Since the last post, I have been leading what, to all intents and purposes, constitutes a double life. By day, I have been holding down my usual job and, for the last two weeks, standing in for my boss as well. This has kept me pretty busy, meaning that my eyes are often closing by the end of each evening’s tube journey. Consequently, I arrive home ready to crash out on the sofa and do very little. Sadly, this is rarely what happens. Instead, after a brief hello to the family and the odd chore, I retire to the spare room to pick up the threads of my other life – that of a potential émigré and job seeker. Whilst I will admit to a ‘belt and braces’ tendency to over-plan, it has been a long month; one typified by long evenings at the PC reading web sites, sending emails and, of late, making calls and confirming bookings. As from Sunday, my existence will one of a peripatetic serial interviewee and even I had underestimated the level of activity I have had to maintain in order to maximise my time in-country and ensure that I give myself the best chance of success.
Working with recruiters after such a long spell with one employer is an education. It seems that if they are not generating supreme positivity and enthusing and one’s CV, they are out of the office, or on a call or somehow otherwise indisposed. As a hiring manager myself, I understand the mechanisms of the recruitment process and am fully aware that a good recruitment consultant can make all the difference. Like estate agents, each wants you to commit to them and them alone, issuing dire warnings of conflict of interest and ‘client overlap’ if you even hint that you may be talking to another. However, if one is travelling 11682 miles to seek a new life, it would be foolish to leave things to just one or two people. That said, I think of myself as an honest person with some integrity and so have tried to ensure that any overlap, in terms of geography or market, has been kept to a minimum. As the trip draws closer, I have started whittling the list down, favouring those who keep in touch and who are showing an active interest. So far, all the strongest leads are, not surprisingly, centred around Auckland and Wellington, with a number of solid prospects that bear further investigation. We shall see what transpires soon enough.
It hasn’t all been hard sell and powerbroking though. Much fun and games have been had trying to find the best car hire deal. Having called pretty much anyone who rent cars in New Zealand, it soon became clear that the big name firms were looking most likely to offer a decent deal on my three week north-runs-south one-way rental.
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As shown in the map above, my intended route – which alters daily – means that I need to need to cross the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands. To avoid the hassle of shipping one-way rentals back across the Strait, hire firms require renters like me to leave the car at their Wellington port office, cross as a foot passenger and pick up another at the Picton office on the South island. One spin-off benefit that springs to mind is that the long-suffering D&C staff (those who clean, valet, delivery and collect hire cars) are not faced with endless vehicles decorated with the hirer’s lunch after rough crossings. Having chosen a firm to hire from, I thought that the haggling for a decent price would have been over but it just became all the more interesting because their local branch, national booking office and international call centre each quoted wildly differing prices. All this is academic because the price I ended up with is still pretty good value when compared to hire charges in the UK and US.
Choosing accommodation has been just as entertaining. No road trip in NZ would be complete without a stay in a motel. When I say motel, the variety of accommodation available under that title is pretty wide, ranging from basic backpackers’ hostels to swanky hotels. Putting thoughts of the UK’s Travel Lodges and the Crossroads soap from my mind, I have used my obligatory Lonely Planet guide and a motel directory to search out some choice places to overnight during my road trip. Some kind friends have offered up their poor unsuspecting relatives as possible hosts, pressing scraps of paper into my hands whilst promising to call them before I arrive on their doorstep. I just know that they’ll forget and that I’ll up doing a Hugh Grant-style embarrassed Englishman thing, trying to explain why I’m standing on some poor sod’s doorstep at dusk, surrounded by luggage and clutching petrol station flowers. No matter, I have the first week sorted with a lodge near the Auckland Domain – the city’s oldest park, which will be handy for my early morning runs – before moving onto the evocatively named Bureta Park Motor Inn (“Welcome to your place”) near Tauranga to start my second week. I chose the latter motel for two reasons. Firstly, the very pleasant reservations clerk offered me a nice room at a rate that was half that quoted by a grumpy and greedy competitor a mile away (“Well, it does have a sea view”!?). Secondly, who could resist the lure of a motor inn that boasts the ‘Rose ‘n Fern Bar’ which, according to the web site, is not only ‘comfortably casual’ but also promises a tired, lonesome English gentleman far away from home, ‘an air of olde England’. So, secure in the knowledge that I shall quaff fine ale and rest well that night, I’ll leave you for now.