I’ve always been more interested in culture than nature, that’s why I’ve prioritized visiting Europe in my earlier travels. However, I know that at some point I’ll get to New Zealand. There were only glowing praises for the Land of Long White Cloud. So when our 2018 dive trip found us headed for Fiji, I know that this is also the year I’m going to New Zealand.
Fiji is a tiny island in the South Pacific. There’s no direct flight to Fiji and one of the few options is via Auckland. So this is perfect. Just a short note that in 2015, I was also in the South Pacific, sailing with Infinity in Tonga but have chosen Australia as my stop over then.
Road Trip is the Best Trip
I love road trips and for me, it’s the best way to explore a country or a continent. I love the flexibility of schedule that comes with driving yourself. You decide when you go, where to make stop, and change plans as you go. As some of you know, I love to travel slowly and most of the time without a plan. However, road tripping is not always possible because I often travel solo and driving alone is not as fun, and potentially dangerous. But I’ve done this 4x in over 10 years of traveling.
- In the US with Joannie where we drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Las Vegas (2004)
- In France with Claire around the Loire Valley visiting chateaux (2007)
- In Germany with Rene where we drove from Berlin to Munich through the Autobahn (2011)
- In Iceland with Girlie, Robert and Julie where we went around the Golden Circle chasing waterfalls and the Northern Lights (2017)
Find a Travel Buddy
Traveling together is one of the hardest test of relationships. It’s harder than living in with someone, because during a trip, you’re together 24/7. Something minor can get pretty annoying very fast. I used to think because I’m easy going that I can travel with anyone. But I’ve learned from experience that it’s not the case.
I know I want to do a road trip in New Zealand. The challenge is to find someone I can stand for 2 weeks. There are basic criteria in finding your perfect buddy. Someone you already know and like would be a good start. You need to have the same interests, budget, and level of tirelessness. Of course, she/he should be able to allot 2 weeks and drive. Although we need to drive at the other side of the road in New Zealand.
I invited the Wandersoles to do this before our Fiji trip, but only Beth (@indayguapa) took me up on my offer.
Make an Itinerary
Making an itinerary is not my strength. But since I like talking to people, and people like talking about their trips and make recommendations, I take advantage of that. That’s basically how I did my around the world trip. Sometimes I assign this task to my friends who will travel with me. So I’m saying that Beth did majority of the research for this trip. Thank you Beth!
“You’ve to go to South Island because that’s the most beautiful part of New Zealand!”
It was the most dished out advice I got from people. And after the trip, I would be giving the same advice.
We only had 2 weeks, hardly enough time to see everything. But it’s better than a one week trip. Anyway, we had to set priorities and make some decisions.
- Our friends Dino and Denise migrated to Dunedin 2 years ago, so it was a given that we’ll start our journey there (A on the map)
- We have another friend, Yayi, who migrated to Wellington 8 years ago. So we wanted to make a stop there as well (H)
- I’ve seen Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Beth is a mega fan of the series. Naturally we wanted to go to the Hobbiton Movie Set (I), as well as go on other LOTR tours along the way (B, H)
So plotting the priorities on the map, checking what attractions are along the route, connect the dots and there we have our itinerary! We pretty much followed the itinerary with minor changes. [Download Our Itinerary]
Beth and I flew into Auckland, but not together. She came from Phenom Penh, I, from Manila. We decided to just meet in Dunedin. I flew via PAL arriving early in the morning. I could’ve taken the flight to Dunedin the same day but I didn’t do my research… so I stayed one night in Auckland. But it’s all good because of that, I met up with Linda and Craig of Performance Foundry, the team taking care of my website so I don’t have to think about anything except posting content (and yet).
Rent a Car
It was our dream to travel with a camper van, but it will have to be for another time. Beth did a cost comparison and the result is that it’s way too expensive. The price difference is over NZ$1000 so we decided to get a regular car. When you rent camper van, you still have to pay for camp ground. You can see the cost comparison in the itinerary. [Download Our Itinerary]
Set a Budget
It would be ideal to have a budget when you travel, but we didn’t have one. We just use our reasons as we go. We did not skimped on anything, neither did we splurge for any unreasonable extravagance.. We ate well, stayed in nice hotels and clean camp sites, and did tours and activities that we’ve set out to do – except skydiving, because it had been too windy. But we took a helicopter ride and stepped on the glacier!
Not Another Drone Video! Scenic #helicopter ride over #FoxGlacier with snow landing ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had on any trip! Woke up to gloomy sky 🌧 but it soon cleared up allowing us a short flight 🚁. It was unexpected that we get to land and step on the #glacier ⛄️ @indayguapa @foxglacierguidingnz #wanderlassNZ @purenewzealand @travelnewzealand
Traveling to New Zealand soon? Check this post on How to Apply for New Zealand Visa Online for Philippine Passport Holders.