I’m guest blogging for Flying Kiwi about my weeklong trip from Auckland to Christchurch, but I will also be supplementing coverage on AngieAway.com. Be sure to check the Flying Kiwi blog for more stories from the road!
To start, I just have to tell you about Flying Kiwi Adventure Tours, because otherwise none of the next few days of posts will make sense. New Zealand is made up of two main islands and if you want to see them all you need to find a way to get around. There are a variety of bus tour-type options, but I am always concerned about being herded from tourist attraction to tourist attraction with ambivalent guides and party-hard tour companions. I’d heard some horror stories about people getting on bus tours expecting to see New Zealand’s natural wonders, but then being sorely disappointed on a bus full of people who wanted to see nothing but the local pub in each town. I wanted a real New Zealand adventure, not a sanitized overview of the country. That’s why I was thrilled to find Flying Kiwi, a tour operator that was much different than the others.
With Flying Kiwi, you have tons of flexibility in both planning your trip and coordinating your day-to-day activities. Instead of shuffling from boring hotel to hotel, you get to camp at gorgeous sites every night in your two-man tent that Flying Kiwi provides. You might be surprised that a city gal like me would choose to camp… and for real, I was a little uneasy at first. I tend to think camping is ludicrous, because every time I’ve camped with my family, we essentially take all our stuff out of the house and stick it outside about two hours away from home. Then we sit outdoors for three days, warding off mosquitos and just using all our own stuff from inside our house. Just outside. Kinda silly.
So I admit, camping isn’t normally my first choice. But New Zealand is a country that is so rich with outdoor beauty, you don’t want to spend any time inside if you can help it. Flying Kiwi makes it easy to see just about all of the north and south islands in a manageable, digestible 28-day loop (or less – I only did 7). And even better than that, there’s flexibility to hop off and spend a week or even longer if you happen to want to stay in Auckland or Christchurch or wherever. Then you just get back on the bus the next time it comes through.
Flying Kiwi provides (or offers for hire) everything you need to camp comfortably – tent, sleeping bags, mattresses, sleep sacks and bicycles, plus two top-notch guides to give context to everything you see along the way. Every morning, there’s breakfast of cereal, fruit, hot drinks and yogurt, so you can just roll out of your tent and grab something light before hitting the road. Sometimes we’d pack sandwiches for lunch and other times we’d just pick up food along the way if we were driving during lunchtime.
Most nights, a cook group is assigned to whip up dinner either with the kitchen attached to the back of the bus or inside at the camp facilities – it all depends on what’s available. Luckily the meal is already planned out and the grocery shopping is done, so there’s not too much thinking that has to go into it. If I had to plan a meal for 30 hungry people, we’d end up at McDonald’s.
More stories to come!