Let me start by saying we are excited for our next leg of the journey, but man, part of us wants to cancel everything and spend the rest of our time here. New Zealand has been GOOD to us. I should be hired by the tourism board, because im about to unleash a lovefest on this blog.
First of all, this has been the easiest trip ever to (not) plan. We did so little ahead of time, barely any planning during, and we had an amazing time. Part of that, yes, is due to giving ourselves 4 weeks, which is a large amount of time for most. But seriously, this country made it so damn easy. And I love this country, and here's why it was probably the easiest travelling of our lives:
1) iSites...incredibly helpful official tourist information sites that were EVERYWHERE, and could not only offer (actually) helpful advice, but then book things for you, free (i think mostly) of charge. You just felt like New Zealand WANTED you to have the best time while you wrre here, and iSites were just part of how they ensured that. And some places were hilariously into the sites, like the one byHobbiton looked like a hobbit hole on the outside. Well played, iSite, well played.
2) Campervanning was the best (for us). Cannot believe this is mot a bigger thing in the states yet, a place where roadtripping is king. Offered us so much freedom to have our own wheels and accommodation, but even better is how awesomly set up this country is for camping. And because we had this little minivan version, we used less fuel than the big guys (though diesel was cheaper here, whap whaaa) and we didnt need powered sites (our fridge ran off its own battery fueled by the running car. Or something). Campsites were (again) EVERYWHERE, and that leads me to number 3...
3) Campermate: someone awesome made an app that shows you all available/known campsites, EVERYWHERE, for all types of vehicles/tents. And it was available offline. With user comments and reviews. And because there are so many sites, we often decided that day where to stay, then just rolled in and showed up. We were travelling at the end of peak/ into shoulder season, so we were never turned away. It really enabled us in the whole "not really planning anything" strategy. Thanks, campermate!
4) kiwis are really nice. I know its a generalization, I'm sure there are some real jackasses out there, but we didnt encounter any. Or they're all really good at faking it. Either way, I'll take it. Case in point, today, after returning the campervan, we opted to walk to the airport after being told there was a footpath that took 20 min, so we set off. 2 min later a car pulled over asking if we were going to the airport and if we wanted a ride. Roger was his name, and he rocks. And we took him up on the offer.
5) There is so much to do and see in a relatively small country that we had hardly any long days of driving. And when we did stop to see something, there was often a few more things to see in the area that we found out about organically, or from clear signage. We never had to hunt for things to do or see, really. This whole country is something to see.
6) They dont make you take off your shoes in the airport.
Obviously #6 is the best one. And....maybe a million other things made this the most incredible 4 weeks.
But guess what?? Were on our way to Sydney, Australia, and that rocks!! And even cooler, a cousin I've never met is picking us up at the airport! People. Are. Awesome. And thats why I love these big adventures we've had - this amazing part of human nature seems to hold true again and again. Hopefully that holds for all the legs of this trip, ha!
To anyone who cares, we another big update to highlight a bunch of stuff we skipped, coming hopefully soon (it's started). Mostly to remind myself, they include:
Marborough wine and beer land (mmm)
Kayaking in Abel Tasman
wharariki beach and seal pups
Not helihiking the glaciers and totally not regretting it at all or fighting about it in any way, nope
You know, nothing much.