I knew I wasn't really prepared well when I left England - buying travel clothes the day before leaving was a dead giveaway.
I had sort of planned my stay in Bali as far as my flights and hotel but then I winged the rest while there - thank goodness the hotel had WiFi whoop! However, since I knew I was arriving in New Zealand and meeting my friend Alice I had done very little preparation. I basically had flights in and out (you have to have your out-bound ticket for them to let you in though) and I had Alice's address :)
Alice has invited me along to a birth party weekend away to some islands from the 6th to the 8th. This provides a clear divide in my NZ trip and means I need to head to the South Island asap! The trouble is I have not prepared at all. I don't know how to travel around here, where to see, what to do or how long anything will take. I have my work cut out for me and, since yesterday I had accomplished nothing more than becoming human again, I want this done before I leave the flat to explore. How long can planning a 10day trip take right? I look up the size of New Zealand compared to the UK.
Ok so now I realise I am trying to explore somewhere roughly the size of England in 10 days... Gulp!... Might have to make some physics-simulations degree of approximations to make this possible.
I get out the map and I google top things not to miss on the South Island and I start circling. I work out to travel around the whole island will take a long time and so I make the following approximations (apologies for insensitivity)
1. Christchurch is rebuilding and disaster sites aren't happy places. Christchurch therefore doesn't make the cut this trip.
2. The whole right hand side of the island approximates to the left to within an order of magnitude ;) *physics joke*
3. The really far south of the island below Queenstown has to be twice as good as the north for the travel time investment since I will have to double back on myself. Nothing below Queenstown makes the cut.
So now we have Queenstown and up on the west coast! Done! South Island simplified! :)
Okidoke! What do I need?
1. Flights to and from the South Island from Auckland. - It turns out that you can fly easily into two main places. Christchurch (not useful with my plan) and Queenstown (perfect). Every diversion from the route north of Queenstown has a time cost so when I look up the flight prices and its $100 more to fly out of Wellington and I'll have to pay for the ferry, it is weighed up against doubling back with the extra petrol and it just makes sense. So the plan is:
Out: 27th Jan : Auckland - Queenstown
In: 5th Feb: Wellington - Auckland
2. Transport around the island. - This could be bus, car or campervan. I look up the options:
A bus tour is inflexible and while I could chill on it and be cruised around, I don't think I would have the sense of solo adventurer spirit that I am really looking for. Also it doesn't really work with my dates or go where I want so that is quickly scratched. Campervan versus car: I used to be scared of being in a campervan alone overnight. I am not now but the gods have ruled it out as there is not a single company that will give me a campervan for my journey from south to north only. So it's a car by process of elimination! I book a car to pick up from the airport and am now onto accomodation.
3. Accomodation is where I really hit trouble. It is peak season here in New Zealand and also there is a bank holiday weekend in the early days of my road trip and so a lot of accomodation has been booked up. This issue is why you shouldn't leave things to the last minute like me ;) Solving this puzzle of puzzles leads me to modify my itinary slightly and takes me the rest of the day (2nd day in Auckland where I don't get into the sunshine ;) No wonder I am so pale skinned.
This is my first working draft:
I break with my planning to Skype with my amazing friend Evija who tells me she is engaged! I am so happy at this news and so pleased to share in this joy with her. Travelling can in someways be pretty self-involved so it's lovely to still feel up to date and involved in the excitement of developments back home! Skype is amazing! It feels like I've personally looked at the ring and been there to congratulate them. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to go travelling but it is never more clear to me that the most beautiful and precious things in this world are the relationships we nurture in the time we are here. The friendship of such good people is like a warm coat on a cold day. :) I am reminded how greatful I am for the lovely people I have already met on my trip, for those that are welcoming and hosting me, and for all the warm and positive messages of support and encouragement. The faith and love of those close to me is my most treasured possession.
Back to preparations and my plans go through more iterations:
Until finally I get to this:
I have also made contacts in the area. One fellow traveller and one local. I am having dinner tomorrow evening with Nana from Denmark and meeting up with Niko who will show me around :D