- Auckland: Ponsonby, Waiheke Island
- Tongariro Crossing
- Wellington: Garage Project, stroll Cuba Street
- Marlborough (a must) & Hawkes Bay: book a tour/driver
- Abel Tasman: make time for a multi-day hike
- Moetuka (Abel Tasman): was advised to skydive here and not Queenstown
- Fox Glacier/Franz Josef Glacier: see/climb a glacier
- Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World: nice break from driving, site seeing, etc.
- Queenstown: must do an extreme activity, Fergburger is a must
- Milford Sound: go on a nice day – take a flying tour to get there (driving there and back takes up a whole day)
- Bay of Islands: gorgeous little beach town but suggest going in summer to enjoy (bit too chilly when we were there)
- Hamilton, our first campervan stop
- Nelson: not much there but Mt. stoke, very pretty hike but there are tons of those
- Arthur’s Pass: small town with not much going on but a few hikes (we personally should have checked weather)
we should have spent more time in Wellington and Abel Tasman. we also wish we would have stayed a day or two in Lake Wanaka.
overall we regret not skydiving, going to the Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms, taking a dip in sulphur pools and climbing a glacier. all good reasons to go back.
we had aspirations to become serious hikers, but they were just that. with a stop in wellington we quickly learned that we are big city people. while the hikes in new zealand were and are literally out of this world amazing, and i would recommend doing as many as your body can handle, we discovered that we sleep heavier when buildings reach high, people crowd sidewalks and sirens go off around us. that’s not to say we will not continue to hike, but we know we’re not coming back to sell our house and live in a van forever.
gin (card game) can fix any amount of boredom. seriously, any. (gin the booze probably can to)
check the weather and don’t force plans, assuming you have time. if it looks hot or rainy or anything beyond ideal, don’t bother. don’t waste the money, don’t waste the effort. anything you want to go see or any activity you want to accomplish will not be the same if the weather isn’t right. side note – we are still trying to learn to do this.
add to that last note, take your time to do nothing bc unless you’re Wiz Khalifa you can’t go hard 100% of time. side note – we’re also still trying to learn to do this.
renting a gps for the road trip was a waste of money and garmin is soon to be an irrelevant company if they don’t innovate. gps systems alone are really no longer needed. an iPhone and the most basic Tmobile plan comes with free international data (yes, i feel like Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas saying that) and it is literally all you need. you can make emergency calls for free and, if you really have to and want to pay the rates, you can also call home or locally. really though with data you can still upload on instagram, check your Facebook, edit your fantasy lineup, use FaceTime and (more importantly for this post) use your maps or google maps app for the costs of basic cell service.
if the difference in a motor park is a few dollars, go with the more expensive option. low budget products usually improve vastly for a few extra bones.
drink locally. it is usually the cheaper and tastier alternative.
ask anyone around you for advice bc everyone thinks they’re an expert and the locals usually are. if you’re shy or afraid of being rude, or worse yet someone being rude to you, who gives a sh*t!? you’re probably never going to see them again and the worst that can happen is you make a new friend. #nonewfriends
all the germans in NZ hate “duhmericans” (credit; Ian Huxley). they will smile and say hello then bluntly talk in their native tongue while they point and laugh at you with their friends. it hurts.
fight’s can and will still happen and its still most likely Hogan’s fault. (penned by hogan, confirmed by caro)
we will not be on chopped or top chef any time soon. with limited resources we are pretty boring cooks. hopefully that’ll change on this trip.
the kiwi experience, a jump on/jump off country-wide greyhound service, is a much easier and more cost efficient way to see NZ. we drove some 2K+ miles in a top heavy oversized mini-van and gas is expensive everywhere (or was, I guess it’s starting to drop?)… so unless you want to drive, let someone else drive the menial routes and take a nap (if you need local transportation outside of buses, you can rent scooters or cars for the day).
however, if you do want to get the caravan experience then only stay at TOP10 motor parks unless you read really badass reviews about a competitor in a certain city. seriously though, TOP10 was the jam.
NZ is a very health conscious country, all products and restaurants had some kind of educated label: non-gmo, no msg, organic, all natural, gluten free, dairy free, grass-fed, etc.
wifi minimal and data pretty much non-existent.
lastly, we absolutely loved NZ and would highly recommend it as a place to visit.