nature new zealand

Is New Zealand a Real Place?

I'm pretty sure they just give you acid when you arrive in New Zealand.

I say this because so much of it is so awe-inspiring, vivid, and fantastically scenic that I wonder if I was just on an acid trip the whole time I was there. 

I wonder if maybe I never left the airport, and I was just wandering around with other tourists in a big multi-colored tourist room where we could think that we were seeing incredible vistas, climbing summits, or seeing a pristine reflection in a lake that you thought could only be found in the imagination spurred by fantasy books. 

You should definitely check it out, especially if you appreciate nature things. 

When you visit New Zealand, the following are some things to know about. 

Driving

- drive on the left side of the road
- If you get an exceptional deal on a car rental, be prepared to drive something with 200-400 thousand kilometers on it, no joke. I got one beat up son-of-a-bitch but she got to where I needed to go. 
- Be prepared for many roundabouts instead of traffic signals. It actually works rather well.
- You can take your car from and to either island by way of ferry. It was about $180 one-way.
- When parallel parking be careful, it takes a bit of time gauging distance on the left side of the car when you're not used to parking on that side. 
- A lot of people (backpackers on a budget mainly) hitchhike. Just an FYI. It's accepted and you can delve into the world of hitchhiking culture.
- Be prepared to hit the windshield wipers at least 1000 times when you meant to hit the turning signal.

Internet

- it basically sucks in most places

Safety


- I would feel confident leaving my laptop on the sidewalk and returning to find it propped up nicely or turned into the city's lost and found department. 

Cities and Places


- Auckland is okay, but really it's just another city to me. When I arrived there from Bali I felt like I was a parallel America where the steering wheel was on the other side of the car and people said mate a lot. 
- I didn't go to the Hobbiton film site because it felt like a major ripoff. People who went said it was magical. That's some magic I can do without, thank you. Someone is getting crazy rich off of that.
- Hamilton is quaint. There's a nice river that runs through it, and evidently they have a good botanical garden (I didn't go).
- The Tongariro crossing is a muuuuuust do. If you are fit, climb Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom). It's pretty interesting because there are no clearly marked paths. On the way there, our Maori bus driver just said that we'll know where to start climbing when we see it and if it seems like the volcano is going to erupt to get the hell out of there. The whole way up is primarily loose tephra, and it's wicked steep.
- Wellington is rad. Go there and make sure you do some hiking in Victoria park. 
- Nelson is. Hmmm I don't know, I guess it's okay. It's close to the Abel Tasman coastal walk, which is very cool. 
- Don't go to Greymouth. 
- Lake Tekapo is incredible
- Wanaka is awesome and had great hiking around it
- Queenstown is a must do. Climb the Ben Lomond summit. Seriously, it's amazing. Just make sure you're in decent shape before you do it.
- Christchurch is cool, specially Hagley Park and Godley Beach Park. 

As is the case with every country I visit, I just scratched a few surfaces. A guy told me that a couple from who-knows-where planned on staying in New Zealand for a few months to travel all around the country, but ended up staying for 7 years and are still trying to capture all of it.