New Zealand was the first stop on our trip and it proved the perfect country to start our new life of travel. Here’s the lowdown on the best places we visited, our overall impressions of the country and some tips for backpacking around New Zealand.

It’s been a month since we set off on our travels, so how are we coping? Has it been everything we thought it would be? Are we at each other’s throats yet? Here’s how we’re adapting to our new life of travel.

We arrived in New Zealand physically and mentally exhausted. Those last few weeks before leaving were so emotional and stressful; it was a relief to finally be away from the strangeness of those final days. We launched straight into an overnight boat cruise and moved quickly from one place to the next, packing our time with activities. In hindsight this could have caused a complete meltdown, but it actually worked out well for us; seeing as much as possible and taking on new challenges stopped us from dwelling on the massive upheaval we’d just gone through.
Here we go’, says my Tandem skydiver, manoeuvring me towards the edge of bottomless blue. I feel the rush of air as the plane door opens; hear the thunder of the engine, the roar of the wind and somewhere in the distance a voice in my ear telling me to tilt my head back.I don’t remember seeing anything in those last few seconds, but the photos show my eyes are wide open, staring at the bright ceiling above as if in silent prayer. My only memory of dangling 13,000 feet in the air is the electric terror, of feeling every fibre of my body scream in unison:‘No’And then we fell.

There are some things we never had the time or inclination to do back in England – taking a seven hour hike up the side of a mountain was one of them. Only weeks after leaving the UK, however, we found ourselves battling up steep slopes and slipping over loose volcanic rock on our epic journey up Mount Tongariro in New Zealand.

When we first arrived in New Zealand I wrote that it felt oddly familiar, like the UK with warmer weather and different accents but over the last three weeks as we’ve criss-crossed our way down the North Island this initial impression has faded almost completely. As we’ve hiked up volcanic islands, soaked on hot-water beaches, wandered around steaming orange lakes and explored underground caves lit up with glowworms I’ve begun to feel like I couldn’t be any further away from the UK – in fact, at times I’ve felt like I could  be on an entirely different planet.

Everyone tells you not to plan too far in advance when you travel. Of course, when planning our trip we completely ignored this advice and scheduled our New Zealand itinerary in precise detail before we left London. It’s only now that we’re actually on the road that we realise how important it is to be flexible; as I type this we’re sat in Taupo, which has the hugest lake in Australasia, plenty of cute bars and cafes and a relaxed atmosphere – as soon as we arrived on a random afternoon trip we loved it and wanted to stay. Luckily we were able to check out of our extremely average hostel in smelly Rotorua and head back here, despite our rigid itinerary.
I can hardly believe that we left the UK just a week ago; since we touched down in New Zealand we haven’t stopped exploring. Each day has been crammed with new sights and experiences; from night kayaking and fishing to bathing on a hot water beach and trekking to the top of a volcanic island. We’ve driven 1,100 Kilometres, slept in five different beds, cooked in three different kitchens, got injured (Amy) and sunburned (both of us) and overall, had an amazing time – here’s the story of our first week on the road in New Zeland’s North Island.
After a pretty hideous 23-hour journey we made it to New Zealand. So what were our first impressions of Auckland? That it looked very similar to England; it was almost as if we’d been on a plane for hours but hadn’t really gone anywhere. That first day and night we both felt a bit shell shocked as we slowly realised we were literally on the other side of the world without a home or job to go back to, which made me question: ‘What the hell have we done’?  Thankfully, after a good sleep those fears disappeared and as we headed up to Paihia for our overnight Bay of Islands cruise, we were excited to finally be starting our adventure.
It’s finally arrived – after years of planning today is the day we jet off to New Zealand and begin our new life of travel.Since leaving London a couple of weeks ago we’ve been on a whirlwind tour of the UK to visit family and friends, many of whom we won’t see again for quite some time. We spent an eventful weekend in Derby with all Andrew’s family which involved hot-tubs in the snow, a highly amusing murder mystery evening, obscene amounts of food and drink and the most amazing leaving cake I’ve ever seen.