Here’s my take on your questions.
1)As Lucky and Rick both said, there is no requirement to go to a job fair or visit the Denver office. If you email an application, it will get thrown in the pile with the other 500 people applying for the job, many of whom never had an intention of going. Going to the job fair gives one advantage. You meet the recruiters and if you are lucky you can get phone numbers to keep in touch. As with any job hunt anything you can do to make you stand out from the masses helps. I think most of the people who go to the fair and get hired would say the experience is worth it.
2) Winterovers get 150 pounds baggage allowance on the flight down here. Summer people get 75 pounds. This includes everything you check including cold weather gear. It does not include anything you stuff in your pockets or your hand carry bag. The hand carry must fit in an approximately 2 cube box. None of this includes anything you mail to yourself. The mail gets low priority on flights and may get delayed for a month or more, but if you are willing to pay priority mail rates then you can mail most anything that will fit the US Mail size limits. If you are a winter over then mail early as the last flight is around Feb 25 and we don’t get another flight in until the end of august. Your package could sit in Christchurch for the whole winter.
3)Recreation.-What makes a good winterover person is an ability to inventive about recreation. The bars are open, but not as often, All the gyms are open, but there aren’t enough people for serious teams. The most popular winterover sport is bowling. Some years over half the population gets into the bowling leagues in winter.
The aerobics and weight gyms are actually easier to use in the winter as there are less people vying for the same machines. We have a recreation dept, but they tend to do things that impact the entire station. The inventive people get together in small groups and do their thing. For the most part if you are game to host a small rec event and do the work to organize it, then the recreation dept will do all they can to support it. By the way in the summer the helo rides and snowmobile trips are by lottery, so don’t expect that you will get on. Ask any more rec questions later.
4)By all means bring the laptop and digital camera as well. You can go to the coffee house or computer kiosk and plug into the net. The connection is something like one dsl link that is shared by everyone at the same time, so the speeds can be very fast or very slow depending on how many are on at the same time. You cannot connect in your room during the summer. In the winter there are a limited number of dial up connectons. The speeds are16 to 50kbs. Very Very slow. Convient in your room but easier and faster to use in the coffee house. We get great shortwave signals down here if you can put up an antenna. The ham radio operators will often let you join them at the ham shack and let you go on the air or just listen around the world. Don’t bring a scanner as all you can do is scan the same channels you listen to all day long as an operator. I’ve never heard of anyone geting XM or Sirus so I’m of no help there.
5)Pay. Cant help you there. I’ll agree with the others that the pay is generally less than the same job in the states. However all your expenses are covered. The flights are free, the food is free, no electric bill or rent, the med clinic is free. Most people would say that even though you make less per hour, the net result is you have more money in the bank at the end of the year than you would have back home. A side benefit is travel. At the end of your contract you are dropped off in New Zealand with a free ticket home to use whenever you like. Most trade the ticket in to help pay for trips to the islands, Australia etc.And that’s after you play in New Zealand for a while.
6)The wait? No telling, especially if you aren’t going to fair. I’ll let the others answer than one.
write back with more questions
hope this helps