New Zealand travel tips- 5 things we totally screwed up

“I’d rather be home!”, “What the hell are we doing here?”, “Just breathe, only 2 more weeks to go!”

Until our 4 week holiday in New Zealand in 2011 we never had such a horrible vacation. I wished it would be over soon. Let me give you some travel tips, so you don’t need to make the same mistakes.

We planned our trip to New Zealand with our 1,5 year old daughter and a friend. So 4 persons on total, plus the baby in my belly (6st month). As we love camping we decided to rent a huge motorhome to travel around. The lady of the rental company asked me why we’d like to return the camper in Auckland instead of Christchurch. “Because our flight back departs in Auckland.” This was the first mistake! It happened that we were so tuckered out in Christchurch that I flew back to Auckland alone with my young child and the guys drove back the 1100km. We lost at least 2 days (out of 30 it’s 7%). My first travel tip:

1. Never make a round trip by car/camper. Rather go one way and fly back. The distances are by far too long.

mobile home new zealand

Our friend, who accompanied us, wanted to work while travelling through New Zealand. My husband had to work a little (2h per day). Unfortunately we had totally different sleeping rhythms. While our friend loves working at night and have a lie-in, our daughter woke up at 6am. So I went to bed early with my daughter (she still woke up several times per night, will explain later why). Our friend and my husband stayed awake till late, trying not to disturb my sleep while they worked. By that very fact I had to keep her quiet in the morning, leave the motor home immediately and pass time outside. This was annoying and made it hard to have breakfast and get into a normal rhythm.

2. Travel in the same  day and night rhythm like your co-travellers.

The differing rhythm spread out into the whole day rhythm. My daughter had breakfast late, but I gave her a bottle with milk after waking up. All together we had breakfast quite late. Unfortunately at a time when Amy wasn’t that hungry. So she didn’t eat a lot. We packed everything and left the camping ground to explore the nature beauty of New Zealand. Due to the long distances it took a while till we reached the next attractions like the Geysirs or the huge trees. So it was noon but we weren’t hungry yet – Amy was. So again she got something small to eat just on the hand. Early afternoon we were hungry and had lunch. You can imagine how it went on. We adults had a different eating rhythm than the little, 1.5 year old. It led to the situation that she refused to eat but drank I don’t know how many milk bottles per day (and night). For sure also during the night: she was hungry. It took us a while till we recognized this vicious circle. Our learning effect is that we

3. Take care to have the same eating rhythm like the little ones. Don’t skip meals or substitute them with something on hand.

organic food new zealand

We wanted to see both islands in 4 weeks. Now consider that the little girl hated driving at that time. Either she slept (1.5h during the day) or she cried. So we tried to drive while she was asleep or keep her entertained while driving. We passed many sightseeings because she was just fallen asleep and we had planned to reach a certain point. Otherwise we would have stopped, walked around and weren’t able to drive again because she is as fit as a fiddle again. Retrospectively it’s better to

4. Do less but relaxed than hasten and see everything in a rush.

We did everything together. I was sleep-deprivated and tired all the time. Nevertheless I wanted to see everything, which is a bad combination. If we would have split up I could have caught more sleep and be in a better mood afterwards. If you do something all together it’s everyone who takes care a bit of the child, but still I took care most and never had a minute without. Not being on duty has something relaxing. And that’s only possible without the child. One reason why we made our trip to Thailand with a Nanny. So my last travel tip is to

5. Split up the childcare and have time for yourself only.

canoe new zealand

New Zealand is a lush and definitely great destination, but please take my advice into consideration to make it a relaxing holiday.



6 Responses to “New Zealand travel tips- 5 things we totally screwed up”

  1. I think it’s pretty common for people to underestimate how much time they need in NZ. Small country but the roads are narrow and windy, and if you’re from the northern hemisphere you have to get used to driving on the other side.

    • You`re so right! We were very unhappy that we didn’t see the whole southern island due to our bad planning!

  2. I have to say I was quite lucky when I went to NZ.

    Like you I hired a camper-van for 3 of us and went North to South Island. It really isn’t the most ideal way to travel as you spend half the time looking for somewhere to park up (you choose the camper-van to save costs on accommodation) if not it costs you more for the privilege of a van as you have to pay a camp site to stay on top!

    In the end we were able to get a bit of money back on the camper van and swapped it for a car, this made the whole experience much more pleasant and you meet a lot more people in hostels…

    Its great you shared your experience so that others can learn by your suggestions; good job! 🙂

    I found a month enough although there were a couple of bits I missed out on but that’s always the way I guess!



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