Whilst the title of this post is a massive exaggeration, I think it is fair to say that house sitting has taken a fair few months off my life expectancy.
The explanation for house sitting:
It was October and we were supposed to by flying from Auckland to South America, only trouble was we were still in Australia and were yet to explore New Zealand at all. Turns out that Asia is much more addictive than we thought and we were months behind our planned itinerary. Trying to work out what to do we changed our flight until March (thinking we would be able to change it again, cause we paid STA for flexible tickets) and got ourselves some working holiday visas for New Zealand.
We are members of HelpX, a website where you can exchange some help for accommodation/ food/ some other similar arrangement. Spending our 30 minutes of free internet (how generous JUCY hostel) searching for placements near to Auckland we came upon an offer to house sit for the next 6 weeks in a suburb just north of the city. For some unknown reason we said yes. When we were first introduced to the house we were told to keep it tidy and help the owner move his stuff out of the garage. We kept their garden tidy and spent a couple of days helping shift their stuff to the owners mum’s house, we thought we just had a couple of days left of doing this before we would leave and finally start exploring New Zealand.
The house is in Takapuna, a bustling little seaside town about a 30 minute drive from Auckland CBD. The beach was a ten minute walk away, and Countdown (local supermarket) was so close we practically moved into the place. You could walk to Devonport in about an hour, we only achieved this one time but had a nice visit. I am sure there are many nice things to do in Takapuna, we had approximately 1.5 sunny days during our 6 weeks there and so were mainly confined to the house, the library (where there was free wifi), or the laundry room that flooded and where we were responsible for emptying using the tools provided (ie. nothing, and so we used a tupperware box to shift the flood water out after each massive rainfall).
We ate massive pizzas:
Pinion enjoying ‘Taka’ life:
Found crisps almost as big as Pinion’s head:
Took drunk duck face selfies:
I started taking photos of flowers, things really got this bad:
There are definitely worse places to stay for six weeks but we did get a bored of the place at the end of our stay. We consumed far too much cheap South African wine and ate our weight in pasta for six weeks.
When it all went wrong:
Turns out that what the guy owner thought we should be doing didn’t tally up with his wife’s ideas. When the host’s wife turned up 2 days before their house sale was due to be finalised and started to shout a bit we knew we were in for an interesting day. She came down and introduced herself, quickly getting to the point that she did not feel we had done enough to keep her garden tidy. She promptly gave us a tour of the garden and instructed us what she wanted doing, probably would have been helpful to have been told 6 weeks earlier. She even provided a few tools that normal people use to garden, things like a shovel but she didn’t dare cross over into providing a rake. Clearly she thought we needed a good work out.
Takapuna absorbed us in, fed us wine and spat us out with aching calf muscles and wine weight.
After spending a whole day gardening and half a day cleaning (not what we signed up for at all) we finally managed to escape Takapuna and the house that was clearly going to be knocked down by any sensible new owners. We set off on the road up north, even our two man tent seemed more welcoming than the slug infested room of Auckland’s north shore.
Tapotupotu, where we spent our 2nd night out of Takapuna:
Since then we have had three great HelpX experiences, we have learned our lessons and promptly find out what each host actually wants of us. Our time in Blenheim is just one example of a good host, not just due to their proximity to great wines!