We try to travel without regrets but it is hard sometimes. On a trip to New Zealand last year we had plans to see my cousin in Auckland and a friend near Queenstown; opposite ends of the north and south islands. The guide books warned against trying to get anywhere in New Zealand quickly but we’re from California. We’re used to long days in the car. How bad could it be?
Half way through the North Island, the frustration was setting in. We were getting off schedule and it was only getting worse. The dreaded holiday schedule; when you only have so much time off but want to see it all. We had the experience of driving a loop around the United States in 21 days to draw on and had to make the decision “what do we want our vacation experience to be like.” Do we want to “see it all” or get out and experience the country?
The purpose of our trip around the U.S. was to “see it all.” And, we did.
“That’s beautiful”…..”Take a picture, we need to keep going.”
“Can we stay?”…..”Sure, what do you want to cut from the itinerary?”
On the ferry between islands we found another couple like ourselves. Bundled up on the top deck, throwing on more and more clothes to fight the ever-present wind rather than retreating inside to the stench of sea sickness and stale beer. They were from Wellington so we presented the situation to them. We asked, “If you were us, would you stick with the plan and drive the west coast of the South Island (enduring long days in the car)? Or, if you stayed on the north end of the island, where would you choose to go?” The first part of the question was mute; you can’t make that decision for someone else. Weighing the options on where a “local” would choose is where the discussion got interesting.
Ultimately, it was our decision to get out of the camper-van but we followed the couples recommendations on places to go and things to see. I know what we missed from the guidebooks but I can’t imagine passing by the experiences that we had. Treasures that you don’t see from the car window.
Next time we will take the other road.