In New Zealand for a year (1 Viewer)

Wawa

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So, I've been in New Zealand for about two weeks now. Got into Auckland with my bike, rode to Te Puke and got a job picking kiwis. Pretty hard labour but decently paid... once the season is over I'll be back on the road. Anyone got anything to say about this place? There doesn't seem to be much of a counterculture, or trains that go anywhere, or street vending and music, or unlocked dumpsters... up in the north island everything seems to have a fence or pricetag, but I did manage to find cool places to sleep every night on the waydown here. Lest it seem like I'm just complaining, got to say people here are unbelievably friendly and helpful. First night here this big Maori dude found me sleeping in a park and ended up hanging out for hours giving me a newbies boxing lesson. .
 
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Wawa

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Post got cut short because my phone wont let me scroll down to type more. Anyway, its been pretty good here. Public transit sucks but hitching is super easy. every tiny town has tons of interesting food. Its kind of strange to be in such a young country. Rarely ever see anything old or run down. Towns so far tend to all look the same.. same shops same bright plastic signs and thin glass sliding doors... then I find a grown over old tunnel full of tags and beer bottles, and feel like its a rare find! When I get down to south island I'll probably be more impressed with the land. "Most beautiful country inthe world" is a tough sell to an american who has lived in the west. So far all I've seen is towns and farms and orchards! Also, North Americans seem to be pretty rare here! Only found one other so far. Tons of people from just about everywhere else in the world. Pretty cool place to come, at least culturally, when I've never really traveled outside the states before.
 

GypsyFreak

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Bro, I've been traveling NZ for about 9 months now, and can get what you're saying. At first it appears a difficult egg to crack, but I promise it'll get easier as you head farther South. The problem here is that you decided to stop in Te Puke. Haha. As far as culture goes, you wanna rock on over to Wellington as soon as you can. The entire city is practically parading with young people, as well as having a rich street music/ art scene. Dumpsters can sometimes be difficult, but from experience I've noticed that most New Worlds leave theirs unlocked, and usually any small town grocery stores. The trains are few and far between, but the ones you will find are shooting straight across the island, Auckland to Wellington usually, with maybe a crew change in between. Had to find anything rideable though.
Places is suggest you find:
Raglan, for it's eccentric surfing community and amazing music scene.
Anywhere in Golden Bay (that's the South Island), for the traveler/ gypsy scene.
The west coast of the South Island is pure rugged wilderness, completely separating itself from the vibe of the North, and it'll make you feel like you're suddenly in a different country.
Arthur's Pass is beautiful for hiking, along with Milford Sound, and of course the Tongiriro Crossing.
If you're into coastal wilderness and rich Maori culture is suggest hitching around the East Cape. Not a single white man for miles, and it'll be a hell of a hitch, but so worth it for the cultural insight. They live differently out there, man.

More or less, just get yourself to the South Island. Stay outta the tourist towns, since every one of them is the same, and send me a message when you hit the South. Maybe I could find you a nice place to lay low for a while.

Good luck!
 

Tude

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Ahhhh lovely land where they filmed Xena, Legend of the Seeker, Jack of all Trades and Hercules! Have a friend in another forum who has a big dairy farm there and she inputs pictures a lot. Would love to go there. Enjoy!!
 

Wawa

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Whoa, good stuff gypsyfreak. Think I'll still stick out the kiwi season in Te Puke, but knowing what else is out there really ups my attitude. I have my foldy touring bike over here so getting anywhere is never a problem... just takes time!
 

Anagor

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So, I've been in New Zealand for about two weeks now.

I'd love to see New Zealand some time in the future. If I might ask, how did you get there? By plane, I suppose? How much did it cost? Just did a quick web search and the cheapest return ticket Gemany - New Zealand is about 1.500 Euros ... too much for me at the moment, unfortunately.

Have a nice stay there!

:)
 

Wawa

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Try skyscanner for cheaper tickets. I flew from Honolulu for 650USD with no extra baggage charges. Cheapest I saw was half that but the per kilo charge on checked baggage would have killed the deal since I brought my bike over. Thanks for the tip, Matt. Once I head out of here I'll probably have some more interesting stuff to post. I hear there is actually a flow art/circus hostel on the south island with daily workshops and performances. I'm definitely in the Iowa of New Zealand, but without all the free showers. Good paying work here at least
 

Matt Derrick

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Try skyscanner for cheaper tickets. I flew from Honolulu for 650USD with no extra baggage charges. Cheapest I saw was half that but the per kilo charge on checked baggage would have killed the deal since I brought my bike over. Thanks for the tip, Matt. Once I head out of here I'll probably have some more interesting stuff to post. I hear there is actually a flow art/circus hostel on the south island with daily workshops and performances. I'm definitely in the Iowa of New Zealand, but without all the free showers. Good paying work here at least

wow, thanks for the skyscanner link, i found one from honolulu to sydney for 574, so i'm definitely going to use that when i'm ready to head out!
 
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(Preamble: a two-year vet. I apologize for the length of this. I get really excited whenever anyone talks about NZ, I loved it so much I actually tried to emigrate there, lol.)

It's going to be hard hitching out of pretty much everywhere in the North Island except the two big cities (ESPECIALLY the East Cape, mostly just because there are seriously maybe 20-30 people per town and the road traffic that does exist is mainly in the form of tractors and JCBs) - and that's unfortunte since those are the areas in my opinion that are a really must-see. Māori culture out there is predominant and sometimes a little intimidating but they will probably take a shine to you just because you're obviously forging your own path and things.

It's a little bit expensive, but if you can swing it, I would suggest getting a hop-on/hop-off pass with one of the backpacker buses. They have kind of a frat house kind of culture, but you can choose to interact with the other kids, or don't and just treat it like a Greyhound. The advantage is that you'll be able to make it to those remote locations without having to hitch. I know that Stray (the orange bus) has a specific East Cape pass which might be of interest to you. It picks you up in either Auckland or Wellington I think. (Also, if you don't want to deal with backpackers at all, there might be some sort of Intercity bus pass, though I never rode them myself.) I also strongly recommend taking a trip to the far "Winterless North," and there is a specific Stray pass for that too. Paihia has a fairly robust funky/alternative scene, though mostly only in summer. (I worked there over the winter and there is a reason they call it "The Womanless North.")

In terms of a real arts, music and counterculture scene, Wellington is really where it's at. Auckland is pretty bizarre in that there's really nothing in the center of it, like at all. It's an incredibly vast place just in terms of sheer area and it can feel more like a big sprawling exurb than a cohesive city. (Though there are certainly some very cool pockets and neighborhoods, Ponsonby, K-Road and Newmarket being the trendier ones. Also there are several very beautiful nature reserves that are actually a part of the Auckland "city limits." Kitakita Falls has some excellent abseiling.) Wellington has much more of a local identity, is very walkable and is probably the most American-ish place, aside from I'd say Queenstown in the South Island.

As far as recommendations, I second the Raglan suggestion. Surf school is there, but almost even better is the local hostel...they have a nighttime zipline and you go zooming through pitch black rainforest and there are glowworms ALL over the place. I really, really urge you to check that place out. Once in a lifetime.

Tongariro Crossing is an obvious one, and another once in a lifetime thing. Just PLEASE make sure you pack for all types of weather, even if the morning is 75F and sunny, even if the forecast SAYS it's going to be 75F and sunny. My group set off into a lovely blue sky and by our second hour the rainclouds had gathered, gale force winds had picked up and the temperature plummeted. I was wearing jeans, sneakers and a light North Face windbreaker. I have never been so cold in my life. One girl in the group actually had to be med-evacuated off the mountian in one of those shiny silver hypothermia blankets. The weather up there is no joke and you want your memories of the place to be full of splendor and not misery. One of the best parts about the whole experience is the base camp hostel, which is a ski lodge in winter (gorgeous, gorgeous accommodation...like five-star level for hostel prices) and then the dinky backwoods little local bar, in I want to say Mangawhero?...I guess people are a little delirious after they do the hike because some strange shit goes on there. The bartender has this parrot that will sit on your shoulder...it's a trip.

Anyway...sorry to overload you with details. I dunno, for me New Zealand was a life-changer. I hope you find your niche there, and I'm certain you will. There really is no place like it on Earth. Every single type of terrain and ecosystem under the sun. And all in such a tiny little postage stamp of a country. It really blew my mind after awhile. You gotta just give it time and let it get into your bloodstream. It will.
 

Wawa

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Haha, wow great post, thanks. Saving up all these ideas - going to be working for a while, since I can always get another tourist visa, but I can only spend one year ever fruit picking and stuff here, and it's wierdly fulfilling work! Getting around won't ever be a problem... I've crossed the US few times over on bicycle, same'll work here. Once I've been around a bit longer I want to turn this thread into sort of a rough guide to seasonal work, hitching, free camping ect in NZ, since I had trouble finding info that wasn't copy pasted from PickNZ or Lonely Planet.

Once the kiwi season is done, going to spend a bit of time in Wellington before briefly flying back to the US. Figured I'd better do something right so I can fall in love with the place and be happy coming back [emoji14]
 

Matt Derrick

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Haha, wow great post, thanks. Saving up all these ideas - going to be working for a while, since I can always get another tourist visa, but I can only spend one year ever fruit picking and stuff here, and it's wierdly fulfilling work! Getting around won't ever be a problem... I've crossed the US few times over on bicycle, same'll work here. Once I've been around a bit longer I want to turn this thread into sort of a rough guide to seasonal work, hitching, free camping ect in NZ, since I had trouble finding info that wasn't copy pasted from PickNZ or Lonely Planet.

Once the kiwi season is done, going to spend a bit of time in Wellington before briefly flying back to the US. Figured I'd better do something right so I can fall in love with the place and be happy coming back [emoji14]

When are you going?
 
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Haha, wow great post, thanks. Saving up all these ideas - going to be working for a while, since I can always get another tourist visa, but I can only spend one year ever fruit picking and stuff here,
Just so you know, you do have the option of applying for a second-year work visa...they started this the year I was there, actually. The original working holiday visa program was a private scheme run through student and youth work exchanges like BUNAC. They implemented another public, government-sponsored scheme in 2006. So, you can actually extend your stay past the first year if you want - you just apply for a new visa (rather than renewing the one you have). You will need an immigration medical and a chest x-ray but other than that you can do the whole process online and they issue you a digital e-visa. Simple as!
 

Wawa

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Naw, name is a childhood nickname I kinda liked. I'll look into the second year visa... I'm leaving NZ early June, coming back mid July.

Looked up the Tongariro Alpine trek. Wow.
 
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...Oh! I was just randomly reminded of this when a Kiwi friend of mine mentioned this the other day...I know that the above suggestions have mostly concerned the North Island, but I wanted to make sure I gave you the heads-up about Hokitika. It's a tiny little town on the west coast of the South Island, a little below Greymouth. They are a weird quirky little town with a definite alt- feel and some funny attractions like a Sock Museum (yes). The main event there is their annual Wildfoods Festival which runs in mid-March. They are one of the world's biggest "exotic foods" festivals and feature things from local Greenlip mussels (yummy) to escargots (yummy) to sweetbreads (yummy...?), lambs' tails (umm...), spaghnum moss "candy floss" (what?), possum (no), huhu grubs (no), earthworms (NO) and stallion semen (seriously? no).
 

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