New Zealand

This was the first stop on our travel adventure; we landed in Auckland after a gruelling 24 hours in the air, then picked up our car to spend a month in this beautiful country. Some of the highlights of our New Zealand trip include a Rock Boat cruise of the Bay of Islands, Skydiving over Abel Tasman and trekking over an active volcano. Check out all our New Zealand travel stories, videos, pictures and tips below.

It’s been a month since we set off on our travels, so how are we coping? Has it been everything we thought it would be? Are we at each other’s throats yet? Here’s how we’re adapting to our new life of travel.

We arrived in New Zealand physically and mentally exhausted. Those last few weeks before leaving were so emotional and stressful; it was a relief to finally be away from the strangeness of those final days. We launched straight into an overnight boat cruise and moved quickly from one place to the next, packing our time with activities. In hindsight this could have caused a complete meltdown, but it actually worked out well for us; seeing as much as possible and taking on new challenges stopped us from dwelling on the massive upheaval we’d just gone through.
Here we go’, says my Tandem skydiver, manoeuvring me towards the edge of bottomless blue. I feel the rush of air as the plane door opens; hear the thunder of the engine, the roar of the wind and somewhere in the distance a voice in my ear telling me to tilt my head back. I don’t remember seeing anything in those last few seconds, but the photos show my eyes are wide open, staring at the bright ceiling above as if in silent prayer. My only memory of dangling 13,000 feet in the air is the electric terror, of feeling every fibre of my body scream in unison: ‘No’ And then we fell.

There are some things we never had the time or inclination to do back in England – taking a seven hour hike up the side of a mountain was one of them. Only weeks after leaving the UK, however, we found ourselves battling up steep slopes and slipping over loose volcanic rock on our epic journey up Mount Tongariro in New Zealand.

When we first arrived in New Zealand I wrote that it felt oddly familiar, like the UK with warmer weather and different accents but over the last three weeks as we’ve criss-crossed our way down the North Island this initial impression has faded almost completely. As we’ve hiked up volcanic islands, soaked on hot-water beaches, wandered around steaming orange lakes and explored underground caves lit up with glowworms I’ve begun to feel like I couldn’t be any further away from the UK – in fact, at times I’ve felt like I could  be on an entirely different planet.

Everyone tells you not to plan too far in advance when you travel. Of course, when planning our trip we completely ignored this advice and scheduled our New Zealand itinerary in precise detail before we left London. It’s only now that we’re actually on the road that we realise how important it is to be flexible; as I type this we’re sat in Taupo, which has the hugest lake in Australasia, plenty of cute bars and cafes and a relaxed atmosphere – as soon as we arrived on a random afternoon trip we loved it and wanted to stay. Luckily we were able to check out of our extremely average hostel in smelly Rotorua and head back here, despite our rigid itinerary.

As a secondary school teacher in the UK sometimes you feel like there are nothing but targets; “you must do more of this and include less of that in your lessons”. Any UK teacher will tell you how a visit from the school inspectors is one of the most stressful things you can be put through, even if they don’t end up actually viewing one­­­­­­ of your lessons!

I can hardly believe that we left the UK just a week ago; since we touched down in New Zealand we haven’t stopped exploring. Each day has been crammed with new sights and experiences; from night kayaking and fishing to bathing on a hot water beach and trekking to the top of a volcanic island. We’ve driven 1,100 Kilometres, slept in five different beds, cooked in three different kitchens, got injured (Amy) and sunburned (both of us) and overall, had an amazing time – here’s the story of our first week on the road in New Zeland’s North Island.
After a pretty hideous 23-hour journey we made it to New Zealand. So what were our first impressions of Auckland? That it looked very similar to England; it was almost as if we’d been on a plane for hours but hadn’t really gone anywhere. That first day and night we both felt a bit shell shocked as we slowly realised we were literally on the other side of the world without a home or job to go back to, which made me question: ‘What the hell have we done’?  Thankfully, after a good sleep those fears disappeared and as we headed up to Paihia for our overnight Bay of Islands cruise, we were excited to finally be starting our adventure.
This time next week we'll be in the air en-route to New Zealand! Lately we've been so wrapped up in finalising travel plans and visiting family and friends that we've almost forgotten to be excited about leaving. To get us back in the mood for travel, our friend Patti wrote about her time in New Zealand.
Stunning scenery, glaciers, skydiving and glow worm caves – it’s no wonder New Zealand is near the top of our travel wish-list. When it came to planning the itinerary for our round the world trip, New Zealand came first for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s an English speaking small-ish country that’s simple to get around in, so we can ease ourselves into our new travelling lifestyle. Since we’re leaving in March, it also makes sense to stop in New Zealand first to catch the end of their summer before we travel on to Australia and Asia.