New Zealand in Summary

What we did: 50 days total- a little more than three weeks on the north island, and three+ weeks on the south island.

Where we went: five days in Auckland, five days traveling the famed Surf Highway 45, two weeks working for our host family in Torbay (who taught us some incredible Italian recipes that we are forever indebted to them for), 2 days in lovely Wellington, and three weeks traveling the south island by Campervan.

Note: Thanks to the kindness of a friend we met in Fiji, we were able to spend nearly a week in the incredible city of Auckland, as guests in his apartment. Without this, we likely would have had to miss out on much of this city due to the costly price of living- our thanks to him for his absolutely generosity to two backpacking strangers.

About costs: even with a good currency conversion rate, New Zealand is just isolated enough to be challenging for a backpacker budget. Food costs are higher than expected. We would not have been able to meet our budget goals without constant awareness of minimal daily expenditures. New Zealand has so much to offer when it comes to adventuresome activities that staying within our allotted budget was horribly challenging at times. We missed out on a number activities we want to do- but the few trips we splurged on were so very worth it. We will have plenty of things to do when we come back one day, and our time traveling here certainly gave us a much more educated understanding of the trips that would be worthwhile for us the next time around. That said, New Zealand is certainly the type of place where more money is better… There is a lot of cool stuff to do around here.

North island vs South: our original plan was to spend all six weeks on the north island- to save the south island for another adventure sometime in the future. But. We changed that once we spoke with other travelers who described the south island as the best part of the country. Dave and I are a bit divided on this. We ended up missing a lot of the north island to head south, and personally I preferred the north island for it’s cuisine, it’s beautiful cities, and it’s fantastically accessible beaches. With that said the south island is less populated and a Mecca for outdoor activities- and the activities we did were all phenomenal experiences. I think the north island gets a bad rap for being the more populated part of the country, and I think it deserves just as much attention for tourists as the south. But it seems that the majority of travelers disagree with me on this issue.

What we’ll miss: black current jam, incredible green lipped mussels, lamb that tastes so fresh it is like an entirely different meat than what we find in the states. Feijoas- green fruit reminiscent of a kiwi without all the seeds, the large array of creative chutneys, meat pies sold warm at the farmers markets. Passionfruit soda…Mmmmm. Elderflower cordial. The easy access to incredible outdoor sporting adventures.

What we won’t miss: high food and drink prices. Even higher gas prices ($2.20/liter.. Ouch!) Crumbed meats are hugely popular here and it was something we just couldn’t understand the draw of- they even crumb sausages here…??? Winding one lane roads with high speed limits and crazy drivers that pass within inches of hitting oncoming traffic. The horrifically evil and harassing sand fly- a harmless looking fruit fly-like insect with a saber tooth bite. And lastly, our Campervan… He was a good companion for the first two weeks but we were certainly well done with him by the end.

Off to Australia!

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