had inside... MY PASSPORT INCLUDING MY NEW VISA!!! It's really done *woohoo* And guess how happy I was when I noticed that it even includes "multiple entries" meaning that I can leave and re-enter the country as often as I like :-) Not I'm planning on going anywhere soon. But should there be an emergency back in Germany or should we have money to go on a little holiday - it would be possible =D Sometimes there are days in life that feel like Christmas and your birthday all at the same time...

Immigration New Zealand: I THINK I'M IN!!!

on July 10, 2011

It's not official yet but it seems like Immigration has already finished processing my work visa application!!! How I know that?

After having spent at least another half hour on the phone with an immigration officer on Friday about my interim visa and me not being able to work after Thursday I had received an automated email titled "Your communication with Immigration NZ". All it contained was an attachment - which of course I couldn't open again. So once again I sent it to my friend Jenny in London who transformed it into a proper doc-file and just sent it back to me overnight.

I thought all they had done was sending me the transcript of the phone call I had made on Friday. Which - to be honest - would be kinda studid cos what would I need that for. Anyway - it wasn't. All it was was yet another automatic email saying "Your online status has been updated." HUH?!?

So I went online, logged onto the Immigration Website - and guess what I found...

Work Visa lodged 1 July 2011 APPROVED
- Expiry date 8 July 2012

I tried to call Immigration to confirm what I think it is but of course there's nobody working on Sunday so I have to wait another day. But it sounds like I can STAY!!!

I need a break - or a holiday!

on July 09, 2011

What a night... We had a function that I was kind of resonsible for. Nice people, lots of fun. They had hired a karaoke guy as well and were dancing and singing the night away. Even made me go on stage and do my favorite song "REM - Loosing my religion". Everyone had heaps of fun!

An hour later I'm questioned by the police about an assault... one of the customers got pissed about me not serving him any more alcohol and the whole thing escalated and eventually he smacked me on the head ;-( I'm alright, just got a headache now and am a bit shaken.

When I look back at the past year here in New Zealand it certainly hasn't been one thing - boring. Though there is one or the other experience I would rather have not had... Like tonight...

Anyone keen on going to Bali with me for a few weeks? I think I'm ready for a holiday... Oh shit... I forgot I can't leave New Zealand for a while or I won't be allowed to come back. Guess Bali has to wait a bit...

Frustration and anger

on July 08, 2011

I'm not sure how much time I've spent these last few days on the phone with various immigration officers. And how FRUSTRATING and ANNOYING it can be at times... One barely spoke English and clearly had no idea what was going on. Another was giving me a bitchy attitude answering all my questions with "There's nothing I can do for you. That's the way it is." Only one - Vincent - was acutally pleasant to talk to and giving me advice and an update.

So here's what's happening... My current visa expires next Thursday. By now Immigration New Zealand has officially accepted my application for a work permit based on a partnership to a Kiwi. It will take them approx. 60 days to process and decide whether I will be granted such a visa or not. Meanwhile I have received my interim visa which will allow me to stay in the country up to the point where they make that decision.

The problem is: I won't be able to work!!! I told my boss today and of course he wasn't very happy about it. He's trying to figure something out and has made a few phone calls already. We'll see if he is any succesful. If not next Thursday will be my last day at work and then I'll be unemployed :-(

To give you an idea of how competent NZ immigration officers are here a few things I have been told in the past few months...

A: You don't need a police clearance certificate at this point. 

That I got told in March. In June my first visa application got sent back to me - because it was missing a police clearance certificate.

B: You will automatically be granted an interim visa. That will extend your current visa up the point when we make a decision about your application. Since you already have a working visa that means you will be able to continue working.

Well, at least the first part was right. As for the other - I just got told today I will only get a general interim visa which does NOT allow me to work.

C: Immigration sent me my interim visa via email attachment.

Which is good and fast- only I couldn't open it. Had to send it to a friend in LONDON via email who could transform it and sent it back to me in the right format.

So... gotta get ready for one of my last days as an employee. I'll keep you up to date...

How not to treat your customers

on July 04, 2011

How often, I wonder, do you actually have to cancel a contract before the cancellation becomes effective? I am now sending the THIRD notice of termination to Vodafone Germany hoping they will finally realize I don't want their service anymore... The first one that I sent almost half a year ago has simply been ignored - at least I never got the affirmation letter/mail saying they received my cancellation and will not automatically renew my cellphone contract sometime later this year.

I almost forgot about the whole business until I saw the recent automatic payment to Vodafone from my account. So last week I tried again - this time using the "24 hour phone hotline that helps you fast". What shall I say - I called and called and called, ended up on hold every single time but nobody EVER answered the phone! Thank you, Vodafone.

So I sent them a message via their online custover service center. And guess what - still no answer. So today I've sent yet another letter telling them to terminate my contract once it runs out and NOT to renew it. And would they please send me a message back (not via phone because I haven't been able to use that for months which is another story) confirming my cancellation... Surely my first attempt should have been enough? Before I know it my cancellation period will have run out and I'll be stuck with them for another two years... any idea what else I can do from the other side of the world?

Immigration New Zealand: Getting there - slowly...

on June 22, 2011

After the latest problem with my work permit in order to stay in New Zealand I am slowly making progress. I would say I'm about a week from sending my paperwork back to immigration. Since I still have a bit more than 20 days to go (as an email sent by the immigration office reminded me off yesterday) everything should work out fine in the end.

I received my police clearance certificate from Germany yesterday - it only took a week in total to process it :-) Thank you once again Mrs. Schmidt @Bundesjustizamt! YOU WERE AWESOME!!!

Unfortunately once again I was kind of let down by the immigration officers. Because what they hadn't told me was that I also need to have that certificate translated - by a certified translator, of course. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't visited Sandra this past weekend...

Sandra is another German girl that I've only known via Facebook for about half a year now. Just like me she came over here on a Working Holiday Visa, worked as an au pair, fell in love with the country, fell in love with its people - and didn't want to leave anymore. She's been applying for new permits a few times now and is currently going for her permanent residency. I got her contact details a while ago from a mutual friend, we talked on Facebook a few times but never actually got to meet each other.

When I ended up having a long weekend a few days ago I thought it's about time to change that. So Dan and I packed our things and drove up to Kohukohu where Sandra and her boyfriend live. We had a short but fun time together and what amazed me most - Sandra has been living up there for almost three years now and she doesn't sound German at all anymore. Nope - she sounds like a Maori!!! Unbelievable how strong her accent has become in those few years.



Anyway... Sandra told me about having to have the police certificate translated. Of course there is no certified translator in Whangarei but I found the website of the Department of Internal Affairs in Wellington. They are translating heaps of different papers from or into heaps of different languages. They are fast (2 to 3 work days) and rather cheap (I pay 55 dollars including returning my papers via courier) - and friendly!

I called them yesterday to tell them I have an urgent request. They told me to send my document in via email attachment so they can get started on the translation. I still had to send in the original but just to get it certified. Did that via courier today, cost me another 5 dollars and a bit but it will be in Wellington tomorrow and hopefully everything returns to me early next week...

Here is all the information about the Department of Internal Affairs...

I don't want you here!!!


Apparently this creepy fellow was hiding in the firewood we got last week and is now living in the garage downstairs. Dan just found it an hour ago and couldn't resist taking picures. Does anyone know what kind of spider that is?!? It's about six centimeters long, a bit hairy and has red and black legs as well as a rather big body...

All I know is - if that thing finds its way upstairs - I'M MOVING OUT!!!

Immigration New Zealand: Green light from Germany

on June 16, 2011

I just got off the phone with the German Bundesjustizamt (BfJ) - the ministry that is responsible for issuing police clearance certificates. As you might remember this little document is currently standing between me and my next visa to stay in New Zealand. When I spoke with Mrs. Schmidt from the BfJ last week she already helped me a lot by allowing me to send my application via email with all important documents attached. She told me it would take between four and five work days to process - which was a lot better than the six weeks it said it would take on the website of the German Embassy.

Well, those four to five work days are up and there hasn't been anything in the mail so I gave them another call today. Once again it was Mrs. Schmidt who was talking to me and this time she completely made my day. Her colleague, she said, has been processing my application and will post the police clearance certificate tomorrow. Air Mail.

That still doesn't mean it will get here on time but the chances have just increased by at least 50 percent!!! I've had letters that got here within three days, on average they take about a week from Germany to New Zealand. That still gives me "heaps" of time to send my COMPLETE visa application back to immigration on time. I have 28 days left...

My return flight to Germany in the meantime has been cancelled. Should everything go wrong and I do have to leave I've decided to go to Australia for a while. It'll be a lot easier to get back to NZ from there than from Germany.

By the way... this is my 300th post since I've relaunched my blog in December 2008. Definitely reason enough for a small HOORAY (ok, that was a bigger one...). And I have more reasons to rejoyce today - WE HAVE FIREWOOD!!! After we've been let down by our deliverer TWICE we finally managed to organise something today. Now I'm sitting in front of our fireplace enjoying the warmth and will probably allow myself a glass of wine later on to toast to all the good things that have happened today.

Immigration New Zealand: There is still hope!

on June 10, 2011

What a day... it started really bad, got even a bit worse but took a very unexpected turn towards a happy ending in the end. What has happened?

Last week I finally sent my visa application to immigration New Zealand. Tuesday I got an email saying that they received all the papers and will get back to me soon. Well  - soon they did. Today. Before heading off to work I checked my mails as I always do and there was another one from immigration. And what did it say? "Lodgement failed."

WHAT?!? 

So I spent all morning trying to get someone on the phone who could tell me what that meant. Of course the line was busy, I was number 13 in the queue (what a lucky number...) and the calling back option took forever. My phone finally rang when I was just about to leave for work. 20 minutes later I was devastated! The guy told me my papers weren't complete and that's why they were sending it all back to me... What was missing? My police clearance certificate.

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!!!

When I first called immigration in March I was told that at this stage I did not need to provide such a certificate. Because it wasn't sure whether I would stay in the country for two years or longer (which is when you need to proof you're a good character). Well, all the sudden I needed one anyway. "We will grant you a work permit for 12 months", said the guy this time. "But only if you include the police clearance certificate."

The problem is - I have to apply for that certificate in Germany and apparently it takes up to six weeks to process it - and send all the paperwork back and forth from New Zealand to Germany and back. So the good news was - my application wasn't denied and I didn't have to pay for it twice either. The only problem was - if I don't send my COMPLETE application back before 14 July 2011 (which is when my current visa expires) I have to leave the country. What a mess!!!

All day I've been thinking about that... troubling myself with the thought of having come this far only to fail at the very last step... During my 10-hour-shift at the restaurant I had a really hard time not starting to cry or lose concentration to an extent where the customers would get bad service. I finally lost it when I told my boss about it. "There's no need to panic" really wasn't helping me that moment.

To cut the long story short... in the end it is actually Germany who keeps my hopes up. I called the Bundesamt für Justiz (thank you Skype!) and told them my story and how I don't have six weeks to wait for that certificate. The lady at the other end was just laughing. "Six weeks? No way it takes that long!"

I was actually able to scan all the necessary paperwork onto my computer, send it off via email - and within four or six work days (so hopefully by the end of next week) I will have my police clearance certificate. And since the worst crimes I have ever committed were stealing a magazine at the hairdresser when I was about 14) and getting ONE single speeding ticket in my entire life (in New Zealand) that shouldn't be a problem.

Thank you sweetie for having so much patience with me today. It wasn't an easy day but you gave me strength *kiss*

So... and now it is 1.11am in the morning and I think I can finally go to bed without worrying my head off... G!ood night y'all!!

Immigration New Zealand: Patience, please...

on May 31, 2011

IT IS DONE!!!! I finally sent probably about a kilogramm of paperwork to Immigration New Zealand. Now all I can do is wait for them to process it - and patience really isn't something I've come to understand in these past 29 years... I have exactly 45 days left on my current visa. But as I was once again assured by a justice of peace I will automatically be granted a so called "bridge visa" that extends my current one up to the point when immigration makes a decision about my application. Since it takes them approx. 60 days I should have at least two months left in my newly chosen home.

Meanwhile there is some sad news - Dan's grandma passed away last week :-(  The funeral is tomorrow - it will be the first one I attend since my beloved grandpa died a little more than 10 years ago. The whole family will be there. The good part is - since Dan's parents came over from Australia for the funeral I got to meet them a lot earlier than we'd thought. They are currently staying with us and though I haven't really seen much of them so far - with work and everything - I already like them lots. I just wish the circumstances to get to know each other would have been happier.

Also just got off the phone with my grandma. Since she's been in and out of the hospital for the last few months I am pretty worried about not seeing her again. She wants to make it to 90 which would give me a few more years but unfortunately she's not the only one making that decision... I guess I can only hope that I'll see her again despite my decision to stay in New Zealand much longer...

Immigration New Zealand: The countdown has begun...

on May 26, 2011




I may not always acknowledge it but I think I actually do have the best brother in the world. He not only sent me a wonderful letter of support for my immigration application - along with it also came this picture that he took during his visit to New Zealand in March/April.

As for now I have done pretty much everything I can in order to make my application as perfect as possible. Now it is probably really down to good luck whether I will get a new visa or not. Counting yesterday I have 50 days left until my current Woking Holiday Visa expires and I would have to leave New Zealand to go back to Germany.

I made a final "adjustment" to my application today. By passing my Liquor Controller Qualification I have enabled myself to apply for a Duty Manager's Licence - a position that has been offered to me and will hopefully play an important role in my application showing immigration that I am a reliable, honest, hard-working and trustworthy person that will be a valuable addition to the country...

On Monday we will hopefully get an appointment with a justice of peace to certify all the relevant documents and then I can FINALLY sent the whole package off to immigration. And then all I can do is wait... and wait... and wait... that's going to be a horrible time...

Immigration New Zealand: Almost ready

on May 19, 2011

Just giving you all a little update on how my immigration process is going. In the last few weeks I not only passed my medical examination. I have also filled out about 50 pages of documents, burnt a CD with a few cute shots of Daniel and me and have received some wonderful letters of support from my friends over here. There is still a few things at work that need to be taken care of - which I will talk about once everything is settled - and then I should finally be able to send that huge and expensive package off to immigration.

Wish me luck!!! I have less than two months to go...

Immigration New Zealand: Good news!

on May 04, 2011

Once again I went to the doctor's today to see whether the second blood test for my immigration medical was reason to worry, too. But I got a green light from the medical staff: This time the test didn't show any abnormalities.

I HAVE PASSED MY IMMIGRATION MEDICAL!!!

What a relief, I can tell you. I think (and hope!) this was the biggest obstacle on the way to my new visa. Now I "just" have to fill out an approx. 40 pages long application - it's only four pages for Dan - and gather enough proof and evidence that Daniel and I actually are in a "stable" relationship, living together and more.

I have already received two supporting letters from friends and was quite overwhelmed about what they had written. My boss, too, keeps asking me for update because he really wants me to stay - especially with the Rugby World Cup coming up later this year. It feels really good knowing I have all these people behind me. Now all I need to do is convince immigration that there is no other option than letting me stay...

Immigration New Zealand: problem!!!

on April 29, 2011

I've spent approx. 500 NZ dollars (270 Euros) in the last two weeks just to get my immigration medical done. That's probably the most vital part in the whole process because if the immigration guys think that you don't have "an acceptable standard of health" you don't even need to apply for anything. They'll just decline you.

My chest-x-ray was all good, no problems there. The blood test was my biggest worry. First of all - I HATE NEEDLES! Second - I know that there are so many things that can influence blood results and make them look bad even though you're perfectly alright.

Well, my worry wasn't completely unnecessary :-( I had yet another doctor's appointment today to complete the questionnaire for the medical, do some more tests like eyesight, weihging, measuring, ... the list ist ENDLESS!!!

Anyway - seems that my blood test wasn't 100 percent ok. My kidney function was a bit too high which according to the doctor could relate to some antibiotics I have recently been taking. So I had to go back and have some more blood taken today (at least for free this time). If the results turn out bad again I'm seriously in trouble.

I don't know what I'm going to do if I have to go back to Germany in July. The thought alone makes me wanna scream and cry. I left that country for a reason - and have found more than I could ever wish for here in New Zealand. It's my home now. I have found love here... Who thinks they have a right to take that away from me again?!?

Shouldn't every human being have the right - the FREEDOM - to chose to live wherever they want? Just because you're born in the wrong country shouldn't mean you're stuck there your entire life! Coming from former East Germany I know what it means to be denied the freedom of going where you want - and I also know what it can do to people. It can destroy you!

Yet another recipe: White gluten-free bread

on April 14, 2011

I'm still on the hunt for nice bread recipes. Requirement: gluten-free AND dairy-free. The Irish Soda Bread I made last time was very delicious - but it doesn't last very long. Even after a day or two it gets a yucky taste to it :-(

Earlier this week I found a recipe for white gluten-free bread after asking google for help. I had to make some minor changes to the recipe and the dough is not the easiest or fastest to prepare. But it turned out quite good. I had some straight away which was alright - the rest went into the freezer. Just had some of if - microwaved for about 30 seconds then slighty toasted. YUMMY =D So I'm sharing this one with you as well... (ATTENTION: You do need a breadmaker for this recipe!)

Ingredients

1 egg
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup melted butter (I used Olivani - a dairy-free spread based on olive oil)
1 teaspoon (tsp) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (tbsp) honey (didn't have any, so left it out)
1 cup tapioca flour
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 cup potato flour

--> I can't be bothered buying ten different flours so I normally use the Healtherie's baking mix or like this time Orgran's self-raising gluten-free flour mix

1 tbsp Xantham Gum
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine (didn't have any, so left it out)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp powdered milk (as a dairy substitute I used 4 tbsp soymilk instead)
1 tbsp dried yeast

Preparation

* whisk egg and water together in a bowl and put in the breadmaker
* add melted butter, lemon juice (and honey)
* in a separate bowl combine the flours, Xantham Gum, (gelatine), salt, sugar and milk
* add mix to the breadmaker
* sprinkle yeast on top
* set breadmaker to "Basic" mode

Once the bread is ready let it cool down in the breadmaker for about 10 minutes, then take it out and let it cool down further on a rack. Brush the top with melted butter for a nicer crust.

Immigration New Zealand: Step II

It's been a few weeks since I managed to talk to an Immigration Officer about my plans to stay in New Zealand. I didn't have much time to organise things while my family was here. But now that my brother and my mom have returned to Germany and I'm getting back into my daily routine I finally started taking some actions.

Number one: I went to the doctor's today to set up everything that's needed for my medical. We filled out some of the forms and the first few tests that she took were all good.

Number two: The worst part will come next week. I need to have a few blood tests done, that's what I'm dreading most (needlephobia *wäh*). I hope I'll get the same lady who took my blood last time - she was finished before I could even think about starting to panic!

Number three: Also on the list for next week is a chest X-ray. I don't see any problems with this as I'm 100 percent suer I don't suffer from tuberculosis.

The good thing is - I don't need appointments for either of those, just show up and get it over with. Also the results should be back within one or two days the doctor said - which is great! On the medical form they talk about WEEKS! But I guess that's the good part about being in a rather small neighboorhood everybody knows everybody and things get done a lot faster...

Number four on the list will be another visit at the doctor's to talk about the results and fill out a questionnaire for Immigration. If everything goes well I should have completed this part by the end of the month *woohoo*

Keep your fingers crossed for me, folks! Because if it turns out that I don't have an "Acceptable Standard Of Health" (official immigration language!!!) I don't even need to bother with a visa appllication.

By the way, the medical form also says this: "If you intend to give birth in New Zealand you are not considered to have an acceptable standard of health." So no more hints or recommendations of that sort, please...

A family holiday in New Zealand - part II

on April 13, 2011

After leaving Rotorua we made our way to the last part of our journey: Coromandel. I'd already been here in January and absolutely loved the peninsula! Once again we got to stay with the Couchsurfing couple in Thames that last time made our journey such a wonderful experience.


Before, however, entering into Coromandel there was yet one stop the two "bros" in our group had to make: The Giant Bottle of L&P - New Zealand's national drink. It is made of lemon juice and mineral water from Paeroa - and of course nowadays belongs to Coca-Cola... Anyway - my brother fell in love with that drink and thinks about introducing it to Germany. So watch out!


Once again Christiane and Patrick had a full house. Staying with them at the same time was Isabelle, a French girl. She wasn't couchsurfing but used HelpExchange where you work for someone approx 4 hours per day and get to stay with them for free in return. Anyway... since Isabelle didn't have a car we thought it'd be nice to take her along and the five of us went up Paaku Hill near Tairua. You can drive almost all the way up and then it's just a tenn minute climb to the top. The view is worth it!

Next stop on the itinerary: Cathedral Cove. Unfortunately one of the last cyclons had destroyed the last bit of the walk (or more the staircase was gone) so we had to abseil down with the help of a rope. What an adventure! It was quite slippery and muddy but we all made it.


Hot Water Beach wasn't as nice as last time, either. Mostly due to the rain and cold wind. But at least there were enough spots for everyone to dig up their own spa pool. Only this time the tide was still very low and the hot springs right under the surface. We burnt ourselves a few times and couldn't really relax that much. It was a constant "who's getting the next bucket with cold water to cool this down a bit?"

The last day we spent mostly in Coromandel Township. My mom wanted to go to the Driving Creek Railway. There is that old guy who spent 30 years of his life building train tracks into the Coromandel mountain range with tunnels and sculptures along the way. At the very top he built the Eyefull Tower from where you have really good views over Hauraki Gulf. The journey takes about an hour, is a nice experience - but costs 25 dollars! Not sure if that's worth it but the guide said they have replanted thousands of native trees and are still helping native forest to grow back. That's what most of the money is obviously for which is a good cause.


My highlight that day was this "little" thing that was hiding - of course - in the train compartment I had chosen to sit in. It's a weta, one of New Zealand's oldest native animals. The Department of Conservation calls it a "creepy-crawly" and that it is indeed! It took Daniel quite a while to get it out of the train but it was either the weta or me. I guess he loves me more ;-)

Three weeks seem like a long time but they went by quite fast. So all the sudden it was time to drop my folks off at their hotel from where they had to take the airport shuttle quite early in the morning. It took us only a couple of hours to exchange pictures and put them from one computer onto the other. I guess the guy at the reception downstairs thought we were never going to leave.

Daniel and I stayed the weekend in Auckland to relax a bit before going back home. Sunday we watched the Red Bull Trolley Race at the Domain - but I wasn't that impressed. Some of the guys did have some pretty good ideas for their trolleys and it was fun watching the first couple ones go down the hill. But it wasn't really a race since they were all going down one by one. There were barely any crashes, either, and therefore little excitement.


A family holiday in New Zealand - part I

on April 12, 2011

It's amazing how many pictures some people can take in as little as three weeks. That is how long my mom and brother were here from Germany to visit me and find out why I'm so much in love with New Zealand. In those three weeks the two of them, I and Daniel managed to take approx 4300 (!!!) pictures in total. Anyone who has met my family will know who took the most...

You can imagine it took me a few days to sort through that mass of fotos. But somehow I managed and "downsized" my harddrive to about 300 pictures. Here's a few of them showing the highlights of our trip. After my mom and brother had hired a car to see most of Northland's beauties Daniel and I then took them south to explore the rest of the North Island. It was a similar trip to the one I had just done in January but this time we let my family decide where to go and what to see and do.


My mom loves birds. She even brought her binoculars along to spot as much wildlife as possible. After the Hamilton Gardens (awesome!!!) and a - rather disappointing - stop at Waitomo Caves we therefore stopped at Otorohanga where her guidebook suggested a really neat Kiwi House.

Unfortunately it had just closed a few minutes before our arrival. So what did my mom do? Pretty much beg the lady behind the glass door to let her in. "I've come all the way from Germany just to see a kiwi", she said. And you know what? It worked! For half the usual administration fee my mom was let into the Kiwi House and even spotted the kiwi before it was going to sleep. That was one of her highlights I think :-)

Not really a highlight but something we all won't forget was the funny noise somewhere on the way to Taupo. It was only the second day of our trip - and already we had a flat tire. It started raining at that point, too, but Daniel was quick enough changing the tire and we could get back on the road.

When he went to the mechanics the day after (of course it had happened on a Saturday and there was NOTHING open on Sunday so we were actually stuck in Taupo one night longer) they found a nail approx. 5cm long that was stuck in the tire! Daniel kept it as a souvenir *lol*


However, Taupo wasn't the worst place to get stuck. We were only meant to go to Napier the next day and skipping that part didn't feel too bad. Instead we went to Huka Falls which has a special meaning for Daniel and me. First of all Daniel LOVES waterfalls and second - when we made the trip to Rotorua, Taupo and Huka Falls last year in december during the Rotorua Triathlon it was the first time Daniel introduced me as his girlfriend *woohoo*

After Taupo we made our way to Rotorua. There I sent my family to Wai-o-tapu (sacred water) to explore the thermal mud and hot pools. They really enjoyed that.


Since Rotorua is also supposed to be a good spot to expierence a traditional hangi (the way the Maori used to prepare their food - underground) we decided to join a tour and booked ourselves a hangi and concert at the Tamaki Maori Village. That was definitely worth every cent ($NZ 105)!!!

In Maori tradition we were received at the marae by warriors and the chief and after accepting the token of friendship were welcomed into the marae by the women singing songs of welcome.

We learnt a lot of about Maori customs and protocol that night, "ancient" free-time activities such as carving and how the Maoris used to tattoo themselves (and still do in some places as far as I know - with the help of a sharp bone the tattoo is "hammered" into the skin). We watched a very entertaining performance of cultural dances and songs followed by the hangi - earth-smoked chicken and lamb with heaps of veges and pavlova and fruit salad as desert. What a feast!!!


Speaking of tattoos - my brother did not want to leave New Zealand without a proper tattoo (the European way, not the Maori one *lol*). So he went to a tattoo shop in Rotorua and got his very first tattoo done - a silver fern. It only took about half an hour, did hurt a bit - but he was proud as afterwards =D


My personal highlight of the entire trip was of a different nature. Since we had booked our cultural experience with Rotorua Hot Deals we had also received vouchers for the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park (normally the entrance fee is $NZ 25). And guess what they had - a lion cup!!! And you could pet it!!! I adore wild cats and have always wanted to do that. Having it happen on my birthday made it even more special!

This is Ella, a 10-months-old lion cub already weighing about 40 kilos. You won't be able to pet her for much longer as she is growing soooo fast! The keeper told us she eats about 5 kilos of horsemeat PER DAY! That's almost twice as much as an adult lion would have. What was surprising, too, is that her skin is not cuddly at all... more like leather, very hard.

If you want to pet a lion, too, check out the Park's website regularly. They have two female lions breeding and are hoping to have more cubs soon. For only $NZ 25 (approx. 13 Euros) that is definitely worth it! At other places (for example the Whangarei Zion Wildlife Park) it is a lot more expensive!

A flat tire and other obstacles

on April 03, 2011

It's been three days since Daniel, my mom, my brother and I had set off to a little adventure trip around the North Island. Apart from some minor misunderstandings and arguments things went alright - until yesterday. Dan's car is definitely not made for four people plus heaps of luggage. Every time we encountered a little bump in the road in sounded like the car was scraping along the pavement. Not a very good sound.

And then it happened - somewhere between Waitomo Caves and Taupo there was a big BANG - and one of our tires said goodbye forever. Luckily we had a spare one in the back and it didn't take too long for Dan to fix it. We made it into Taupo alright but since we had a huge trip planned for today - driving towards Tongariro National Park and then over to Napier - with unsealed roads as well there was no way we would do that without a new spare tire.

Unfortunately today is Sunday. And not only is nothing open. One of the tire places had an after-hours-phone-number - which we called - just to be informed that they don't operate on Sundays. GREAT!!! So what now? Well... the atmosphere wasn't the best for a while as different opinions and demands clashed.

In the end we decided to stay in Taupo one more night. The YHA luckily had space for us again despite a Warriors Game in town tonight. We'll get the tire problem sorted out tomorrow and then just go straight to Rotorua. There's more to see and do there anyway than in Napier.

I was also quite lucky to get a refund from Wotif.com where we had booked our accomodation. Normally they don't accept cancellations within 48hours or less. But I had spoken to someone at our Motel in Napier this morning and explained the situation to them. They were happy to give us a refund but said we'd have to talk to Wotif. To make it short - the Wotif-guy ended up calling the Motel in Napier, they confirmed that the cancellation is ok and now we get our money back *woohoo*

Everything else about our trip including some really cool pictures I'll share with you later... We're going to the pools today to relax a bit and "cool down"...

The family is reunited

on March 31, 2011


It's been ten days now that my mom and my brother have arrived in New Zealand. Keeping them happy and entertained wasn't easy at first. My brother's initial plan had been to cycle New Zealand - but since he came here with an ear and throat infection that was out of the question. Daniel showed them around a bit while I was working but still after a few days they got pretty bored. So they finally agreed to rent a car and have been exploring Northland for the last couple days.

They should be back tonight and then we're starting on a trip south (of Auckland) showing them the beauties of New Zealand's north island. It's going to be a similar trip to the one I've just done in January but that gives me the chance to lay back and relax a bit this time instead of playing busy tourist *lol*

Here's a few pictures of the things we've done and seen in the last few days...


Me, my Mom and my brother near the Waipoua Forest Visitor's Center.


Daniel and I in front of Tane Mahuta...



... and going for a swim at Kai Iwi Lakes while those Europeans are busy taking pictures ;-) (I think they were just chickening out thinking the water was too cold for them!!!)

How to make Irish Soda Bread - gluten- and dairy-free!

on March 20, 2011

Shortly after deciding to go gluten- and dairy-free (for health reasons) almost half a year ago I signed up for the Living-Without-Newsletter and am now receiving recipes for gluten- and dairy-free meals on a regular base. This week the following recipe caught my eye: Irish Soda Bread! Since I've been yearning for some yummy bread for ages I thought I'd give it a try. It sure looked very delicious!

And you know what? IT TASTES EVEN BETTER THAN IT LOOKS!!!!! So I'm going to share it with you and hope you'll enjoy is as much as I did. Since Living Without is an American based publication all the measurements are given in cups. If you're used to grams etc. just use a free online-converter...

ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Healtherie's Baking Mix)
1 teaspoon (tsp) baking soda
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (e.g. Edmond's)
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup gluten-free oats (available at Bin Inn's)
1 egg
1 cup soymilk (or ricemilk)

preparation

- preheat oven to 180°C
- lightly dust baking paper with flour
- mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum, salt and oats
- add egg and milk
- form soft, sticky dough
- place on a lighty floured surface and knead a few times
- shape dough into a flat circle approx 15cm in diameter and place it on prepared baking paper
- sprinkle with flour and mark the top with a big X
- bake until goldenbrown (the recipe said between 30 and 35mins but it took almost an hour to finish mine)

Enjoy :-)

One step closer...

on March 17, 2011

I finally got hold of an immigration officer yesterday and my hopes of being able to stay in the country have been raised considerably. Though two of three options I kinda had were basically ruled out. Going for residency under the Skilled Migrant Category as a journalist? Very unlikely to succeed without a job offer in New Zealand. Getting help from my current boss at the restaurant? Very unlikely to succeed. "He'd have a hard time convincing us why a foreigner is needed as a waitress and why no Kiwi could do that job." That's what the guy on the phone said anyway...

And then he asked me "Don't you have a partner who has a New Zealand passport?" - They actually ask you that!!! And obviously the partnership-based work permit is the best option I have. So what does that mean? Both, Dan and I, need to fill out a couple of forms. I to apply for the work permit, he to state that yes he is my boyfriend and yes he would support me.

I will also need to get a full medical done including a chest x-ray and heaps of blood tests. That kinnda freaks me out because me and needles are not exactly on good terms ;-/ I will probably need a week to recover from that...

We also need "evident proof that we are in a stable relationship". There's heaps of different documents and things they'll accept so we'll have to start collecting stuff now. But if I don't fail the medical it shouldn't be a problem even though we've only been together for three months now. Because according to the immigration guy they don't really give a damn about how long you've been seeing each other.

Well, I have four months left on my current visa and it will take about two to process my application for the next one. Doesn't sound too bad, ay? Plus once my application is accepted I'll get an interims permit that allows me to stay AND work in the country until a decision has been made. So all good for now, my back feels a lot lighter now that I have all this information...

Has anybody been in the same situation before?

Hora Hora!

Nope, this has nothing to do with Greek mythology or the Spanish language or whatever. Hora Hora is simply the name of my new soccer club. Unfortunately my days at Tikipunga were numbered. Only eight girls showed up to the first training of the season last week and numbers dropped to six on Monday. So when it was time to go to practice again yesterday I wasn't very surprised to receive a call from our coach telling me Tiki won't have a girls' team this year :-(

So what to do? Most of the girls went to Kamo to see if they still needed players. But what I've heard about Kamo so far wasn't very pleasant so I decided not to join them. Instead I went to a friend's team - in town and therefore a bit further away but a wise decision.

I instantly felt "at home" in Hora Hora. Not only was the majority of the team closer to my agge than in Tiki but the coach also maintained a good combination of fun and serious stuff. The warmup was very efficient followed by some intense tactical exercises. Gosh that felt sooo good! Finally being back on the ball and seeing that I hadn't forgotten it all! I think my coach back in Germany would be proud of me...

I did get a bit worried once we started the sprinting session. But once again I was positively surprised about how the coach handled things. I had told him about my exercise induced asthma and it seemed like he had encountered that before. He could see me starting to struggle just when I could feel my breathing becoming harder. I was allowed to take a break without any fuss and none of the other girls had a problem with it either.

So yeah, I'll definitely go back to training next week and I'm looking forward to kicking some ass this season *woohoo*