• Jessica Stough

The Beginnings of Planning the Next Adventure - New Zealand

Updated: Jan 23

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have, if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharial Nehru


After finishing my blog post discussing how we typically come to our decisions for vacation ideas, as we were headed to bed for the night, I told Zac, “I’ve narrowed down our options for vacation for September.”


I got quite the look out of him, but then a very simple response, “Oh?”


“Well,” I said, “I obviously know that we need to discuss it, but I have some options. That’s all I’m saying - I’ve got some ideas.”


Now that I’ve got the ideas, though, it’s time to do the research. There are a few things that we look into right away once we’ve come up with a short list of options:

  1. “On” and “Off” Seasons - We may seem like we enjoy people, but we much prefer our vacations with as few other tourists as possible. By hitting vacation locations at the right time, we can see the beauty of the “on” season, but avoid the majority of the crowds. We typically try to go near the very beginning or very end of the “on” season.

  2. Pricing for Travel and Lodging - Obviously, cost plays a factor in our decision-making process. We look into the seasons first because a lot of places will have cheaper hotels and flights when it isn’t their most popular time of the year for tourism.

  3. Activities Available - We aren’t probably ever going to get super excited about a trip to Birmingham, voted the most boring city in all of Europe (twice), but we can definitely get behind a trip to someplace that has a lot of activities to offer.

  4. Sights to See - I feel like this is pretty obviously a necessity when it comes to travel. I’ve never heard of anyone getting overly thrilled about a trip to Des Moines (don’t get me wrong, we do have some fun things to do and some fun sights to see, but it’s probably not an avid traveler’s first choice). That being said, just in case I need to spell it out, there can be something absolutely magical about seeing a new, incredible sight in another country. Capturing it on camera for the ‘gram is always pretty cool too.

 

Now for the fun part. I’m going to compare and contrast the four options that I narrowed down. First up, New Zealand.

  • September is at the top of the spring season for New Zealand. That being said, it is also a very windy time, so it is recommended to pack warm clothing. Their weather conditions are also known to be very inconsistent and volatile during this time.

  • The average temperature in September is 55℉, with a record high of 63℉ and record low of 37℉.

  • The cost of a flight from Des Moines to New Zealand and hotel for our stay is $3,435 per person. If we drove to Chicago and flew from there, it would lower the cost to $3,235 per person. Still pretty pricey.

  • There are plenty of hiking options in New Zealand, which is something we love to do when on vacation. There are tons of options around, including multiple day hikes like the one to Roy’s Peak, in Wanaka.

Source: The 6 Best Day Hikes in New Zealand


  • There are a ton of nature tours in New Zealand, a lot of them by boat or small cruise ship - with day trips and longer trips as options.

  • New Zealand offers a lot of botanical gardens, and multiple spring festivals during the month of September.

  • For those who are interested (although this doesn’t really apply to Zac or me), a lot of the Lord of the Rings movies were shot in New Zealand, and they can take tours to go see Lord of the Rings sites.

  • Swimming with dolphins is a fun excursion. I repeat, swimming with dolphins.

  • New Zealand is the only place where one can find Arachnocampa luminosa, a very specific type of glowworm. They hang out on the top of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves - appropriately named - and create an enchanting experience.


Source: Waitomo Glowworm Caves


It’s no surprise to me that New Zealand seems pretty awesome. I mean, there’s a reason we’ve always had it on our list. Then again, maybe there’s a reason it’s been on our list for over six years (like $3,200+ per person for flight and hotel, perhaps). I guess we will have to see how Germany, Scotland, and Alaska stack up against New Zealand.

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