How I ended up in New Zealand for 2 years and counting…

I still remember the feeling of excitement when I stepped off the plane in Auckland, thinking that I will just be in New Zealand for 9 months (based on Malaysia’s working holiday visa duration).

Sept 2019 – Jan 2020

Arriving at the end of Sept 2019, I stayed in Auckland for a week before heading off to Te Puke to work at a kiwi orchard for 3 months. Towards mid of Jan, I had a 2 weeks road trip with friends to Northland before heading back down to settle in Auckland. I ended up settling in this city for the next 10 months!

Feb – Nov 2020

If it was based on the original visa conditions where Malaysian’s get a 6 + 3 working holiday visa (if you work in the required field for visa extension), I would only be in New Zealand until June 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic my visa was extended for another 3 months, until Sept 2020. During these times, there was lots of uncertainty if I should head back to Malaysia or continue to stay in New Zealand. But due to the expensive flight tickets back home and rising cases in my home country, I decided to remain in New Zealand as the cases were more controlled and manageable.

Luckily for me, I managed to find a job that is also categorized as an ‘essential worker’ before the start of the pandemic so I was able to work throughout. Time passed really quickly especially when working more than 8 hours a day. It was just work, eat, sleep, repeat. My plan of updating this blog regularly also went down the drain as working in labour just exhausts the body and I always sleep super early, which is good for my sleep pattern since I always have trouble sleeping.

Coming September, I was considering heading home to Malaysia but the sharp rise of cases deterred me from doing so as I had a grandma who is considered high risk due to her age and also my niece is a couple months old. So, I applied for a tourist visa and then switched to a SSE visa which allows me to work in horticulture / farms until June 2021.

For two months, I was jobless due to my visa application and approval process which took longer than usual due to the pandemic, but I had enough savings to last me through before the next job starts. I decided to make a road trip down to South Island and I built a mini bed in my car! It was really fun experience and reminds me of ‘Kemahiran Hidup’ subject in high school. Although I am not a pro, I just tons of measurements and drew out a sketch in my book and did tons of research so that I can follow through it.

I left Auckland during the middle of Nov and started my trip down south from the west side of North Island. It was fun experience sleeping in the car but since it rained most of the time due to seasonal change, I chose to stay in hostels as there wasn’t much space in the car…haha. Literally during my trip all I could see at the weather forecast was rain..lol.

Dec 2020 – Jan 2021

Traveling alone in NZ is very expensive especially with fuel. But I manage to save some accommodation fee as during this time, hostels and campsite fee is similar or sometimes lower due to the pandemic and lack of tourism. It also rained alot in South Island during summer, which is not something I had expected.

I ended up working in a small cherry orchard for about 3 weeks which provided free accommodation. Early Jan, I joined in a road trip with my friends that I met in the cherry orchard and my now boyfriend where we toured the whole of South Island.

Feb – June 2021

This was the time where I felt truly homesick after realizing I missed Christmas and Chinese New Year with my family and friends for the second year. With technology, I am able to keep in touch but then you’ll still miss the familiarity of things.

I escaped the South Island winter and headed back to North Island as I am still have not gotten used to the cold. My tolerance might be slightly better but winter is too brutal for me. Anyway, I worked in an apple packhouse for 4 months in Hawke’s Bay. The good news was that the government extended the visa again this time round and I was not limited to just farm work. Took a 2-3 weeks winter break traveling to South Island to experience the snow, did snowboarding (my first time) and traveled to the east coast of North Island.

July – ongoing

With last minture announcement of the visa extended until end of this year, I have settled back in Auckland again. After the constant moving and different jobs, I still realize that I am a city girl at heart but still enjoy nature from time to time. Currently I am working in an admin role but we’ll see how things progress until end of this year!

Thoughts~

I did not expect to be in a foreign country for this long but due to the pandemic things are quite uncertain for now. Honestly, working in labour for long term is exhausting. I really respect and commend those who do that.

The novelty of being in a new country has worn off after some time and nowadays, it is just working to survive the day to day. I guess it is due to the uncertainty of the upcoming visa status which comes with a mix bag of feelings. I am still grateful to be in a safe country where the pandemic is not as rampant and also able to meet new friends along the way. I do miss my family, friends and all the delicious food back home. There was a stressful period where some of my family members my were affected by Covid-19 but they have recovered. I am also super grateful that my close friends were my pillar of strength during these times. Hopefully when things get better, I’ll be able to see them again and also visit my grandma’s grave.

I still feel that there are some feelings and thoughts that I did not convey in this post but this is all for today. Also, there are tons of pictures that I have yet to share on my instagram and I do miss writing on my blog. Hopefully, I will be able to find the motivation again to pen down my thoughts. Honestly New Zealand is very beautiful place. I also love it that my sinus does not act up most of the time, except during seasonal change since it rains more often and the air is extra humid. If only I could permanently stay in this country since it helps me solve most of my sinus issue…haha!

Signing off,

xx Chuen

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