i'm going to new zealand
the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
— henry david thoreau

it’s no secret that i struggle with the concept of “work life balance”. i hear it’s a thing and i will openly admit that i’m not great at the “life balance” part. i’ve got the “work” part down though. considering the fact that it had been a significant amount of time since i’d taken a vacation i decided in august that i would spend my thanksgiving week exploring new zealand. i called it my “eat pray love” adventure.

one thing that i learned pretty quickly is that for a small island that new zealand is actually pretty massive and the more time that you have, the better. the country is divided into two islands, the north island and the south island. the north island is home to the major cities of auckland in the northern part of the island and wellington in the southern part of the island with lots of smaller cities in between. there are only 4.5 million people in all of new zealand and the majority of them reside on the north island.

the south island has a much smaller population and is home to an abundance of natural beauty. the south island also many more of the “great walks” including milford track and the abel tasman. essentially if being outside is your thing - the south island is your place. since i only had a (reasonably) short amount of time and wasn’t going to have a car, i had to be strategic with my time. 

after a lot of thinking (and help from my mom who is a master trip-planner) i was left with this as my itinerary:

wednesday november 16th

  • depart austin, texas for auckland, new zealand

friday november 18th

  • arrive in auckland around 9am. lose thursday due to travel time and the time change
  • stay at airbnb in grey lynn (neighborhood in auckland)

saturday november 19th

  • explore auckland

sunday november 20th

  • depart auckland for bleinhem, new zealand. driver to pick-up in blenhem and drive to picton where queen charlotte track begins
  • since traveling solo, did not want to do a hut-to-hut hike so I opted for the lodge-to-lodge option. all accommodations and track arrangements were made by wilderness guides (highly recommended)
  • stay at anchor down b&b for the night, also highly recommended

monday november 21st

tuesday november 22nd

  • depart no road inn
  • hike from endeavor inlet to mahana lodge (~13k)
  • stay at mahana lodge

wednesday november 23rd

  • depart mahana lodge
  • hike from mahana lodge to portage bay (~25k)
  • stay at raetihi lodge

thursday november 24th

  • depart raetihi lodge
  • hike from portage bay to anakiwa (~20.5k) where the track ends
  • catch boat back to picton and stay again at anchor down b&b
  • friday november 25th
  • fly sounds air (local new zealand airline that only flies short distance flights) from picton to wellington
  • stay at gourmet stay inn 
  • explore wellington

saturday november 26th

  • continue to explore wellington
  • stay at gourmet stay inn

sunday november 27th

monday november 28th

  • hike the tongoriro crossing - all day hike, at least 7 or 8 hours

tuesday november 29th

  • take the train from national park to auckland
  • stay at airbnb in grey lynn (neighborhood in auckland)

wednesday november 30th

  • last day to explore auckland
  • stay at airbnb in grey lynn (neighborhood in auckland)

thursday december 1st

  • fly home to austin, texas

the reason that i start and end in auckland is because it’s the only city that i’m able to get a direct flight to from the san francisco. since i have never spent much time in new zealand, i figured that spending 2 or 3 days in auckland might make sense and would also allow me to get over any jet lag that i might have. because new zealand is so spread out you generally need to allow a significant amount of time for driving/flying/boating between cities. because of that i chose to focus the majority of my trip on the north island and the northern part of the south island. i will need to return - perhaps next year - to focus more on the south island where you could easily fill two or three weeks time. 

i’ll be sharing all of my steps along the way on my trip!