I was gifted a bullet journal (BuJo) by my coworkers on my last day of work before our big trip to New Zealand. I have been using the BuJo to document all my memories I am making here. Of course I also planned to blog about all the cool new things Casey and I were doing as well; however, I wasn’t sure when I would make time, or have WiFi to post and share.
I am sitting in a little cafe at Whangarei, sipping on my NZ hot chocolate and looking at my bullet journal and a months entries of memories. I figured the best way to write about our first week would be journal style. So please enjoy my personal entries from my bullet journal documenting what we did for that first week in Auckland, from exploring the city to preparing for life in our campervan!
Day 1: Saturday, 1st of December
Our 15 hour flight from Houston, TX landed in Auckland, NZ at 5:30 am. We had some trouble boarding the flight the night before, some technical difficulties on the airline side, but even so we arrived on time in Auckland. After de-boarding the airplane, we breezed through security, and everything went smoothly through biosecurity as well. All our camping and climbing gear was cleared! We made it successfully into New Zealand!
We wandered about in the airport looking for information about the bus terminal. Casey spotted a statue of a Middle Earth dwarf, and we hurried over to get our pictures next to it. The woman at the information booth was very helpful, and got us our bus tickets and showed us where we needed to get off to get close to the hostel we were stying at. We arrived at Fat Camel hostel and dropped our bags off. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we walked around Auckland, grabbing “second breakfast” and then some beers at a NZ sports bar.
Our room was to be ready at 2pm, so we went back to the hostel to check-in, rest and relax. At 6pm we went to the local mart and bought groceries. The hostel offered a free meal, more like a light evening snack, so we enjoyed that before heading back out to explore the city. We stopped in to watch some rugby games at the sports bar we found earlier (The Right Track) before heading back to our hostel and calling it a night.
Day 2: Sunday, 2nd of December
We made breakfast burritos for breakfast at our hostel. We decided that today we would explore the Auckland Zoo. It was about 5K away from our hostel, so we decided that we would walk there. Along the way there was a park that we rested at and watched the ducks and other birds. The birds were new and I wished to learn their proper NZ names.
The Auckland Zoo was great, and we learned a lot about the native species of New Zealand. We were able to pet a tuatara. We listened to a zoo keeper give a talk about the Kea. We probably walked over 13Ks after getting back to our hostel. Walking was a great way to see the city! There was lots of interesting architecture.
That evening at the hostel, we upgraded our free snack to a large meal. We ate dinner with a kid from Germany. We chatted for bit and learned a little about him and his backpacking travels. We called it an early night because we were exhausted from walking. It had been a perfect day, even though I got a little sunburn on my shoulders.
Day 3: Monday, 3rd of December
We slept in a little. Casey made a nice breakfast for us. While eating we met 3 French people from New Caledonia. We had a very good conversation with them in our hostel dorm shared kitchen.
We had a 10am bank appointment to finalize setting up our NZ bank account. It was so simple and easy. The bank employee also gave us a lot of advice on getting around the country, and tips for getting work here.
Later in the day we went to Brothers Beer and got a flight of beers to sample. I noticed a buttery flavor on the amber, which Casey said wasn’t normal. I informed the bar tender and he ended up pulling the keg because it was off. Interesting experience. Casey and I both enjoyed the beers here.
We went back to the hostel and rested a bit before heading back out for dinner at Danny Doolans. We were hoping to see live music, but didn’t want to stay until 10pm for the band. I ordered the NZ lamb from the menu, and enjoyed it tremendously! Overall a good day, despite the little bit of rain.
Day 4: Tuesday, 4th of December
We were up at 4:30 am, because of the time difference between NZ and the States. We were attempting to get money transferred from our US account to our NZ account. We had a couple issues arise, mainly with the US bank account. We ended up deciding not to go and look at campervans. Instead I took a nap and tried to prepare for my interview at 1pm.
We walked to Best Ugly Bagels to grab a light bite for lunch beforehand. We spoke with a Scottish man for a bit there. He was friendly! It picked up my spirits a bit.
My interview went well, and I got some good feedback. The interview was with The Creative Store, which helps people with temp. work visas (like me) find jobs. The woman had some leads she forwarded to me, and said she would keep sending me things she felt that would fit me and my work history. This was just the pick-up I needed to turn the day around!
Casey and I were close to brewery Brothers Beer, so we stopped in to grab a beer afterwards. The bartender was a girl from Canada, who has spent a lot of time living out of van and traveling the world. I enjoyed talking to her about her life, and learned she has been planning her wedding all from her van.
It was not too late in the afternoon, so Casey and I decided to checkout some additional breweries in the area, so we went toward the harbor/bay area. We tried a lot of good beer and had a fun time!
Day 5: Wednesday, 5th of December
With some help from family, we were going to be able to get our bank situation settled, which was a relief. We decided to go and look at some campervans for sale in the South Auckland area. We took the train to Takanini to a place I had been in contact with online before leaving the US. The van we settled on buying was a little more expensive than we had originally planned, but the van was in better condition and suited our traveling needs.
Everything is working out for us. Our last day in the hostel is tomorrow and we have everything setup, a van secured, and are feeling ready to start exploring the beautiful countryside of New Zealand.
After taking the train back into the city center, we walked to a rose garden and a beach/bay area. It was lovely!
We grabbed a deal at the Sports Bar close to our hostel, NZ$20 pizza and beer. Afterwards we did our laundry at the hostel, since it was our last night. We were really feeling ready to get on the road!
Day 6: Thursday, 6th of December
We checked out of the hostel and hopped on the train at 10am. We finalized the purchase of our campervan. While waiting we met a man from Germany. He was traveling with his wife and two daughters, 5 years old and 10 months old. He was fun to talk to, and it inspired us that he was going to be traveling for a couple months in a campervan with his family. How cool!
The company took us to the DMV to get our campervan registered, which took 10 minutes and didn’t cost much. There was one last item the mechanic wanted to perform before we hit the road. So we went and got groceries, and I took a nap to break-in the new bed of our campervan. The day had been rainy, and we mainly just read our books while waiting.
After the mechanic finished we were able to get on the road! We drove from Auckland to Mangaokewa Reserve, which allowed us to camp for free. The drive took us through the hills of New Zealand. Casey and I felt so happy to finally be seeing the countryside!
Day 7: Friday, 7th of December
What a way to wake up! To step out of the campervan and be in the middle of nature. The sun barely peeking over the canyon, we enjoyed breakfast at a picnic table. Two backpackers, a mother and son, joined us at the table. We chatted with them for a bit. They were hiking a special forest trail together. They had a lot of traveling advice and tips, and told us of some areas we should visit.
After breakfast, we stopped at a small cafe in a town to grab a coffee and use the WiFi to message family. We planned a touristy type of day, by booking a trip at Waitomo to see the glowworms. We picked a tour that allowed us to tube the underground water canals of the caves. We jumped off waterfalls in the depths of the caves, and admired the blue hue of the glowworms as we followed our guides. Afterwards we enjoyed a hot shower, then some bagels and hot tomato soup while chatting with some other travelers from the US and Europe.
One guide told us about some rock climbing nearby, and it turns out the place we had camped the night before had climbing routes. We decided to stay there again and we would check out the climbing routes the next morning.
We drove back to Mangaokewa and cooked dinner by the river at the reserve. We enjoyed the calls of the birds while watching the setting sun. Our first day in the campervan done. I feel I am finally doing what my heart has been asking me for, and I am so incredibly happy!
If you enjoyed this post then please Like, Comment, & Share.
Thanks for reading!