New Zealand

Five Mistakes to Avoid in Queenstown

Five Mistakes to Avoid in Queenstown New Zealand -- Em Dashed

Queenstown, New Zealand is a place of much regret. The town is home to top-notch landscapes and a range of heart-racing activities — but it’s also home to the largest abundance of first world problems you’ll ever find in such a small area.

“Why did I have that seventh shot?” “What happened to all the cash I withdrew yesterday?” “What do you mean, I have to climb another hill?” For some backpackers, Queenstown can easily seem like a monster, lying in wait to chew you up and snatch away your hopes, your dreams, and most of your money.

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Traveling by Hop-On Hop-Off Bus in New Zealand

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus in New Zealand -- Em Dashed

Long-time readers may remember that when I first started traveling New Zealand in 2010, I booked a pass with a hop-on hop-off bus company called Stray. I’ve talked about my experience with this bus before, albeit rather briefly, and tucked away in this post about sailing in Abel Tasman National Park.

Today, I want to expand a bit on why I chose this mode of transport, and why it might work well for you, too — despite any pre-conceived notions you may hold.

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My First Snow Day – Queenstown

I was born and raised in Minnesota, USA.

I’ve been trying to explain what that means for the last 5.5 years, but I get the feeling that no one really believes me. “Okay, but does it get to…minus 20?” they ask — as if that’s the end-all be-all of winter temperatures. Honestly, I’m not sure most people can handle that conversation, let alone an actual Minnesota winter.

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Huka Falls Walkway — Taupo

Hiking to Hot Springs - Taupo

I realize it’s highly unlikely you’re looking for another reason to visit New Zealand. You’ve probably already got a list longer than Rory’s reasons for attending Yale — even (or maybe especially) if, like me, you’ve already been there.

But sometimes I sit down to write about the country I actually live in, and then 1001 things to say about New Zealand pop into my head, and as I see it, I’ve got two options: fight it, or just share some more NZ content.

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How I Wound Up in the Netherlands

How I Wound Up in the Netherlands

As a foreigner in the Netherlands, I’m asked quite frequently what I think of this country — often by people who don’t seem to like it all that much themselves.

In fact, the question I probably get more than any other is, “Why would you want to live here?” (Usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and that generally unimpressed tone the Dutch have when they speak in English.)

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Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach

Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach

I’m not gonna lie: this whole day is kind of fuzzy in my memory.

For one thing, it happened over five years ago. (Insert obligatory can’t-believe-it’s-been-so-long noises here.) For another, it was my very first weekend in New Zealand–in other words, my first weekend as a solo traveler in a foreign country. I probably still had jet-lag, not to mention I left a blizzard in Minnesota and arrived to incoming summer. Basically, everything was kind of a mess.

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Kawarau Bridge Bungy – Queenstown

If I’m going to give anyone a tip about bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, let it be this: do not do it if you’re hungover.

Bungy Jump - Queenstown

Of course, we all handle our hangovers in different ways. I prefer to drink copious amounts of Coca-Cola and stay as still as possible. Other people might like to hang upside down over rushing water, slowly spinning in circles, waiting for people to release you from a giant rubber band and take you back to solid ground. Whatever. As the kids seem to say these days: do you.

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Sailing Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is one of approximately five zillion places in New Zealand and Australia named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. You might think I’m kidding, but I’m really not (and don’t even get me started on James Cook).

Sailing Abel Tasman National Park

But please, don’t be fooled: its name might be generic, but the rest of it is not. Actually, Abel Tasman is a unique and extraordinary place, filled with flora and fauna that is distinctly Kiwi.

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