My new home: Alexandra, New Zealand

My life has changed a lot recently. From the cultural and artsy vibe of Wellington to the beautiful and adventurous buzz of Queenstown, I finally decided to land in Alexandra and it’s…well, it’s pretty different.

Alexandra is a small town in the Central Otago region of New Zealand. Surrounded by vineyards and set in a valley, Otago is the hottest part of the country in the summer, the coldest in the winter, and the driest all around. It’s been beautiful and sunny the entire week I’ve been here (save for a couple hours of rain two days ago) and, though it’s winter, it hasn’t been super cold yet. I think it got down to 2 degrees the other morning, but the sunshine and lack of wind make up for the chill!  My friend and I are staying at a backpackers, which ended up being our own house! We have a 3 bedroom home all to ourselves, which has been divine, and there’s even a washing machine. Bam!

Our first home!

The biggest change has been the size of the town. At only 5000 people, this town is tiny. I tend to think of myself as a big city girl who still feels at home in the middle of the forest…so being in this small town threw me for the first few days. There is one grocery store, three bars, a couple cafes and one pizza place. Surprisingly, there are two Thai places (one is IN the pizza place – Pisa Pizza & Thai Takeaway is what it’s called) and an Indian place. Score! Saag Paneer, here I come.

So yeah, it’s been weird. People KNOW each other here. Like, everyone knows everyone! When you walk down the street, people make eye contact with you and say hello. THEY DON’T JUST LOOK AWAY AND SHUFFLE QUICKLY BY! Houses aren’t locked, bikes aren’t chained, and my neighbours have come by to introduce themselves and welcome me to town. I think this is the furthest away from Toronto you can get.

The only downside is that everyone closes around 8 or 9pm. No restaurants are open past 9 (the KFC is open ’till 10), and the bars usually close around the same time. This downside is turning into an upside, I suppose, since it means I have nowhere to spend my money…but I imagine it’s going to get old soon. Luckily, Queenstown is an hour away and everyone here has a car and is always up for a trip to Queenstown! And if you can’t get a friend to take you, everyone – EVERYONE- hitchhikes their way there. That makes me really nervous, but apparently it’s just how you do things on the South Island. I dunno. Let’s not tell my mom.

Anyways, my task now is to find out things to write now that I’ve got a job and am basing myself here for the next few months. Maybe I’ll interview locals? Maybe I’ll compare coffees? Maybe….hm. No idea. Help?

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