Ladies Beach

Mr. HalfFull

Kia ora! We toured New Zealand for three weeks and immediately discovered why they call it the land of the long white cloud.  Our first full day was overcast and windy.  But by the second morning, we saw the sun peak through the long white cloud from our motel room.


The long white cloud found us in Lake Taupo at sunset

As we traveled around the country, sometimes the long white cloud would follow us, and sometimes we were able to out run it.  We only had a couple completely rainy days, but those were good for laundry, SKY Movies, and napping.

I had expected New Zealand to be one of our most relaxing parts of the 30/40 World Tour since three weeks was the longest we planned to stay in any country.  However, Mr. HalfFull had something different in mind.  His idea was to tour as much of the North Island as possible, which meant our longest stay at any New Zealand accommodation was merely two nights. Planning the next step each day added a level of stress, and we rarely got comfortable or accustomed to a city/town.

Marlborough Sound

Fluffy white instead of long white clouds over Marlborough Sound in the South Island

We flew into Auckland Airport and stayed out there our first night.  The next day we stayed in the Mission Bay area outside Auckland CBD, and made it into the city itself our third night.  The other world travelers we met in Fiji were quite negative about Auckland, but we enjoyed it.  It’s a green city with parks and green spaces, which reminds me of Washington D.C.  I’ve never been a fan of concrete jungle cities.

Whale Bay

Ms. HalfEmpty sightseeing from the rental car on our way to Bay of Islands

After our day in Auckland CBD, it was time to pick up our rental car and explore the rest of the island.  The map below shows all the places we stayed in New Zealand.  I also added Cape Reinga to show that we drove to the northwestern most tip of New Zealand.  As you can see, we traversed quite a bit of the North Island — driving north from Auckland along the Pacific Coast to Cape Reinga where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea, then driving South along the West Coast until we arrived in Wellington, the capital.  From there, we took a ferry to Picton in the South Island.  We wanted to explore more of the South Island, but the earthquakes in Christchurch shut down the train. Plus, we weren’t sure we were ready to drive on icy roads with the colder temperatures of the South Island. For our return trip, we took the ferry and rented another car in Wellington and drove north along the East Coast back to Auckland.

View New Zealand in a larger map

I’m glad I got to see so much of the topographically interesting and beautiful New Zealand, but next time I definitely know which places to avoid (yeah you, Huntly!) and those that would be wonderful for a longer stay.

Volcanic Latte

We learned that coffee comes from volcanoes at the museum in New Plymouth

The thing that most pleasantly surprised me about Kiwi culture was coffee.  I was in serious need of a good coffee shop after Fiji.  But I had no idea that New Zealand had such a passionate coffee culture.  Basically, you can get espresso anywhere and filter coffee almost no where.  Even gas stations have espresso machines where each drink is personally prepared.  Apparently, New Zealand has more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world!  It was awesome to see coffee signs in abundance, even in rural areas.

I also discovered that I love pies — bacon/egg in the morning, and chicken/vege for lunch.  This is the perfect traveling food.  It’s like a personal pot pie that you can eat while walking or in the car; no utensils needed.  I’m not sure if my figure appreciates the pies as much as my appetite.

In a country full of amazing landscapes, creamy coffee, and flaky pies, what’s not to love?

  • Do you prefer being on the move or staying in a single place for an extended period?
  • Do you prefer greener cities or those filled with skyscrapers and an active nightlife?
  • Have you fallen in love with food/drink abroad?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!