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Hello New Zealand!

Auckland Ferry Terminal

Auckland Ferry Terminal

When the airport doors opened, New Zealand welcomed me with a blast of cool air.  What a relief.  After the heat of South Korea I will never again take coolness for granted.  For real.

My first two days were spent in Auckland and in many ways I felt instantly familiar with the city even though it was new to me.  It reminded me so much of San Francisco, with hills and a bay, cool breezes, a huge mix of cultures and therefore a huge variety of foods, sunshine and a bohemian vibe.  Cool city.  I wandered around and got perpetually lost.  Is there a name for being unable to translate a map to actual geography?  Whatever that condition is called, I have it.

On day one, I spent the day trying to find a bus company that would provide a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket so I could go to the many places I wanted to see.  I finally chose Stray, which proved to be a very bad decision as they told me I’d be on a bus the next morning, then wait-listed me, and changed my departure to three days later which was too late to leave.  When I cancelled the whole deal (based on the fact that they didn’t get me on the bus that I thought I would be on, they tried to penalize me to the tune of 35% of what I’d paid.  Not gonna happen. I’m working on that one.  In the meantime, I found a better bus company and have had no problems in getting around so far.  Live and learn.

My hostel was on K-Road, short for Karangahape Road, which is a happening street with lots of trendy boutiques and cafes.  I spent many hours talking with other hostel residents, many of them long term.   I was introduced to new beers and ciders and enjoyed some home-cooked meals with new friends.

On the third day, I traveled north to the Bay of Islands, specifically Paihia, a tiny coastal town with a laid-back beach town vibe and scenery to die for.  The weather was perfect.  If this is winter in New Zealand, I’ll take it!  The locals let me know that I got lucky; the rain stopped just before I arrived.  I enjoyed two days of sunshine.

Last night I was back in Auckland for one night and today after a five hour bus trip, I’ve arrived in Rotorua, famous for it’s hot springs, boiling mud pools and Māori culture.

In the Bay of Islands, rather than pay for expensive excursions that are simply not in the budget, I opted for free activities like a long walk and a day at the beach.  I can’t know what I missed by not booking an excursion, but I do know I had two spectacular days that cost almost nothing.  I intend to do the same again here in Rotorua.

Overall, my first impressions of New Zealand are:  It’s incredibly beautiful and green.  It’s very expensive – I am blowing my budget just by breathing here.  The people are nice.  The food is great.  There’s a lot of ethnic diversity.  It’s easy to get around.  I like it.


  1. We are dying to go to New Zealand, for now we will follow your adventures. Thanks.

    • Great! If you have any questions, I will do my best to give you some guidance. It is a beautiful country!

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