After 6 months of adventures in New Zealand, I have returned to the United States. To wrap it up: This trip has been everything that I dreamed up. New Zealand, thank you for the adventures, the beauty, the friendships, the kindness, embracing my inner nerd, and showing me how to live life to the fullest everyday. You will forever be a happy memory in my heart.
A few people who have been inspired to visit this gem of a country have approached me to ask for advice. My next few blog posts will be for those fellow wanderers who want to have a trip of their lifetime.
How To Do New Zealand
Stay for Long
Don’t cram your New Zealand exploration into only a couple of weeks. The plane tickets are not worth the value if you can’t properly explore the country. Additionally, there are way too many places to experience in a short itinerary. New Zealand may be a small country compared to the rest of the world, but it is packed full with incredible things to do and see.
Get a Camper Van
The best way to explore the country is by car. Public transportation is too expensive and only takes you to limited places. Renting a car can also be very expensive, so it is worth just buying a car. What makes New Zealand so attractive is how friendly it is for travelers, but sometimes accommodation can be scarce in the high season. It is very easy to camp cheaply, especially with the Department of Conservation and you will most likely always find a camping site. I specify a camper van, as opposed to a regular car, because Luca and I found a regular car to be too small to live out of. We saw other people with camper vans and it looked much more comfortable.
Meet the Locals
Kiwis are a joy to meet. They are some of the most optimistic and laid back people that I have ever met. I have learned so much about their quality of life throughout my trip to New Zealand. My favorite way to meet kiwis was through WWOOFing, where I would fully emerge myself in the country. I also enjoyed booking AirBnB accommodation. Every one of our AirBnB hosts was so lovely to meet. They always gave us the inside scoop about what to do in their area. I have found that kiwis were always very excited to meet foreigners and loved showing us their hometown gems.
Bring Money With You
Even with the Working Holiday Visa, it is important to save up a chunk of money and bring it with you to New Zealand. Unless you plan to stay for the long haul, I think it is important to be able to fully enjoy your stay without having to work all of the time. Having a comfortable amount of money gives you a lot more flexibility and security. Plus, you will get to do more fun activities.
Leave it Open-Ended
The thing is that I tried to plan. I truly put in an effort to have all of my ducks in a row before arriving to the country. But despite all of my planning and research, my plans got completely ripped apart and thrown away. My advice to you is to form your goals and do your research about the country beforehand: What you want to do, where you want to go, what you need to pack, what you need to book in the busy season, ect. The Internet in New Zealand is terrible, so it is not easy to research while you are on the go.
But, don’t form a whole itinerary. You will meet people you want to travel with which will ultimately change your original plans. You will always hear about other awesome things to do from other travelers that you will miss out on if you have a packed itinerary. You will find opportunities at the most random times and you will not regret taking them on. Trust me. Let fate sweep you up and spin you around; it is a dance of a lifetime.
I have learned that there are a few ways to travel:
- Have an itinerary and bounce around from place to place, only staying at each place for a couple of days
- Travel without a plan and wing it as you go along
- Stay, work, and live in a place for a while.
After trying out all of the different methods, I have found that I prefer option 3. I would rather properly explore a place, than see a lot of different places quickly. Staying in one place allows you to create relationships with people that ultimately change you forever. Additionally, you can actually leave time to take it all in, as you don’t feel stressed from making sure you explore everything within your limited time frame. Sitting in a place for a while brings the magic out. You start to experience rather than just be.
Adventure More. Party Less.
New Zealand is not the place you go to party every night and sleep all day. I would leave that type of vacation for Spain. The alcohol in New Zealand is definitely not cheap, there are limited places to go, and you see the best of New Zealand not by night, but by day. You should instead focus your New Zealand experience around the great outdoors. I’m not saying that kiwis or other travelers don’t drink. But, you will most likely connect with a person better by meeting them on a hike or at a campsite, rather than a bar.
I have yet to understand why anybody would visit New Zealand that isn’t an outdoors fanatic. To be honest, there isn’t really much more to do than be outside in the country. New Zealand is the capital of adventure sports. You can find it all there: Hiking, mountain biking, sky diving, skiing, riding horses, kayaking, white water rafting, or surfing. But on top of that, New Zealand’s most glorious gems are raw and wild. Every corner you turn has another fantastic view waiting for you to gawk at.
Be Prepared For The Unthinkable
As fantastic as New Zealand’s wilderness is, it can also be quite dangerous. It is important to have the right gear with you and know how to navigate the wilderness. There are many cases of people dying and getting severely hurt in the wilderness from various causes. The weather in particular is very unpredictable. Make sure to do the research before heading out and remember to always be prepared for anything. It is something to take very seriously.
Don’t Hold Back
Johanna Warren, a beautiful friend and musician once told me,
“Regret is the past tense of fear.”
This is something that I thought about during my travels in New Zealand. I thought, “If I don’t do this right now because I am scared will I regret it in the future?” Don’t hold back on opportunities that are presented to you. I promise you that those crazy and insane situations that you get yourself into will be the ones that you most remember. Give it your all and leave with no regrets.