Adventures at the end of the Long White Cloud

Our Next Life

  • David Swann

A Smashing Move

Packing up the House

The big day arrived scarily fast... just six weeks after we embarked on this adventure. Moving day... always hard work, physically and mentally. And so it was.

We've been packing a little bit for the last three weeks and a lot for the last week. To keep the costs manageable, we'd opted for the self-pack option - so we box everything up and then the removers come and load everything into the truck. We're quite good at it... but slower than the professionals and probably using a lot more packing material.

Even so, inevitably, on the day, it's still chaotic... doubly so when the truck is so far away from the house. So there's no possibility of organising both the uplift and the order onto the truck. I pity folks with OCD - it must be a nightmare trying and failing to keep track of everything. No doubt an even bigger nightmare for the movers!

Moving is exhausting. It's not just being on the move all day, it's also the mental effort of issuing non-stop directions and the emotional drain involved in packing up precious things.

The first of the movers arrived at 8:30AM and they were all gone by 4:30PM. That's not bad given that there is a cable car ride in the mix: uplift from the house; move to the bottom of the cable car, load onto the cable car, ride up in the cable car, offload the cable car, carry up a flight of stairs and then load onto the truck. The team were sweating by the end!

As were we! We were carrying the car packing up steep steps. Doesn't sound much but a Mercedes ML500 with the seats down has a cavernous boot! I climbed 140 flights of stairs and walked 10km... not too shabby.

We then had the joy of completing the top-to-tail cleaning of the house ready for hand back to the property manager. Fortunately, we had received a 190 photo album detailing every last aspect of the house; it was just a matter of going back and checking against each photo and taking a hand back photo for each aspect. Great!

We got that finished by about 5:30PM and then we moved into an airbnb in Brooklyn, one of Wellington's hillier suburbs. It was a disappointing flat - it felt like a prison cell and had been very poorly maintained. Also, no toilet paper and towels added to the 'meh' feeling about the place. When we got chatting to the host, he said that they were only doing airbnb to cover a couple of week gaps between regular tenants. We felt sorry for both the outgoing and incoming tenants!

Another Calm Crossing

We slept well and leapt awake at 6AM ready to head down to the ferry. It was a lot busier than last week's crossing and we joined a lengthy queue. Not sure why it was busy.

What of Mr Pippin, the cat, I hear you cry? Mr Pippin is very dog-like in his acceptance of change. He happily climbed into the car and he was deeply fascinated by all the activity at the port. He seemed particularly engaged by the truck movements. Never known a cat like him!

We were worried about the crossing on several levels. Sarah's not great with rough crossings and travelling with a cat is always a game of Russian Roulette in terms of dirty protests. But it was another flat calm crossing. Remarkable! That's four in a row at a time of year when the Cook Strait is notorious for rough weather.

We left Mr Pippin in the car. Sarah was allowed one visit down to check on him... and he was fast asleep on his favourite sheepskin. So no worries there!

We were both tired on the crossing - so I zoned out in the recliner lounge while Sarah went to watch one of the Marvel films in the ship's cinema. Picton loomed all too quickly and we were back to a shrug from Mr Pippin... miffed that his sleep was cut short I think!

Back down to Christchurch

This was my fourth drive between Picton and Christchurch in six weeks... so I'm done with it. It's massively spectacular and it was interesting seeing the rapid progress in repairing the road after the Kaikoura quake... but we both just wanted to get down to Bluff.

It was a real pleasure driving the Mercedes. We love the ultra-smooth and quiet ride. So did Mr Pippin! We'd put his cage behind the my seat and his cat litter behind Sarah's seat (Sarah is pleased to report that there were no sudden stops)... and so he was quite at home.

We stopped for a little light crayfish lunch at a roadside eatery at Okiwi Bay, between Seddon and Kaikoura. Yum! Mr Pippin enjoyed a stroll on a leash... again, a very dog-like cat!

We arrived in Christchurch after dark and navigated to our airbnb for the night. Which was an absolute delight. Easily our favourite so far. It was stylish, simple and clean. I should have taken photos!

A Bad Day

We woke very early and decided to make a fast start. Too fast in transpired. The airbnb had a very long and windy driveway with no turn around at the end. So I get to reverse the rather vast Merc in the dark. As I'm turning, I brush against a very soft-looking shrub. Which must have steel girders inside. Nek minute, wing mirror has detached from the Merc and has taken up residence inside the shrub. Bugger!

We managed to recover all the parts... all of which were undamaged with the exception of what I now know to be a part known as the mirror frame which is lovingly forged by elves out of solid gold embellished with diamonds. Or at least, that's the only possibly explanation for its $1,200 price list from the friendly dealer that we stopped off at in Dunedin. As I spluttered, I asked how much the entire mirror assembly would be. He laughed.

In an afternote, I finally managed to source a complete mirror assembly from the UK for a 'mere' $500. Still, I end up with lots of spares. Grrr.

After that, the drive just seemed interminable. Plenty of time to dwell on driving ineptness and run through the 'what if' scenarios.

Cutting a long story short, we finally got down to Bluff at 3PM to be greeted by Hope who'd been looking after the house for the last week. That turned a bad day into a great day.

Bits and Pieces

After a night sleeping on the floor, we needed the removal team to arrive... and the weather to remain good.

Crown Relocations arrived with a container full of kit at 10AM... and the weather held. Great! The Crown team of Andrew and Malcolm were fantastic and worked bloody hard. But... as they started moving stuff around there were alarming tinkling noises.

In our 18 previous moves, I think the sum total of damage was a broken mirror that fell over during an Army move. We left the Army a couple of years later so dodged the seven years of bad luck!

In this one move, Crown managed to break six items... including a large mirror that's been in the family for years and a precious chinese porcelain plaque. The damage wasn't a consequence of unfortunate accidents - this was a result of horrible packing and handling by Crown. That's wasn't just my opinion, that was the Invercargill-based team's opinion.

At least Sarah's bike survived intact. That's because they left it by the roadside in Wellington! Which although a laudable attempt to have at least one item undamaged, wasn't the most useful place for a bike to be. Fortunately, between Charlotte (our eldest) and John (Sarah's brother), a rescue party was launched and the bike was recovered.

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Bluff, Southland, New Zealand


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