Kia Ora New Zealand!

by Brian Carroll on April 13, 2012

Post image for Kia Ora New Zealand! Coming to New Zealand, my knowledge of the country was limited really only to a couple travel blogs I'd been reading and some word-of-mouth insight.  What I knew of the country was basically the following:
  • It is very backpacker friendly
  • Many people often rent camper vans to take in the scenery and camp rather than getting around by plane or train and staying in regular lodging
  • The country was the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings movies
  • It is an extreme sports destination (skydiving, bungee jumping, rafting, etc...).
The time of year that I was making my way to New Zealand was their late summer, early fall.  And knowing that temperatures on the islands dropped the further south you went, I wanted to explore the islands while the weather would still be accommodating. So after my 6-day peek into Sydney, I jetset over to Auckland, New Zealand.  The only thing I knew for sure is that I'd have a flight back to Sydney in 6 weeks, everything in between was still yet to be determined. I had heard from others that the city of Auckland was just that, simply another city.  There were no remarkable landmarks or unique experiences in the city that really gave it much distinctness on a global scale from what I saw.  But for me, that was okay as my plan was to take a couple days here to get my bearings and begin to shape the rest of my travels for the country. A couple highlights: 1) It so happened that the time I was going through Auckland, so too were these giant yachts that were part of the "Great Ocean Race" - essentially a round the world sailing competition among countries.   I really don't know much about sailing but it was cool to see the boats and check out the event - I'm sure its a bigger deal to a lot of other people. 2) One of the main things I had to figure out was how I was going to get around the country.  So I posted messages on a couple social community sites and message boards to try and loop up with others to rent a car/camper to travel the islands.  Since this was the first time that I had decided to travel solo for an extended period of time, I thought it would be cool to share some of these experiences with others who I might not otherwise meet.

Couchsurfing Event - not all people there have glowing eyes like the chick pictured here

Additionally, I attended my first Couchsurfing related event.  Essentially it was just a weekly meetup at a bar where people from the city and travelers passing through would get together for drinks.  I figured it was a good chance to meet other people and possibly some travelmates - even if the idea of going to a bar by oneself might feel a little awkward (to be honest, it's not something I'm particular used to, but for me, that's part of the reason for doing it). Anyways, I ended up meeting some cool people at the event from all over the world and while it didn't yield any travelmates directly, while I was at the bar, a girl from Israel had called me in response to my online posting to explore the idea of renting a car to travel the country. After a 10 minute cell phone discussion and trying to evaluate if the other person was potentially crazy, we both decided the best thing to do would be to meet up in 2 days (after I returned from the Bay of Islands) to see if we might get along and rent a car for anywhere between 8 days & 28 days.  It felt a little bit like getting ready for a blind date. 3)  This pancake place that was tucked away in a corner "No. 1 Pancake" was pretty solid for a snack.  You could get these thick pancakes with various fillings (cheese, chicken, cinnamon, etc..) that were pretty awesome.  If you make it through that area, I'd check it out. Next Up:  Swimming with Wild Dolphins! is a travel blog that explores travel from the point-of-view of one Southern Californian who decided to forego the glamours of the business cubicle for the chance to learn, grow and challenge oneself through the experiences of solo travel...preferably in boardshorts and sandals.  

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