Category Archives: New Zealand

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

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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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