I have met a lot people now who are traveling on a shoestring budget, these are the tips I have picked up for New Zealand (most are generic to any country).
Flights– this is going to be a big cost, I don’t know a way around it, sorry. It can be reduced by using Apps like skyscanner to find the cheapest flight.
Travel– A few options here: hitchhike; New Zealanders are very good at stopping for travelers. Rent a car; this can later reduce accommodation and activity costs. Bus; intercity is the big company but manabus is often cheaper (look at different days/times as the prices vary considerably).
Accommodation– A few options here: take a tent and camp. If you have a car sleep in it-also for a small cost some hostels let you park and use their facilities. Hostels, especially dorm rooms are pretty cheap- top tip here would be to look at discount cards like BBH (the discounts soon add up). Another option for Hostels is to see if they have work to stay e.g. you clean etc in the morning to stay at the hostel for free.
Food– Unless you really want to eat out cook at the hostel or a portable stove if camping. If you are staying in Hostels its worth checking out the free foods (food left by guests-if you don’t take it someone else will) before going shopping. Also go to supermarkets near closing to get reduced foods.
Activities– The great thing about New Zealand is so much is free (you just need to get there), my articles on the places I visited will have everything I did for free. For activities that aren’t free, before booking look at bookme and ask the hostel if they have a discount.
Last tip– Check out visa options and if possible get a working visa so if you are short on cash you can try and get some work.
As you guessed from the title I loved my time at Paihia. Waking up to the beautiful sunrise over the dock (picture above) was so serene. It makes you feel so at peace.
So after the beautiful sunrise what do you do in Paihia? Well lets start with the free stuff- You can hike to Haruru waterfall, Opua Forest (which has wild Kiwi’s), and/or the Waitangi National Reserve. There are also a number of beautiful beaches (just don’t go to the one near the dock as the water isn’t very nice).
What’s good and cheap– Kayaking around the bay is so good, I personally went to one of the little islands- you can also get to Haruru waterfall. Take a very reasonable priced ferry to Russell to see the oldest church in New Zealand and chill on the long beach.
What’s great and needs some money- Spend the money, trust me, and do one the sail boat trips around the various islands. I personally did She’s a Lady which was awesome- I got to sail the ship, see tiny penguins in the middle of the sea (sometimes you see Dolphins) and visit a number of the little Island’s.
Recommendations– A friend, Josh, recommended a tour to the 90 mile beach and Cape Reinga because he loved it. Also the captain of She’s a Lady recommended an overnight boat hostel-can’t say much about it so be sure to look it up.
So Hamilton, New Zealand is what I class as an Ok place and therefore in my opinion worth a miss.
Let me explain. If you want city life then Auckland isn’t that far, or even better take the time to go to Wellington which I loved. If you want adventure then you are close to Taupo, or even the amazing Mt Taranki near New Plymouth. If you want scenery then go to nearby Rotorua to see the Guisers and the stunning Redwood. Don’t get me wrong Hamilton has city, adventure and scenery, its just inferior to nearby places.
Of course if you have made your mind up to go to Hamilton, then there are three must dos. 1. Duck Island ice cream-its so good I’m getting hungry thinking about it. 2 The beautiful Hamilton Gardens. 3. The museum, which is free, has a really interesting WW1 section.
Mt Taranaki, New Zealand, is in the national park of Egmont; south of New Plymouth (if you stay here try the Ducks and Drakes it was the best hostel so far). So the real question is it worth visiting?
Hopefully the picture I took near the top will answer that. For those who want a description Mt Taranaki is beautiful, breath taking, exhausting, frustrating, adrenaline inducing, remote, has a gentle calmness, a pain to go down and a bloody awesome day.
Just a word of warning have a good pair of mountain boots, be prepared and if you get out of breath going up a hill don’t to this (the gradient at some points are insane).
Its true I am anti-city because I love New Zealand Countryside/Seaside so much. However I have really enjoyed my time in Wellington, despite the rain.
What’s good? Lets start with the free stuff. Mt Victoria-get up early for sunrise (walk it as you see so much on the way up)-the views of the docks and city are amazing. There are a number of really good free museums. The must one is the museum of New Zealand (it rivals my favourite museum the V&A in London)- it tells the story of New Zealand from its creation to Modern life interactively and its FREE.
When in New Zealand you have to do something Lord of the Rings and I wasn’t feeling hobbiton-so instead a LOTR tour, which I really enjoyed. If you don’t want to do this at least visit WETA caves, its a really good tour of movie props/visual effects.
Eating/drinking: I went to a number of really good places to eat-but as I’m not a local I don’t want to recommend. Instead check out these streets: Cuba St, Dixon St and Courtenay St.
Interesting but true: The Kiwi fruit in New Zealand came from China, its called the Chinese Gooseberry. Over 300 houses can only be accessed by cable cart in Wellington.
I will do my full review of Wellington soon but wanted to share an initial observation.
Wellington is a clever little city. It has accepted that its rainy and windy, and been designed with it in mind. The store fronts, traffic lights etc all have shelters to allow you to run to each one to reduce the rain impact.
Well done Wellington you clever little thing. London, a lesson to be learnt.
One last observation- what the hell is with New Zealand traffic lights! You get about 5 seconds to cross the road. I am a very fast walker but I struggle. New Zealanders must be interbreed with cheetahs.
I have spent 3 days in Napier aka the Art Deco city of New Zealand. The verdict– I am afraid this wasn’t one for me, but it could be for you!
Napier is beautiful because of man, as opposed to the rest of New Zealand I have seen which is due to nature. Devastated by an earthquake in the 1930’s the city was rebuilt in 1930’s reflecting the Art Deco movement.
The town feels like it has come straight out of a 1930’s beach postcard; with its white docks, black beaches and Art Deco beach front.
Why go? because you are into beautiful architecture, wine tours and/or the Art Deco movement. There are a number of tours that operate, wining tasting at vineyards and lovely restaurants on the beach front (try the Mint).
Why not go? If you want activities and nature Napier isn’t for you. I have loved hiking, rafting, kayaking and mountain biking in New Zealand, this city has none of it. I tell a small lie the city has great paths for cycling, however the views are mixed between ugly factories etc but also some picturesque vineyards.
A final thought–if you are staying in hostels avoid the YHA the atmosphere is dead, try Kiwi Keith’s they were having a great time.
Gisborne aka Gissy. So what’s the verdict? UMMMMmmmm, well my advise would be if you are short on time or are not interested in surfing miss it. If you do surf however this is one for you.
What’s good? Strangely enough surfing. I took a couple of classes and really enjoyed it. They have a number of lovely beaches (just not as good as the Coromandel). Also go to Kaiti Hill at night for a lovely view of the city and to see the stars (breathtaking). Lastly Rockside (only accessible by a car ride), I didn’t get a chance to go but its suppose to be great fun. You can hire a tire and go down the rapids.
That’s about it friends. Other things you could do is the farmer market (had a weird icecream thing which was amazing), the museum and the historic walking tour of the town.
New Zealand Slang
Why go? Outside thermal spa, Tongariro national park and the mystic Whanganui river.
What did I enjoy? Lets start with the free stuff. Outdoor spa thermal (free) park is about 25 minutes from central Taupo. It offers an opportunity to dip in a hot pool (very warm, not hot) for free. My advise would be to go early as it can hold about 12 people at most.
The Whanganui River winds throughout the Tasman Sea, its remote, beautiful and in cloudy weather mystic. Two options: walk to Huka falls(free) along the river from central Taupo. Alternatively go down the river (free if you have the equipment and experience). It takes a good 2.5 hours to go down rafting, which a number of companies offer.
Tongariro national park (free) with its stunning views throughout, (pic in this blog) you do however need to get yourself there. Options shuttle bus (65 dollars), car or good old fashioned hitchhiking.
Sorry I didn’t get chance to explore the lake to make any suggestions.
New Zealand words and slang
Sweet as- very good
Buck-interchangeable term with Dollar
Nono- Maori for Bum
I will do a full guide to Rotorua soon, but I had so much fun in the Redwood I wanted to share. The Redwood is South of Rotorua town and is perfect for two things: Hiking and Mountain biking.
I personally did the latter with the aid of an electric mountain bike, and had so much fun. The forest had trails from children to level 6. I am inexperienced in mountain biking and managed to get to a level 3 on the way up but going down I found it very difficult.
So why go? Views, a serious workout and some good old adrenaline