The Road Not Taken

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?”

Braving the wind on the Interislander ferry
Braving the wind on the Interislander ferry

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.

Kayaking Abel Tasman National Park
Kayaking Abel Tasman National Park
South Island Kaka
South Island Kaka
Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park
Flying over Kaikoura
Flying over Kaikoura

5 Comments on “The Road Not Taken

  1. I know how you feel! I call it “Type A traveling.” I always want to see it all and tend to forget about relaxing or planning enough time for the stuff you stumble upon along the way. Even on our most recent trip to Ireland we all felt rushed but everyone was conflicted because we wanted to see as much as we could. how often are we all together in Ireland? For my parents it was the first time in 70 years!

    As much as I say I want to slow down and relax more and see less I always do the Type A thing and do more. I can’t help myself.


    • That’s a great name for it. We’re guilty of it and it’s one style of traveling but it’s not a relaxing vacation. We were meeting so many great people and passing so many interesting places just to stay on our schedule that we had to stop and ask what we were doing. We were so much happier after we got out kayaking, bicycling, hiking, and flying. Limiting the driving to less than half a day made the trip so much more relaxing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Type A traveling”…I love it! Well Pete, I am the opposite, but that doesn’t make me, or my travels, any better. Researching and planning is done at home, then see what to do when I get there.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We have done the “Type A Traveling” and the “Clueless Traveling.” There’s a balance there somewhere between learning about a place, knowing the highlights that you want to see, and discovering the things that you didn’t know were there.


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