New Zealand round-up

New Zealand was never part of my plan originally – but when I realised I had to fly via there to get from Chile to Asia, I figured I might as well stop there for a few days to get a little taster of the place.

Whenever I mentioned my plans to spend just six days in the country to friends and other travellers, people regularly told me I was mad – many people I met reckon it’s their favourite country, so to spend such a short time there seemed very strange. But the fact is – as part of a year long trip, the country is just too damn expensive for me to spend too long there, so my plan was to see how I found it and then hopefully come back for longer on a future trip.

First stop was Auckland, and a chance to catch up with my friend Chris, who I originally met on my first day in Laos while on holiday there two years ago, and who I ended up traveling with for the whole three weeks I was there. While I had just been there for a short holiday, at the time he was coming towards the end of a year-long round the world trip, and meeting him and hearing about how much fun it had been was a big part of helping me to decide to take this trip. I’d only seen him once since his trip, as soon after he arrived back in the UK he ended up emigrating to NZ.

Auckland skyline

It was great to see him, and we had nice couple of days exploring Auckland and heading down to the coast to a spot of hiking in the hills to the west of the city. While I had a nice time there, I must admit I found Auckland a little bit quiet as far as cities go (an effect that was probably all the more pronounced after coming straight from South America). I felt the same about the other towns I visited – Taupo & Rotorua, which not only were quiet but reminded me of England about thirty years ago, an effect heightened by the fact that every newsagent sells the Daily Telegraph & Daily Express, and the fact that one of their biggest banks is still using the logo and advertising slogan that our Lloyds bank stopped using about twenty years ago. It was a bit strange, to be honest.

Kerekere beach, west of Auckland

Where New Zealand really scored for me though was the landscapes – the Tongariro Crossing was absolutely stunning, and when I come back I’ll spend very little time in cities (although I hear Wellington is nice) and concentrate on what everyone I met agreed was the highlight – the national parks, coast and mountains of the South Island.

I’m a bit behind on my blogging (as you may have noticed), and seeing as I spent such a short time there, I’ll save the usual spending & other numbers round-ups for a combined one after I leave Australia.

You can see all my New Zealand photos here.

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6 responses to “New Zealand round-up

  1. Hi Geoff – Totally agree with all your other friends – Six days is far too short a time in New Zealand!! Speant six weeks there a few years back and loved it, however you are one up on me, as despite trying on three different occasions I never got to do the Tongariro crossing – due to bad weather, so I’m glad (and slightly jealous) that you got to do it!!

    Agree that the cities aren’t up to too much (I speant a very dull 24 hours in Christchurch!) but NZ more than makes up for this with the outdoor activities that are available from Glacier Hiking, Wine tasting, kayaking, stunning walks/senery and Whale/Penguin/sea lions watching to extreme activities from Sky diving, white water rafting, jet boating, bungy jumping etc NZ has loads of great things to do but agree it’s farily pricey to do most of these!

    One thing from your previous post I noticed was the bad hostel that you stayed at – and although I can remember two crap hostels that I stayed at in Wellington I generally found the hostels to be outstanding. We used a BBH card: http://www.bbh.co.nz/?gclid=CNaararWj54CFU0A4wodgBSCpA where members rated the hostels – the ones with 90%+ scores were all amazing.

    Looking forward to hearing about Oz.

    Cheers, Will

  2. I know, far too short a time, but I will definitely be back to do all of those things when I have a bit more money to spend! Was quit unlucky with that hostel – the other one I stayed in was BBH recommended and that was great!

  3. nu zulland – I am going to retire there, and yes south island is incredible – next time you go you should have your driving licence as it really is the best way to see the place. Right up north of auckland is also incredible, and Cape Reinga was stunning. sooooo jealous

  4. thanks for the information you provide, I really need this information .. success always for you …

  5. It’s a shame you missed out on some other sights of NZ, the very top Paihia, bay of islands & cape Reinga beautiful landscape and a spiritual place for the Maori. Also Queenstown and Abel Tasman in the south island are absolute must sees and Queenstown is a vibrant happening city. I understand your disappointment of NZ & AUS being like England as a kiwi who has lived abroad for over 7 years it’s the main reason I chose not to live in London or any English speaking country like many of my friends. However I think you might have missed out on seeing some of the cultural aspects of NZ which would have made your experience very different & not like being home at all. The Maori play a big part in what makes NZ or “Aotearoa” unique and it is also what separates us from Australia where the aboriginals are rarely seen and have little influence in the country itself. I’d recommend any traveller befriend a friendly Maori, I know there are some intimidating ones but most are friendly and happy to inform you a bit about their culture. Try a marae visit, eat hangi and learn about the spiritual significance of certain places. The last time I was home I was shocked at how expensive things were, it didn’t help that I’d been in Thailand where food was silly cheap, hopefully over the next few years the economy improves and costs of living or travelling around NZ are reduced. I’m reading your blog while planning my next escape from being a desk monkey, love your photos and insights.

    • Hey G, Thanks for the comment – I know I missed loads of good stuff there, in fact as I only had six days there on my way from Chile to New Zealand I deliberately restricted myself to just seeing a couple of things, knowing that I will definitely be back sometime soon. For many of mates, it’s the favourite country they’ve visited, and I will go back when I have the time and money to spend a good month there to see as much as I can, including the cultural stuff which definitely sound really interesting. Thanks again and glad you’re enjoying the blog!

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