Ahh, the list. What travel blog would be complete without “5 things this” or “10 things that.” So in the interest of being ordinary, here’s mine:
1. The scenery. It’s well established and I’ve said many times that New Zealand is beautiful. No, make that stunning. Google some images and see for yourself.
2. Lack of bureaucracy. I needed a New Zealand Bank Account. No Tax ID number, no permanent address, no problem. God bless you, KiwiBank. A similar story changing the ownership on my car. A five minute walk to the post office and NZ$9.60 later, I was the official and proud owner of a 1992 Subaru Legacy. No registration to mail and no proof of insurance needed. Amazing.
3. Kiwi lifestyle. New Zealanders frequently cite their way of life as a distinguishing factor from their Australian neighbors. Far from lazy but definitely laid back, New Zealanders recognize the need to go have some fun. Obtaining a high-powered career, driving that new Mercedes, and achieving nirvana is just not given the highest priority. That delicate and often fleeting balance between work and leisure is well maintained.
4. Camping. There’s a growing if not disturbing trend where you dole out large amounts of money for the privilege of sleeping in the woods. Pay $30 to join a small city of tents, cook rudimentary meals, and share a bathroom with dozens of people far more disgusting than yourself. Congratulations, you just spent Memorial Day Weekend in a refugee camp.
While those cute little excursions are available here too, there are plenty of options for finding that ‘postcardesque’ spot without feeling like your fleeing some natural disaster. The Department of Conservation does an excellent job of maintaining many small, well located, basic campsites for only a few dollars per night. If you’re really willing to rough it, sites without running water and flush toilets are often free.
5. Cheap cars. Clearly the best and arguably the cheapest way to travel New Zealand, ‘backpacker’ cars are ubiquitous. It won’t be the prettiest thing on four wheels and will actually be pretty darn ugly, but hey, it gets you to where you want to go. Of course it’s reliability can’t be guaranteed. Driving any car with 200,000 miles is a crap shoot of mechanical nightmares. Some get off with only an oil change. Others need timing belts, head gaskets and transmissions. Either way, it’s a story and memory. And a really good one at that.