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Within two days of arriving in Auckland I was already anxious to start setting up my life. I even had a list made up of things i needed to acomplish. I had heard of a place called Travellers Contact Point (TCP) that was supposed to be an excellent resource so i headed down to 87 Queen Street to check it out.

The first thing i did was buy a cellphone. I bought mine right at TCP but there are lots of stores and stands around Queen Street or anywhere else that sell phones, SIM cards, etc. They are not too expensive, i paid $160 for my phone, SIM card, and $20 worth of minutes. I also signed up for the mail service at TCP. It's $25/3 months, $30/6 months, $45/12 months. They give you an address so you can get all your mail sent there, and they can also forward it for free to any other part of NZ when you leave Auckland. Since you need an address in order to set up a bank account it's a good idea to get a mailbox set-up unless you already have a flat or something.

Opening a bank account was also on my 'list' and was easily done. All you have to do is show up at a bank with your passport and some money. I chose the ANZ bank b/c it has a Thrifty account that has no monthly fee and gives you 10 free transactions a month! To work in NZ you need to apply for an IRD number. At TCP they have the forms for this and you can fill them out there and fax them in along with a photocopy of your passport and visa.

Finding accomodation in Auckland is fairly easy, it just depends on what you are looking for and how long you are planning to stay. If you don't mind sharing a room with other people then there are hostels that you can live in. The Fat Camel is located downtown, it's clean and has a good atmosphere, it costs $126/week to live there. There are also hostels a little bit further away from the city centre that run for about $110/week. If you would rather live in a flat or apartment then the NZ Herald or a website at are the best places to look.

It's helpful to have a fairly detailed map or to be near someone who is from auckland when you are looking up places because they list flats by suburb name, and you don't want to look into a bunch of places that end up being an hour away from the city centre (unless that's where you wanna live). Most places are about $90-140/week, sometimes the price includes utilities but sometimes not, so just make sure to ask. And if you don't have any furniture you will need to either find a furnished place or at least buy a bed.

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Before i arrived in NZ i had already arranged a job working as a Dental Assistant for a temp agency called Dental Personnel. However, working as a DA here is quite different than it was in Canada (and not for the better) so i decided after 3 weeks to find a different job. The NZ Herald has a huge job section on Wednesday which is helpful, depending on what you are looking for. There are lots of ads for waiters, bartenders, etc. I looked in the paper and then went to check out the job boards at TCP. I ended up looking at temp agencies, there are quite a few here in Akld. These agencies place ppl for different amounts of time, from 1 week to 6 months or more. But they usually prefer if you will available to work for at least 3 months. They deal mostly with reception, data entry, telemarketing, administration, customer service, etc. The jobs usually pay $12-18/hr. It's a bonus if you have experience in one of the above areas but i didn't and it turned out not tyo be a problem at all. The 3 main agencies are Select Appointments (918-2030), Kelly Services (914-8690), and Recruitment Solutions (379-8771). Once you have a current CV you can phone an agency and set up an appointment for an interview. At the interview they just have you fill out lots or forms, answer some questions about previous work, and usually perform some sort of typing test. When you go to the interview bring your passport, visa, CV, Bank Account details, IRD #, and the names of two previous employers to use as references (if your references are from out of the country bring their fax # and email address). If you make appointments with more than once agency in one day make sure that they are 2-3 hrs apart because they can take a while. I had no experience with office work and got offered jobs at both agencies that i went to so i would not so it is difficult to find work!

Auckland is very spread out but if you live and work close together then you won't have to commute everyday and it won't really affect you. But if you're going to be working downtown then the closer you can live the better. If you are looking to buy a car in Auckland there are usually notices at hostels, at TCP, or in the newspaper. There are also big car fairs in Ellerslie and Manukau where you can get really good deals. The bus system in Akld isn't great, but it's useful. There is an info centre at Skycity that has all the bus schedules and ppl that can help you figure out how to get to your destination. The main info centre is not open yet but it will be opening at Britomart at the bottom of Queen Street down by the waterfront.

The cost of living in Auckland can be a little expensive; general things such as deoderant, razors, etc are much more expensive than I am used to. But stores such as the Warehouse and Rendells can help save money. Restaurants, grocery stores, clothing, etc is not too pricey. Nightlife in Auckland is pretty similar to any other city. There are quite a lot of bars, pubs, clubs, etc, especially downtown. A popular backpackers place is called the Globe, which is in the basement of Auckland Central Backpackers on Queen St. There are also lots or places down at the waterfront and on K Road. Auckland has a variety of things to do including going up (walking or driving) one of the numerous extinct volcanoes. Mt Eden is a popular one and it only takes about 15-20 min to get to the top. You can also go to the museum, the skytower, the zoo, or you can take the ferry to Davenport or a nearby island such as Waiheke Island for the day. Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet have tons of suggestions on places to go. Hostels also usually have tons of brochures on different ways to spend your day. Auckland is very similar to any other city of it's size. And Aucklanders are used to tons of backpackers and the like wandering around, and they don't mind pointing you in the right direction if you are lost. I hope people can find something helpful from my experiences here!

If you have questions for me you can email me at
mellieanne20 at hotmail dot com
Happy travels!

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