|New Zealand Summary|
Christmas and New Year's
New Zealand has provided us with both highs and lows of our year off. It's been a different sort of traveling than we were doing in Asia. In Asia, even the most mundane things were different and interesting. In New Zealand, the culture and scenery is very similar to Canada, so we were not filled with the same sense of awe as we traveled from one attraction to another. In Asia we felt like explorers, while in New Zealand we felt like tourists.
Having said that, both Sarah and I agree that New Zealand is a place where we would consider retiring to during Canadian winters. The climate is superb, the culture is familiar, the cost of living is reasonable, and the people are very friendly. I felt right at home in this very laid back country where walking in bare feet seems to be a national fashion trend - there are shoeless people of all ages in downtown streets, malls, and grocery stores.
Like most western countries, having your own vehicle is mandatory as there is minimal public transportation. We split our time between camper van rental and car rental/ motel. Chloe preferred traveling in the camper van (because she could move around and stretch out while traveling), but I think all the rest of us preferred the car rental/ motel option. There were a number of reasons for this:
Incidentally, we would highly recommend Ace Tourist Rentals for car rental. They were significantly cheaper than other quotes, and very nice. We rented a little Toyota Corolla. It was squishy for 5 of us, but it has a large trunk for all our luggage.
Another thing that worked out well was staying in Holiday Parks while traveling by car. Almost all Holiday Parks have inexpensive cabin rental that can be made even cheaper if you have your own bedding. One of the big advantages were the ready made friends, as most parks seemed to be swarming with kids. The cabin quality was more variable than hotels, but for the most part, the cabins were good.
We stayed in New Zealand much longer than we had initially planned. We accepted a very nice offer from the Jamieson's in Tauranga to spend Christmas and New Year's with them, so we extended our visit.
Where do you want to go from here?
If you want to do everything in chronological order, choose the North Island option first!