Loosey-goosey travel planning.

Being away from home for five months at a time means we can’t possibly plan our entire trip in advance. Before we left Canada, we had our return flights booked, our first three house sits lined up, a rough idea of how we hoped to split our time between Australia and New Zealand, and that’s about it.

Some people would be uncomfortable leaving so much still up in the air, but in reality, this approach gives us very important flexibility.

This year, on our first morning in Australia, we woke to the news of the devastating earthquakes in New Zealand. We were glad that we hadn’t already booked anything in the affected region. Roads are damaged, public transportation limited, and repairs are ongoing. We don’t know when things will return to normal, but for now, we’re assuming there are areas we will have to avoid.

Last year, flooding in the UK washed out roads and railroad bridges and left footpaths under water. We never did see all we’d hoped in the Lakes District, nor were we able to travel to Scotland. Of course, this was only an inconvenience to us; it was an absolute nightmare for those who were forced out of their homes and whose livelihoods were affected.

Another reason our planning can be a little willy-nilly is that we depend, to a certain degree, on house sits for our accommodations. We have a rough idea of places we’d like to go, but getting gigs in regions we know nothing about is also fantastic! In addition to saving a bundle of money, this gets us off the beaten track, so we do find ourselves going where we’d never intended.

We’ve only just secured our second house sit for New Zealand, and we’re starting to plan for road trips during our ‘time off.’ We have one quick trip from Aukland to Wellington, the rental car is booked, with stops at Airbnbs along the way. This will be a speedy, road trip tour of the North Island. A first glance, if you like.

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At the end of January, we’ll have a couple of weeks to explore the South Island. We have a few ideas of what we might like to do (perhaps the Marlborough wine region, Queenstown, Christchurch), but nothing’s set in stone, yet.

Eventually, we’ll be making our way back up the North Island, for a stay in the Bay of Plenty area, then maybe we’ll see a bit of Aukland and the region north of that.  Who knows?!

planning-maps

We’re even toying with the idea of a short cruise (we’re cruise virgins and rather skeptical, so we will keep it short, when we finally do dip our toes into this form of travel).

As we continue to firm up plans, we watch the weather and snowfall at home. Every year, we consider the possibility of extending our time away. We know we can spend up to 3 months each in Australia and New Zealand. Leaving ourselves some wiggle room at the end figures into our plans. You see?  Loosey goosey works for us.

For anyone who’s been to New Zealand; any hot tips? With a potential three months at our disposal we’d like a good balance between touring both islands and slowing down, living like locals. Maybe New Zealand is on your bucket list and you have a fantastic dream itinerary you’d like to share!

Please make suggestions in the comments section; the internet doesn’t know everything! Just be warned, before you suggest bungee jumping, sky diving, or some of the other more adventurous activities New Zealand is known for, that’s not us. We’re generally happy to keep both feet on the ground (unless we’re strapped into a plane seat), often putting one in front of the other, exploring nature & gardens, or finding somewhere to eat!!

So, let the suggestions fly & feel free to ask questions, too.
I’ll be waiting.

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Loosey-goosey travel planning.

  1. Don’t omit the southern fiords (‘Sounds’ to the kiwi)! Nestor and I spent a whole narrated tour when we did a cruise there. It was fantastic!

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  2. Rotorua is great and very smelly!! If you can get to the Bay of Islands that is lovely and loads going on with the tall ships race at Russell. Also in the Coromandel region .. south of Hahei is the hot water beach which is amazing … Enjoy lovely people and place 🙂 xx

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  3. I am a little tempted, but since Karen’s not a Lord of the Rings fans, and we might not be squeezing beer drinking into our first drive. It does look like fun, though!

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  4. Wow! I am impressed that you can spend up to 6 months on vacation. Must be nice! I would think that, being gone that long, you would have to have some “play” in your plans because things are never going to go as planned for that long. Have fun.

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  5. When we retired, the plan always was to spend as many winters away from home as possible. The house sitting certainly adds to the feel of living a normal life, rather than being in vacation mode the whole time. Believe me, we have to watch our spending, or we couldn’t do it! There are things we have to rule out due to cost, but it is completely worth it in the long run!

    Things sure don’t always go as planned. We just got notice that our car rental has been cancelled, and we already have other things booked for that time. Back to the booking scramble!

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  6. I can certainly understand wanting to get away from the extreme cold in the winter and am very glad for you to be able to follow your dreams and go to various, interesting places. And, I get to tag along….virtually. It’s a win, win. 😉 Good luck with the booking. Hope you were able to get another car rental.

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  7. I do have questions about Christchurch, Sarah. First and foremost, what shape is the city in since the earthquake? I don’t want to add to the stress of rebuilding, as tourists can do. Also, I wonder about the condition of public transport, attractions, etc. I’d appreciate any information you can share.

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  8. Hey Leah – no problem. The city is as back to normal as possible – there is a lot of rebuilding going on but they definitely welcome tourists. Most things are open such as the museum, the Antarctic Centre, the gondola etc. There are trams in the central city and more & more of the central business district is opening and being rebuilt. There are some areas of the city that a lot of tourist don’t go and they’re usually the places that were most affected. The only public transport is the bus network and they recently opened a brand new bus station in the central city which services all of Christchurch as well as Sumner, Lyttelton & Rangiora. Honestly I haven’t really used the bus too much except from my mums house when I visit but it’s not too bad & gets you to most places. Like I said, there is a lot of rebuilding going on in the CBD so expect to see a lot of empty plots of land but in it’s place they have some cool interactive gap fillers which are great to discover – oh and if you’re into street art, there is quite a bit of that too.. hope this helps 🙂

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  9. If you are looking for places to stay, two places we stayed at a few years back were Aspenhouse in Aukland (Aspenhouse.com) and the youth hostel in Wellington which caters more to those of us who were reliving the backpack days than to the youth of today. Both were very reasonable cost wise. We also enjoyed the wineries and the Puhoi Valley cheese company near Aukland. I don’t remember where I found it but Pamela Blake runs a fabric shop, Peaches & Cream which may be of interest. Rotorua is a must as mentioned by many. If you get to the Christchurch area, remember to visit the penguins! There are black swans along the north coast of the South Island who come over from Australia on mass. Have fun!

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  10. Thanks so much! I’m looking into Aspen House for a night in Aukland.

    We’ve arranged a house sit near Rotorua, so we’ll have plenty of time to check everything out (and to enjoy the legendary smells!).

    Penguins are on my list. I didn’t get to see them here on the Mornington Peninsula, so I’m hopeful for NZ.

    Thanks for the tips.

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  11. Not been on a cruise ship? I could have sworn I first started reading you when you were sailing near Antarctica. Or perhaps that was not a cruise ship. Darn. If another writer, I’ve I’ve lost track of her.

    It just occurred to me you might like to follow Rhonda Albom of Albom Adventures, if you haven’t discovered her already. She’s based in New Zealand and, like you, travels all over the world.

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