It has been 6 months since the news of a corona-virus had spread visibly across the Internet and around the world. We will probably never know where it all started. There will still be speculation and conspiracy theories as to whether the virus is of natural origin, artificially created, specifically aimed at reducing the population, used as a biological weapon, etc.
The first wave, which meant closing borders for most states, did not frighten me as much as the current second wave. The loosening of rules, the opening of borders and the possibility of traveling also carried with them the risks of the virus spreading again. It is not surprising that some states have opposed this in their own way and do not want to open their borders. New Zealand is a beautiful example of this. The prime minister said that she wanted to prevent the spread of the virus even at the cost of long-term closure of borders for tourists.
On the other hand, states located together on one mainland have much more difficult decisions to make. They are not an isolated and self-sufficient island like New Zealand.
When Martin and I speak about our simple travelling in Asia, we sometimes think that we will one day tell our children about how easier it was to travel around the world. Who knows what it will look like in the future. It can now be seen that the world has divided into continents and travel between them is uncertain, more complicated and more expensive.
We have been living with Martin in uncertainty for 6 months now and we do not know what will happen next. Especially after yesterday’s transfer of Auckland to the so-called Level 3 and the rest of the country to the Level 2 due to 4 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus. After 102 days, the virus was confirmed in people who did not come from abroad.
If you are interested in our the last six months in New Zealand, read on…
February and my new job
In January, before travelling, I tried to ask in cafes around our hostel if they are hiring. And even though I said I had a barista course, but I hadn’t worked as a barista yet, I didn’t stand a chance. I was a little desperate because I didn’t want to continue as a housekeeper, receptionist and night manager. 6 months was enough for me every day. Fortunately, my teacher at the academy asked me if I was looking for a job, and if I was interested, I could go to a café owned by the same owners of The Barista Academy, where I took a course. So, I got a job.
The last weekend trip in March
Since I got to a job where I knew that working on the weekends would be my regular part of the shifts, Martin and I decided to go to the Auckland Zoo during the nice weather. We really enjoyed the visit, without even knowing that it would be the last trip for a long time…
23/3/2020 – Lockdown
We survived the “Lockdown” period in a separate hostel building with the manager and his partner. We were lucky that Martin and I had a full-time job and received financial support from the government to cover our housing and food expenses. We took the “Lockdown” as a holiday, during which we cleaned the building, repaired it and beautified it in general.
At the same time, we celebrated Easter in April…
I joined the #MasksForAll campaign, had time to sort not only photos and videos from our travels, but finally, I found time to watch a cult series FRIENDS (yes, I saw it for the first time) and last but not least I got an experience of standing in front of the store, which I only knew from storytelling.
Situation with our visas
If you are in your home country, you will completely miss this topic, but there are a lot of people in the world who are in a place where they only study, work for a short time, travel, etc. You also need a valid visa for this purpose. And what now, when there is a crisis in the world, flights are cancelled and you do not know what it will look like in the future. Martin and I were lucky that our visa expiration was included in the period, which was automatically extended until September 25, 2020, and we were less worried during the lockdown and subsequent levels.
Back to work
During the lockdown, there was general talk of job losses, reduction of hours or personnel changes. So what did it look like in our cases?
Martin returned to work during the lockdown. Hostel maintenance is included in the so-called essential work, which may be performed during the lockdown period. In addition, Martin works alone, so any spread of the virus is minimal. But of the original 40 hours a week, he now works only 25 hours.
In my work, the situation changed dramatically due to the fact that one colleague decided to return to her home country and another gave birth a few weeks after the lockdown. There was a low staff level and the cafe was busier than before. So, unlike Martin, I had a long period of overtime and a change of position. Since the owners opened another branch, they appointed me a manager for the new branch. It may sound nice, but you actually work even harder for the same salary, you have to have your phone with you 24/7 if something is needed, and you as a person have to be available at any time… And that you would like a day off on Saturday or Sunday? You don’t even have to bother with this question, because the answer is more than clear!
June – Our new flat
Although we were initially glad that during the lockdown it was possible to agree with the owner and manager that we would stay in the hostel, thanks to the coronavirus, the situation was mainly reflected in the travel industry, which inevitably includes accommodation facilities. New travellers did not arrive and the old ones, on the contrary, gradually flew back home.
The whole concept of the hostel has changed. In addition, we learned that the building in which we were located was not owned by the owners of the hostel, but only rented out. If you don’t have guests, you don’t need to rent more buildings. So we decided not to wait and we started looking for a new flat.
Don’t think it was easy, especially if you are a foreigner with an uncertain length of visa. In addition, we searched for the flat in the centre of Auckland.
And even though at first it seemed like it would take some time, we found an apartment in a favourable location. Martin’s journey to work was shortened by about 15 minutes, I have a bus stop from the apartment about 3 minutes, across the street there is a large park, within 50m we have a large grocery store and in 15 minutes we walk to the port.
Despite all the paperwork and calls, we are glad that it worked. Now, we can share some important points for getting a flat in Auckland. You need to have a great profile on the site (preferably a non-smoker, exceptional alcohol consumption, no parties, no pets) and you need to get a suitable recommendation from the employers and possibly the person you lived with before.
For some, it may only mean moving from one place to another, but for us, it meant more: after more than 7 years of relationship, we live alone in an apartment that we rent together 🙂
And even though we know that we are worried about what will happen to us next, we do not stop enjoying both the autumn and winter atmosphere of New Zealand, which is, among other things, much more pleasant than last year!