The Adventures of Housesitting in New Zealand

An old barn in Masterton, New Zealand. When Daniel told me we received an e-mail from a family asking us to housesit for five weeks, I didn’t need much convincing to say yes. What was even better was the fact it wasn’t just any old house (well, it was old). This was a farmhouse. And you know what that means? Farm animals. Daniel said there would be cows, sheep, chickens, a horse, dog, and cat.

“But wait, we don’t have any experience with farm animals,” I whined. [Read more…]

Learning About Generosity in Arthur’s Pass

arthurs pass

After we travel, it’s often the people we’ve met that we remember the most.

Mountains and meals blur over time until they’re lost in the haze of memory. Moments disappear in our minds, sometimes resurfacing years later when we hear a song or smell something on the air. Tour guides and hotel receptionists meld into one in the mind. But sometimes you meet a person that is impossible to forget.

Maybe they touch your soul or you just have such a strong connection that you feel like you’ve known the person your whole life. You can make friendships while travelling that are so fleeting, yet so powerful. Sometimes it hurts when you have to say goodbye to a person that you’ve barely even met. [Read more…]

A Horrific Help Exchange on the Banks Peninsula

burlington bay from above

The Banks Peninsula is a small, hilly circle of land that juts out into the sea close to Christchurch. Due to the large amount of beautiful bays and little villages, the peninsula seems to be the perfect weekend getaway for Christchurchers. For the same reason, we thought it would be a great place to base ourselves in our last week in New Zealand.

It’s close to the city, I told myself while typing out an email to a HelpX host. We’ll be able to pop into Christchurch in the day or do some sightseeing on the peninsula. That’s what I thought.

Until we found ourselves sitting in The Bloody Legend looking up on a steep road heading right into the hills. Nothing on the website said anything about this.

[Read more…]

Nature Tours on the Otago Peninsula

sunset from taiaroa head

After weeks spent in rural towns, Dunedin came as a bit of a shock. It seems like most places on New Zealand’s South Island are barely big enough to qualify as towns, let alone cities. So coming into a big city like Dunedin is a bit of an eye-opener.

At night the stars no longer shine, the city lights too bright. The rolling green fields vanish, replaced with wooden houses on tidy streets. The buildings grow upwards, looming over you, covering the sky. For once you’re in a place where people out number the sheep.

[Read more…]

Milford Sound – One of New Zealand’s Biggest Disappointments?

mitre peak milford sound

The more popular something is, the less inclined I am to enjoy it. Maybe I’ve always been a hipster at heart. Snorting with derision at anything popular. Or maybe I can never be satisfied by something with high expectations.

Expectations were the reason I couldn’t really enjoy Milford Sound. [Read more…]

The One Where we Say Goodbye to The Bloody Legend

Girl sitting on a car in Wellington, New Zealand.

didn’t think much of the Mazda Familia when I first saw it. It was mostly white, except for that dark green patch on the right side of the hood. There were dings and scratches—surely the norm for a 22-year-old car. The interior complemented the exterior—faded and worn, the radio broken (naturally). You’d never catch me driving such a thing back home in the States, but I was in New Zealand and on a budget. It’d only have to last a year.

Besides, no one I knew would see me in it.

[Read more…]

Hiking in Arthur’s Pass

man taking photo from viewpoint on bealey spur track

What I want you to know – but hope you don’t tell any fucking tourists – is that Arthur’s Pass is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

Sitting halfway between the West Coast and Christchurch, it’s an easy trip from either. Yet it remains relatively quiet as most people seem to see it as a place to stop-off in, rather than to explore.

Those that only rush through will miss out on so much.

When you escape from the village, you’ll find quiet trails. Few people around to bother you. Despite some of the walks being stupidly easy.

[Read more…]

Getting Annoyed by Tourists at Lake Tekapo

view of lake tekapo from mount john

It seems to be a general rule on New Zealand’s South Island, that the further South you get, the more tourists there are. Or rather, the closer you get to a location from the Lord of the Rings, the greater the amount of people you’ll see. Either way, as you travel south the amount of tourists continues to grow.

We got our first real taste of the negative energy of other tourists when we found ourselves in Lake Tekapo early one afternoon. With its turquoise blue water, hemmed in by mountains on almost all sides, Lake Tekapo is an obvious lure for tourists. Add to that the fact that it’s slap bang in the middle of a dark sky reserve – perfect for star watching – and it’s almost too much to resist.

[Read more…]

Buying a Used Car in New Zealand

A 1993 Mazda Familia in New Zealand.
Since Daniel and I have a working holiday visa for one year, we made the choice to buy a car. It would be more cost-effective and allow us to see the country at our own speed. (Ha! Get it?) If you’re a backpacker traveling the country for less than two months, it’d probably be better to rent a car. According to  (a helpful travel review site dedicated to all things NZ) at the time of writing, the highest rated rental agency in the north island is and in the south island it’s .

The great thing about buying a used car in New Zealand is that they are cheap and plentiful. The majority of them come from Japan, so you will see many Mazdas, Nissans, and Hondas on the road, which will make replacing parts easy.

[Read more…]