Ok, lots to report, but let’s just cut to the chase. We got APPROVED!!!! We are now (once we fill out some paperwork) officially permanent residents of Aotearoa! We are so excited. It has been almost exactly 2 years from the time that we hired our immigration advisor, which might not seem that long, but considering everything that has been happening in the world and the anxiety that making a decision like this can bring, it seemed like it took forever. But we made it! We’re gonnabekiwis!

Both of us are still trying to process the news. It was kind of funny how it happened, too. I was heading down to the grocery store and pharmacy and Susanne texted me and then called me.

She said that Richard (our immigration advisor) had emailed and said we needed to call him urgently. I couldn’t call, since I was driving, so Susanne offered to call. I pulled into the New World Market parking lot in a total panic. I just knew it was bad news. Something had gone wrong. They rejected us. They needed more paperwork than I would never be able find. Every possible disaster was racing through my brain.

Then Susanne texted and said “we have been approved.” I couldn’t believe it. I called her and we both were laughing about how we both had run through every disaster scenario possible. It was good news and Richard simply didn’t want us to waste money on applying for a multi-entry visa (the reason we needed to call urgently, since Richard knew we were headed back to the US for a visit and needed to apply for a visitor visa with multiple entries). It is amazing how your mind can just take you down pathways of panic for no good reason. I think we both had imagined we would be sitting around drinking our coffee, getting the email at the same time and then going “Woohoo!” We had a good laugh over a nice bottle of Central Otago Pinot. Amazing. We did it!

I am also happy to report that we finally saw this big yellow orb-like thing in the sky. People have told us that it is the sun. We weren’t sure, but it did allow us to get out and explore the area some more. Besides riding my bike around, we decided to go look at some houses around the area to see what we liked and get to know the neighborhoods better. There are some nice houses in Mapua that have great views and the area is convenient to almost everything. The only downside is that they are quite expensive. We saw one very nice place, but it was going to set you back a million six. Bummer. We are hoping prices will continue to decline somewhat!

A bit gooey out there

Next, we looked at a couple of lifestyle properties out by Kaiteriteri. The first one was up this 1 km long steep dirt road and was on 9 hectares with this absolutely stunning view. The real estate agent was obnoxious and pretty much ignored Susanne and talked exclusively to me. She ignored him back and looked around the house while he talked my ear off. Good thing we’re not buying that place anyway, or he’d be in for some rough patches. The place had a huge title issue and the house was pretty crappy, but man, that view was something.

Holy cow! That’s a view

We then drove out to far end of Kaiteriteri near Split Apple Rock where there was this amazing new-ish house with a world-class view. The drive in was gnarly and the thought of driving that on a daily basis was distinctly unappealing. We enjoyed how nice the house was, but told the agent it was too hard to get to. and it was way too expensive anyway—two point five million. Yikes.

We can’t buy house for a while anyway, but it was fun looking at them nonetheless. So, house viewing complete, we headed out to the Abel Tasman trailhead and did a tramp along there again. I don’t think I could ever get tired of that hike.

Curious weka
Moment of Zen

I had really been wanting to go up and check out Nelson Lakes National Park, but the weather had been bad so there had been no point. However, Monday was supposed to be stellar weather, so we decided to head on up there and do a hike along Lake Rotoiti. The mountains were blanketed in a lot of fresh snow and it was pretty chilly when we got to the trailhead. We decided we would hike out to Whiskey Falls and back; all the hikes that climbed up were going to encounter snow, so this was around the lake with minimal elevation gain.

The first part of the trail was pretty boring and muddy. I had read that the south side of the lake had the better views, but now I was starting to think I misread the blog. All we could see was dense bush. Finally after about 2 kms, we came out on the lake and views were amazing.

OK, this was worth the boring part

Susanne’s knee was bothering her a bit, so she decided to amble back while I continued out to Whiskey Falls, another 2 kms or so. The color of the greens along the trail were amazing. Ferns, moss, and lichen all created a Middle Earth feel.

I got to the falls turnoff and hiked up the 1/2 kilometer to the falls. There were a couple people there that had come out on a boat. The falls were way more impressive than I had expected and were almost 30 meters high. I scrambled down a steep bank to get to a place where I could take a good picture. I tried a bunch of different settings, but finally got one I liked.

Silky waters

I headed back to the car and we drove down to the lake near the visitor center to take in the view and to have some lunch. There was a cool hippie bus parked next to us. I told Susanne we should get one like that. She thought about what it would take to drive that around New Zealand’s narrow, windy roads and quickly put the kibosh on that idea. No hippie bus for us, but it was an awesome day to be up in the mountains.

The next day was nice as well, so I decided I would ride my bike out to Kaiteriteri again. It was lovely and I felt good. Hardly any suffering up the hills. I got to Kaiteriteri beach, grabbed a coffee and just enjoyed the view. This part of Kaiteriteri is definitely doable in terms of living. Not sure there will ever be anything we could afford there, but wow is it nice.

Sunken ship
Single track with a view
Kaiteriteri beach.
Yes, I think I could live here.

I got home, got cleaned up and then headed down to the New World Market. That is when (as described above) it all went from Wannabekiwi to Gonnabekiwi. And the rest is history. We are still a bit in disbelief.

A happy GonnabeKiwi!
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