Our first long stop takes us to New Zealand. It’s hard to actually call it a stop because of the sheer magnitude of things to see, do, and experience. It will be one of the most active places in terms of traveling around and adventuring.
Overall New Zealand is not a gigantic country. Split into two islands - North and South - it’s narrow but really long. Compared to the U.S. it would stretch from the top of Pennsylvania to northern Florida. It’s small size and well-developed road system makes it a great place to see via car.
Living in a Spaceship Down By the River
New Zealand is filled with incredible natural vistas, and packed with camp sites. In order to get around easily and see all we want to see, we decided to ditch the normal accommodations and book a Spaceship. That is, we’re renting a small campervan to drive around and sleep in. It’s camping without having to totally rough it. Our spaceship will have a bed, stove, fridge, TV, DVD player, and places to charge up our camera. It has everything except a bathroom, but that’s what all the wonderful campsites are for.
So Much to Do, So Much to See
New Zealand has been one of the harder places to plan for.
Every time we research, we find three more incredible experiences.
We could easily spend six months just driving around and having a blast. A few of the highlights we’ve found so far are:
- Whale Watching -- Giant sperm whales live off the coast of Kaikoura on the South Island year-round and (depending on the season) humpback, pilot, blue, and southern right whales, along with fur seals and dolphins.There is plenty to see!
- Penguins -- One of three penguin species that live in New Zealand is the white-flippered penguin. They’re really small and really cute. A special overnight tour we found includes a drive in the scenic Banks Peninsula and staying on a working sheep station in the middle of a white-flippered penguin colony.
- Fiords -- If the mountains, volcanoes, glaciers and coastline aren’t enough, there are Fiords - glacial carved mountains with water-filled valleys. The Doubtful and Milford Sounds in Fiordland National Park offer all manners of cruising and kayaking in a spectacular setting.
- Hiking -- There are a ton of places to hike in New Zealand. From multi-day treks to short bush walks, almost every place has a great way to take in the natural surroundings by foot. Though we won’t be doing the longer multi-day treks, we hope to do a few day hikes up to the glaciers in the South, and the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the North.
- Wine and Relaxation -- After all that nature, hiking and driving, we’ll need a bit of relaxation. Thankfully, New Zealand has some fantastic wine regions and hot springs. What could be better after a long hike than some great local wine and a hot spring to soothe those tired legs?
New Zealand is a great place to start. Stunning scenery, wildlife, and bursting at the seams with things to do. The only problem may be running out of space for all the great pictures and wearing out our hiking shoes.