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.
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.
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.