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Greetings from New Zealand!

travel new zealand

Greetings from New Zealand!

It has now been 10 days since I bid farewell to America – the land of Starbucks and burgers – and journeyed halfway round the world to New Zealand, where they also have Starbucks and burgers.

Maybe this transition won’t be so hard after all.

For any newcomers here who have managed to miss me hooting and hollering about New Zealand for the past three months, I have somehow tricked the NZ embassy into giving me a working holiday visa for a year here. This means I am free to roam around this little country without threat of deportation for 12 months! A nice change from Spain.

travel new zealand

Travel New Zealand

Originally I was supposed to arrive in Christchurch on August 9th, but since I only got back to the US from Iceland on July 25th, I realized I was emotionally, physically and mentally drained from 2 months of trotting around Europe that I postponed my flight by two weeks into Auckland instead. Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it, my life could be so much worse –  can it haters. After 60+ days of nonstop running around, all I wanted was to curl up in my childhood bunk bed with my grumpy old cat and sleep for a week.

I was burnt out; I needed some recovery time.

travel new zealand

Some of my favorite memories from California

On August 20th, my mom drove me for the 4th time to Dulles airport with my life squeezed into a suitcase, backpack and tote bag as I prepared to move abroad again. Hugging her goodbye and trying not to cry (does it get any easier?) I made my way to the gate and boarded a one-way flight to San Francisco and my VERY FIRST TIME IN CALIFORNIA OMG!

Reunited with two of my best friends from college, I spent a few days eating all the foods in California and relaxing before boarding another long flight to Auckland.

travel new zealand


Arriving in Auckland was fairly painless considering the total lack of sleep I got on my 13 hour flight – though I will never forgive the customs officer for not giving me a Middle Earth stamp when I arrived.  Not cool. She didn’t even look at all the damn visa paperwork I ran around like a crazy person trying to print before I left. Moral of the story: New Zealand > Europe when it comes to visas.

I nabbed a last minute deal online for a nice hotel in downtown Auckland for a few nights. My plans about New Zealand were changing up until the very last minute. You see, I have some exciting news – you guys are the first to hear it!

I will be back in Italy for October to speak at a conference about travel blogging. Me?! Public speaking?! ITALY?! More flip outs on that account to come in the near future. So yeah, I flew all the way to New Zealand only to leave after a month for a month and then come back. Yeah…..

So that kinda threw a gear in the works of my big definitive plan to fly to the South Island and find a cool city to live in for the year, especially since I’ll most likely be leaving from Auckland. Here’s a map so you know what I’m talking about.

travel new zealand


Back to Auckland. Because I was so busy catching up on work for the week I was in Auckland, I didn’t really give it a chance, especially knowing I would be back. Therefore, I will not be a douche and say I didn’t like it – even though Auckland is a big city, and I’m not a city person and thus inclined not to like it.

That being said, Auckland has some cool cafes and fun drinking spots. Did you know there is a bar that sells booze in teapots? Besides alcoholic teapots, the only other observations I have about Auckland are lots of Asians and really decent foodie scene, and OMG New Zealand has the worst internet in the entire world.

The entire world. I don’t know how I am going to survive this year.

travel new zealand

Urban Auckland, not exactly my cup of tea

After polling in you guys on my Facebook page about where to live on the North Island for a month, everyone and their mother chimed in and said Wellington, Wellington WELLINGTON! I never put Wellington on my radar because I thought it was overrated and I really didn’t want to be in a city. But after much googling and drinking, I realized it would probably be a good base for my first month in New Zealand

New plan: buy a car in Auckland, drive to Wellington and find a sweet place to live for the month, while drinking all the coffee and stalking Peter Jackson.

But more on that later.

travel new zealand

Amazing coffee at Remedy Cafe

travel new zealand

Buying a car in New Zealand

When I decided to sell my car back home, it was in the hopes of buying a car in New Zealand. I wanted the freedom of being able to drive wherever whenever I wanted. New Zealand is packed full of little hidden spots and beautiful drives. Having a car means freedom here.

After struggling for days with TradeMe, NZ’s version of Ebay, and thanks to my friend Laurence’s guide to buying a car in NZ, I found the perfect little car on Backpacker Car World, a place in downtown Auckland that sells used cars geared specifically for foreigners.

Buying a car in a foreign country is scary. Learning to drive on the other side of the road is also scary. Hell, moving to a new country is scary. But I was determined to face up to my fears and tackle this all on my own, without help.

travel new zealand

travel new zealand

Say hello to my new (quite old) baby! A 1997 red Volkswagon Polo that has definitely seen better days. It’s quite a piece of shit actually, but it’s my piece of shit, which makes all the difference.

After getting all the paperwork taken care of and little things fixed here and there, she (or he) was good to go! Leading up to my departure date from Auckland, I literally had nightmares about driving on the left. I had only driven it around the block a few times in Auckland with the backpacker guys. Driving 8 hours down to Wellington alone was going to be another story.

I may or may not have had a sticky note taped to the steering wheel that read “LEFT!!!”

Also, let’s ignore the part where I drove for an hour with my brights on because I couldn’t figure out the normal headlight setting. But I made it all the way to Wellington without killing anyone and only had a panic attack in a roundabout twice. I call that success in my book.

travel new zealand

Huka Falls near Taupo

travel new zealand

Lake Taupo

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but the only thing left is to give my new little car a name, right? Please leave a comment with what you think his/her name should be! Scroll the FB comments and see what others have got to say!

Personal favorites include Shadofax, Bazinga, Red Ninja, Bilbo, and Lucille. But you decide!




Oh wait, everyone did and I didn’t want to listen because I hate it when people blab on about capital cities. I always feel like they are overrated and can never live up to expectations.

Well, let me just say Wellington is NOT overrated. In fact, it’s not too big of a city which suits me just fine.

Because I was only looking to rent a place for a month, I was struggling to find an affordable place that would let me stay on for such a short time. Once again, thanks to you guys, I found a great house to sublet on Oriental Bay in Wellington for the month. It was fate.

Travel New Zealand

travel new zealand

travel new zealand

With awesome roomies and the beach right outside my door and 15 minute walk to downtown, I couldn’t be happier.

Wellington is quite hilly so a good chunk of the town is built stretching along the coast, so you get great views just about everywhere. I walk along the harbor on my way into town. The only thing I’m worried about are earthquakes. I’m not ok with that, Wellington.

The vibe around Wellington is just amazing. It’s pretty international and it’s chock full of cute cafes, independent shops, amazing restaurants and fabulous bars. Every little spot is unique, I love it! There is also a great craft beer scene in Wellington as well, which I am discovering bit by bit.

Conclusion? I might never leave but I do need to join a gym immediately.

Also, if anyone plans to come to Wellington in the next month, please let me know and we can meet up!

travel new zealand

travel new zealand

travel new zealand

Cultural differences

I’ve always heard that kiwis were friendly folk, but I had no idea how friendly!

New Zealand wins being home to the nicest people in the entire world. Just being around locals makes me me cognizant of my own attitude and persona. If I don’t leave New Zealand in a year 100 times friendlier than I am now, I won’t know what do with myself.

But let me just say if you are thinking about moving abroad, coming to a place with the friendliest, smiliest, happiest people makes all the difference. Don’t mistake me; my first week in Auckland was really hard. I felt like nothing was going right and I kept thinking maybe all my choices were a mistake. But little by little, things started to look up, and being around friendly people helped loads.

travel new zealand

travel new zealand

Did I mention it’s winter in NZ right now?

As of now, the only other thing I feel worth mentioning is that I have learned lots of new words since I’ve arrived! Growing up a big reader and a big fan of the BBC, and especially after being forced to teach British English for two years in Spain, I thought I was pretty aware of most of the major differences between American English and British English. Well, NZ has it’s own take on it that I am fast picking up on – some of these are probs British expressions I’m only now hearing.

  • Arugula is called rocket
  • Cilantro is called coriander
  • Bacon is called streaky bacon
  • Whinge means to complain
  • Go on a bach is like renting a vacation house
  • A dairy is a convenience store
  • Sweet as means great
  • Wop wops means the middle of nowhere —-> WTF?

Have you ever been to New Zealand? Have any tips for me? Would you consider visiting? But most importantly, HELP ME NAME MY NEW CAR! 

***All photos taken on my iPhone in an effort to help me live in the moment and not focus as much on photography

travel new zealand

travel new zealand


121 Responses to Greetings from New Zealand!

  1. Kirstie September 3, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    I cannot WAIT to visit New Zealand while I’m living in Australia. Actually, for the past few days, I’ve been considering possibly applying for a NZ working holiday visa while I’m in Australia and doing a few months in Wellington after I’m done in Sydney, depending on how things go. All I know is I can’t wait to get to that part of the world! I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and experiences there!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      It’s just amazing, I love it already!

  2. Julika September 3, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    I love all the excitement and newness and uncertainty in this post — this is exactly what moving to a new country feels like for me too! Also, I love that you bought a classic German car! 🙂

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      haha I know right? Hopefully it’ll last all year 😛

  3. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas September 3, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    My favorite part of this post: YOU HAVE TO NAME YOUR CAR! We are so American…my car is Pequeño Monty because it was the Novio’s car, and then his brother’s. Gotta pay homage to my political family!

    PS where are you speaking in Italy? I have zero plans for October yet…

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      LOL. It’ll be in Rimini around Oct. 17 I think – I’ll be sharing more details soon, you should come!

  4. hanara September 3, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    Welcome to Wellington and glad you like it! Suggestion for car name – Broadband?

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      LOL for the crap internet here?

  5. Julie @ A Life Exotic (There and Back Again) September 3, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    Ahhh enjoy your NZ adventure!! Mine was hands-down the best experience of my life. I’m excited to keep up with your posts and relive it vicariously! I blogged the whole time I was there at if you want to poke around for things to do/see or hostel recommendations 🙂 I lived in Christchurch but visited Wellington and traveled around the rest of the country.

    Also, yep NZ still has Starbucks and burgers (how would we Americans get on without them?). Just a hint… Fergburger in Queenstown, Velvet Burger in Dunedin. They will blow. Your. Mind.

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      I will be checking those out! Adding them to my list 😀

  6. Cassandra September 3, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    It’s exciting (slash nerve-wracking) to watch you navigate your way around a new country! It must be tough to know that you’ll be there only a month before flying out again, but I’m looking forward to hearing about more adventures when you come back and become even more rooted.

    Congrats about the Italy conference, too, that’s awesome news! Where will you be? Any plans to pop by Spain afterwards…?

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Maybe, I hope so! Italy is called TBDI, you should come if you’re interested, all the Italian tourism boards will be there to chat with bloggers 😛

  7. Christine September 3, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    YAY NEW ZEALAND!!!! So excited for you!!!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Woop woop!!!

  8. Jennifer September 3, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    New Zealand has always been on my list, but this makes me want to visit NOW! Loved reading about the new words you’ve learned, by the way. Hilarious!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      haha so many weird words here!

  9. Trevor Huxham September 3, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Woohoo you made it to NZ!!!!! So excited to start seeing what you have to say about this country on the blog. And I am casting my vote for Shadowfax. Are there ferries that link the North and South Islands?

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      I know, that’s what I want to name him too! Perfectly ironic. Yup there are ferries between the islands so it’s easy to bring a car along 🙂

  10. Isabel September 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Love, love this update! Would one be able to get around Wellington without a car or is it the type of city that requires a car?

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      oh no way, you don’t need a car here. I only have one so I can drive all over the islands. It’s harder to have a car in town because there is no free parking 🙁

  11. Micaela September 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    Ever since I saw The Lord of the Rings I’ve made it a life goal to move to Australia or New Zealand. So I really CAN’T WAIT to go there someday! You’ve no idea how happy I was of finding out you were moving to the part of the world I wish I were living in. Your posts this following year are going to be life changing, they’ll help me LOADS. As to your question: Also, if anyone plans to come to Wellington in the next month, please let me know and we can meet up! I can come visit you if you like? 🙂 Haha, joking. This university student has no money 🙁 Anyways, you’re gonna hear a lot from me since I’m a Tolkien geek and I love to travel. Best wishes, Danielle xx
    Ps. Being your car red it looks like a she, therefore I think you should call it Lucille!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      Love that!

  12. Must for Wanderlust September 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    So excited to hear more! 🙂 & great photos. My car in Canada is named the Speed Demon… Hahaha. x

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      Hahahaha awesome name. This car is not a speed demon by any means lol

  13. Zira September 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    You finally posted,I’m so excited for you, New Zealand looks so peaceful. I came across your blog last week and I’ve been a devout follower ever since. I’m hoping to travel to London to study for my postgraduate degree next spring. Would you happen to have any tips for a student moving from the US to the UK with a limited budget?

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Just save everything! Don’t waste your money on silly stuff.

  14. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures September 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    What an amaaaaazing trip! Dying to get to NZ. LOVE the pics!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Thanks Andi! It’s so amazing here, can’t wait to explore more!

  15. Steph September 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Everything looks awesome! And you should name your car Cherry Bomb.

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      bahaha love that!

  16. Cole @ September 3, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Hahaha I love that you have already learnt Wop Wops! These are definitely not British slang either, they have no clue what I am saying most of the time 😉
    See you soon!

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      haha I knew it! We have to practice when I see you 😀

  17. Anna September 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Hey girl! Congratulations on your exciting move. I’m American, but I’ve been living in Australia since late June and just hopped over to New Zealand while my proper working holiday visa for Oz was processing.

    I went to Auckland, Queenstown, and then took a bus up to Christchurch (the most depressing place on earth and I have yet to write my New Zealand blog posts partially because I don’t want to write about Christchurch. So, good choice flying into Auckland instead! 😉 ) — missed Wellington, but I’m planning a trip back out there soon.

    DEFINITELY check out Queenstown. It’s amazing. Small town vibes (population 16,000) with the feel of a huge community. Gorgeous scenery and tons of hikes/trails and sportsy activities. Are you planning on taking your car down to the South Island? If so, HOW? I’d love to do a massive road trip next time I head over.

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      Hey! Yeah I can’t wait to get to the south island, I will be doing lots of road trips once I get there 😀 I’m gonna take it on the ferry!

  18. amelie88 September 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    That map of New Zealand makes me think of the maps in a Song of Ice and Fire books (aka Game of Thrones books), sort of reminds me of Westeros. Currently slogging through Dance with Dragons and the name “Bay of Plenty” sounds like something right out of one of the books!

    Glad to see you’re settling in! I have you beat on the car though, the first car I drove was a 1988 Toyota Corolla that we kept til it just died. No airbags, roll up windows, no AC, and the volume on the radio did not work so you had to slam it with your hand to adjust it. Good times all around, I miss the Craparola (not really). Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures! (Oh and congrats on the blogging conference!)

    • Liz September 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      This car is like that. So ghetto fabulous! I hope it survives this year!

      Love that you love Game of Thrones. Those books are badass. love them! New Zealand could be the setting for them for sure!!

      • amelie88 September 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

        I actually have a picture of me seated on the Iron Throne… no not the actual one on the TV show. It’s the replica that was at the traveling GoT free exhibit that was in NYC for a few days right before Season 3 premiered. The line was so long, it took me and my friends 3 hours to get in!!

        • Liz September 5, 2013 at 3:54 am #


  19. Annalynn September 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Another vote for Shadowfax – how perfect for some Peter Jackson stalking. 😉

    And for only using photos taken with your iPhone – what photo apps are you using, because these are great!

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 3:58 am #

      Thanks! I use mostly Snapseed to edit pics and then sometimes I take the crazy sky shots in ProHDR. I use PicFX for the light effects, I’ve got more info in my summertime instagram catchup post 🙂

  20. Catarina G September 4, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Well done. I really admire the fact that you bought a car so fast and jumped right on the left of the road. I just moved to Wellington and love it already. We should meet up! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures.

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 3:59 am #

      Yes lets meet up sometime! I’ll email you now 🙂

  21. Alice September 4, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    I love traveling. I’ve been all over the UK, Ireland (the republic) the Crete Island in Greece, Paris, Iceland (LOVE IT!!! I’d move there if it weren’t so cold!) and Germany (bad story. don’t ask. Was aiming for Berlin. Ended up in some place called Acton or something like that.) And there are so many more places I want to go. Now you’ve added a knot in my stomach for New Zealand. Will now head over to Kayak to look up the price of a ticket.

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:33 am #

      It’s not cheap but OMG is it worth it!

  22. Fer September 4, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Shadowfax, Shadowfax, Shadowfax!
    (Yep, I suggested it first. And yep, you should take it into account coming from someone who calls his car Vacmóvil instead of Batmóvil/Batmobile).

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:34 am #

      Love that you knew to suggest that. Great minds, great minds 😀

  23. Alex September 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    This is so great to hear! I’m glad you’re loving New Zealand. I can’t wait to see the beautiful world of Middle Earth myself! (Where I will meet Aragorn, my future husband). But for now, I’m moving to Paris to teach English and would love to see you speak in Italy! Ever since I realized I’d be moving to Paris, I’ve been frantically trying to get everything ready for it (meaning I’ve been obsessing over my visa and reading every travel blog that exists) and I have to say, yours is one of my favorites. It’s a great inspiration to someone who wants to travel and write as a career. As for your car…looks like more of a Gimli to me.

    • alice September 5, 2013 at 12:33 am #

      Alex how did you make the teaching english in Paris thing happen? I would love to do something like that. Where can I find some information?

      • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:35 am #

        Gimli, love that! glad you like my blog and enjoy Paris! I would love to live there one day as well!

      • Alex September 5, 2013 at 11:21 am #

        Hey Alice! Well I knew I wanted to travel after college so I got my TESL degree November of senior year and then applied for this program called TAPIF (waited until the day it was due…wouldn’t recommend that). It’s through the French government and they basically place you in schools all over the country. You might not end up in Paris but you can certainly request it! It’s very challenging to get a work contract in France and this is the best program I found that takes care of it for you. Here’s the link:

        • Liz September 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

          Yeah I’ve heard of this, it’s the same as the program I did in Spain. I’ve heard it’s a disorganized mess, but yeah, only one of the ways to get a proper visa!

  24. Erika September 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I’m so happy that you made it to NZ and are settling in well! How exciting!!! (I’m totally armchair traveling through you right now!!) What a great update and ahhh I cannot wait for more! Looks beautiful and glad the people are so nice and that you love Auckland. ALSO: that’s major, buying a car in a different country! Way to go!

    • Erika September 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      P.S. I like Bazinga for a name!

      • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:36 am #

        Thanks! I need all the support I can get hahaha, so scary!

  25. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren September 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Congrats on the move! When I was living in England, roundabouts freaked me the fuck out too. I can’t wait for more NZ related posts.

    Happy travels 🙂

  26. CJ September 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    I love your pictures of NZ so far 🙂

    I lived in Auckland, Tauranga/Mount Maunganui, Nelson, and circled the whole island twice while living there along with heaps of improv road trips. Getting a car is a great start! There are just my opinions, but you asked for some suggestions/tips. My favorite place for Surfing = Raglan, Rockclimbing = Takaka, Kayaking = Abel Tasman, Free Camping = East Cape (Sorth Island) West Coast (South Island), Sandboarding = Cape Reinga, Whale Watching = Kaikoura, Paragliding = Mount Maunganui, Favorite pub – Spring and Fern (Nelson), Maori Culture and Activities = Rotorua/Bay of Plenty, Museums = Te Papa Wellington, Hiking = Any chance you get anywhere is amazing (Coromandel, Kepler, any and all are good)! Auckland = leave as soon as you can and don’t look back! Writing this list made me miss NZ so much – I hope you have a great year!

    • CJ September 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      ^^Oh dear had some spelling issues in that last one – **these are just my opinions… and **East Cape is in North Island. Also the internet is 🙁 in New Zealand!!!

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:36 am #

      Love this list thank you thank you THANK YOU!

  27. Nicole September 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Matterhorn, a very cool hidden haunt off Cuba St, is my fave spot in Wellington 🙂 Also a shop called Iko Iko on Cuba St is super cool for decorating / furnishing your new place! From memory they have some quirky kiwi paraphernalia there. Can’t wait to read more posts about my beloved NZ!

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 4:37 am #

      Thanks for the tip! Can’t wait to explore more !!!

  28. CJ September 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Oh Wait I forgot about one amazing thing in Auckland -> Chocolate Boutique, Its in Parnell, makes a great afternoon coupled with a trip to the Parnell rose garden 🙂

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 3:55 am #

      that sounds lovely! Going on the list!

  29. Fi September 5, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    Hey Liz, welcome to the Land of the Long White Cloud! So glad you’re liking Wellington – I love this wee city of mine. We have a few tidbits about Wellington on our blog here – mostly naming some cool places to eat and drink. We’d be more than happy to chat about anything Wellington or NZ related if you want to drop us a line, anytime xx

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 3:54 am #

      Thanks for the tips! I would love to meet up sometime! I’m gonna email you now 🙂

  30. Kilee September 5, 2013 at 5:50 am #

    I hope you have eaten a kiwi steak and cheese pie from a bakery!! If not, omg. It’s like the NZ version of… a burger in the states I guess? Soooo goood…

    Internet = total shite in NZ. I have no idea what’s going on there, but unfortunately it doesn’t get any better. It’s faster and more reliable here in Southeast Asia!!

    As for joining a gym, join a Les Mills or one that has Les Mills classes… they are amazing and a great way to meet new people (including buff bros 🙂 )

    Hope you’re having fun 😀

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      I was looking at Les Mills, but it was pricey pricey. Is it worth it?

  31. Emily Lofgren September 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    You’re finally in New Zealand! I’ve been excited to read about your experience since you first posted that you’d be going there. Absolutely love the photos… it looks so beautiful!

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      It’s so beautiful, can’t wait to explore more!

  32. Jorge September 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Don’t forget to visit Rotorua while you’re there. They have tours to Hobbiton that leave from there, as well as awesome day spas. When I was there last November, I got to pet a LION cub at the local zoo there. Oh & DON’T FORGET TO GO TO WAITOMO!!! They have these AWESOME glow worm caves there!! I wish I could post pics on here to show you. And if you ever take the Interislander Ferry to the South Island, STAY TOWARDS THE MIDDLE OF THE BOAT!! If you spend your time near the front or rear of the ship, You. WILL. Get. Sick.

    As for the South Island, I’m glad I picked that part of NZ to see first in November 2010, & got to see Christchurch in all it’s beauty before the earthquake hit. =(
    I did a road trip all along the South Island that included Franz Josef Glacier, Queenstown, Milford Sound, & Dunedin, and all were breathtaking. While in Christchurch, you can snag a tour that will take you to Edoras (capital of Rohan, where LOTR, The Two Towers was filmed). Oh fun was had on that tour. So worth it. Hope you enjoy your stay there.

    • Liz September 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      that’s awesome OMG! NOTED!

  33. RC September 7, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    Don’t forget to explore the winter less Northland. Especially in summer. Nothing quite like it. Good choice ditching Akl for welly. Welly is such a cool city.

    • Liz September 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      Welly rocks my socks off

  34. Rhiannon September 8, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Hi liz 🙂

    Just wanted to say your blog is fantastic and welcome to wellington (my hometown). Enjoy your time in nz!

    • Liz September 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

      Thanks, love it here so so so much!

  35. Jennifer September 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    New Zealand is great, I’ve been twice now. Auckland was actually my favourite city there, as it was the only one that actually felt like a city. Wellington was sooo windy when I was there, living up to its nickname I believe! Golden Bay is great – you should check it out, along with totaranui beach for camping 🙂

  36. Laura September 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Liz. I recently moved back to the States after 8 years in Welly. Worked in tourism, so have quite a few friends you might be interested in meeting. Kiwis will literally give you the shirts off their backs. ENJOY! Best years of my life were in that city. Make sure you see the entire country–top to bottom. You’ll find a lot of kiwis venture overseas, but don’t really tour their own amazing country. My husband is from there and had only been to Taupo, Nelson and Christchurch. There is so much to see and experience there!

    • Liz September 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

      Yes! I would love to meet them! I am really keen to be involved with the tourism community here, haven’t done much yet, trying to catch up on work. Any advice or contacts you have I’d love to hear! Can I email you? My email is

      Thanks 🙂

      I can’t wait to see everything!

  37. Arron uk September 10, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Going to do the same thing next year on a working visa! And your blogs inspire what was once a dead dream to me but I’m gonna to do it while im still young 25 next year and ill regret it for the rest of my life if i dont! but to quit my job and sell all my stuff i need to dig deep for a bigger set of balls lol. You found any work yet? plus what was the name of the place you got you car from?

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      I hope you make it to NZ soon! It’s an awesome place!

      I work online so I haven’t looked for a job yet. The car thing is a major issue.

  38. Samantha G September 10, 2013 at 8:15 pm #


    I just found your blog and love it! I am actually looking to apply to a grad program in New Zealand. I currently live in CO, USA and would love to get your insight on how you like it so far! I am so interested! Looking at all your pictures, it looks like a magnificent place! I am looking to apply to University of Auckland and University of Canterbury. Have you heard anything about either school, city, which is better/worse? Any info would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • CJ September 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      I just finished up a phd in uni of auckland, though i was meant to do one at canturbury (chch). Christchurch is still pretty effected by the earthquakes so take that into consideration for your studies, not only because there are still tremors but the city center itself looks like a bomb went off. It makes it hard to enjoy the city there unfortunately though before the major quake I would have said Chch all the way. What field of study are you going into? That would have an impact on your experience in Auckland. Different fields of study are more or less involved with the actual university community depending on the field, for example, engineers are way out of the city center in a suburb off in their own world. Also grad school is quite different in NZ than the US, it is more European, start your project and check in occasionally with very limited guidance, though this has major perks for exploring NZ while studying. I really think either place would be good, but I would talk to possible sponsors from both school and visit both schools because enrolling is pretty easy so if you go on a working holiday you can visit and then make your choice once there and convert your visa into a student visa, which is what I did. I am also from the US, so its definitely a good idea to check out both schools before making a commitment, because its four years of your life and I wasn’t able to leave NZ for a 2.5 years stretch to visit home because I was collecting data.

      • Samantha Ginsburg September 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

        Thank you so much for the detailed response! I have heard a lot of feedback that the only downfall to Christchurch is that they’re still recovering from the earthquake. I am planning on getting my masters of science in speech language pathology. My main issue is if I ever decided to come back to the states, how well would the degree “transfer” as an internationally degree. UoA seems more reputable internationally than UoC but I’ve just heard wonderful things about UoC as well. So it’s difficult! The program start date is in February so I’d have to make a trip down there before then to check out both places. I’m not so much a city life girl, but maybe Auckland could change that! Thank you again! 😉 Glad to see another American decided to make the big move!

        • CJ October 1, 2013 at 2:52 am #

          I studied in the population health school in Auckland, that is in the Tamaki campus, which is not in the city center and can be quite isolating. The speech therapy, engineering, population health, and bioengineering are there. Though you may be working in Grafton at the hospital too…Tamaki campus is shifting over to New Market in the next year or so (its definitely worth looking into) because New Market is much more central to everything and is closer to neighborhoods/areas that you would actually want to live in. I would definitely check into how the degree might transfer…a Phd is pretty universal but stuff like physical therapy or clinical practice can be tricky. I went to ChCh before and after the earthquake and I hate to say it but the earthquake really rocked it…it was my favorite place before the quake, the most easily laid out city/town besides Dunedin and its octagon. The other thing to think about, depending on where you are from is the chance in weather. For example if you are from Portland/Seattle it won’t be much of a change, but if you do go to ChCh for example you will be very cold as houses often do not have heat, even in winter and the air is quite damp. Make sure you bring your own warm gear with you, a nice jacket can be upwards 400USD in NZ, and a nice jacket is something you will wear inside your flat during cooler months. Auckland can be quite cold too, but not to the same extent. However, I think the ChCh might have had a better community feel to the school, so I guess weigh your options and think about what is most important to you. Also grad school is all about relationships so be sure to meet your potential advisors as you will work very closely with a few key people.

          If you plan on permanently residing in NZ going to school is a brilliant way to develop a professional network, because NZ is all about who you know. However if you are coming back to the US make sure to stay in touch with your references stateside because your NZ network will be less useful in the American job market.

          • Liz October 14, 2013 at 7:32 am #

            Thanks guys 🙂 good tips in here!

  39. KD September 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi! 🙂

    I’m from California, born/raised in norcal, but did college in socal. Where are the places where you took your train/forest-ie pictures?!

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 7:35 am #

      It’s at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. You have to get off the trail to find it, ask one of the guides 🙂

  40. Savannah September 15, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Hi! I just stumbled across your blog and now can’t even remember how but I am studying abroad in Barcelona for the semester and love all your advice for Spain! I”m trying to plan a trip to Logrono for October! Thats how I found ur blog btw ha researching norther cities in Spain ha Any advice would be awesome! I totally don’t have enough money to do a lot of traveling and am only here for another 3 months but want to see a lot of Europe as well as Spain but I definitely know I will have to come back for a year or so.

    NEW ZEALAND IS AMAZING! Last semester I was in Australia and went to NZ for 8 days and lived in an RV and traveled around the South island with some friends and when u get the chance go explore the very South of the south island I LOVED IT! I’m also a super out doorsy person but the whole place is absolutely beautiful, kayaking the Milfordsound is a must, actually u can probably kayak anywhere and its just as beautiful but I honestly just loved the country, I might even like it better the Spain!

    I’ve been doing some creeping on old posts and know ur in NZ on a working holiday visa and you were in Spain with some program teaching kids but you hated it by the end but what’s your degree? teaching? Or did u just start traveling after high school?? AND HOW HAVE YOU BEEN TO 30 COUNTRIES?!?!??

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 7:39 am #

      AHHH I hope you enjoy Logroño! How’s life in Barcelona?

      I can’t wait to travel around the south island in an RV. Waiting for a few more months then I’m going wahoo!

      I don’t have a teaching degree, the program is called auxiliares de conversacion and anyone can do it. It’s a great way to live in spain, get the visa and get paid, but the program is a disaster.

  41. Selena September 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    I was wondering which area in Wellington you found a place to live. I will be there in November and hoping to get suggestions for accommodation. Ideally I would like to get a place where I share with others as opposed to staying at a hostel.

    • Liz September 19, 2013 at 4:45 am #

      I’m subletting a room in Oriental Bay, and I love it here. Wellington is a fab city, don’t have many accommodation recs yet, stay tuned!

  42. Theresa September 19, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Congrats on moving to NZ! thats very exciting! And the fact you picked Wellington to live in – best decision ever… I’m a little biased as I’m from and living in the region 😉
    I stumbled across your blog reading blogs about Spain (as I miss Spain so much!)
    Looking forward to hearing your take on our wonderful little city and country in general!
    Buena suerte chica!

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 8:01 am #

      Thanks girlie! I’m head over heels in love with Wellington! I can’t wait to get back there soon!

  43. Chris September 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Regarding a gym, I’d recommend , 24×7, pretty cheap, non contract and you can access any of their gyms all across nz with your access card.

    If you’re ever keen for a 3 day hike deep stunning LOTR country, I’d recommend Kepler or Heaphy tracks based out of Te Anau (Milford is always booked 6 months full),

    cheers and have fun (from a kiwi 8 months late from doing a RTW.)

    • Chris September 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      gah correction …Routeburne nmot Heaphy 🙂

      • CJ October 1, 2013 at 2:53 am #

        Kepler + Routeburn 🙂

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks for the tip! I almost joined with them but ended up going with someone else 🙁

  44. Paul October 2, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    I love this post! Reminds me of when we arrived in NZ! I totally agree with you about urban Auckland and Wellie being one of the coolest cities in the world! By the way, I hope you listened to Crowded House in your car! That is a true Kiwi roadtrip!

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Adding it to the to-do list!

  45. Cristie October 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    I’m from Aus and hearing you laugh at all the slang is so funny! It’s quite similar here and just can’t understand why everyone doesn’t understand that sweet means great or that woop woop means the middle of nowhere haha. Enjoy 🙂

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      hehehe so many more to learn!

  46. Irene October 7, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    Just seeing your blog for the first time now, and I absolutely love it! Good luck down under and keep the writing up.

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoy my blog!

  47. Hannah Abigail Brammer October 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    You’ll LOVE New Zealand! I just went there on a choir tour this past summer (we were there in winter, too!) and I love it there. We stared in Auckland and then drove down to Wellington – so we got to see a lot of the country. I would definitely recommend the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Waitomo. Also, there’s a great museum called the Te Papa Museum which is on the wharf in Wellington which was awesome. If you have the chance, try and get a traditional welcome into a Marae – they are traditional homes that are still owned by Maori families – the welcoming is awesome and includes amazing songs and chants. The food, as you probably know, is amazing! One thing that you have to get is Hokey Pokey ice cream especially from Tip Top (the factory is somewhere in the middle between Auckland and Wellington) – that ice cream changed my life!
    Have fun out there!
    – Hannah Abigail Brammer

    • Liz October 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Thanks for the tips Hannah! I can’t wait to check out the glowworm caves

  48. Ellen October 20, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    So happy that I found your blog! I’ll definitely be keeping up with it and will love to see all of the places that you visit in New Zealand. I graduate from college in the US in December and am moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa in January! I cannot wait 🙂 I wish I was already there. I have so many things that I want to do once I get there!!

  49. Amanda December 9, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I love all of this! What are you doing for work in NZ? Were you able to support your lifestyle there, and still pay student loans as well? What kind of support did you use to find a place to live?

  50. Ross December 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    Av just applied for my nz workin holiday visa am from Scotland lookin forward will be my 1s adventure lol!!

    • Liz December 10, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      you’re gonna love it!! One of my good friends here from Scotland loves it here too haha 🙂

  51. Maurice McFarlane December 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi Liz, Glad you are loving our beautiful country.. I certainly have enjoyed being on tour with you, (Ok following your blog).

    The one thing I always had to look forward to when traveling was coming back here. It really is a friendly welcoming beautiful relatively safe place compared to some places in the world.

    I think you should call your car, Dub or Dubly. Kiwis cal VW cars V Dub so seems appropriate 🙂
    If you ever make it up to Palmerston North, feel free to look us up….. Im sure we could find a spare bed and some grub to eat (grub means food by the way) and my partner always has a Sav in the fridge 🙂 I’m a beer drinker(I make my own European Lager) personally….

    I considered at one time moving to Australia as I have a lot of family that has moved over but you know, I just cant get past the beauty and safety here. I mean you could swim any any stream or beach anywhere in NZ and not have to worry about getting eaten by Crocodiles. You can tramp through any of our forests and not have to worry about getting attacked by Bears or Lions or anything really. No snakes no ferocious ants scorpions or other insects.

    There arent too many places in the world that can boast that. Probably the biggest worry for someone new to NZ is being swamped with invitations and not having enough time to yourself 🙂

    Maurice & Gail

  52. Angela March 7, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks for sharing all of your stories. I just found your blog and love it! Did you have to take a driving test? Could you please tell me how much is a used car like yours? Thanks! 🙂

  53. Adam April 28, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Remedy Cafe!
    My fav cafe in NZ. I used to walk around the corner from my bed to get my cup of brew & a bacon buttie! And I MEAN bacon, proper smokey back bacon!

    Saw the pic, brought back excellent memories. I was even remembered after 1 1/2 yrs of being away, cracking!

  54. Meg May 18, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Hiya Liz!

    I know this was posted a while ago, but I am looking for advice about finding a short term room in Wellington.
    I am also an American (shocker, apparently?) female in her twenties on a working holiday visa. I found your posts to be quite wonderful, and it makes me even more excited for the chance to live here!
    So yeah. I’ll only be in Wellington for 2.5 months, and I’ve had a lot of difficulty so far finding a room for that amount of time.
    Thoughts? Advice?

    Thanks in advance!

  55. madrugada June 13, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    You inspired me very much! thanks:)

  56. Pame Tecun August 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Liz! just found your blog! Is amazing !! i was in NZ last year too… I’m not a good writer but you! Oh man! You can describe a feeling just the way it is! 😀

    I visited many of the places you visited! … And just like you, im going back next year!!! 😀 Im so happy and I can feel the excitement in everything you write..!! You are so right about everything!

    Cheers! 😀

    ps: Im from Mexico and yep, NZ is very different from many places!

  57. Mary Beth March 5, 2016 at 6:01 am #


    I am loving your blog! I am actually very interested in moving to New Zealand myself and I am wondering if it is really crazy expensive to live there and hard to find a job? I currently have a job and am trying to save so hopefully I can find one there as well! Also, I’m 19 and looking for a relaxed but fun and more warm place to live in NZ, what are your recommendations? Hope to hear from you!

    Thank you!

    Mary Beth

  58. Alina April 24, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    “Wop wops” made me laugh = ) Great post. Wellington. Added to my list of the places-where-I-may-wanna-live. Thanks!

  59. sunny April 29, 2016 at 1:59 am #

    Hi liz, i love ur adventures.i rlly wish to come to NZ with my family and we re IT professionals and we blacks from Africa. How do the newzealanders see blacks and what re the chances o getting a job and employers perceptions about blacks.Pls, Liz ur reply would be appreciated.

  60. Ely July 6, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Can you please tell me where you got health insurance and what coverage was required. I’m leaving on a working holiday soon and having trouble finding any solid info!


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