Thoughts on traveling in New Zealand so far

We wanted to quickly say that Brooke and I have been flattered and delighted by the number of views and comments we’ve received on the blog so far. We are really glad that people seem to be enjoying (or at least reading) our travel journal. As a reminder, if you’re interested in keeping up to speed (and don’t mind some more junk in your inbox) you can sign up to get an update via e-mail every time we update the blog which is about once a day. To do so, just click on the “follow this blog” link on the right hand side of the screen.

Baby lamb photographed from the side of the road!Our trek through New Zealand continued today as we’ve made our way to the southern tip of the North Island. Our spaceship is now docked in the capital city of Wellington. A day driving in rain ended with a stay overlooking the city and a warm bowl of soup and delicious pizza on Cuba Street in the heart of the city. Another day driving through rain and small towns on roads that you fear might turn to gravel made us twice as glad to arrive. We look forward to explore New Zealand’s most hyped city.

We touched down in New Zealand a week ago and now we’re getting the hang of adapting to the long-term travel lifestyle. Turns out that all I really need to start the day has been a hot shower with good water pressure. Success at at every stop so far. And all Brooke needs is just a solid cup of coffee somewhere along the way. We’ve also found that living in New York City for the last six years has prepared us well for this trip. Dealing with nighttime noise, small beds, smaller hotel rooms, navigating public transportation and even discussing living in NYC (a city that everyone knows and has a thought on) has all worked to our advantage. And, of course, I’ve been blessed with the perfect travel partner who is helping to make this trip amazing each day.

Over the past week, it’s been a blast to soak up all the small differences that we’ve found so far while traveling. I’m getting pretty quick at converting kilometers to miles, centigrade to farenheit and US dollars to New Zealand dollars, but still get thrown for a loop when I have to figure out how much $7.99 NZD per Kg of zucchini really is. There are lots of small but unique contrasts in language, social behavior, and more that we thought were worth sharing.

Coffee for a long drive to Wellington!The first lesson we learned is that coffee is a whole new ballgame here. While there are vibrant, independent coffee houses every two blocks in New Zealand, ordering a cup of black coffee will only reward you with a confused look from the barista. Thanks to our new friend Jason, we’ve learned that a “long black” is what we’re after. It is basically a shot of espresso topped off with steaming hot water. Delicious and strong but not cheap. The minimum we’ve paid for a solid cup of joe has been about $3.50. And there are never refills. American coffee may be living up to the cliché of being on par with mud in comparison, but at least you can get it by the gallon for a couple of of bucks at the local gas station.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that although everyone speaks English, we keep stumbling across some different words. In all public buildings, restrooms are just called the toilet. Which makes us feel relatively crass when we ask “Where is your toilet?” when at a restaurant. Sort of on par to “Point me to the crapper!” but it gets the job done. You “hire” a car instead of “rent.” On a menu, appetizers are called entrees. And entrees are called mains. When spoken aloud, websites such as http://www.Rugby.co.nz is referred to as “dub dub dub Rugby dot co dot en-zed”which is just fun.

Paying for purchases is also a bit different. Everyone takes credit card, but entering a pin number is much more common when you charge a purchase. Signing is decidedly against the norm and they check our signature against the signature on the card every single time. Since no one ever checked in the US, I would sometimes sign faux names like “Johnny Tellyawhattodo.” That won’t fly here.

Lastly, the people we’ve met so far are an incredibly friendly, well traveled bunch who are endlessly hospitable. It’s interesting to hear how they see America. It gives us some perspective on our own country. For example, we forget that, say, since Texas is almost nothing like Maine, 50 different states really does translate to 50 different mini-countries.

Overall, we are glad we started with New Zealand, because even though there are some small and interesting differences, we can generally clear up any confusion by asking a few questions. We are intimidated by our anticipation of how this will work in the next several countries we’ll be in (Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore) where English will be much harder to come by. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!


Categories: Cell Phones, China, Discounts, Diversions, Health, Museums, New Zealand, Wardrobe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


One of the first things people ask us when we tell them we are going on a trip around the world is, “How are you going to pack?” We were wondering the same thing. So, we did lots of research and talked to a lot of people who have traveled on long journeys. First, we had to decide how we wanted to travel. Pretty much immediately I ruled out back-packing. That just isn’t the type of trip I wanted to have–I have no interest in carrying all of my belongings with me at all times. That being said, we know we will have to carry our bags and we don’t want to be burdened with large amounts of luggage. So, the final decision is that we will each pack one carry-on roll aboard suitcase, and one regular sized backpack. So, we figured out what our bags would be, the next thing we had to figure out is what to put in them.

We know we won’t have reliable access to laundry, so we anticipate washing a lot of clothes in the sink. Don’t get me wrong, we can certainly wear clothes that are dirty, but undershirts, underwear and socks really need washing regularly. Plus, we are going to be in Southeast Asia in August so I’m sure we’ll be sweating a lot and we will really want clean clothes. We did a lot of research and what we learned is we should take half as many clothes as we think we need. That is so tough! We are going to be in both cold and hot weather, and we need the flexibility to be casual but also look nice upon occasion. I don’t want to travel the world looking like a total slob.

So, below is a list of clothes I’ve decided to pack (obviously there are other things besides clothes, but we can discuss that in a later post). Keep in mind that this is a list for me, not Phil. We are still workiing on him, but naturally he is much less excited about the clothes than I am.

  • 4 bottoms (1 pair pants, 1 capris, 1pants which convert to shorts, 1 shorts–both pants can convert to capris if needed)
  • 2 short sleeved t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved t-shirt
  • 2 long sleeve button up shirts
  • 1 black dress
  • 2 camisoles
  • 1 pair running pants which can double as long johns
  • 4 pairs underwear
  • 4 pairs socks
  • swimsuit
  • 1 warm pull-over
  • 1 pair flip flops (especially for shared bathrooms)
  • 1 pair trekking sandals
  • 1 pair sneakers

I am still deciding about bras, I will update this post when I do. As for the clothes listed above, it is important for you to know that they are all lightweight, wrinkle-free, moisture wicking, and quick drying. We went to Paragon Sports in Union Square (www.paragonsports.com, 867 Broadway, New York, NY 10003) to try some things on and get an idea of fit and style. I found I liked the clothing from ExOfficio and also Patagonia. We bought a few things at Paragon and the awesome thing is that for every $100 you spend, they give you a $10 gift card to use at the store. These clothes are definitely expensive, so this is a slight consolation. After leaving Paragon, I went home and bought the remainder of my clothes at ExOfficio’s website (www.exofficio.com). I’ll admit that I had to take a deep breath to spend this much on clothes (around $700 all told) but I did read lots of reviews and figured I’d be wearing only these clothes for months, so spending some money is worth it. I imagine I will be sick of them by the end of the trip, but for now, I can’t wait to suit up and begin!


Categories: Clothes, Packing, Trip Prep, Wardrobe | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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