You have this picture in mind of far away New Zealand: freeeeee, wild and empty? Hmmm. It’s not. But it’s for sure a good country for the travel-beginners: very easy and very beautiful.
Why is it (too?) easy?
1. Language: English. Sometimes maybe not the easiest English to understand, but it’s still English. And you can talk with just anybody!: policeman, homeless, lady in the little village and Maori kids (nice change after some Maya villages or Azeri mountains, where we were sometimes using our hands to communicate)…
… you don’t learn new languages.
2. Crazy organised base for travellers: car rentals, caravans, camping grounds, “outdoor” shops, hostels, hotels, in the towns signs where is free toilet and drinking water…
…those colourful caravans “Jucy”, “Wicked” or “Crazy” are simply everywhere! You can not meet a local for a day or two, but you will meet twenty of caravans. It’s more difficult to find a wild place to camp than a clean, cool, wifi connected and even not expensive camp ground (see: DOC Camp Sites Map).
3. Very good roads, not too big distances (easy to cross the whole country), well signed parkings, turns and lookouts…
…sometimes you feel like an idiot, when there are sings “here there is an amazing view”, “turn right and you will see the mountain”, “hot water can be very hot” etc etc.
4. Many and easy to find: petrol stations, shops with everything, internet, ATMs…
…no BUT. Saying that finding a shop with chocolate, after days of looking for it is maybe stupid? On the other hand this is also a beauty of travels, that things don’t come so easily?
5. Many very impressive and easy to access places: at the sea, at the rivers, at the lakes, in the mountains…
…then you meet tons of people watching it with you.
6. A lot of things to “do”: except of just routes to hike, hundreds of jet-boats, kayak rentals, bike trips, bungee jumping, sky diving, 1-hour-tours, 2-hour-tours, 5-hour-tours, 3-week-tours…
…if you like it…
7. Travelling with kids: there are a lot of kids in Kiwi towns, so people are used to them in the shops, bars, beaches, are very friendly, everywhere there are kids seats, kids menus, etc etc…
…we haven’t seen ANY family travelling with kids (except one Polish), all were locals!
8. Kiwi people: are very friendly or at least very polite and helpful. If you ask anybody for the way, he will always look for a map, check his iphone or call somebody else…
…you can be never sure if they really like you and are friendly because of it. “Perfect”, “awesome”, “cool” – they say all the time, always with smile, always “no problem, it’s alllllll right”
9. It’s super safe: you feel safe any time, in any part of the country. Even the police doesn’t wear the guns with them. After Guatemala or south Russia – a nice difference!
10. Wild? Maybe on the pictures. All the country is private owned, so along every road there is a fence. You can get only there, where they allow you to go. There are not many roads, which lead to nowhere, or to some cosy corner of the forest. Free camping is not allowed (but possible;), it’s strange to ask a local if you can stay in his garden if 5km before and 5km after there is a good camping ground…
…it all makes sense, from New Zealand perspective. If you have so many tourists and travellers (2,5mln a year, in compare to 4,5mln citizens…), you have to organise it in some way. But forget about freedom and wildness, if you think about this country.
All in all?
If you think about starting to travel and camp, sleep in the car or in the tent, travel and cook with your even very small kids: New Zealand is perfect for you!
And if you like a bit more challenges, real (not paid) adventures and taste of something “different”: go somewhere else and come back to New Zealand when you are retired ;)
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »
A czy bylo drogo? Wstepy na Parkow Narodowych? Miejsca Campingowe itd? Bardzo zastanawiaja mnie ceny w porownaniu do Niemiec. Jade do Nowej Zelandii Na Work and Travel w pazdzierniku na rok, juz nie moge sie doczekac!
Highly disputable in some points, but in general you are right. So, what does that say about New Zealand fans like us? ;-)
Jest drogo, a na pewno w porównaniu z Berlinem (nie wiem, czy z całymi Niemcami). Wstępy nawet nie tak bardzo, campingi da się znaleźć bardzo tanie (państwowe), ale my byliśmy przyzwyczajeni do niepłacenia za dzikie spanie :)
Wow, was that a huge pinky nail I saw in the first picture?…okaaayyy
Yes. this is my Swiss Army Knife Pinky™.
It’s very useful for smaller operations, picking up things you couldn’t reach otherwise, taking of the jam from your daughter’s shirt, measuring the right amount of salt of your soup ….
But like with a knife you can also hurt yourself and others.
Feels like some other “developed” countries as well. I mean, I felt in a similar way in the States – it was pretty easy and convenient, and our only “adventures” happened when we tried reaaaly hard to get off the beaten track. But I’m sure you’ll find adventures onces you start visiting the islands you’ve planned on your way:) I’ve never been there, but from what I know they seem not so popular among tourists. Anyway, where are you now? When you have some scarce free minutes, it would be awesome to see a little route of your travel so far. But I totally understand that you have many more important things to do now :) All the best to all of you. Stay healthy and happy! Kisses!
You should check out Australia – looks like is similar to NZ, but there is also The Outback, which is just empty… no, sorry.. it is EMPTY! :)
I think I have enough of the developed countries for a while! :)
I don’t agree with what you say about NZ being for retirees. You can find lots of remote, amazing places and some real adventures with hardly any tourists there, you just need to make a bit more effort to find them. And there really is very few tourists in NZ compared to some other places in the world (like SE Asia or some places in South America or Australia). I thinks it’s a spectacular place that would appeal to everyone who loves nature. It’s not necessary the best place if you want exotic culture (you go to Asia, Africa or some parts of Latin America if that’s what you are after), but when it comes to nature there is very few places that would beat NZ. Maybe you just had wrong expectations?
Well said, Magda – that’s exactly how I feel about NZ. I guess it’s all a matter of expectations and choosing your route. We managed to see this wild and empty NZ and also had an amazing contact with many Kiwis, few of them are part of our lives until now. Even managed to learn some Maori ;)
I agree with Magda. If it goes to New Zealand. You should first read the guide books, then throw it away and avoid all places what they recommend. Instead of going to Mt Cook village and being stuck with all Japanese tourists, you could drive a bit further to Omarama and explore surroundings like Ahuriri Valley. Spectacular views and nobody around. I sometimes think that people coming to New Zealand are expecting that Lord of the Rings is true and they will meet hobbits and dragons in here. ;)
” You should first read the guide books, then throw it away and avoid all places what they recommend.” – very good point Agnieszka. Very true!
Maybe we just love people more than nature ;) Few tourists?? My god, maybe we are just used to tiny mountain villages of Guatemala or Tonga, where there are NO tourists ;) Not our country just.
You must have missed another Polish couple travelling with a kid then ;) We came back after 5 weeks strolling through NZ and just find it difficult to agree on some of your points. NZ is fantastic destination for travelling with or without kids.The nature is unbeatable, it’s wild, it’s spacious, it’s green, only spotted by the white of sheeps. Just to mention the Catlins at the very south of South Island. It’s great for kids- playgrounds in every,even the smallest town, toys in wineries so that you can continue wine tasting while your kid is excited by new toys ;). We met tourists with kids on our way,but we never felt there were many tourist around. NZ is empty, something you realise the best by comparison – we’ve travelled in Switzerland this wkn, you don’t stop seeing houses and people – in NZ you could drive the whole day and be surrounded by mountains only. For once it was great to have all information you need at arm’s lenght not to waste our time for searching the places. Last not least,there are things that will stay with us for ever,the very thing was swimming with wild dolphins. NZ is civilised destination,if you wish,in many aspect more then Europe, but in our view this is not ‘BUT’ it’s a part of its merit.
Playgrounds everywhere, yes, exactly. We just dont like it so easy ;)
Are you really writing about the same country that I have travelled for 6 months twice – once alone, once with my partner and baby (just this year)???
I agree: The Juicy-Britz-Kea-Spaceship-Campers sometimes seem to be EVERYWHERE :-) But like someone wrote before: It is possible to avoid them if you visit other places than the main sights.
Yes, there is a lot of fenced farm land. But there are still back country roads that lead you to stunningly beautiful places with no or hardly any other people.
It is NOT generally forbidden to freedom camp. We asked locals, read the freedom camping policies on the districts’ website that we intended to go to and searched on rankers.co.nz and found really nice places. Of course they were just with a simple toilet and our open air shower was sometimes a bit fresh ;-) But like this we found our baby the most amazing ” adventure playgrounds” and for us the most amazing views.
We met so many Kiwis that were genuinely interested in getting to know us. Even more this time travelling with our little one. We got invited to camp on people’s property or even stay in their house quite a few times. Superficial? What comes to my mind is: very cool sense of humour, relaxed and child friendly.
And we met LOTS of other families. During school holidays the (DoC) Campgrounds were full of Kiwi families and their kids (to have 3 seems to be common in New Zealand). And there were lots of German Elternzeit-couples travelling with their babies, too.
You definitely should come back BEFORE you are retired. Otherwise maybe you will be too old for freedom camping and open air showers :-)))
PS: We have travelled countries like Nicaragua or Kyrgyzstan, too :-)
No tourists except you! I agree with the others here that it seems like you really only saw part of New Zealand and there are many inaccuracies in this blog. For example ‘all the land is private” and there are are ‘not many roads, that lead to nowhere’ are really misleading. More than a third of New Zealand is public protected national parks. There are countless places where you can only access by foot (hiking for days) or across unsigned dirt roads. There are also many beautiful islands which are off the grid. Freedom camping has been restricted in high traffic areas due to issues with rubbish but there are coastlines where freedom camping is completely acceptable. The East Cape is a great example and is a real insight into Maoridom. As is Te Urewera. Yes it’s a developed country, and mainstream tourism is in place but there is definitely roads less travelled than the one you took!