New Zealand was something of an impulse addition to our route, but I’m so, SO glad we did it. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I fell a bit in love with this handsome country.
The scenery on the South Island in particular was breathtaking, from the moment we rumbled out of the Mighty Campervan park to the ferry to Wellington.
Although I previously wrote that Australia felt like home, New Zealand felt even more so. I don’t know if it was the dry Kiwi sense of humour, the roller coaster weather, the unexpectedly brilliant libraries in almost every town (I do love a library) or the numerous herds of sheep we met along the way, but travelling in New Zealand felt even more familiar, which was lovely. Although I enjoy the culture shock of travel, sometimes it is nice to focus your energy on something else. Like jumping out of a plane, for example.
If Australia was where we fought to stick to a budget, New Zealand was where we tore it up and drop kicked it out of the camper van skylight. Despite factoring in that we planned to do some crazy and expensive stuff and upping our daily budget accordingly to a whopping £60pp, we still went over this by £10 each day – an amount that really adds up. Whoops. Bad backpackers.
This was in part to the fact a camper van probably isn’t the cheapest way to travel New Zealand. Our much loved “beast” was comfortable and spacious, but fuel efficient it was not. The poor weather meant we didn’t free camp as we might have done in warmer weather; temperatures of 2 degrees and wet clothes meant we gravitated towards the facilities of camp sites to avoid the van smelling like a wet Labrador the whole time. We also adopted what can best be described as a “Henry VIII” diet – tasty home cooked feasts washed down with a nightly cocktail hour or “beer o’clock”, cheese boards and wine and almost daily afternoon teas with cake treats. Our waistlines expanded in correlation with our shrinking bank account.
But you know what? I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’m sure we could have cut back, but we had the best time and some amazing/hilarious experiences, from manoeuvring a giant camper van nervously through a supermarket car park to pounding down a thundering set of freezing rapids. Our experience was all the more fun for sharing it with friends, so thanks to Pat and Nic for making these three weeks a great trip!
Despite an action packed three weeks, there is still so much of New Zealand to explore. I would love to come back to visit the north coast of the North Island, the furthest south of the South Island and to spend a bit more time in the lovely cities. When our bank balances have recovered, and we can cope with the 24 hour flight from the UK, I promise you New Zealand – we’ll be back.