This post has nothing to do with RV’s or genealogy, but it does have to do with retirement and bucket lists! I have wanted to visit New Zealand ever since I first heard about its incredible natural beauty when I was in college.
As with many things in life, time and money were barriers. A trip to New Zealand requires at least two weeks, and it’s not easy to schedule that much time off from work. Over the past four years, I’ve been taking care of my family and dealing with my own illnesses, so there hasn’t been a good time to go. But perhaps the biggest challenge for me was not having a traveling companion. I didn’t want to go alone.
Well, the opportunity has now presented itself, and I’m going!
Eric’s retirement agenda always included overseas travel during the first year. Over the past couple of months since the house sold, he’s been planning and researching, but nothing has gelled. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned New Zealand as an option, and I asked if I could tag along if he chose to go there. He said “Sure,” and the next thing I knew we were booking flights.
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re going to Seattle for Christmas to see our kids, and were planning to return to Florida on December 26th. So it was the perfect time to go: our RV’s will both be in storage, we’ll already be on the west coast, and it’s summer in New Zealand in January. We’re flying to Auckland the day after Christmas and returning to Florida on January 19th – a good long visit.
After some quick research, I learned that the south island is the one with most of the natural scenery, so we agreed that we would rent a car at the Auckland airport, and head south right away.
Eric’s father was wounded in World War II in the South Pacific, and recuperated for quite some time in Wellington. So our first few days will include visiting with a World War II historian in New Plymouth, and locating the places in Wellington which would have been familiar to Eric’s father.
We’ll take a ferry from Wellington, and then drive the south island:
That’s about 1,200 miles of driving – and we’re driving on the left!
After many hours of research, we’ve booked twelve hotels along the way, and arranged to drop our rental car off at Christchurch and fly back to Auckland for the flight home.
The cost? I know it seems like this will be a very expensive trip. But neither of us have much money, so we need to be frugal. We both have enough frequent flyer miles to cover the airfare, all the way from Florida to Seattle to Auckland and back. The rental car will be about $1,500 with both drivers on the contract, and we split that.
The hotels were a challenge, as this is the very busiest season in New Zealand. Some places were almost completely booked and we didn’t have many options. But we managed to keep the cost of hotels to an average of $100/night, including taxes. So for 22 nights, we’ll spend about $2,200 on hotels, which we’ll split.
Including the small frequent flyer fee, the flight from Christchurch, and the ferry from Wellington, that’s about $2,000 each. Adding meals and activities brings it to perhaps $2,500 – $3,000, which is pretty reasonable for 3 1/2 weeks on the other side of the globe!! And I would have spent $500 anyway to fly to Seattle and back for the holidays.
So I am BEYOND excited!! It feels like a dream that I’m actually going to see New Zealand….