10 Things I Miss Most About New Zealand - and a few things I will not miss one bit

10 Things I Miss Most About New Zealand

and a few things I will not miss one bit


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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.

1. The nature

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

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

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.

4. Adventure

4. Adventure

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.

5. Hitchhiking

Tulu, Yvonne and me trying to hitchhike back to Dunedin

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Extra. Sheep

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 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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Categories: new zealand inspiration oceania


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