Auckland (October 20- 21, 2016)
We finally landed in the country considered one of the most beautiful realms on this planet. Our fatigue from the journey here could not dampen our excitement to explore the foretold naturistic amazement. However, the bus price from the airport to Auckland center worried us. Will our wallets be able to survive a place where a 45-min airport bus ride requires to hand over $12? New Zealand is not considered a cheap destination. In regards to Auckland, visitors and locals alike warn travelers not to waste precious time in this city. There is “nothing to do.” We took their words to heart, spent a free night at a couchsurfer's home, and had an evacuation plan for the morning.
Through transfercar, we found a relocation campervan to Christchurch. What’s a relocation vehicle? That’s when a rental car company needs their vehicle at another location and lets mortals like you and I drive the car for free or dirt cheap, if lucky other perks (gas, tolls, etc.) are included as well. The only downfall is that the date range and amount of days are determined by the company; so, you’ll have to work around their schedule. The vehicle we scored was a campervan for $5 a day plus $75 since we added another day to the allowed days, but the company took care of the ferry ride from North to South Island.
I have never driven a vehicle this size, so naturally I was nervous. Not to forget that Kiwis (New Zealanders) drive on the left side of the road. The money we saved by not buying bus tickets was enormous though. Also, we located free campsites throughout our trip, ensuring not to lose another $20 per night on accommodation. I’m not usually a fan of road trips, since I get bored of driving, but the winding roads with the fabulous scenery made the drive very pleasant. I loved the vast number of sheep the north island holds. Baaaaah! Fluffy clouds on 4 legs everywhere.
Waitomo (October 21- 22, 2016)
Our first stop on our road trip was Waitomo. Our point of interest was the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Just as the name implies, the place is a cave with glowworms. We had to book a tour for this. We gained new information about glowworms, but the best part was the short boat ride through the cave. Awe striking and tranquil (minus the noisy Chinese group further behind us). Because glowworms are sensitive to light, I couldn’t take any pictures for you. Imagine if the stars were blue and suddenly thousands of them were in reaching distance. The blue lights were stretching all along the cave walls, covering much of the ceiling. The splashing of the water dripping down into the water added that special touch of ambiance.
Though I loved the ride, there are glowworms in other places of New Zealand (Hokitika for example). Those places usually don’t have the vast numbers of blue-shining creatures, but they are free. So, if you want to save money, those places might be a better option for you. Keep in mind that other tourists will be there, taking pictures and being noisy, even though the signs request the opposite since glowworms frown upon this and will temporarily stop glowing.
Strolling out of the glowworm cave, we kept walking up a hill for a view point. Few people come up this way. The 15-min walk is worth the small effort though. Especially since we will be driving a little longer to get to Rotorua. The day was comprised of mostly sitting and our gluteus maximus thanked us for the change. At the free campsite, we didn’t want to walk around much either. Too many blood-sucking nuisances flying about. Although we did score a lovely spot right next to a lake and arrived just in time to view the sunset.
Thus far, the prophesied tales of New Zealand have lived up to their stories. This ravishing country allowed me to start a new chapter on travel, pushing me out of my comfort zone by navigating a larger vehicle, but in trade rewarded me with new found freedom. I urgently need to use the toilet? Now waiting hours for the next bus stop is history. No more pushing my bladder to its limits. We were only at the beginning of our journey here. What did the rest have in store for us? Up next was Rotorua, where I was trapped in a hamster ball.
Cost breakdown of Auckland (1 day with total cost of $94.47. Average daily cost is $94.47.)
- Transportation: $73.86
- Bus: $22.86
- Campervan Rental: $51
- Food: $20.61 (Groceries)
Cost breakdown of Waitomo (1 day with total cost of $63.43. Average daily cost is $63.43.)
- Transportation: $27.72 (Gas Money)
- Activities: $35.71 (Waitomo Glowworm Caves)