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.
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.
As a secondary school teacher in the UK sometimes you feel like there are nothing but targets; “you must do more of this and include less of that in your lessons”. Any UK teacher will tell you how a visit from the school inspectors is one of the most stressful things you can be put through, even if they don’t end up actually viewing one of your lessons!