I arrived fresh off the train and plane in New Zealand on 10th September 2008. Since then, I have had some amazing experiences – some of which simply couldn’t have happened in hometown London, the UK, or even Europe for that matter (no money!).
Here are my five most amazing New Zealand experiences, all of which can be done for little or no money:
1. The time I kipped in a rainforest
In 99% of rain forests, I reckon camping on the floor would be a bit hazardous. I’m not a rainforest risk assessor by trade, but I do reckon this.
Due to the New Zealand Land Mammal Predators Act of 1656AD there isn’t much on the land of Aotearoa that can hurt you. Sure, a good friend of mine once got bitten by a grub while hanging from a tree, and there are a lot of road deaths around public holidays, but out in the bush you are only really at the mercy of the elements.
Taking these facts in to account, I packed some things and went tramping off in to the ranges. And slept. Then I woke up and walked back.
2. The time we took an inflatable palm tree onto a glacier
Tourists will do anything for a good photo. When my friend Scoot announced at Fox Glacier that he had with him an inflatable palm tree and that he intended to bring it “up the glacier” with us, that is exactly what happened.
He doesn’t beat about the bush, that Scoot, and he certainly doesn’t slip about the glacier.
Try pulling that stunt in Devon!
Cost: NZ$100 approx for Fox Glacier tour (glacier can be accessed for free if you have proper crampons and other gear)
3. The time I drove a car on a beach
The Land Transport Act of 1250AD dictates that all beaches are classified as public roads in New Zealand, unless otherwise stated. That means that a quiet walk up the beach can be interrupted by a 4X4 hurtling along at 100kph. But this never happens.
The longest uninterrupted beach here is called Ninety Mile Beach; it is about 88km long. Back in the day, before anyone had walked it pushing a metre stick, they used “the distance a horse could walk in a day” as a measure. Failing to take in to account a slowed horse due to the thick sand, the distance was presumed to be 90 miles. It is not.
Situated in the far north, Eighty Eight Kilometre Beach is that long sticky out bit at the top left of the map of NZ. People use the beach as a relatively fast route to Cape Reinga (Te Reinga), which is the very top of the North Island. This is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. It is here that Maori believe the spirits of the deceased enter the underworld. There are also some mean public toilets here.
A couple of hours after high tide is the best time to drive it, giving you ample time until the next high tide should anything bad happen. Look out for buses. In scenes similar to Needles and his gang at the end of Back To The Future Part III, young boguns will drive up alongside you in their dad’s SUVs and challenge you to a race. Just say “NO!” Or ignore the little shits.
Cost: NZ$50 fuel plus vehicle hire
4. The times we ate Christmas dinner outdoors
Unless you live on or near the equatorial Northern Hemisphere, or downunder, you’d have to be a few charcoals short of a full barbie to consider eating Christmas dinner outdoors.
I have done this twice in the three Christmasses I have spent in New Zealand. It is quite nice. The food still tastes the same, but you feel like you’re outdoors while eating it.
Cost: What are you having?
5. The time I bathed in a hot stream
Once a secret reserved for locals only, the small, hot stream several kilometres south of Rotorua is probably only one ice cream stall short of charging an entrance fee.
The place, which I shalln’t name because there is no point, has become so overrun with tourists in recent years that any literature about it now carries a thief warning for travellers who leave their vehicles at the end of the road.
I have never seen a thief there. I once saw a runaway dog there. But never a thief. Bit probably don’t let your guard down on my account.
Anyway, once in, the water is lush warm, like a bath. Don’t drink it, though, as it’s full of chemicals that are only good for the skin.
Don’t pee it in either: It is said that the chemical combination is explosive and extremely dangerous!
Cost: NZ$0 (for now)
New Zealand is amazing
There you have it! Five amazing things I have done in Aotearoa New Zealand during my time living here. Amazing!