The Good, the Bad, and the Thank-you’s – New Zealand

Dead BirdFrank the DogIt’s time to close-out these New Zealand posts. But first, have you voted for the next location? Only a week left so please do it here! I’ll spend a bit more time here as, now that I’ve left Frank, The Dog, I’m staying with a cat named Solie, fourteen sheep, and a dead bird (Solie brought me a present this morning). Anyway, this is where I tell you what was good about New Zealand, and more specifically Auckland), what was bad, and who I need to thank for helping me along the way. I’ll also provide all of the links which I’ve listed, all gathered into one handy package, as well as the budget so, if you choose to do a similar trip, you’ll have an idea about what it might cost. This is a great one to bookmark.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering where the volunteer project is, well, I’m still looking. I’ve run into challenges with agencies answering my correspondence as well as allowing one-off volunteering as opposed to a longer-tem commitment. I’ll continue to search and will write about any I find on www.Rebel-With-A-Cause.org as well as letting you know on the Drop Me Anywhere social media accounts, so be sure to follow.

The Good­

New Zealand BeautyThe scenery – Yup, it’s just beautiful. Lush, green hills dotted with trees which seem to be the elusive Truffula Trees from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. It looks a lot like Hawaii (only colder). Sheep dot the hills and pastures like lint on a sweater and fat cows roam the wide-open farmland. It’s just gorgeous.

They speak English! Yeh, I know that sounds, oh so American but, after four-months in Asia, as well as Hungary and Germany before that, sometimes there can be communication challenges. While my Spanish came in handy in Germany (what?), it’s still much easier if everyone speaks English. Still, Kiwi English can sometimes sound like a whole different language. And the accent is somewhere between Australian and South African.

Lake Taupo

Taupo and Rotorua – Lake Taupo, the largest lake, (by surface area) in New Zealand, is just incredible and would be a great place to vacation in the summer. Across the lake, you’ll have a great view of Mt. Taranaki, Mt. Fuji’s New Zealand Doppelganger, while enjoying a coffee, or beer, in this beach-side town. And if Waterfalladventure is what you’re after, well then, name your adventure sport and, between Taupo and Rotorua, well, if you can’t find it, there’s no such thing. Skydiving, bungee-jumping, zip-lining, skiing, snowboarding, white-water rafting, abseiling (repelling), Zipliningzorbing (flying down a hill inside an air-filled ball with absolutely no control as to where you go. Hey wait, that’s just like Drop Me Anywhere!), helicopter rides, hiking, four-wheeling, giant swings, parasailing, mountain biking, sledging (kind of like body surfing through the rapids on a river), jet-boating, paddle boarding, and, well, if you haven’t died yet, I’m sure you’ll find even more. Yeh, you should come.

Black Water Rafting – Okay, so you won’t find this one in Taupo or Rotorua but it’s still pretty awesome and you should try it.GlowwormsAbout New Zealand Car Rental – Lack of new car smell is a small price to pay for, well, a rental car for a small price. While an older wine will cost you a bundle, an older car will save you some cash to help fund your gas money.

The people – New Zealanders like to talk about “Kiwi Hospitality” and yes, for the most part, they’re nice. They’re not nearly as nice as the Irish, or the folks in St. John’s Newfoundland, but most of the Disney princesses aren’t even as nice as them.

The Bad

The heating – What the F@#$? Seriously, is it to make people appreciate summertime more? It’s the twenty-first century. I’m not asking for jet-packs or teleportation, just a simple unit which heats a house, no matter what room you’re in, and allows you to use your laptop to for writing as opposed to embracing it for its heat, like a child hugging his teddy-bear. I’m sheep-sitting while using a wood-burning stove and hot-water bottle to ward off hypothermia; I’m friggin’ Laura Ingalls Wilder!

The prices – It’s not that it’s outrageously expensive; it’s just that I’m coming from a few months in Southeast Asia and well, it’s like three-times the price.

Friday – No, not the day of the week. When you’re traveling, you lose track of time so Friday, the day of the week, is just like Monday or Thursday or Sunday (well, in some countries pharmacies are closed on Sundays so, if you need Tampons, you should maybe plan ahead) and the day of the week matters not. I’m talking about My Man Friday who, although he was English and not Kiwi, will always be a part of the New Zealand memories, and who turned into that wonderful Steve Martin movie, The Jerk (read about the end of that in Sleeping With the Enemy). After what was sometimes a trying time in Asia, as well as coping with the loneliness on the road, I was looking forward to a soft place to land, as well as seeing the same person for more than one day; this was a major disappointment and a girl deserves to be treated better.

The Thank-you’s

Frank teh DogThanks to Frank, The Dog, and Solie, the cat’s (and the sheep’s) parents for allowing me to spend time in your homes and with your fuzzy family members. Staying free of charge is a huge benefit when traveling full-time; but, as I mentioned, it can get lonely and, even if I don’t see the same person for more than a day, seeing the same dog, cat, or even sheep, can be quite comforting. And they’ve been much more considerate than Friday.

SeussThanks to Rotorua Canopy Tours, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, Kiwi Paka Accommodations, The National Youth Children’s Theatre, The Auckland War Memorial Museum and The New Zealand Maritime Museum for comps and discounts which allowed me to experience your wonderful and unique offerings. And while I truly appreciate it, dear readers, rest assured that any comps or discounts never guarantee a positive review. Nope, I just can’t lie. (See the links below.)

Thanks to those at home who have helped me take care of some of the business of having a previous life back there while I’m across the world. It’s a tough balance and, while I often fall, you’re my knee and elbow pads, along with my helmet which keep me from getting too banged up.

Thank you to you, my dear and loyal Virtual Travel Buddies. I appreciate you telling me where to go, and traveling along with me. I appreciate it when you read, share and comment. You have no idea how much you comments (or even just clicking on and reading my article) lifts me up. And being called the Taylor Swift of blogging, well, while I was just hoping for an adventure, knowing it wasn’t a Love Story, I thought Everything Has Changed, and why did he have to be so Mean? It left me with a Blank Space and your comments helped me to (all together now) Shake it Off!

The Next Vote!

The Budget

Flights – $31.70 + 25,000 American Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles used for Malaysia Airlines flight

Accommodations – $573.45 – 17 days staying free while house/pet sitting (camper van under transportation).

Food – $683.57 – It’s less expensive to buy groceries and cook while in a campervan, house sitting and at an AirBnB if they’ll allow you to use the kitchen.

Transportation – $1238.99 – Includes buses, ferries, 7 night’s camper van (we paid for all nights though we returned early), 19 days rental car.

Admissions and Activities – $256.31 – cost listed includes actual prices of activities which were comped or discounted for media.

Wireless access – $100.00

Total – $2884.02

The Links

Accommodations

AirBnB

HouseCareers

Kiwi Paka Accommodation

Trusted Housesitters

Activities

Aotea Center

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Legendary Black Water Rafting Company

National Youth Theatre Company

New Zealand Maritime Museum

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Wairakei Terraces

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Yoga Tree

Airlines

Malaysia Airlines

Car, Camper Rentals and Transportation

About New Zealand Rental Cars

Apex Car Rentals

Fullers Ferry

Maui Camper Vans

Super Shuttle

Restaurants

Blue Breeze Inn

Cable Bay Vineyards

The Crew Club

Curly’s Bar

Father Ted’s

Fenice

Mudbrick Winery

Ponsonby Central

Toru

Waimauku Foodstation

Miscellaneous

2 Degrees Wireless

Decked Out Yachting

Forest Restoration Project

Inner Link Bus

New Zealand tourism website

Waiheke

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