This month we’re Straying with Ellie Crook, a travel blogger from the UK. She spent a year in New Zealand on a working holiday visa and used a Stray Tour to make her way around the country.
What is a handy tip for other travellers thinking about Straying NZ?
Be open to ALL the experiences offered to you along the way; from chatting to new people on the bus, to an activity you’re not entirely sure is for you, as these can be some of the best moments of your time with Stray NZ!
Our entire bus learned Sign Language through making friends with a deaf passenger on our tour around the South Island, I threw myself down sand dunes in Cape Reinga on a bodyboard, and saw some of the most beautiful places in the world, just to name a few… You’ll be so proud of your achievements at the end of it, and the memories you’ll make will last you a lifetime!
What are your personal hotspots in NZ?
Is it cheating to say all of New Zealand is my personal hotspot? If we’re getting specific, I really enjoyed Paihia for the fish and chips, gorgeous views of the Bay of Islands, plus there’s nothing quite like driving up 90 Mile Beach on a giant coach. Abel Tasman, especially at night – on a clear night the stars are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and if you’re into your photography it’s a great place to learn how to take astro-shots.
It may sound weird, but visit Fiordland National Park during the winter – the mountains are beautiful all year round, but they are absolutely stunning when they’re covered in snow. Fox Glacier is a must if you’re visiting the South Island.
If time allows go visit Lake Matheson and take the walk around it; if the waters are still, you’ll get an almost perfect mirror image of the vista around you. Raglan is one of the top places to go if surfing is your thing (or even if, like me, you’re a novice, then the Surf School is perfect for beginners) and the black sand beaches make the area look like a Jurassic wonderland. Hobbiton, if you’re a Tolkien fan, Hell’s Gate if you fancy pampering yourself with baby soft skin, and a visit to Tamaki Maori Village to learn more about Maori culture… the list could go on and on and on.
What was your favourite meal to whip up in a hostel while travelling?
Chilli con Carne with lots of veg and beans stuffed in – excellent for batch cooking, freezing the remains for later, and can be eaten on its own or with rice, pasta, baked potato, nachos… anything you like!
Batch cooking food is highly recommended when staying in hostels, as oftentimes there are 20+ people fighting over four hobs and one oven, so all you have to do is pop it in the microwave and voila! Instant time saver. Plus if you bring a foil-lined food carrier with you (which can be purchased really cheaply at Pak n Save) then you can take them on the road with you to make life even easier.
What is your top tip for everyone who travels for the first time?
Bring a long lead, multi-plug extension cable with you! It’s very rare to come across a hostel room that’ll have enough plugs for you plus the seven other people sleeping there. And if there are enough plugs, undoubtedly you will end up in the top bunk and every plug will be well out of the reach of even your longest charging cable.
Besides, if you’re anything like me, you will all inevitably have more than one electronic device to charge at a time. So if you bring a multi-plug extension cable you will A) only need to buy one plug adaptor instead of one for each charger that you own, and B) very quickly become the most popular person in the room. If nothing else, it’s a great way to make friends with the rest of the crew on your bus.
How would you summarise your trip with Stray in just 3 words?
Enjoy. Every. Moment!
Thanks to Ellie for sharing her stories from the road – if you’d like to check out more of her NZ adventures, check out Foxy Travels UK on YouTube for heaps of lovely video diaries from her time with Stray.
Want to explore New Zealand like Ellie? Check out the Stray New Zealand Tours and select the one that fits your travel plans. We’re looking forward to welcoming you on one of our tours.