I was sorting through my blog categories the other day. When I got to the travel section, I realised I haven’t actually published that many posts about travelling in New Zealand.
When I wrote this post about quitting my job, a few people got in touch to say they wanted to see what I got up to.
I’ve written about things I think would be useful for other long-term travellers. Like what to take in your hand luggage for a long-haul flight. And, if you’re going for a working holiday visa somewhere, I’ve got you covered, too.
I told you all about my week in the South Island a few posts back, and I loved putting that together. I should definitely get my ass in gear and share more of what I’ve been up to.
For now, though, I thought I’d share some reflections on my first few months of travelling New Zealand.
What I’ve done so far
We left the UK for America at first. We landed in Texas. It was freezing and we didn’t think much of it tbh. We hopped on another plane for 15 hours and ended up in Auckland.
We’ve also been to Wellington, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Mount Cook/Aoraki, Queenstown, glacier country, Waitomo, Paeroa, and Karangahake. Plus some other random towns en route to other places.
I miss people
Maybe obvious, but I miss my family. Yes, it’s easier than it would have been years ago because we have FaceTime and WhatsApp. We can keep in touch and share what we’ve been up to but it’s not the same as being half an hour away from most of them in person.
I have two friends who are going through really shit times right now, and I really wish I could be there in person for both of them. Another friend is planning a wedding and keeping me updated via Snapchat. Needs must, but I hate spending so much time on my phone.
I miss my stuff
I maintain that I’m not a materialistic person.
I miss my stuff.
Wearing the same 5 outfits is fine for the first few weeks but, after that, you get a bit sick. There’s no point in buying new stuff while we’ve been travelling around because it just means more to carry.
I live in yoga pants and vests. Which is fine if I’m actually….going to yoga. But, I appreciate the days when I could choose from all my clothes and makeup palettes and straighten my hair before going into town for lunch.
It’s not having silly things to hand that you’re used to. Like, I’ve let my nail varnish chip away over weeks because I didn’t have remover or cotton wool, and I couldn’t find those soaked pad things in shops.
My skincare routine is non-existent but, mercifully, the lovely people at Wishtrend* are sending me some stuff to try.
Also, I’ve been sleeping on a mattress that is about 100 years old I reckon. I challenge you to do that and not miss your own bed.
The struggle for health
Probably one of the hardest things that both of us have struggled with is staying healthy. Before we came to New Zealand, we were both well into the gym routine. We’d eat well probably 80% of the time.
We’re getting to a better place with it now but, up until this point it’s been difficult. We’ve been eating out of convenience, skipping meals, and eating crap because we just had to eat.
I wrote a post recently about feeling guilty for eating bad food. A lot of that came from what I was seeing on socials but it was also based on my own feelings of hypocrisy. So much of my writing is about getting to a healthier place in life and here I am for the last few weeks eating burgers probably three times a week. Veggie burgers, but still.
We walked for miles every day when we first arrived but, as we’ve settled more, we’re less active. I find myself craving my former healthy routine because it made everything else in my day much easier to deal with.
Soon, I’ll be sharing how we’ve managed to get back into balance for all you future travellers.
I’ve always had a ton of inner conflict. I’ll spend hours refereeing the dreamer and realist aspects of my personality.
To start with, all we were doing was sightseeing, exploring, and moving from hotel to hotel. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not really another way to do it unless you have unlimited funds. But, I’m an anxious introvert and I thrive on routine. Then again, I hate inflicted routines and I need freedom.
Now that we’ve settled down in one place for a while, of course, I miss travelling and sightseeing.
Basically, I’m torn between wanting to settle down and have a base, but trying to avoid the downsides of that, and wanting to really experience the country but not run out of money.
I’m torn between wanting more time together, but not losing my independence.
And, I’m torn between taking jobs because they pay well and holding out for roles and projects that actually feel right.
So much conflict!
The best things so far
If you’ve been here before, you know how much I love food. No surprise, then, that one of my favourite things about New Zealand is brunch.
Yes, we have brunch in the UK, but it’s not really a thing. Where I come from, suggesting a brunch outing is a bit of a wanky thing to do. In New Zealand, brunch is like part of the culture.
Got an interview? Do it over brunch.
Business meeting? See you at brunch.
Shopping with friends? Not before brunch!
Cafes are heaving between 9 and 11 and, in most, you can get brunch food all day. The best.
On a similar note, I have yet to have a bad cup of coffee. You know I’m team tea but, when I do order an espresso, I’m never disappointed.
I’ve also loved learning about Maori culture. I’m always wary of describing cultural traditions different from my own because I want to avoid painting it as ‘otherness’ if that makes sense?
So, please, correct me if it comes across that way.
I had the pleasure of witnessing a cultural performance, which included lots of beautiful songs and stories about traditional games and pass-times. You might have seen my quick insta story when I got to see my first live Haka.
No, YOU cried.
Seriously though, it’s a super emotional thing to witness.
Speaking of learning, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in museums here. One of the things that’s stuck the most is experiencing what a volcanic eruption would look like at the War Memorial Museum in Auckland. I climbed Rangitoto the next day, so it didn’t freak me out too much, but I’m finding geography interesting for the first time in my life.
Kiwis are, generally, a friendly, helpful, and relaxed bunch. Not that Brits aren’t. It’s just a different vibe here. In the UK, our work culture is very different, so a lot of us are a bit grumpy a lot of the time. We’re also fairly suspicious of strangers.
The one thing Kiwis always talk to me about is London. They talk about how weird it is that nobody looks at each other on the tube, and how busy it is. I went to a comedy show a few weeks ago and the stand-up did a whole section on Brits and London. The atmosphere is just different in New Zealand.
The other thing I’ve loved is getting into yoga. I’d done the odd class here and there but nothing like this. The studio I go to is such a haven. After my first class, I felt on top of the world. It’s definitely something I’m going to continue for as long as I can.
So, that’s us. This is what I’ve been up to for the last couple of months in New Zealand. I’m learning a lot about myself and what I want. Even though the reality isn’t always easy to deal with every day, I’m grateful for the freedom and the opportunity. I’m nowhere near achieving or seeing everything I wanted to yet, so we’ll see what’s to come next.