Between jet lag, culture shock, and landing in unfamiliar territory, the beginning of a trip is not always easy. Give yourself the time and patience to navigate somewhere new and get your bearings.
Many of my journeys have been with family and friends, while even more have been solo. Traveling on my own has not only allowed freedom of choices and flexibility, but I've met great people along the way. It’s also meant honing my instincts and getting pretty resourceful. (I may or may not have slept in a very clean Swiss bathroom in a pinch.)
This is the beginning of my 9 month-long solo trip after quitting my job, putting everything in storage, and taking advantage of a working holiday visa. I did a fair amount of research and networking, but nothing could prepare me for those first few days, especially when I didn't have a predetermined itinerary.
It's especially difficult when landing in a sprawling city, such as Auckland. I chose to fly here because of the inexpensive non-stop 13 hour flight from Los Angeles on Air New Zealand. Sign up for their newsletter to be notified of flash sales and price drops.
My first outing was Giapo ice cream shop on Queen St. Again, be patient with yourself and grab some food. (I skipped dinner and went straight to desert.) This was the highest rated on TripAdvisor, so I gave it a try. Sitting outside the shop was a perfect place to ponder my next move...
The Skytower is a must visit, and the Maritime Museum is enjoyable. especially if you buy the additional boat tour of the harbour.
I personally found Auckland to be a big, concrete city, difficult to enjoy by foot and expensive.
I knew Wellington would be my main destination because I found a cat sitting opportunity and networked before I arrived, so figuring out transportation on the Kiwi Experience tour bus was my biggest and best decision. They took me to all of the top spots, and were the most budget-friendly transportation option. I made new friends and had a blast!
After three very productive days in Auckland, my first stop was Paihia, where I made some unexpected new friends and decided to skydive in Taupo.
Welcome to my New Zealand adventure!
Auckland places and things to do:
Sky Tower for a bungee jump, or simply a panorama view with a cafe. Go to the restaurant during the day, so your ride up is cheaper.
Maritime Museum along with the additional sail around the harbor.
Everybody’s for good wifi, coffee, and a cool atmosphere.
Moustache Milk Bar for yummy milk and cookies.
Giapo’s decadent ice cream with exotic flavors.
BurgerFuel has a decent burger for an equally decent price.
Ponsonby may have a more personal feel within the big city.
Boat for an hour with an easy add-on at the museum, or find another tour.
Mt. Eden is a local walk that quickly takes you out of the concrete jungle.
Waiheke Island is some place I really wish I'd gone. Go, if you get the chance. Staying at hostels or WWOOFing can turn the visit into a work experience or at least, give you your first affordable day adventure.
BBH has a slightly backwards booking system but generally offers higher quality backpacker/more affordable accommodation. I certainly found it to be worth the money for my length of stay.***
KiwiExperience is one of several different bus tour options and I chose The Whole Kit and Caboodle.