New Zealand through the eyes of a Brit – Part 6: Stray Further but don’t attempt to drive!

After five epic posts telling you the ins and outs of surviving Kiwi culture, guest blogger Sam from the UK gives his final insight into how best to travel around New Zealand…

Now to see the country, taste the pies and learn the lingo, you’ll need some way to hit the road. As I’ve mentioned, public transport isn’t a real thing in New Zealand; it’s like air, you know it exists but you can’t see it.

You can buy a car or rent a Spaceship (a sweet van which has everything you need to drive around the country). However I must warn you, driving in New Zealand is not for the novice driver. It’s like driving in a video game, where useful signs such as ‘merge like a zip’ are interpreted as ‘force your way in and cut someone up, then complain and swear when someone does it to you.’ People tailgate so much you will assume that your car has somehow extended in to a limousine. It’s truly an eye opening experience.

Traffic jam
Not actually New Zealand, but it often feels like this.

So unless you have experience driving in Bagdhad, Sierra Leone or Cambodia I’d take the alternative, a bus tour. This is by far a much more relaxing way to travel and be shown all of the great sights by a tour guide/great bus driver (the information provided above regarding driving only relates to car drivers and some lorry drivers, the bus drivers are sweet as!).

Stray busNZ has a few companies offering this type of thing, I made the choice to go with Stray and I didn’t regret it. They take you to off the beaten track locations and show you parts of NZ that you won’t see with anyone else like the aforementioned Raglan beach and Lake Aniwhenua.

Highlights included:

Surfing and butter chicken pies in Raglan which is one of the best surf spots in NZ, but watch out for Chinese tourists who insist on swimming in front of your board!

Doing the Haka at a Marae in Rotorua with Pee Wee and his family who also cook a much needed meal for you. Just make sure you don’t eat too much, like one of the guys in our group who took the fear factor of the Haka in a new direction.

Haka at MoureaHangi at Lake Aniwhenua with the Eel people, a Maori family who are helping their community through the money they raise on their farm, as well as giving any leftover hangi to the kids at the local school, many of whom come from families that struggle to put food on the table.

Hunting for goats at Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro (another good place name!). The only time it’s acceptable to go for long, hilly walks, although I wouldn’t do it again with the hangover that I had from the first night’s antics. Make sure you stock up on drink, cigarettes if you smoke, food and snacks for this one, as you are miles away from a supermarket, out of phone range and even worse…no internet. This means no checking out the football scores, no updating Facebook and no tweeting #StrayFurther…but you get to go hunting!!

Blue Duck Station - WhakahoroThe amazing and all inspiring Tongariro Crossing, where I waited in one of the hot tubs at the hostel for everyone to finish. This was a no-brainer; it’s not a short walk even by Kiwi standards. It’s a really long walk…up 3 volcanoes. I saw the photos. It was like I was there.

The closest Sam got to Tongariro
The closest Sam got to Tongariro

And the best part of all getting to experience it all with some real “choice” people from all over the world, in fact the only disappointing thing was I only booked the North Island tour, because the real fun is supposed to start when you get to the South Island. When I saw everyone’s photos from Queenstown I was beyond jealous…next time!!Group at Mourea marae

Get yourself on a Stray tour to see the best of NZ!!!!

Sam profile picGuest blogger Sam Berwick recently arrived in New Zealand from London. As a Brit in the ‘land of the long white cloud’ for the first time, he now describes Kiwi culture as “funny, strange and down right crazy” and that’s after only a few months! In this blog series, Sam’s shares his unedited thoughts, observations and advice as a Kiwi culture survival guide for all visitors.

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