BootsnAll Travel Network

Reflections – New Zealand

I can’t believe I have been traveling for almost two months now. I had 6 weeks in New Zealand, and it really wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted. I had to cut a few things out and would have liked a few more weeks to go to: the Coromandel Peninsula, Mt. Taranaki, Golden Bay, Napier and Stewart Island and the Catlins. If I had to do it all over again, I would have planned on three months and bought a car, but seeing as I can’t do it over, I am satisfied with what I did. And three months in New Zealand would have been very expensive as well. For those who are planning on traveling in New Zealand or just curious, here is a sampling of the costs of things here. I’ll post in NZ dollars, as exchange rates and things change. Right now, my rate is about US$0.75 to NZ$1.00.

$18-22 (hostel bed, 4 bed rooms. The cheapest was $18 and the most expensive was $27 at the YHA in Wellington. But most are $20-22.)

$20 ( K bus from Christchurch to Kaikoura (about three hours)

$38 ( Intercity bus from Dunedin to Christchurch (about 6 hours)

$68 (ferry from Wellington to Picton)

$15 ( 6 pack of Mac’s gold beer in a store)

$18 ( 6 pack of Corona)

$4-7 (pint of beer in pub)

$9.00 (pack of two AA batteries)

$5.50 (300 grams of chicken breast in grocery store)

$3.30 ( loaf of whole wheat bread)

$3.50 (cappucino in cafe)

$7.00 (falafel kebab)

$125.00 (swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura)

$325.00 (overnight cruise in Milford Sound)

$235.00 (6 hour horse trek in Paradise)

$2-6 (hour on the internet. Wellington was the cheapest at $2, $6 was the most in Queenstown)

$1.50 (stamp to send a postcard overseas)

$1.45 (liter of gas/petrol)

$59.00 (6 hour wildlife tour in Dunedin)

All in all, New Zealand was more expensive than I thought it would be, mainly transportation costs and food also I thought cost a lot. Also, if you are planning travel here, buy any outdoor gear at home if you can. Even if it’s made here, it’s cheaper in the US. Kiwis pay an insane amount of money for outdoor clothing and things like that. For example, my Keen sandals, which I paid $65.00 for at REI (on sale from $90) cost $260.00 here. One thing you might want to shell out for though, is a Merino wool shirt or active wear. The most popular brand is Ice Breaker, and while very expensive, seems to be of high quality and luxuriousness.   Activites cost a lot as well, and some of the more popular ones are the most expensive, just as sky diving and rafting activities.  I don’t really regret any of things that I did, though I do regret not being able to do a few things, like a multiday tramp somewhere. I also wish I had spent more time in Abel Tasman kayaking or doing the coastal walk there. If I had people trying to convince me, I probably woud have gone skydiving, but there wasn’t anyone pushing me into it, so I didn’t do it. Skydiving in Taupo is about half the price as in Queenstown. My favorite and least favorite things in New Zealand were:


  1. Swimming with the dolphins
  2. The Tongariro Crossing
  3. Kayaking in Abel Tasman
  4. Horse trekking in Paradise
  5. “The Rock” overnight cruise in Paihia

Least favorite

  1. The Road to Edoras tour in Christchurch (expensive and the weather made it not worth the money.)
  2. the caving portion of my Lost World tour in Waitomo (most people will disagree with me. The abseil was great though, and the scenery was spectacular.)
  3. The Dart River safari tour in Paradise. (scenery was great, but it was one of the most expensive things I’ve done ($200), and the jet boat isn’t as exciting as it’s made out to be.)

Little things I think always are the most interesting when traveling, and one thing I loved here was trying all the flavors of potato chips. It sounds stupid, but the varied tastes they have is astounding: Smoked salmon with capers and onions, Thai green curry, chicken satay, Roast lamb with mint, Feta and black olive.. I could go on. They really taste like that as well. We may have the quantity of junk food in the US, but they have the creativenss. Lays, get going.

I’ve also come to a few conclusions while traveling, and I’m glad I started in New Zealand to figure these things out. No matter how many outdoor activities you are planning or how practical you are with packing, bring one article of clothing, a shirt, skirt, something, that you really like to wear and feel nice in. All my clothes were practical and boring, and one the few occasions I went out at night, I would have liked a cute little top or something to put on. Bring a thing or two that you like and you’ll feel much better. Also, don’t fix things if they aren’t broken, so to speak. I bought a new water bottle at home because it had this cool little sippy straw and everything, and it’s a piece of crap and leaks all over the place, while my old one I’ve had for years that never gave me any trouble is sitting at home. Now I’ll probably have to buy yet another one, and pay a ridiculous price for it.

I ended buying a new daypack also. The one that came with my backpack was a piece of poop and if I wanted to bring a fleece, my guidebook and an apple with me, I had to eat the apple and wear the fleece. So I bought a fairly cheap one a few days ago in Dunedin and now have a little more room to maneuver. In fact, my old daypack fits into the new one, that’s how small it is. Now I can actually buy something, like a postcard, without having to throw something away. Don’t start off your trip with a completely full pack. Have some room to give.

Overall, the scenery, the people and the wildlife sightings were my favorite things in New Zealand. The friendliness of the people here is sort of disconcerting, and even though Chicagoans are known for being friendly and open, we are nowhere near the league of the Kiwis. I only enountered two clearly rude people here, my bus driver to my hostel in Wellington, and Else and Mathilde’s landlord, and I don’t think either one was a New Zealander. It takes a while to get used to, the slow pace of everything. A woman in front of me was talking to the checkout girl in a store for about 5 minutes, and standing behind her, it felt like eternity to me, the city girl. But then I realized that not only was I not in a hurry, but how cool it was that they could stand there and talk to each other, and no one in line was sighing loudly, or hemming and hawing. She went on her way finally, I paid for my stuff, and the world didn’t come to an end. I could definitely see living here, not being more than a few steps from a nature walk, even in Auckland, or only a few hours to the sea in any direction. The emphasis towards fitness and outdoor activities is wonderful, and is something I’ve always felt is lacking in Chicago.

New Zealand is also an interesting place when it comes to the environment and conservation, etc. So much of their land is safeguarded by the government in National Parks and things like that. And some of the environmentally friendly things are really great, like the toilet flush. They have two different buttons, one is a half flush for #1, and a full for #2. Australia has the same and it does save a lot of water. And while most of the hostels collected recycling, I was surprised to rarely find public recycling bins, like they have in Germany. I also have seen far more SUV’s than I thought I would and the public transportation is fairly lacking in New Zealand and you really need a car to get around the cities and town. Aside from the major places, the buses don’t go to many off the beaten track places, and once you get to a place, there is rarely public transport except in major cities like AUckland and Christchurch. They are certainly doing a better job than we are in the States, but with a population of only 4 million, they should be careful not to fall into complacency. With such a small country and areas of livable land, if they get a population surge, they could find themselves in trouble.

I am very sad to be leaving New Zealand. I can’t say I had a bad time ever, and aside from a few personal experiences that affected me, it was truly wonderful.  It’s a strange feeling, sort of bittersweet to be leaving, but so excited for Australia. Looking forward to some warmer weather, a few more beaches and dangerous animals. Keep checking in with me for my onward travels, and I’ll say it just one more time, photos will hopefully come soon.


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6 responses to “Reflections – New Zealand”

  1. Tim says:


    Thanks for this great post. It’s really helpful to hear your perspective on things. I’m leaving on my trip in 6 days and will be arriving in NZ on Mar 5.

    Again, your blog is great reading. Have fun in OZ, I’ll be looking forward to hearing all about it.


  2. Lisa Kohnke says:

    I’ll go with you the next time you go back!

  3. Lisa Noss says:

    Just had a few minutes to read through some of your travel logs. How exciting and what an incredible experience for you. Can’t wait to hear about it in person when you return.

    Your cousin,


  4. admin says:

    Hi Tim, You’re going to have a great time, let me know how it goes and if you need any advice, but it’s really easy place to travel in, you won’t have any problems. Thanks for reading, and let me know how your trip goes.

    Kohnke, you are always welcome to join me!

    Lisa, glad to hear you are able to read along. I’m having a really good time. Say hello to the family for me.

  5. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

  6. Kirsten says:

    Thanks. It’s been a long time since I looked at my blog.. My trip was in 2006! Back then, it was easier to put pics up on my photo website on smugmug, that’s why there aren’t any on here.

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