As we were planning our move to New Zealand, the selection of Wellington came pretty quickly as we did our initial research on cities to settle. Auckland was a too big for us (having come from small towns) and Christchurch was still devastated by the earthquake, offering little for the fields we were interested in. Wellington, the third largest city and centrally located in the country proved to be the most attractive place for several reasons:

1. Largest enough to offer lots of opportunity but small enough to give a true New Zealand feel

2. Harbour city located on the water with some surf close by

3. Located in the middle of the country, providing easy access to both North and South Islands

4. Known to have a great culture with lots of restaurants, cafés, shopping and entertainment

So the beautiful harbour city nestled in the mountains would be our new home.

Downtown Wellington along the harbour 

As we researched suburbs within Wellington to live, we knew immediately we wanted to live near the water, away from the downtown centre. Lyall Bay was an instant draw as it offered a beautiful u-shaped cove with sandy beaches and on a good day, great surf as well!

Just before we left for our South Island journey, we lined up a few places to see in Island Bay – a cove just next to Lyall Bay, but were unimpressed with the options and the rocky coastline. Deciding to wait till we returned to continue our search, we got worried when a day into our trip a number of great places came up in Lyall Bay that we knew we would miss out on. Hoping something would come up when we return (or still be there), we took our chances and waited.

As we got into Queenstown after finishing the Milford Track, I did a search on TradeMe (NZ’s version of Kijiji) and found a couple places in Lyall Bay that had potential. One in particular stood out as it was located RIGHT on the water, very close to the surf and across the street from an infamous café in the area. I immediately called to book an appointment, however that meant we would have to race up the South Island in one day to make the Tuesday ferry and get to the showing. Not wanting to miss out of the perfect place, we decided to push forward with the long day and even called back to pull in our appointment by an hour so we could be the first to view it.We showed up a bit early to check out the premises and even timed the walk to the surf area of the beach (Jordan’s idea). We knew right away this was the one and since we were meeting the current tenant, we knew we had to impress him and show we were seriously interested so he could pass along the message to the landlord (who is located in Perth, Australia). Coming from Canada, the tenant, Andy, immediately liked us as he loved his trip to Vancouver a few years back and the landlord was apparently also quite fond of Canada as he had some native artwork from BC hanging on the walls.

Top right apartment on the top floor with views of the bay from both the balcony and master bedroom on the other side

Happy the apartment was as nice as the pictures online, we immediately started filling out the application. Before we were able to really express our interest though, there was a knock at the door – it was the next appointment – 10 mins early! Andy, being polite, let the 2 girls in, but we were a bit ticked they were cutting into our viewing time (and it was a bit awkward as I was filling out the application while they were trying to see the apartment).

As soon as they saw us filling out an application, they immediately asked Andy for one too, without even seeing the whole apartment! Wanting to get out of the awkwardness, we handed our application to Andy and said we hoped to hear back soon. Knowing we were competing with those 2 girls, I sent Andy a text thanking him and that “We loved it and hope we get picked!” hehehe

Unsure on when we would hear back, we scheduled another viewing of a small house just down the road from the other place, also near the water and in Lyall Bay. I immediately fell in love with the quaint little home, but the inside was definitely not nearly as nice as the apartment – and the laundry was outside in a sketchy shed (quite common in NZ for some reason….) Despite the cuteness of the exterior, it just wasn’t offering the full package like the apartment was (and it was more expensive!)

Other home we were considering on Lyall Bay

We grabbed an application form anyways and decided we would fill it out, but would wait till Friday before submitting it, in hopes the apartment came through. Luckily we got an email that night asking for us to Skype with the apartment landlord as he was offering us the opportunity to take the tenancy. Ecstatic with the news, we cheerfully signed the lease and scanned it off to make it official! We move in November 1st and couldn’t be more excited to finally have a place to settle into.

I can’t wait to get our little 2 bedroom apartment all setup and ready for when our guests arrive!! (aka The Poste’s and Kristina & Brent so far!!) Anyone else considering a visit to NZ you have a free place to stay – visitors welcome!!