New Zealand was my very first solo trip. You know, the kind that changes your lifestyle forever. That kind.
I left France with my savings, my backpack and absolutely no plans. I just had a friend of-a-friend-of-a-friend in Auckland. She and her family helped me not to be lost on my arrival. Then, after a few days, I took a bus, destination the unknown! I was traveling as a HelpX helper, staying with local families and working a few hours for food + bed. Every people I met have guided my trip, telling me that they have a cousin who could host me in the Bay of Islands, or how beautiful was their last trip to Cape Reinga. My itinerary naturally constructed by itself.
The particularity of New Zealand is that I loved every single place I've explored there. So at the end, my only exigency was to discover. Anything.
I've coupled this helper lifestyle with two big road trips, camping or backpacking. The perfect mix. Anyway, even if there are some things I wanted to do and haven't (1. See the whales in Kaikoura 2. Ice-climbing in a Glacier. I'll be back!), I've seen lots of wonders.
Like looots of people, I went in New Zealand with a Working Holiday Visa. It took me 3 days to get it online, and allowed me to stay and work there for a year. And shame on me, I didn't use it 'till the end! But no regrets -if I'd stay there for a year there, I would probably not be currently living in Hong Kong.
New Zealand North Island
Auckland - Lovely colonial districts, great waterfront, sublime skyline, nice vibes.
Whangarei - Beautiful hike to Mt Manaia, with gorgeous view from the top.
Bay of Islands - Russell, charming village with colonial houses and live music on the beach.
Cape Reinga - Mystical atmosphere ! The walk to the lighthouse is beautiful, the view incredible.
Kauri Park - 2000 years old trees. Vertiginous.
Coromandel Peninsula - Most beautiful roads of the country + the beach from the movie Narnia in Whitianga.
Cambridge - If you're a horse person this is for you!
Rotorua - Spectacular geothermal activity, geyser, hot springs, boiling mud pools. A must-see. Splendid!
Te Puke - Kiwi 360 to finally know everything about kiwis.
Taupo - Awesome sporty atmosphere, nice hiking paths and beautiful roads.
Tongariro National Park - Hike on a volcano! One of the best experience of my entire trip. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
New Plymouth - For the great vibes, the waterfront and for the challenge to climb the stunning Mt Taranaki.
Wellington - Only the coolest capital in the world!
New Zealand South Island
Picton - Great biking tracks in the Marlborough Sounds.
Abel Tasman National Park - Go trekking + kayaking in paradise, with dolphins and seals nearby...
Blenheim - Beautiful photo to take in the vineyards.
Kaikoura - Surf & go say "Hi" to the big whales.
Christchurch - A city center made of containers!
Akaroa - Breathtaking views + penguins reserve.
Tekapo - Incredibly blue lake + awesome ice-chocolate.
Mt Cook - See the snow & touch an iceberg!
Oamaru - Sublime sunset with the boulder rocks.
Dunedin - Party & surf in the beautiful student city.
The Catlins - Surf, tiny dolphins & the cutest penguins.
Invercargill - The city in the far South of the South Island.
Queenstown - The extreme sports capital. Go extreme!
Milford Sound - Waterfalls pouring from vertical rocks.
Wanaka - For the serenity and the beauty of the lake.
Fox & Franz Joseph Glacier - Climb a glacier!
Punaikaki - Greatest sunsets on the pancake rocks.
Greymouth - Watch the waves from the sea entering into the river. The waves are impressive!
Buy a car. There are many for sale online, it's quite easy to find one and to sell it back after your trip. Or go for carpooling. Hitchhike.
Hit the road anyways!
I bought my car 1400US$. I almost never paid for food or bed. Hiked a lot (it's free!). And enjoyed a few restaurants on the road, some excursions in the Coromandel Peninsula or in the Milford Sound, a paragliding flight in Queenstown and a shopping session to survive to the winter in the South Island. Oh- and I worked in the vineyard in Blenheim for two weeks, to earn some cash.
I spent around 5500$ in six months -less money than I used to spend back in Paris.
Challenge for the Frogs!
L'agence de voyage Nomade Aventure met la Nouvelle Zélande à l'honneur et vous offre des goodies pour préparer votre voyage dans le pays du long nuage blanc!
Let's hit the road!
I hope this New Zealand itinerary will help you to figure out where do you want to go and what to see! Now that your ideas are cleared, check out the 10 things that will make your New Zealand road trip worth it.