Yes, we know we are a bit behind with the blog… we are about to leave Chile and we haven’t told you anything about our adventures in New Zealand yet. We have found it more difficult than what we expected to combine the travelling with keeping the blog up to date. So we have decided that we are going to put off the narration of all the things we did in New Zealand, at least for the moment. But at least we wanted to give you a sneak peek of how our 30 days in the long white cloud island were like, and tell you how much we loved it!
Our flight took off from sunny Sydney to land in wintery Queenstown. As we started our descend, and crossed the sea of clouds, we recognized the first snowed peaks and the incredible scenery, very Lords of the Rings like, of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. After only a couple of days in the touristy and extreme sports capital Queenstown, we picked up our fancy campervan. We appropriately named it Arwen, and started our 24 day tour around New Zealand. We headed first to Milford Sound and the drive through Fiorland mountains alone was breathtaking, not to mention the cruise. We continued on route to the Catlins, where we saw the cute yellow eyed penguins coming back home from a hard day fishing. Next, the visit to Moeraki Boulders left us somehow discontent, they were just a very few round rocks. In Wanaka we enjoyed two days of skiing in Treble Cone, with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Continuing with the icy activities, we did a really cool one day trek in the Fox Glacier. As we kept heading up north and started to pass by kiwi fruit fields, I forced Isma to stop to buy a bag with no less than 28 kiwis for just two dollars! When we got to Abel Tasman with did a stunning 25km trek which left us exhausted for the next couple of days. Wine tasting in Malborough, a plate of green lip mussels in Haveloc and the spectacular Queen Charlotte Drive closed the chapter of the South Island, just before taking the ferry to Wellington in Picton. In total we spent 14 unforgettable days in the South Island.
The North Island started in Wellington and on a high note, with a rugby game. And not any game, we saw the All Blacks beating Los Pumas in the Rugby Championship (the former Tri Nations). It was really exciting to watch live the Haka. Also in Wellington we visited the very interesting Te Papa museum, where we learnt about the history of New Zealand and the origins of the Maori people. The snow and a recent volcanic eruption made us say goodbye to the dream of doing the Tongariro crossing. But we did an equally exciting one day trek to the Tama Lakes with spectacular views of the volcanoes. Due to the bad weather, in the North Island we had more time to enjoy the campervan: cooking, reading, relaxing with a cup of cocoa, eating the daily dose of kiwis or watching the Lord Of The Rings trilogy with a big bowl of popcorn, we just loved it. Continuing up north we arrived to Rotorua where we did what most tourist do, attend a hangi dinner in a Maori Village, which was really disappointing. Nearby Rotorua we went to see Wai O Tapu, a wonderland of stunning geothermal activity, and we tried to do rafting in the Kaituna river, which has the highest commercially rafted waterfall (7m). I say try because once again the bad weather, this time the heavy rain, didn’t allowed us to do it. In the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula we dug our own private spa at Hot Water Beach. And with tears in our eyes, we said goodbye to Arwen in Auckland, where we closed another chapter of our trip. Not only it was where we put an end to our month in New Zealand but also to our time in Oceania.
Even though we didn’t stay much in any of the villages or cities, we did get a glimpse of the Maori culture, their love for their land and their coexistence with the settlers. We perceived a far better integration with the whites than in Australia, but the Maori are still treated as the lower class and there are still conflicts. After British and Maoris signed the Waitangi treaty in 1840, Maoris were recognised as the owners of their land. But over the years, the British haven’t honoured the agreement and have managed to expropriate most of it. This has caused many problems in the past and the Maoris are still today fighting to get back their land and to protect their rights.
Although the camping culture is not as widely extended in New Zealand as it is in Australia, camping in New Zealand is easier and far more environmentally conscious. Freedom camping is mostly allowed except where otherwise stated, this is normally in most touristy places. But freedom camping is only possible with self contained vehicles, this means with vehicles that have a grey water tank and a toilet, like Arwen. After our experience with the campervans in Australia we were a bit worried about the weather and the cold nights in New Zealand. Luckily Arwen was far better prepared for the winter than our previous campervans. We had a couple of duvets and a small fan heater, plus the kitchen was inside… enough even in the snowy weather.
We had been told several times that New Zealand would be a bit more expensive than Australia. So we were happily surprised when we realized it was actually cheaper. The exchange rate wasn’t as bad as in Oz, and as we travelled in low season we found many offers and promotions like 2×1 in the Milford Sound Cruise, or one week free ski pass for one person… This allowed us to make a bit more of our budget and get to do more things.
We both had dreamed with visiting New Zealand for a long time, and you know how easy it is to get disappointed when you have big expectations, but the beautiful New Zealand hasn’t disappointed us even a bit! It’s just a wonderful and stunning place to visit.
This is more or less the cost of living in New Zealand:
- Exchange rate: 1 EUR = 1.5 NZD (approx.)
- Bottle of wine: 10-20 NZD (middle range)
- Beer (6x330ml): 13 NZD
- In food court: 10-15 NZD / person
- Hostel: 65-70 NZD per double room with shared bathroom
- Caravan Park: 34 NZD per campervan + 2 people
- Camping Area: 5-10 NZD per campervan + 2 people
- Campervan: 56 NZD per day with full coverage insurance
- Airport Shuttle: 16 NZD per person
- Petrol: 2.17–2.35 NZD per litre
- Ferry from Picton to Wellington: 263 NZD per campervan + 2 people
- Laundry: 3 NZD per wash
- Skiing: 95 NZD per day per person without gear
- Ski gear rental: 40 NZD per person per day
- Milford Sound Cruise: 65 NZD per person
- Fox Glacier one day hiking trip: 159 NZD per person
- Tamaki Maori Village: 105 NZD per person
- Average expense per day: 67€ per person (including accommodation, food, transport, laundry, petrol, activities…)
We thought the video of the Haka that the All Blacks performed in front of Los Pumas and us was the most appropriate way to finish this post!
Visit our flickr gallery for all the pictures!