On the morning of October 24th, I woke up well before the break of dawn. But despite being tired, a surge of excitement coursed through me. It was the day I would embark on a long-awaited journey to New Zealand, a land that had been calling to me from the top of my bucket list.
My friend Andrew’s recent journey through the vibrant landscapes of Canada had struck a chord within me, reminding me of my own aspirations to explore. It was time to heed the call of adventure and make my way to New Zealand, a dream destination that had beckoned to me more than any other.
I secured my plane ticket on August 19, giving myself a neat two-month window to plan my exploration down to the last detail.
Those of you who know me can attest that I’m a planner at heart. As an IT guy, I’m well-versed in using cutting-edge tools to solve complex problems. For this trip, I turned to the previously mentioned AI-powered tool called ChatGPT to help craft my itinerary, and I scoured TripAdvisor forums and pored over tried-and-true guides like Fodor’s Essential New Zealand for insider tips.
With each new discovery I unearthed on the map, the reality dawned on me: this trip to New Zealand would take me farther from home than I had ever been, a record distance that even my previous travels to the Philippines couldn’t match. Embracing the magnitude of the journey, I felt a ripple of pride as I navigated the expanse of miles that awaited.
Every adventure has its limits, and despite devoting a generous two weeks to this venture, I realized some early plans would need to be adjusted. South Island’s Kaikoura, famed for its leviathan residents, the whales, was a difficult puzzle piece that I ultimately couldn’t fit this time around. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and for me, it was the newfound determination for a return journey. New Zealand’s enchanting landscapes had already etched a promise in my heart: there would be another voyage, another opportunity to stand in awe before Kaikoura’s gentle giants.
With my plans laid out, it was time to step away from the familiar comfort of my desk and the glow of computer screens. I was prepared to embark on a journey that was carefully mapped out, yet tinged with the excitement of uncertainty: How smoothly would my plans work? Did I cover all my bases? There’s only one way to know.
So on a crisp Tuesday morning, I stood ready, bags packed, with my phone, power bank, and camera batteries fully charged—a visual storyteller armed for the adventure ahead. I gazed out at the familiar sights of Budapest, ready to trade them for the mysteries of a land in the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere.
As the plane taxied down the runway and Budapest melted into a mosaic of twinkling lights, I knew that each step ahead was a step into both the known structure of my meticulously planned itinerary and the unpredictable embrace of discovery.
Now, looking back while the memory is still crisp, painted with broad strokes of color, emotion, and encounters, and in response to a number of people eager to hear about my travel adventures, I’ve decided to create this series of blog posts.
Stay tuned as I share tales of my time in New Zealand. I’ll be talking about the clear blue waters, the thick forests full of exotic animals, and meeting locals who are holding onto their Maori roots while living in a modern city. Each day brought something new—good times, tougher times, and lots of surprises.
I hope that by sharing these experiences with you, they’ll feel just as real and exciting as they did for me. And maybe, they’ll even inspire you to see New Zealand for yourself one day.
Next up is the tale of how I managed to get past airport security and into the heart of Shanghai. You’ll want to hear about my encounters with the city’s timeless traditions, its towering tech-savvy skyline, and how my layover became an adventure all its own.