"At this point I was desperate for money and so I started working in the hostel for free accommodation and took on any other jobs I could get."
I had just returned to Europe from my travels around South East Asia and my working holiday in Australia and found myself itching to leave yet again.
I couldn’t help it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Europe and Dublin, but I just couldn't wait to get out again and explore more of the other side of the world. My destination this time: New Zealand.
I wanted to go so badly that I didn't care that I had little savings, very little. I thought it would be enough to last me for a short two-week holiday in Thailand and the first few weeks in New Zealand until I found myself a job.
Unfortunately, things don't always work out as you hope and so it happened that I got robbed during my holiday in Thailand, on an overnight bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. I was devastated! I barely had any cash left and would need to start earning money pretty much as soon as I arrived in the country. I already had my flight to New Zealand booked and the working holiday visa sorted, so I couldn't even consider backing out.
Luckily when I arrived at Auckland Airport, the immigration officer did not request proof that I had sufficient funds to support myself – phew!
It was winter in the southern hemisphere, and the weather in Auckland was pretty miserable. I checked into a hostel, and it didn’t take long until I met some nice people. We had heaps of fun going out, which didn't help my cash situation at all. It turned out not to be that easy to find a job quickly in Auckland, so I started looking for any employment anywhere in New Zealand.
After nearly a week and countless applications and phone calls I finally found a vineyard job in Blenheim on the South Island. So I hopped on an 11hr bus to Wellington, a 3.5 hour ferry to Picton and another short bus to Blenheim. Once I arrived at the hostel that had promised me the work it turned out that the job on the vineyard would not start for another few days.
At this point I was desperate for money and so I started working in the hostel for free accommodation and took on any other jobs I could get. I worked in a brewery for one day with the perk of getting a free crate of beer at the end of the day, yay! I planted onions for two days, which was truly back-breaking work. And then I finally started working on the vineyard and did something called tying of the grapevines. Even though the work was hard, especially getting up super early on frosty mornings, I was happy that I finally had a job that would last for more than only a day or two.
Just when I thought I was back on track, I – along with a heap of other people working at the vineyards - got sacked. And it seemed there was no work coming up anywhere else in the region. I found myself wondering over and over, if I made a massive mistake rushing into this trip and kept cursing myself for travelling half way across the world without any financial backup. But this was not the time for regrets and anyways, there was nothing I could do about it now. I had to make a new plan, get my shit together and find a job!
The next day I found myself on a ferry back to Wellington on the North Island. As soon as I arrived I started working for free accommodation at a hostel and I spent all my free time looking for a job, any job, anywhere.
This time all my effort paid off! Two weeks later, I started a job in Auckland where I was assisting young backpackers with the desire to both travel and work in New Zealand. I was totally in my element. This job enabled me to travel around New Zealand, see places and do things I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams.
Nearly five years have passed since I first arrived in New Zealand, and back then I would have never thought that I'd still be living here. Even better, after a long battle with immigration, I can now proudly say that I am a New Zealand resident, yay!
Looking back, I am proud of myself that I made it through the first few weeks which were not only tough physically but also mentally. I have learned that travelling and backpacking is not always easy and sometimes there are obstacles in your way, but if you're determined enough and believe in yourself, it will all work out – eventually.
In the end, I can say that all the hardship and struggles of the first few weeks in New Zealand were worth it. I have learned so much about myself and proven to myself that I can do anything if I just want to. And that is priceless.
Author - Jenny Ziemen
Jenny Ziemen is from Germany. She has lived in several countries throughout the past ten years, including New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and the island of Tenerife. She loves exploring new lands and meeting new people.
Thank you for visiting! Here you will find a collection of travel stories from women around the world. We post new ones each week and every one is as unique and varied as the next. Enjoy!