“Then on the 16th, we are popping to Australia for the day” was not a sentence I ever thought I would find myself writing in a text. Yet due to unforeseen circumstances, it became a reality.
Despite having spent the last twelve months in New Zealand – and having jumped through hoops in order to get here in the first place – our plans to simply ‘tack on’ a visitor visa when our Working Holiday visas ended were unceremoniously scuppered by the ridiculous fees involved.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply apply online, pay the fee, and expect to be granted a three month visitor visa just like that. God forbid it should be that simple! Through a strenuous series of long winded phone calls to the immigration office (an arduous task which Dev bravely undertook), we concluded that – in order to remain in New Zealand to travel – we would need to pay $160 in application fees each, or if we were allowed, $180 to apply together in person. No problem. We would need to undergo a full medical examination, including blood tests. Why, exactly? Who knows, but okay. These must be carried out at an immigration approved medical centre. An immigration approved medical centre where they will charge you $500 for these services. That is where we drew the line. We began looking at flights: Fiji, Rarotonga, Samoa, but mainly Australia. Despite none of the flights being dirt cheap as we had hoped, it still worked out to our advantage to simply leave the country and then return. We would have loved to spend a few days in Fiji, but ever budget-conscious as we are, a day trip would have to do. Therefore Australia was the obvious choice. In the end, we went with Gold Coast for several reasons: cost, we have not been before, and the ability to walk to the beach from the airport.
I can comfortably say that we made the right call. We planned it out carefully – leaving early on the last day of our Working Holiday Visa, a return flight bringing us back to Christchurch at 1am the following day. The time in between ours to do what we want with.
It could not have been a smoother journey. With a mere three hour flight time, it honestly felt like no more than a pleasant day trip to the beach. We lounged in the 30°C sunshine, played frisbee on the beach, enjoyed a delicious leisurely lunch, splashed about in the warm salty waves – the realisation that after a year of work, we are now free from routine and travelling again dawning upon us.