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New Zealand Night Sky

On April 1, I stayed at a place called River Valley Lodge. If you’re driving south on the North Island, it’s between Lake Taupo and Wellington. They’re known for their horseback riding and white water rafting. The lodge is also quite a ways from — well, anything. The closest town is roughly 20 miles away. … Read More

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Tamaki Maori Village and Cultural Experience in Rotorua

One of the things I love most about traveling is seeing other people’s way of life, learning about their culture and beliefs, and seeing how they live. It’s eye opening, entertaining, and educational. If you’re looking for a fun way to learn about some of the native Maori culture while you’re here in New Zealand, I highly recommend visiting the Tamaki Maori Village. You won’t remember all the words they teach you or what everything is called, but you’ll have a hell of a time, you’ll walk away with a full belly, and for just a few hours, you’ll completely forget about everything else in the world. … Read More

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Exploring Hobbiton and The Shire, Home of Frodo Baggins

Before I left the states, I really had only one thing I knew I wanted to do for certain while in New Zealand: visit the Hobbiton movie set where all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. I didn’t come to Hobbiton because I’m a wild and crazy Lord of the Rings fan, although I have seen all the movies. I was more interested in the photo opportunities. As travel photographers, we’re always looking for something unique, and as it happens, this is the only place on Earth to find hobbit holes like these. … Read More

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Observations About New Zealand

Prior to this trip, I considered myself pretty well traveled back home in the States. Yet, being here in New Zealand is completely unchartered territory. That sounds obvious, but it’s incredible how much is different here when you stop to notice all the small things. Here are a few that jumped out at me. … Read More

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The Kiwi Experience and Cathedral Cove

We left Auckland this morning, and Bridget couldn’t have been more thrilled. She doesn’t much care for Auckland, and doesn’t consider it “real New Zealand.” The city has more than 1.4 million residents, which Bridget said is more than the entire population of the South island. Only 4.4 million people live in all of New Zealand, so that’s a lot for just one city. … Read More

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Exploring Downtown Auckland and Queens St. Backpackers

When I got to Auckland this morning, it was a dreary looking day outside. I got checked into the hostel and wrote this morning’s post, and by noon local time, the clouds had dissipated and the sun was out. It’s currently 67 degrees and wonderful. I did some exploring around the area and snapped a few photos (like the one above). For lunch, I tried a place called Mad Mex, what I liken to be the New Zealand version of Chipotle. … Read More

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Days 3 and 4: The Bus to LA and the Flight to New Zealand

I woke up Tuesday morning in Las Vegas. The bus didn’t leave until 10:45am local time, and I was still on Kansas time. That meant my internal clock thought I should be up at 6:45. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person. I decided to make the most of it, though, and caught my last sunrise in the U.S. for a few months as it came up over the Strip. After a long, hot shower, I went down to the lobby and got a coffee. Not a bad way to start the morning. … Read More

Las Vegas Strip in Motion

Days 1 and 2: Fabulous Las Vegas

First stop on my adventure: Las Vegas. The flight leaving Wichita was late getting in and leaving, but I ran into my friend Brittany at the airport, getting off the plane I was getting ready to get on. I finally arrived Sunday night around 11pm, grabbed my pack from the baggage claim, and hopped on the shuttle to the hotel. By the time I got checked in and made it to my room, it was after 1am, so I crashed for the night. … Read More

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Exchanging US Currency for Foreign Currency Before Traveling

I’m not a fan of carrying much cash. 99% of my purchases are made on a debit or credit card. I like to travel that way, too. It’s safer, I have immediate record of it with my mobile banking app, and I’m protected against fraud by my bank should my card be stolen. That being said, there are plenty of instances where cash is required or just more convenient. … Read More

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New Zealand’s Network of Hostels

New Zealand is known for being one of, if not the most backpacker-friendly countries in the world. With all the diverse topography and amazing landscapes, it’s not hard to see why. In 2013, more than 2.7 million people from every corner of the globe entered New Zealand, and travelers from the United States were the third most frequent tourists of all. In fact, of the total 2.7 million travelers who went last year, nearly 10% of them were from the U.S. … Read More