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The Wing’n it has landed.

20160429_manabeachgirlsOne of the overarching goals of our extended tiki tour here in Zealandia was to decide which of our favorite corners we should settle down in for a while. Believe it or not, after nearly eight months together in an 18-foot long motorhome we are kind of ready to spread out a bit. Michael got to work on getting his CV out in the IT world again; I gaped at the 3-inch stack of paper that is my first printed draft of a novel (ok, single-sided and double spaced, but still). And the girls were literally begging to start back in school again (it worked…ha!).

But the problem was…where?? We loved boaty, beachy Tauranga, sunny Nelson, Scottish Dunedin. We still loved quirky, cool, windy Wellington and even Auckland with her wild west coast beaches and eastern islands. There is the Bay of Islands full of friends and boats. And what about somewhere completely off the map like Invercargill or New Plymouth? (Or, maybe not.)

Oriental Parade, Wellington

Welly

Welly train

In the end, our hearts pulled for Wellington so we pointed Wing’n it‘s bow south for one final time after we arrived back in Auckland from Tonga. But little did we know, back in early February, that our decision-making had only begun. Wellington’s not just a city, but a huge region; commuters flow into the city all the way from the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley to the northeast, and from Kapiti and Porirua on the southwest coast. And then there’s the plethora of funky neighborhoods in and bordering the city proper. All of which are serviced by Wellington’s world-class commuter train and bus networks. Now where do we go?!

Job hunting kinda sucks. Really thankful the girls love the library.

Job hunting kinda sucks. Really thankful the girls love the library.

Learning how to skate. A tiny adventure.

Learning how to skate. A tiny adventure.

And so it happened that by wing’n it, we ended up right where we needed to be. Wellington’s got some choice freedom camping spots and while Michael hunted for work we spent time at nearly all of them. We spent many nights at Evan’s Bay Marina just minutes from downtown and at parks on the south coast watching the sun set over the Cook Strait. But as much as we thought we wanted to live right in the bustling city, after a few days in town we always found ourselves aching for a quiet spot by the sea.

Freedom camping in the city (Evans Bay Marina, Wellington)

Freedom camping in the city (Evans Bay Marina, Wellington).

Ngatitoa Domain with our new 'hood in the distance

Ngatitoa Domain with our new ‘hood in the distance.

Just to the north of Wellington is Porirua Harbour. The city of the same name lies at the southern end but scattered around it are small neighborhoods and parks. We found ourselves coming back to the domain in Mana again and again. With Wing’n it parked right on the edge of the quiet turquoise sea, we most enjoyed unwinding after the busyness of the city. We’d park our camping chairs on the grass and watch: seagulls, families picnicking, kite boarders, sailboats, windsurfers, brave swimmers, fishing-folk. We’d chat with our rotating NZMCA neighbors, walk to the dairy for an ice-cream, stroll over the marina and look at boats. Eventually we stayed so long we wondered if we should register to vote there.

Then, one morning Michael came back from his morning run, all abuzz. “I just found the coolest little neighborhood…cafes, cottages right on the beach, people everywhere chatting and happy. You’ve got to come see this place!” The next day we drove the Wing’n it over for our second coffee and it was exactly as he said: a great coffee shop on the corner, a fish & chip shop, a dairy, Indian and Thai and Polish restaurants, a boating club, a beautiful primary school right there…all with kids and dogs and families milling about everywhere. It is quintessentially Kiwi. Best of all, there is a train station: hop on and it takes you to the center of Wellington city in 25 minutes.

Everything, as it seems to do, fell into place after that. We found a funky old bach to rent right across from the beach, Michael got not one but two job offers, we enrolled the girls in school, and even found the most adorable kitten ever at the local SPCA. We parked the Wing’n it in front of our little garage and moved out. It took about 30 minutes.

That was a month ago and we’re still so in love with where we’ve landed. The girls’ new school is warm and welcoming, shoes optional, and learning is fun, no pressure required. We can walk around the corner to the village for a coffee and ice-cream and hello to a neighbor. Or head the other direction, out to the coastal tracks. Michael takes the train into the city to work, and is home by 6 to watch the sun set past Mana Island, across the Cook Strait, dipping behind the Marlborough Sounds.

A lovely place to just be.

Our new wheels are a little more fun to drive. Sorry, Wing'n it.

Our new wheels are a little more fun to drive. Sorry, Wing’n it.

Just another weekday morning. We will miss this.

Just another weekday morning. We will miss this.

Moving day. Our new little place is the add-on on top of the original bach below. I'm standing on the beach, taking this photo.

Moving day. Our new little place is the add-on on top of the original bach below. I’m standing on the beach, taking this photo.

We went a bit crazy with our brand-new library card.

We went a bit crazy with our brand-new library card.

The hardest thing about coming back to NZ was leaving our beloved cats behind. We fulfilled our promise to get another as soon as possible. Then this guy showed up. Mr. Mouse. The coolest cat ever.

The hardest thing about coming back to NZ was leaving our beloved cats behind. We fulfilled our promise to get another as soon as possible. And just in time, we met Mr. Mouse. The coolest cat ever.

Sunset Parade

The walk to school really can't be beat.

The walk to school really can’t be beat.

Last days, unemployed

Sunset over Mana

Bach'n it

Bach’n it

 

15 Comments

  1. Meri says:

    Congrats!! Lovely!!! Looks cozy and exciting. Love the kitty – we just found a kitten yesterday on the road and brought him to the house we’re sitting to fend off monster vermin. His name is Fish. It will be a while before he can tackle a rat, but his moth catching skills are righteous!

    1. Sara says:

      Thanks Meri! Fish! I love it! So far Mouse is only catching bedmice but he’s definitely working on his vermin skills. 🙂

  2. Anni says:

    awesome pics! great to hear that coming back to land can be so much pleasure and excitement. all the best for your new home!

    1. Sara says:

      Thanks Anni! It’s all about little adventures. 🙂

  3. Lola says:

    Awww! Loving your adventures. He crew of Pandion thinks fondly of y’all often!! Xoxoxoxo

  4. Leslie says:

    Soooo happy for you guys! Looks like you’ve found your perfect place! Can’t wait to visit NZ!

  5. Amy says:

    Congratulations on the next chapter of your adventure! So fun to read about your journey!

  6. Ryan says:

    Congrats on the new digs. My wife and I got a copy of “Voyaging with Kids” a few weeks ago; we enjoy flipping through it and dreaming.

    Question about international employment: was it difficult to navigate the visa, etc. process to land a job in NZ? Do you have a limited timeline for staying there?

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Ryan~ So glad you are enjoying the book! In regards to working in NZ, check out this old post if you haven’t seen it already. It pretty much details every step we took in our immigration process: http://www.svwondertime.com/2013/07/03/how-to-move-to-new-zealand-in-31-easy-steps/

      We’re permanent residents now, with no intention of leaving again. Unless it’s on a boat. 😉

  7. Katie says:

    Congrats! I love, love NZ and can’t go enough. I just got back from a two week trip and am already planning the next one. I plan to have the family move there for a year at some point. I want to find something awesome like you guys, but on the south island. More scouting is needed. 🙂

    1. Sara says:

      It won’t be difficult to find to find a sweet spot on the South Island. Hardest will be picking one! We can’t wait to go back down, feels like we have SO much still to see down there! It’s truly amazing.

  8. Sidra says:

    I absolutely love your blog and life in general. We’re from Indiana, currently living in Chicago and hopefully moving to Wellington soon! Just waiting for immigration to make their decision as to whether or not to give us a skilled migrant visa. My husband is a software engineer and I’m a makeup artist, we also have to small children 🙂 Definitely looking forward to a much slower pace of life.

    1. Sidra says:

      *two (eeks)

    2. Sara says:

      Thanks Sidra! Good luck with the visa…I’m sure it will go through just fine. 🙂 We really love Wellington. Michael’s in IT (security) so let me know if your husband needs any job contacts. Let’s keep in touch and I hope to meet you all when you move down!!

      1. Sidra says:

        You are too kind! Going to send you an email and hopefully we’ll all be able to meet up in the near future!