Kiara Devine writes: A few hours ago, I talked with my best friend Lucy, who shared the same love and passion for travel with me. Our goals for traveling have changed over the years, and perhaps they reflect our state of mind in each of these chapters.
When we were young, about 9 years old, we wanted to be like jet-setting Barbie in her make-believe world. And back then, we loved her grandma’s Italian cooking and stories of her childhood in Sicily. When we reached teens, we had so much desire to get out that we hitched a ride from Las Vegas to Sacramento a few days after school break. It scared the wits out of my parents, yes, but it made us realise that it’s the lifestyle we want to pursue.
I’ve never traveled alone. Most of my trips were with Lucy, and although she’s such amazing company, at 32, I wanted to try something different for myself, so I decided to travel alone. New Zealand has always been high on my list. After carefully reading as many reviews as I can about it, I came to the conclusion that it was the safest yet most beautiful place I can go to, especially for a woman traveler. Right after I turned 32, I packed my bags and left for my 20-day adventure.
Going DIY – Do It Yourself
Before I arrived in New Zealand, I mapped my itinerary. It’s a good thing that I have a few friends there: some had volunteered to let me stay for a few days so I can save on accommodation. I had also assigned an amount on food. It turns out that many attractions in NZ are available for free, so I prioritized on them.
If there’s one thing I didn’t scrimp on, it’s transport. I love to commute in public transport, but I also like to make sure that my safety is guaranteed. For my trip, I contacted a reliable rent-a-car company. The business was great enough to offer me 24-hour service in case of a breakdown, enough insurance, and even free maps! Someone was also going to meet me upon my arrival. Most of all, I can pay online so I can already secure the vehicle just for me.
My Trip – Just the North Island this time
True enough, as soon as I arrived, the rent-a-car staff personally welcomed me in Auckland, my initial destination. I went into their office where they processed my documents and handed me the keys. Then off I went.
My first stop was to visit my friend, Max, who had allowed me to couch-surf. Over a cup of coffee, he gave me some ideas on where to go and helped me locate them in the map provided by the rental company. For 8 days, I went around the city and checked out the Sky Tower, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Zoo, and Eden Park. I also headed to the nearby islands such as Waiheke Island along with Max and his family. We explored the vast vineyards and dined on fresh seafood paired with locally grown wine.
From Auckland, I proceeded to Rotorua for more countryside. I went into a nice homestead, which offered me cheap accommodation and the chance to shear sheep’s wool. It was incredibly refreshing I lasted for another week.
Then it was time to move on to Wellington. Leslie and Sheena, two college buddies, adopted me for a while, and I spent about 5 days there. I experienced riding the famous cable car, walking along its beautiful botanical garden, exploring Zealandia and Mount Victoria.
I am so glad I did it. I am not saying it wasn’t nerve-racking, but New Zealand and everyone there took great care of me I am looking forward to my second solo travel to Spain next year.
More Resources for traveling in New Zealand
- accommodation for women travelers – some fabulous women owned accommodation around New Zealand
- Women Travel NZ Blog