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"...