10 Things I Miss Most About New Zealand
There is no doubt that New Zealand has left a big impression on me. I spent 5 weeks traveling around the country from North to South Island. It all felt surreal until I was back home and now that I am back for awhile and had finally let the experience sink in, here are 10 things I wish I appreciate more when I was in New Zealand.. and a few other things that makes me glad I don't live there.Table of Contents
- 1. The nature
- 2. Mingling with the Locals
- 3. Meeting people from around the world
- 4. Adventure
- 5. Hitchhiking
- 6. Nature Walks
- 7. Wild Animals
- 8. The rolling green hills
- 9. Flat White
- 10. The Emptiness
- Extra. Sheep
- A few things I will NOT miss in New Zealand
- Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
1. The nature
The Hooker Valley track, a 3 hours trail that led me to the heart of Mt Cook.
Seriously, the nature in New Zealand is ridiculously beautiful and very well intact. Driving around (or in my case sitting in a bus) is an attraction in itself. I was unable to sleep on the bus because of the fear that I might miss out seeing beautiful mountains, and colorful lakes, and I'm glad I stayed up because I would miss a whole lot of it.
One advice for you, if you are coming from Franz Josef to Wanaka, make sure you sit on the left hand side of the bus. The scenery from here on out is one of the best with Lake Hawea and countless mountainous hills passing you by. Trust me, you don't want to be a drooling sad panda like me, sitting on the right.
2. Mingling with the Locals
This was right after the most random encounter with the 2 kiwis in a car.
The kiwis (the people that is, not the animal) are one of the nicest people I have ever met. They will go out of their way to help you out. Strangers be damned, they will just greet you like they know you whenever they walk pass you. Hell, my friend's car broke down and we were helped by the kiwis, and they casually gave us their jumper cable for free!
Another random encounter was when I was in Motueka. I was walking at night alone trying to snap a few photos of the stars and I stumbled upon a parked car. I didn't pay much attention to it and all of a sudden, 2 girls inside just shouted "Hello" at me for no reason. I greeted them back without paying much attention but after a while I decided to talk to them and curiously,asked them why they are so friendly to strangers. They said they thought I was one of the people living in Motueka and since Motueka is a small town, they knew everyone and they thought they knew me. I guess that explains a lot why the kiwis are such nice people. The whole country has the population of only 4 million people. We have 6.5 million in Bangkok alone!
3. Meeting people from around the world
This was me, Megan fron England and Viola from Germany laughing our way through New Zealand
New Zealand is a backpacker's heaven. Especially Queenstown where everyone I met was from everywhere but New Zealand. From a barista at a local cafe to people working in hostels, they all came from different corners of the world and that is what makes it unique.
I have made friends from over 9 different countries and all of them are so unique in their own ways that it makes traveling with them so much fun. Plus, New Zealand is a small country, and you will eventually ran into these people over and over again as you travel through the country.
Plungling 15,000 feet (4500m) from the sky
From Skydive to swimming with dolphins or whatever sports that a human body could endure, they have it in New Zealand. Especially in Queenstown where you can start hiking a 1700m mountain right from the street of the city. The liveliness of Queenstown is through the roof. Even when the weather is crappy (which is usually the case in New Zealand), you will still see people go kayaking, mountain biking or hiking. If you are not the adventurous type, I bet you will have the urge to become one by being under that unique energetic atmosphere that is Queenstown.
I ended up climbing 2 summits, did 2 great walks, several small walks, skydived and hiked a glacier all in that 5 weeks window.
Tulu, Yvonne and me trying to hitchhike back to Dunedin
New Zealand is the safest country to hitchhike. I've met a german girl who hitchhiked all the way from Auckland to Te Anau and will continue to do so throughout her trip. I also did my fair share of hitchhiking in Franz Josef and Dunedin and even though, it can be frustrating at time, the whole experience of finally getting a lift was exhilarating. Plus, most of the people that picked you up are usually the locals and you can learn a lot about the culture from them.
6. Nature Walks
The Queens Charlotte Sound stretched as far as the eye could see.
One of the things I miss most about New Zealand is the walking culture they have created and mastered. Every single town, you will be able to find a nice walk that will immerse you with nature. I was in Picton for only one night and I wasn't planning to do anything but I ended up doing the Snout track, which rewarded me with the view of the Queen Charlotte Sound as far as the eye can see. Not to mention walking is one of the few things you can do for free in New Zealand.
7. Wild Animals
The dolphins were arms away from us when we were heading to the Torrent Bay to start our Abel Tasman walk.
In New Zealand, people are really living in harmony with nature. Seagulls flying around every port city, dolphins casually swimming with the speed boat, penguins walking on the beach minding their own business. Not to mention, all the crazy birds out there. I mean, there are tons of different species here in New Zealand from the Albatross (the largest bird in the world) to Kaka and Kea, a parrot that are commonly seen in the South Island. You will become a bird nerd in no time if you stay in New Zealand for too long.
8. The rolling green hills
The rolling green hills at Cape Foulwind, Westport.
There is no country that is known for its rolling green hills than New Zealand and for good reason. If you give people a picture of a random rolling green hill, their first guess would be New Zealand. From all the places I've been to, New Zealand has one of the most beautiful, perfectly trimmed, vividly green hills that stretches for several acres of land. Every time I saw one, a child inside me wanted to just roll down the hill for no reason.
9. Flat White
Sipped a cup of flat white while watching the locals mingled with each other.
I gotta admit, I'm a coffee addict and most of my morning ritual in New Zealand involved this little local brewed coffee, Flat White, a laptop and a nice cafe. The smell of the freshly brewed coffee beans, a slowly stirred milk in a spinning foam, a carefully drawn fern art on top and a small cardboard cup makes a perfect day even better. What more could you ask for?
10. The Emptiness
Only me and nature in this vast space of emptiness a few minutes walk away from the city center.
And best of all, the emptiness. Coming back from New Zealand to Bangkok where the population almost doubled, I had a sudden realization of how much I hate the crowds. I miss being alone with my own thoughts, listening to bird chirping away, walking around the lake, and going for a walk alone in nature without having to drive hours away from home. All in all, I miss the vast space of emptiness I got from New Zealand.
The amount of sheep I saw in New Zealand is unbelievable. Starring in the face of hundreds of sheep and imitating their voice never gets old.
A few things I will NOT miss in New Zealand
New Zealand is not a perfect country and if you have traveled there long enough, you will start to notice little things that will drive you mad.
- The Internet. It's 2015 and there are still no unlimited data package option for travelers. I had to pay 50 NZD for 3 GB of data, which I ran through in 2 weeks. Not to mention the limited wifi in cafes. They tricked you in with a free wifi sign and before you know it, you have bought a coffee and realized that the wifi is limited for 15 minutes or for 25MB. That's bullshit! Ironically, I found South East Asia to be more reliable than New Zealand in this case.
- The Overpriced Economy. Everything is overpriced here. Everything! It's understandable because it is an island at the bottom of the world where most of the things are imported but wouldn't it be nice if what you get is at least worth the price you paid for.
- The Food. I'm sorry but the food in New Zealand sucks balls. It's usually average, overpriced and dull with nothing unique about it. Not to mention, the limited options of bread, the food I relied on most to save money. With the price of one meal in New Zealand, you could eat like 5 - 6 more delicious meals in Bangkok.
- The Weather. If you are expecting to experience a perfect weather like you see in most photos on the Internet, you are going to have a bad time. The weather in New Zealand is crazy. It changes so fast the weather forecast has no power there. It once rained on me 5 times when I was cycling to Cape Foulwind in Westport. I turned back and it stopped and became sunny again. I decided to go back and as you guessed it, it poured on me again.
Do you agree or disagree with this list? Let me know in the comment below.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
Looking for more inspirational articles? Check out The Solo Traveler’s Inspiration section where we will discuss topics related to the nomadic and traveling lifestyle and shower-thoughts that will invoke wanderlust in all of us.
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