Seda: If you plan to go to New Zealand or you’re hoping to one day, you may find this summary useful. These are our observations of the country after living there for 3 months, 6 weeks of travelling and 6 weeks of being stranded there!
NZ is truly a beautiful country. There is nowhere on earth with so much beauty and in such variety. Crazy volcanos, bubbling thermal waters, breathtaking fjords, snow capped mountains, crystal clear rivers, vast meadows and incredibly blue lakes fed by glacial waters. However, it’s expensive both getting there and enjoying it.
There are not many things manufactured within the country. Everything imported is pricey but even the few things produced within NZ is very expensive, go figure! Manufactured locally or not, one of the things I loved in big cities was the fruit and nut pick n mix sections in every supermarket. It’s like being at the cinema whilst you do your shopping.
There are of course loads of opportunities to enjoy some guided tours and experiences for visitors. If you want to enjoy them however, you have to bear in mind that these are what the economy relies on heavily. Activities such as bungy jumping, fishing and boat tours all come with a hefty price tag. I’d say pick your bucket list items and save your cash for those because if you do every nice tour or activity, you’ll run out of money pretty quickly.
Andy: The way to see NZ is definitely by camper. We toyed with the idea of hiring a car and using Airbnb’s but a camper is way better. We did meet some people who hired a car and had a tent, but that didn’t appeal to me. You still have to pay for campsites on the whole, but they are not too expensive, and some are even free. The Department of Conservation (DOC) own many campsites, especially in the middle of national parks although some are very basic indeed.
There are a few companies hiring campers and they range from very basic, to all singing all dancing very large mobile homes with electrical hook-up, shower and toilet. We used a company called Spaceships for our sleeper car. It was incredibly comfortable, and we got very efficient at making the bed up, and packing it away pretty quickly.
Looking back now I can see that having a hire car and using Airbnbs probably wouldn’t work for some of the more remote places in NZ because there simply wouldn’t be any of that type of accommodation available.
That is the beauty of NZ. It can be extremely remote in places, and you are camping on the side of roads sometimes, but you always feel safe.
Seda: Yes, that’s a good point. New Zealand is a very safe country. Never mind thieves or murderers, we hardly ever experienced noisy or disrespectful people in all the weeks we stayed on campsites. Weather you are a single lady travelling alone or a couple or a group, you should feel comfortable during your travels. I think the biggest danger in NZ is to indulge yourself too much in very affordable good quality wine and getting a hangover the next day.
Andy: Talking of wine, the best piece of advice we can give is have a look into wine tasting at the many vineyards, but seek out the free ones. We went to Villa Maria and Brancott Estate, mainly because we’d heard of them already, but they were both free. In fact, at Villa Maria, we tagged on to a wine tasting tour group who’d paid lots of money, and we didn’t pay a penny and we sampled all the same wines as they did. So, do your research!
Seda: With such natural beauty, the DOC has an influential role in many political decisions. For instance there is currently a commitment to make the country pest free by 2050. To my surprise the definition of “pest” here includes possums, deer and even goats. I’m not comfortable with the idea of killing one type of animal to save another but New Zealanders are absolutely obsessed with kiwis. Because the kiwi is their national symbol, there is a frenzy to kill any animal that could potentially harm these elusive birds. Certain types of trees are also declared enemies and a group of people are paid to go and kill these trees individually by injecting poison into them. Individually because they don’t want to risk cutting the tree down and its dropping a few seeds as it falls. Really?
Andy: It’s very chilled and laid back in NZ. We were told this before we went there but it’s most definitely true. The North and South Islands are very different. Everything we read beforehand suggested that the South was better, with more to do and was way more beautiful. To an extent that is true, but that’s not to say the North Island doesn’t have anything to offer. The North Island was definitely warmer whilst we were there, which was towards the end of their summer, heading into autumn. The first part of our journey in the North took us around the Coromandel Peninsula where we found lovely forests and coastlines. Definitely a place to visit. We did a large loop around this northern area taking in Hot Water Beach, the smelly hot springs of Rotorua and NZ’s largest lake – Taupo, before catching the ferry from Wellington to Picton on the South Island.
On the South Island we did an anti-clockwise loop around Abel Tasman National Park where we went sea kayaking, down the west coast passing crystal clear waters and glaciers and then onto Queenstown – the home of adventure sports. Here we did a bungee jump before heading off to Te Anau and the beautiful Milford Sound before heading to Mount Cook, the amazingly blue Lake Pukaki before finally ending up in Christchurch.
Seda: You may have heard that NZ is what England used to be many years ago. It may well be true. A simple example of it is all the washing machines seemed to be the top loading kind. So Andy kept saying that he hadn’t seen one of those for 20 years before going to NZ.
It’s less populated, more rural and has a varying terrain. There are such vast empty spaces with nothing around for so long that you have to plan your fuel usage as you might not get a chance to find a garage for many miles. Ah also, if you are a budding DJ, I’d say look elsewhere since we could never find a single radio station once we left the towns on our journeys either.
Andy: In summary NZ is, and always will be a bucket list kind of place for travellers of all nations to visit. The problem is, it’s just so far away. You really don’t want to travel all that way and rush around stressing whilst trying to fit everything into 2 or 3 weeks. You simply won’t see everything, so just try and spend as much time there as you can – just try not to get stranded there like we did! Oh, and be prepared for some changeable weather!