Jan-14 update: Having now done this trip, I’ve blogged about my actual itinerary here.
There’s now less than 3 months to go until my intended departure for my solo travel trip. Probably time to start getting serious about planning some actual logistics hey?
Whilst there’s no concrete plan yet, what I do know is that I want to make Australia my first major stop, followed by New Zealand. I’ve been to Australia numerous time in the past, most recently about one and a half years ago, so I’m not as concerned about Oz. New Zealand is however, unchartered territory for me. Looking at the New Zealand visa requirements for a Malaysian (me!), the two good things are:
- I don’t need to apply for a visa before entering the country; and
- There are no entry fees chargeable.
However, to qualify for this visa-waiver arrangement, I will need to show evidence of onward travel arrangements, which for me will likely mean some form of flight ticket out of the country. The obvious problem with this is buying a ticket out requires knowing how long I intend to stay in New Zealand…which I don’t know currently.
The easy way to overcome this would be to say something like “1 month limit”. There are a number of pitfalls to doing it this way though, the main one being that it might ultimately mean having to rush through my trip towards the month end if I find that a month isn’t sufficient time. That would be pretty stressful and ruddy annoying if it were to happen.
Being built the way I am (Type A personality anyone?), I sat down on Saturday and went to work on my list of “To Dos” in New Zealand. Armed with various guidebooks and travel publications, some travel blogs and Google, I set to work mapping out an outline itinerary comprising:
- Towns and cities I wanted to visit
- Main activities to try and sights to see in each of those places
- Clear markers for top priority items i.e. those “on-all-accounts-must-not-leave-NZ-before-completing” items
Wow, it only took the whole of Saturday!
It was well worth it though, as I can now roughly estimate that it will take me about 5 weeks to run through my entire itinerary, and maybe 6 if I don’t want to rush through anything. This also allows me to figure out roughly how much I will likely spend, considering the bulk of my NZ costs will be made up of expensive outdoor activities, most of which I have no intention of missing!
Now I know that it is unlikely for my trip to go exactly as planned and I’m sure my plans and priorities will change once I’m actually there. That being said, it does give me some (tiny bit of?) comfort that I have some semblance of a plan to hold on to, no matter how fleeting!
The New Zealand itinerary looks something like this, where * indicate priority items.
- Auckland (arrival + 2 days): Otara Flea Market, Sky Tower, Waitakere Ranges for waterfalls and beaches (day trip), Waikumete Cemetery
- Bay of Islands (arrival + 2 days): Relaxing on beach, Sea kayaking, Taking a boat out to explore the islands (combine with dolphins?), Swimming with dolphins and whale watching*
- Rotorua via Coromandel Peninsula (arrival + 2 days): Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, Hot baths and spas, Maori cultural show (Tamaki Maori Cultural Village)*, Whaka Thermal reserve (Te Whakarewarewa) to watch the Pohutu geyser*
- Taupo (arrival + 2 days): Sky diving in Lake Taupo*, Swimming in Turangi hot springs, The Huka Falls, Climbing Mount Tauhara?
- Tongariro National Park (1 day): Full day hiking through Lord of the Rings scenic background*
- Waitomo Glow Worm Caves (arrival + 1 day): river tubing whilst checking out the glow worms*
- Wellington (arrival + 2 days): National Archives, Beehive and Parliament House, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Te Papa (national museum)*, Botanic Gardens
- Ferry across the Cook Strait
- Abel Tasman National Park (arrival + 4 days): via Marlborough Sounds (will need to take a tour, Golden Bay?), Sea kayaking in the national park*, Multi-day hiking
- Franz Josef / Fox glacier (arrival + 3 days): Full day hike on glacier including exploring ice tunnels*, Whataroa and Perth Rivers for white water rafting, Glacier hot pools
- Queenstown (arrival + 4 days): Bungee jumping (143m bungee Nevis Bungy)*, Ziplining, Wine tasting, Shotover jet, Kiwi Birdlife Park
- Dunedin & Otago (arrival + 1 day): Penguins on the Otago Peninsula*
- Christchurch and Banks Peninsula (arrival + 2 days): no plan
- Lonely Planet New Zealand guide
- Rough Guide’s Make the Most Out of Your Time On Earth
- Lonely Planet’s The Big Trip
- Nomadic Matt’s New Zealand guide
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Beyond Blighty’s New Zealand posts
Have you been to New Zealand? What’s your number one tip for me? More importantly, should I visit HOBBITON? Is it worth it? 😉