Imagine you’ve just been handed a round-trip ticket to Auckland. You’ve got a grand total of three months to spend there. You can travel as much as you like within the country, hopping between islands whenever you like, but you can’t leave New Zealand. Tell us what you’d do with three months in New Zealand – whether you’d base yourself in one place or travel constantly, what activities you’d make sure to do, and what you’d skip.
We’ll take a year
BootsnAll’s Sean Keener once asked me what my big, hairy audacious goals (BHAGs) were. One of them is to live a year in New Zealand.
My wife and I have talked about this some here and there. With our 4-month-old soon to be getting a passport, we’ve already started thinking ahead to future trips (and a second kiddo to give our son a sibling and travel buddy). Something really important to us is that our children travel and live abroad. New Zealand has struck us as a great place for the family to spend 3 months.
Wait… 3 months in New Zealand?
For starters, via charm, baksheesh and perseverance, we’d find a way to expand that 3 months to a year. We could stay in one place for 3 months if it captivated us enough—a year in New Zealand still would have us feeling like we’d barely scratched the surface.
Deep instead of broad
We’d look for a few places to stay throughout New Zealand, covering both the North Island and South Island, where we could base ourselves for a few weeks or months at a time. We’ve always liked basing ourselves in a place and getting to know it well for a while, instead of constantly moving around. This way, too, we can focus on the travel, instead of regularly fielding the day-to-day logistics of lodging, transport and food for a family of four.
I can tell you now, this post won’t be all about how we’re going to go eggshell skydiving from the old cropdusters covered with Maori tattoos that fly over New Queenarua. At this point, I’ve got zilch on specifics.
Besides, what we’d do would likely not be known until we got there. My wife and I also want our kids to help with the trip and activity planning, instead of Mom and Dad bustling everyone about arbitrarily. I have no idea what my kids will want to do, since one is 4 months old and the other isn’t even a twinkle in my pants yet.
But once we’re there, we’ll work out the details as a family, and use our own curiosity and discussions to guide us on our way.
Match what we do with where we are
We’d mix living in cities, towns and the countryside, focusing our activities around what each had to offer.
In the cities, we’d look for what makes each city stand out, and get to know what the people who live there love about it.
Outside the cities, we’d get to know the amazing nature that, as one writer quipped recently, made Lord of the Rings a documentary about how beautiful New Zealand is. Odds are there’ll be kayaking and campervans involved.
We’d suss out high points of both islands to see, and marvel over all the things “saved for next time.” We’d talk with our kids about what it’s like to live somewhere else. We’d talk about what people, cultures and places anywhere have in common, and what makes them distinct.
We’d talk about not wanting to leave, yet also being ready to come home.
And then we’d start planning another trip.