Back in February, I made the move from Australia to Wellington, New Zealand. Before arriving in Wellington, I honestly didn’t know much about the city at all, and chances are that you reading this won’t know much about Wellington either. Well, after spending almost four months here, I can confirm that it is a great little city and one that is definitely worth adding to your bucket list! In fact, it is even known as “the coolest little capital in the world!” Wellington is located at the very southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. With about 400,000 people, Wellington is small. But that adds to the charm of the city as everywhere is walkable, and you can see nature surrounding you wherever you are in Wellington.
The city also has a great culture to it. It is the most artistic city in New Zealand with lots of live theatre, art galleries, museums, street art, and the country’s film industry. There are also tons of amazing restaurants and bars that rival those of big cities like New York! I will go into more detail on where to eat and drink in Wellington in a future blog post. But to read about the top 10 things you must do on a visit to the city, keep on reading!
Here’s a sentence that teenage me never could have seen coming. In November and December, my boyfriend and I spent more than a month camping and living out of our car. And guess what? I actually really enjoyed the experience! As someone who has always been more of a city girl than an outdoorsy person, I used to hate camping and the lack of everyday comforts that comes along with it. But as I’ve gotten older, while I do still prefer cities, I have really learned to appreciate nature as well. I have started to enjoy hiking more, and as I realised during this road trip, even camping.
After visiting Bali in November, we flew into Darwin where we bought a car and road tripped through the Australian Outback to Adelaide, then Melbourne, and finally up to the Gold Coast for Christmas. Since neither of us was working at the time, we wanted to save money every way we could. So we made the decision to live out of our car. When we bought the car, it was already set up perfectly. There was a bed in the back and camping equipment including a tent, sleeping bags, and a camping stove. I will admit that long-term camping isn’t the most glamorous, and it did take us about a week to really get into a comfortable camping routine. But we learned quickly, and hopefully some of the following tips will help you out if you are planning on camping for an extended period of time!
And here begins the next chapter of my boyfriend and my epic roadtrip around Australia a few months ago… After weeks of travelling through the Top End and Outback of the Northern Territory, we made our way to Adelaide. It was like a breath of fresh air to be back in a lively city after so much time in the Outback. Adelaide is a city on the south coast of Australia and the capital of South Australia. Before visiting, I had heard mixed reviews of the city, so I was excited to experience it for myself. And I really enjoyed it!
The CBD reminded me so much of Melbourne that I easily could have been back there. And even more amazing than the city itself are the beautiful surrounds. South Australia was actually the only place in Australia to make Lonely Planet’s list of top places to visit in 2017, and I could easily see why. Outside the exciting city, there are some amazing world-class vineyards, beautiful beaches, pretty countryside, and quaint little towns and villages. Keep on reading for some of the best things to see and do around Adelaide and why you can’t miss it on a trip around Australia.
After being in New Zealand for almost three months now, I’ve gotten to know it pretty well. After 15 months in Australia, my visa ended, so I decided to come to Wellington next. People had told me Melbourne and Wellington are very similar, and I do see what they mean by that. But straight away, I definitely noticed some differences between the two countries as well. I hate to be biased but for the most part, the differences I’ve noticed are positive for Australia, but not as great for New Zealand. Of course there are some similarities as well. Both countries are full of amazing people and tons of beautiful natural landmarks and outdoorsy activities. But as with most things in life, you tend to pick up more on things that are different than similar. The differences tend to determine your impression of a place, whether positive or negative.
Overall, I would say that my experience in New Zealand has been about halfway between the two. I enjoy my job at a hotel, the hostel I stay at is really nice, and I’ve met great people. But after loving Australia so much, I can’t help but compare every experience to ones I’ve had there. Coming from the US, a lot of people tend to think of Australia and New Zealand as being so similar that they’re basically the same country, which I can assure you is not the case! Here are ten differences between the two that I’ve noticed in the past three months I’ve spent in NZ, particularly when it comes to living in the two countries as an expat.
When you picture Australia, one of two things will come to mind—the sprawling beaches along the coastlines or the stunning interior of the country best known as the Outback. And based on the title, I’m sure you can tell which one this post is going to be about! On our recent road trip around Australia, my boyfriend Will and I got to explore the vast expanse of Outback in the Northern Territory. There are so many amazing places to see in the Outback! Compared to other parts of Australia, the Outback has a totally different vibe and just feels so wild and untamed. There are vast stretches of nothingness between landmarks, the earth has a signature rust-coloured red to it, and you will see more stars than you could have even thought possible!
There are a couple ways you could explore the Outback. You could fly into Alice Springs and spend a few days to a week exploring the city and Uluru. But I think the best way to experience the Outback is on a good old-fashioned road trip! People tend to think of Australia as a relatively small country, but it’s massive. Going on a road trip really puts into perspective just how huge it is. I really enjoyed camping in the Outback as well. There are some great free campgrounds all over, and the weather isn’t as hot and unbearable as it gets further north in the Top End. Even as someone who isn’t the most outdoorsy, I loved camping in the middle of nowhere under a star-filled sky.
When people visit Australia, the areas that tend to be most popular are Sydney and Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland coastline, Uluru and the dry red centre, and even the wine regions near both Perth and Adelaide. One of the regions that tends to be overlooked quite often is what Aussies know as the Top End. The Top End is the tropical part of Australia in the far north of the Northern Territory extending to Katherine. What I find cool about the Top End and NT in general, is how wild and untamed it feels compared to the rest of Australia. The cities are small and far between, the roads are long with no speed limits, and the nature is unbelievable.
Back in November, my boyfriend and I visited Bali and then flew into Darwin, capital of the NT and the hub of the Top End. In Darwin, we bought a car and began our epic road trip all over Australia! We spent the first part of our adventure exploring the Top End and discovered some pretty amazing spots.
Bali is one of those amazing places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It’s full of beautiful beaches, amazing food, and lovely people. A true paradise! But of course like anywhere you travel to, there are some things to be aware of that you should or shouldn’t do while you’re there. That especially goes for places like Bali where the culture may be a lot different than you’re used to at home. If you are planning a visit to Bali, here are some dos and don’ts to help you have the best time possible while also respecting the culture and staying safe!
Do eat the local food. This is obviously so you can experience the local culture, but it’s also because Indonesian food is what Balinese people specialise in. You could easily find pizza or Mexican food if you really wanted to, but it will probably just be average at best. So skip the western food in favour of some nasi goreng, mie goreng, chicken satay, babi guling, and nasi campur! And of course wash it down with a Bintang beer!
Don’t be afraid to haggle prices. Vendors will usually start at a price that is reasonable by western standards, but far too expensive for Southeast Asia. For example, they may ask $20 for a sarong or t-shirt, but if you’re persistent you can usually get the price closer to about $5. At the same time, don’t get too extreme with your haggling. If it gets to the point of arguing over 10,000 IDR for example ($1), keep in mind that the money won’t make much of a difference to you, but could make a huge difference to the seller.
Back in November, my boyfriend Will and I set out on the adventure of a lifetime! First stop on our agenda was Bali. I’ve been wanting to visit Bali for as long as I can remember after seeing photos that really make it look like paradise. And one of the amazing things about living in Australia is how cheap and easy it is to get to Bali. You can fly there for less money than you would spend flying to New Zealand. And depending on what city you’re flying from, you might be able to fly to Bali for less money than a nice dinner out! Our flight from Melbourne was around $300, but flying back into Australia, we got flights to Darwin for a ridiculous $58 each!
We spent ten days in Bali, which I think was perfect for a first visit to the island. It gave us plenty of time to experience the culture of the island and visit lots of areas as well. Different parts of Bali are good for different things, and we really got to experience a bit of each in the three places we stayed: Seminyak, the Gili Islands, and Ubud.
Wow it’s been ages since I’ve posted on here! The last few months have been a whirlwind with so much happening and a lot of change. As I posted back in November, my boyfriend Will and I had heaps of adventure packed into a couple months. We went to Bali, bought a car and road tripped through the Australian Outback, went up to the Gold Coast for Christmas and New Year, and spent some time exploring the Queensland and New South Wales coasts before heading back home to Melbourne. Since my Australian working holiday visa ended back in November, I was on a tourist visa when we came back into the country after Bali. And since tourist visas in Australia only last three months, in mid-February it was time for me to pack my bags again and head to a different country.
It’s been a while since my last post, and I have so many cool places to write about! Since my last blog I took a trip to Bali and then did an epic Australian road trip from Darwin down to Adelaide, back to Melbourne and then up to the Gold Coast.
But before I get into all those posts, I wanted to stick with my end-of-the-year tradition of recapping some of the best places I visited over the course of this past year! There were a couple that I revisited from last year, but most of them were completely new adventures for me in 2016.