Monthly Archives: March 2013


This post was originally to be titled “Multi-media Extravaganza!” and consist of text, pictures, and cool videos I’ve been working on. Unfortunately a 7″ Android tablet does not make a very good digital editing platform. Buggy software wasted my time and nearly made my pull my hair out. I humbly concede that Apple does media better.

So I’m in Queenstown now, and have been for several days. I spent four days with a really great young family doing work exchange in a suburb about 12 miles from town. The house has a funky modern design with a view you wouldn’t believe and a really cozy en suite for my accommodation. I can’t tell you how nice it was to sleep in a queen-sized bed with no roommates! Mom, dad, and two cute little girls aged four and seven made my stay welcoming and fun.

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First World Problems

The past few days have been hard. Not because I’ve been starving or homeless or lost, but because I haven’t had reliable internet access. Backpackers in small towns are like junkies when it comes to connectivity. “Hey man, you know where I can score some free wifi?” “Sorry bro, I’m all out. Let me know if you find any, OK?” Now that I’m back in a big city I have my fix. It’s a rough life, man.

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, I was staying in Westport and looking at seals. Here are a few more pics of the bike trip I took around the cape.

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Goin’ Down South


Well I made it to the the south island of New Zealand, but not without a few delays, a brief period of despair, and several hours with a van driver who loves Johnny Cash.

The day started off normal enough: 6:00am alarm, dress in the dark so as to avoid disturbing the five others in your luxurious 100 sq ft suite, slug 40 pounds on your back and 10 on your front, hike to a random street corner for a shuttle pickup. Routine. The goal was to get from Wellington (A) in the north to Picton (B) in the south, and the ferry is the best way to accomplish that.

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Week 6 Costs

I’ve decided that these cost breakdown posts are a pain in the butt, as you can tell by how far behind I am. I think people find them useful though so I’ll try to keep it going.

Week 6 encompassed my last day in Melbourne and my first week in New Zealand and I knew it would be expensive since as it included an international flight and the Stray trip.

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My Life As A Nomad

While lying in bed last night I began to wonder just how many different beds I’ve slept in since beginning my trip. I came up with 15 beds in 12 cities so far, and a new bed each of the past eight nights. Luckily I’ve had no trouble sleeping unless the room was too hot. Earplugs are mandatory for hostel stays!

Today I’m in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, which is at the southern tip of the northern island. My Stray bus tour ended here so I had to say farewell to some new friends. It’s a strange feeling to befriend someone knowing from the start that goodbye is only a few days away. I’ve experienced it with Airbnb, HelpX, and now Stray. Most of the time it ends with a handshake and well-wishes but sometimes the person becomes a real friend and their absence is noticed and felt. Luckily Facebook lets everyone keep up with each other’s travels.

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Stray Travel

I’m wrapping up week seven of my Aussie/Kiwi adventure and I’ve been keeping a mental list of “firsts” that I’ve experienced so far. Everything from leaving the US to blasting around a dirt racetrack in a right-hand-drive Toyota Celica to hopping on a bus full of complete strangers who would become the best travel mates. It has been an incredible ride with twists and turns that I could have never anticipated.

On Sunday I joined about 25 other backpackers for a tour across the north island of New Zealand. I would begin in Auckland and end in Wellington- a distance of about 400 miles (630 km). The bus was filled with people from Germany, Holland, France, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Scotland, and America (I’ve been the only yank on both busses I’ve joined). It felt a bit like getting on the bus for the first day of school; a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation. Striking up a conversation is easy as most everyone is social and used to the routine of meeting strangers.

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Fireworks and Caving and Mountain Biking, Oh My!

Wow, where should I begin? The past several days have been a whirlwind. On Saturday I was in Auckland and now I find myself in Rotorua, with four cities in-between. I’ve watched the most amazing choreographed fireworks show, gotten smacked around by intense waves, rappelled down a 50′ waterfall in an underground cave, learned about glow worms, mountain biked some incredible trails, and met a bunch of new people. It has been a fun week! Lack of time and internet access have made it difficult to update the blog but I hope to get you guys a post every couple of days.

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Kiwi Currency

Kiwi Currency

Just a quickie today. Posts like yesterday’s take a lot of time to put together!

I have to admit that I didn’t research New Zealand currency before arriving, even after my confusing experience in Sydney. Lucky for me, and probably surprising to no one, the currencies of the two countries share quite a few similarities. The notes seem to use the same type of colored paper with a little transparent window, but the coins are a bit different.

Like the Aussies, the Kiwis have $2 and $1 coins that get used all the time, but the latter saw fit to make the higher valued coin larger in size (way to go!). In the pic above, the coins are, from left to right, $2, $1, 50c, 20c, and 10c. New Zealand actually phased out their 5c piece in 2006. Interesting, huh? So everything gets rounded up or down to the nearest 10th. I chose to show the “tails” side of the coins in the pic because every single one has Queen Elizabeth on the opposite side.

This is the first country in which I have traveled where the exchange rate is in my favor, and it’s awesome! Today the rate is 1.00 NZD = 0.83 USD. I love spending $40 on something and seeing a $33.30 charge on my credit card statement!

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Auckland: The City of Sails


Has a nice ring to it, wouldn’t you say? I like this city. I can’t really put my finger on why but it just appeals to me. Even though Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and its 1.4 million residents make up 32 percent of the country’s population it doesn’t feel that big.

My flight arrived later than scheduled on Tuesday and it always takes a while (for me) to figure out a city’s public transportation system so it was almost 9:00 PM when I made it to my Airbnb host. Jody’s a massage therapist and is spiritual and funky, in a good way. She’s also extremely generous and had salmon and veggie leftovers waiting for me in the oven. Have I mentioned that we’re complete strangers? Pretty awesome. She has tons of knowledge about the city and has given me some great ideas.

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Hostels Aren’t So Hostile

Last night I had my first experience at a backpackers’ hostel. Unfortunately I didn’t meet two hot Slovak girls, but then again, I didn’t have my eyeballs gouged out or an arm hacked off. If you have no idea what I’m talking about there’s a very gory series of horror films called Hostel. I just summed up the plot for you in one sentence.

Backpackers’ hostels are popular pretty much everywhere outside of the US and are about the cheapest accommodation you can find without couch surfing (sleeping on a complete stranger’s couch for free… an idea I haven’t yet warmed up to). I stayed at a place called King Street Backpackers in Melbourne and paid $36 for a room that slept four in bunk beds. Female-only rooms are also available. At this particular hostel you can get the price down to the mid-20s but you have to sleep in a room with 15 others for the pleasure. Can you imagine that? Experiential travel is all the rage these days. Maybe they could sell it as an “Army Barrack Getaway”.

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