Of the 40 days in New Zealand, we spent 4 weeks on the South Island and a little less than two weeks on the North Island. Initially New Zealand was not one of our top 10 destinations, but since everyone was sooo enthusiastic about this country, we felt we should decide for ourselves.
Our arrival was rather unpleasant as described in our first New Zealand entry on this website and it took almost a week until we caught the New Zealand fever. To be honest, it is almost impossible to resist the spectacular scenery: the green pastures dotted with sheep, the glaciers, the temperate rainforest, the fjords, the endless beaches, the volcanoes…
Traveling in New Zealand is easy is every respect: there is an immense choice of different types of accommodation, cheap car rentals and all this is well-organised and very service orientated. Life in rural areas can be so relaxed that you may walk into a hostel, choose a room and then call the owner who may live somewhere else. Who can forget the ever present “honesty box” to pay for bunks in mountain huts, for fruits on a farm, entry on private property…
Of course, this sense of trust and safety we deeply appreciated, as well as the space and the quiet, peaceful life. On the other hand, this leaves little room for surprises and eventually this is what we started to miss after a while. At our previous destinations, just walking down the street usually brought about a funny or exciting moment, something new or exotic! In New Zealand, excitement has turned into big business with over-abundant activities like bungy jumping, skydiving, river rafting, jetboating, canyoning and what ever else there is!
We truly enjoyed immersing into the “backbacker” community for those six weeks, sharing kitchens and bathrooms, shopping at New World or Food Town and cooking every single dinner. The blue or green multi-use shopping bags easily gave us away as a member of the backpacker crowd, a sort of common badge. By the time we left New Zealand, we had cooked almost every single meal over a period of four months in a row, something we both had never accomplished before.
We left in gorgeous autumn weather looking forward to new adventures in China. Funnily, it were the very first and very last hours in this country that offered the only surprise. When leaving on April 21st, we found our flight to Hong Kong cancelled. We were re-routed through Sydney and arrived 12 hours late in Hong Kong. For this inconvenience we received 160 NZ Dollars each. It almost seems like divine justice, since it compensated for the extra expenses we had during our troubled arrival in New Zealand. No worries, as they like to say there.
The highlights of those six weeks were:
- The Catlins: endless beaches and rolling green hills, as well as enjoying Saturday night in Colca Bay’s only pub.
- Overnight Cruise in Doubtful Sound: stunning landscape, excellent service & learning about New Zealand’s fauna and flora.
- Breathtaking Whariki Beach in Golden Bay with its playful seal pubs.
- Relaxing at Hopewell in the Malborough for a few days, the highest ranked BBH hostel in New Zealand, well deserved!
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most spectacular treks we hiked.
- Staying on the Kane’s farm with Colin and Pam learning about farming in New Zealand.
- Discovering New Zealand’s politics with Julie and Rob in Wellington and meeting with Rodney Hide, head of the Liberal Party.