Sydney for New Years

A classic, well-deserved bucket list item. Luckily, our families made it across the world to ring in the new year with us. Otherwise, New Years in Sydney may be a stretch for the typical backpacker budget…

Book Ahead of Time

We cannot stress this enough. Book ahead of time. Well ahead of time. Some people plan their New Years in Sydney years in advance. EVERYWHERE will book up, and EVERYWHERE will upcharge. Especially if you’re looking to stay in a hot location, like Darling Harbor, be prepared to spend more than 3x the regular rate. Same goes for both hostels and AirBnB.

If you want to go out to eat at all in Sydney during the week of New Years, we highly recommend scouting out some restaurants and making reservations. Sydney has many, many incredible places to eat and you can find almost any kind of cuisine you want. We mostly went to asian fusion places and had some seriously incredible meals.

BUT we didn’t expect it to be as booked as it was, and we had trouble finding a place that could even take us for lunch. Play it safe and put your name in the book.

New Years Eve

New Years Eve is absolute chaos in Sydney Harbour. Everyone wants to see the fireworks, and everyone wants the best spot. People literally pitch tents the night before in order to secure front-row seats. If you’ve got the gear, and the stamina, go for it! It looks like a ton of fun, and if the weather’s nice, I’m sure you’ll have a great time (bring water and booze, it’ll be a long day). 

If that’s not your jam, just plan to get to the harbor hours earlier than you think. The sidewalks fill up in the early afternoon. Seriously, go early if you want a chance at seeing the fireworks from any public place.

Otherwise, make a late dinner reservation at a restaurant on the harbor. Chances are, they’ll have a fixed menu and higher-than-usual prices, but it’s so worth it. We were lucky enough to enjoy our meal right on the harbor, watching the fireworks from the gated dock next to the restaurant.

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Also good to note that there are actually two sets of fireworks. The first ones go off at 9pm for families that want to get to bed, and the second (bigger) set is at midnight. If you don’t want to stay up, or the crowds are too much for you, call it a night after the first set. They are spectacular, there’s no doubt, but at the end of the days, they’re just sparks in the sky.

Sydney Harbour Ferries

Opal cards! They were admittedly a bit tricky for us to figure out at first. Buy one per person at any convenience store near a subway or ferry station (Central Quay is easiest). You load the cards with money and use them like most other public transit cards. We were told to start with $20 each, but that was way more than we needed. All you do it tap-in wherever you get on, then don’t forget to tap-out when you get off. It automatically charges you the appropriate fee depending on how far you’ve traveled. 

The Harbor Ferries are an awesome way to see the best of Sydney. They take a bit longer than the local subways and busses, but the ferry rides are really enjoyable in nice weather. You’ll get amazing photo ops of the Bridge and Opera House. This is also a great way to get to some of Sydney’s more famous beaches, like Bondi and Manly. Ride it all the way to Watson’s Bay for lunch on the beach! 

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The Rocks

Take a break from the harbor-side chaos and spend a day in The Rocks. Start at the free Rocks Discovery Museum to learn about the history of Sydney Harbor, starting with aboriginal culture, through the early convict years, and up to modern urban development. Grab a map of some of the key areas to walk through and get an idea for what the city looked like in the 18-1900s! 

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Grab a beer at some of the oldest bars in Australia, or climb the Argyle Stairs to stroll along the historical Gloucester Walk. Try to make it up to the Bridge Stairs for a killer view of the Harbor from the pedestrian bridge - and if you’re daring, book the Bridge Climb for an even higher vantage point!

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Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

If you don't have enough time to explore the underwater world of Australia with a tank on your back, spend an afternoon in the Sea Life Aquarium instead! The family friendly exhibits are full of engaging activities and awe-inspiring marine life. Get up close and personal to big rays and spiky sharks in the tunnel!

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Botanical Gardens

Sydney’s Botanical Gardens are incredible and they’re FREE! Spend an afternoon wandering through the many beautiful walkways and gardens and make sure you get all the way to the famous Macquarie's Chair to get an incredible view of Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera house.

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Bondi Beach

With serious swells, crowds, and mural artwork along the boardwalk, Bondi Beach does not disappoint. A beach day at Bondi would not be complete without some people watching (check out the beachside “gym” on the north side or the skate park on the south side) and a passionfruit mojito at The Bucket List, a cool lounge right next to the information center that’s as popular with tourists as it is with locals. 

If you’re looking for a scenic walk, head south along the beach and up the hill to the cliff side path that takes you around the less welcoming sides of Bondi, with incredible views and rocky edges. But even if you go when the weather is subpar, getting in the ocean is a must - it’s not just surfers who love Bondi for the water and waves!

Blue Mountains National Park

Yes, the mountains look like they’re blue! Depending on how much time you have, you may want to consider spending more than just a day out here. Most tours from Sydney pack in too many activities for one day, so you spend a lot of time on a bus. If you really want to experience the National Park, you’ll need more than a day. But if you just want a couple photos and a good time, check out Scenic World for a cable ride with killer views of the Blue Mountains. Try to spot the - once Seven, but now only - Three Sisters! 

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A Note on Going Out in Sydney

While Sydney is one of the world’s big name cities, it’s party scene may come as a surprise to you. As a result of late night, raucous behavior in the streets, the City of Sydney installed a series of ordinances to tone down the nightlife a few years ago. Although relatively reasonable from a city planning standpoint, professional party-goers may find some of these new rules a bit restricting: no shots after midnight, no doubles or triples, and some places won’t even stay open past 1am. Keep it in mind when trying to plan a rager weekend in Sydney.

Many people who’ve spent significant time in Sydney told us that many parties moved a little further out of the city and the scene is much more underground than it used to be. One idea might be to stop in at a few hostels and ask the people working the desk on where they’d recommend you go. Our favorite places we found were all these kinds of recommendations. You’re probably not going to find what you’re looking for online.

Digs in Sydney

Still motivated to party hardy? Here were our favorite places:

ARC - Before you go here, look at the Google reviews. They’re exactly right. Know before you go.

Chinese Laundry - Dungeon-y, three-story club with great deep house and a lot of cool rooms to get funky in.

World Bar - A bit more low-key and a great place to start the night. Top 40 good times, and try their special tea pot drinks!

Oxford Art Factory - Small and funky concert venue. Check out who’s playing there while you’re in town - you might be pleasantly surprised!

Malaya - Incredible Malaysian fusion.

Chin Chin - Modern af asian fusion place with a trendy, New York vibe.

Watson’s Bay Seafood - K I L L E R seafood platter, but be prepared to take it down with a few buddies.

Abb Air - Authentic Thai cuisine. Ask for extra spicy… if you dare…

Lumi - Expensive but incredible preset menus with a great view of the Harbour.

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Taking the “Loca” LOKA Tour of Australia’s East Coast

We booked our trip up Australia’s east coast before we even left New Zealand. Our friends at the Travel desk in the Base Hostel in Queenstown advised us to book what we definitely wanted to do in advance instead of waiting just in case anything filled up during the popular summer holidays. 

We ended up booking three weeks worth of travel, accommodation and tours from Byron Bay up to Cairns before we even left Queenstown. After finally getting to experience it all, we can honestly say we had the time of our lives. Major thanks to Jules & Nick, who both seriously hooked it up for us. If you’re in Queenstown and looking to book tours in NZ or AUS, we definitely recommend you go talk to them.

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The method to our east coast madness was to take a LOKA bus/train tour from start to finish. We took the Kat Tour (pictured above), but there a ton a options to choose from. This is one of the two most popular travel options for people (and by people I mean backpackers) looking for a tour/travel combo, the second is Greyhound. Both companies can book tours for you in each location and give you the flexibility to hop-on, hop-off as you like. 

The key difference, as we understand it, is that LOKA makes use of the train system as well as buses, Greyhound operates with just their own buses. We both agreed that, while the trains are very nice and comfortable, the idea of just not having to get on and off constantly to switch from one to the other would’ve been nice. Definitely check out both options to see which you’d like better, but either will get you where you want to go. 

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If you know your time frame and your budget and you don’t want to rent your own car, another great alternative, these two companies are your best bet. If you can, especially during popular travel times (for us, our December dates coincided with school break in AUS so you can imagine), book your pick-ups and tours in advance and then just show up. 

LOKA runs buses nearly every day at all major stops on the east coast and everyday at the most popular ones. Check out their schedule online and make sure you reconfirm your pick up locations a day in advance with your driver. That’s about all you need to do! 

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When the drivers pick you up they deal with everything between your start and final destination. This includes train tickets, stops, and door-to-door stops at different hostels along the way to collect and deposit people. Everyone we met who worked for LOKA was incredibly nice and helpful with any questions we had. The buses were clean and cool and everything ran smoothly. Yeah, the hours are a little nuts (hello, 4 a.m. wake up), but it’s called budget travel for a reason people!

From start to finish, our LOKA tour included:

  • Byron Bay

  • Brisbane

  • Noosa (Fraser Island)

  • Rainbow Beach

  • Emu Park

  • Airlie Beach (Whitsundays)

  • Magnetic Island (this stop included the ferry to get to and from the island)

  • Cairns

We booked through Base Travel, so our tours weren’t booked through LOKA itself, but you can book through most hostel travel desks or just do it yourself! LOKA is a great way to get around the east coast without a car and doubles as an excellent way to meet cool people looking to do what you’re doing. 

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Our Insane & Epic Three Week Road Trip in Western Australia

It was part of our Australian itinerary from the get-go: an epic west coast road trip via campervan up the country’s less explored coastline. 

We were ready for deserts sunsets, endless rust colored highway, deserted beaches, and sleeping in the back of a car for three weeks. We weren’t ready for the lack of gas stations, sweltering heat, or the monumental distance between Perth to Darwin. 

Many people travel to Australia to embark on this very road trip, and every journey is different. Ours went a little like this.

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The Logistics

Finding a Car or Campervan

Where We Rented: Traveller’s Autobarn

Would We Recommend: Yes, but you get what you pay for. The vans are OK, but old, and we had a few customer service issues. We mostly recommend them because when we dropped it off the representative was extremely understanding about the issues we had with the camper and gave us a smaller car for a few days, free of charge, to make up for it.

This is arguably the easy part. Because the west coast is almost exclusively explored via car or campervan, there are many options. 

We opted for a campervan because we figured it would be a fun experience. Many people choose a car simply because you can save a lot of money on the rental and gas. The cheapest way to do it is definitely by car, provided you’re using a tent instead of paying for hostels or hotels every night. It depends on your budget and what kind of experience you want. 

We rented a campervan from Traveller’s Autobarn, a budget rental company, and opted for their most popular Kuga campervan. For two people, this was perfect. It says it sleeps/seats 3, but from experience that would be crowded unless that third person is a child. 

Regardless of what you choose, here are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding your car/campervan:

  • Gas is EXPENSIVE and gas stations are few and far between. Fill up every chance you get, no matter how full your tank is. You can use the app maps.me to help you find gas stations along your route (it will work without service so long as the maps are downloaded). Keep in mind: the bigger the vehicle the pricier the gas.

  • Most rentals are MANUAL. We learned this the hard way when we got dealt an old school ’08 manual camper when we expected an automatic. Luckily, MJ is a champ with manual and I knew enough to get the hang of it, but if you need an automatic make sure you’ve signed up for one.

  • Insurance doesn’t cover idiots who get stuck in the sand. You will be hard pressed to find someone to help you if you drive off road and get bogged down because you wanted that perfect shot of the sunrise (yes, we were those idiots). We ended up taking an hour to get our heavy camper out of the sand after multiple calls to tow companies and roadside assistance told us we were on our own. Do yourself a favor and stay on the pavement.

  • If you opt for a camper, you will need to charge it, refill the water, and refill the gas. Ask where the hose/charging cables are in your camper BEFORE you leave…(we didn’t find our hose the whole time and had to get creative).

  • Take the insurance, just don’t get bogged.

  • Drive during the day whenever possible. Driving at night might be your favorite thing to do (me) but you will never forgive yourself if you add to the roadkill death toll on Australia’s west coast highway. MARSUPIALS ARE NOCTURNAL. You would be too if you lived in the desert, let’s be real.

  • Knowing how to change a tire is a life skill that’s great to have before you make this journey.

  • Bring your own charging cable and aux chord and DOWNLOAD your music (a lot of it) before you leave. Maybe even some audiobooks if that’s your thing. You’re in for a lot of driving and not a lot of service.

  • If they offer you a fan, TAKE IT. This was a lifesaver during the night.

Celebrating getting ourselves un-bogged in the desert (!!!)

Celebrating getting ourselves un-bogged in the desert (!!!)

 

Supplies

Whether you start in the north or the south, stock up on supplies in the biggest city you’re starting in. Once you hit the road, all the prices go up as the average population goes down. Supply and demand baby. 

Stock up on:

  • Food. Try and stick to the easy stuff. Also a plus if it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Unless you’re opting for a big camper, you’re going to be very tight on fridge space.

  • Water and booze. Both get more expensive as you head out of town.

  • Bug spray and sunscreen. Both are necessary and, again, prices go up.

Here are a couple things we were really happy we had:

  • Headlamps. Can’t stress enough how many times we’ve been happy to have headlamps on this trip. Endlessly useful.

  • Ziplock containers (for leftovers) and garbage bags.

  • Sleeping bags. They provided sheets for us but having to make the bed every night was super annoying. These were just easier.

  • Table and chairs. We rented these from the rental company. They were great to have when we wanted to get out of the camper for dinner or just to enjoy our beach reads in the shade.

  • A speaker. I always carry at least two on me because there’s nothing worse than listening to music from an iPhone speaker. Our campervan was so old we didn’t even have an aux plug, so we ended up using a speaker the whole time.

  • Cameras. We each have one and carry it with us everywhere. If you’re thinking of investing in a better one or are unsure whether or not you want to bring yours, this is the sign you’re looking for. BRING IT. You will see so many beautiful things and it’s worth documenting properly.

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Planning Your Route

It’s a little more than 4000km from Perth to Darwin on the shortest route. That’s about 43 hours of driving, which doesn’t cover the driving you do to get to the actual highlights of your road trip. We had an amazing time, but not enough of it. Our last three days of driving averaged about 10-12 hours of driving per day. BE BETTER THAN US. 

Give yourself the time to enjoy the west coast properly. Opt for a shorter route, like Darwin to Broome or Perth to Broome, or, if you’re in it for the long haul, give yourself 4-6 weeks to enjoy the trip from Perth to Darwin. 

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Our Highlight Reel from the West Coast

Many of these stops we’ve written about in more detail, but here is the short list of what we loved about our 3 week adventure.

Perth, Fremantle and Rottnest Island

Where We Stayed: Bambu Backpackers Hostel
Would We Recommend: Yes

Can’t stress this enough. This city and the surrounding areas are beautiful and absolutely worth starting or ending with. Perth is a vibrant city with unbelievable beaches, a great and cheap transportation system, and so much to do.

Spend a day at the beach, spend a weekend in Fremantle, and spend a perfect day with the quokkas on Rottnest Island

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The Pinnacles

Where We Stayed: RAC Cervantes Holiday Park
Would We Recommend: Yes

No one is entirely sure how this natural wonder happened, but boy is it beautiful. Just off the road near Cervantes, the Pinnacles are a must stop for those looking to get that perfect sunset picture. Drive your car through the park or get out and walk among the thousands of stone pillars. 

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Pink Lake

Where We Stayed: Linga Longa at Lynton Station
Would We Recommend: Yes

Instagrammers - DON’T MISS THIS ONE. I saw pictures of Australia’s pink lakes years ago when planning and knew this wasn’t something we could skip. We had a blast doing our cheesy little photo shoot at the pink lake near Hutt Lagoon. Definitely worth the stop (you’ll be happy you packed that camera).

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Nature’s Window

This was so cool. A 45minute drive in from the coastal town of Kalbarri, Nature’s Window is one of the main attractions in Kalbarri National Park. This iconic attraction is a literal “window” in the rock that perfectly frames the river behind it. It’s a short 1km walk into the Loop, which is a larger walk you can opt for to see more of the beautiful national park.

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Sharkbay World Heritage Site

Where We Stayed: Denham Seaside Tourist Village
Would We Recommend: Yes

We camped out here for a few days because we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave this little slice of heaven. Perfect beaches, natural wonders everywhere and a great place to take your first break on your crazy road trip. Enjoy a trip to Monkey Mia to visit the dolphins, stop at Shell Beach for a quick dip in crystal clear water, and take in the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites that give Shark Bay its World Heritage title. 

While you’re in Shark Bay, take the time to learn about the community’s fascinating initiative to combat community waste.

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Exmouth

Where We Stayed: Potshot
Would We Recommend: Yes (in high season, BOOK EARLY. The town triples in size.)

Divers! You already know you need to stop here. We missed the whale shark season (March-Sept), but we were just in time for sea turtle mating season, which definitely made up for it. The diving here is out of this world, so if that’s your thing DON’T MISS IT. Navy Pier alone was worth the extended stop. 

We dove with a company called Dive Ningaloo and they were EPIC. Definitely recommend.

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Broome & Cable Beach

Where We Stayed: Tarangua Caravan Park
Would We Recommend: Yes

Broome is amazing coastal city. Unfortunately, when we went it was hot and so, so humid that we spend our entire time there doing one thing and one thing only: Cable Beach. This beach is worth the trip alone. It’s massive and is perfect for lounging the day away or watching the camels walk buy with some sundowners. 

Tip: Skip the camel ride, they smell bad and the pictures you’ll get with the camels in it are cooler than the ones you’ll get from the camel’s back.

Tip: If you have a car (NOT a camper), you can drive it down to the beach! It’s very flat and the sand is packed down, very low risk of getting bogged.

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Lake Argyle 

Where We Stayed: Lake Argyle Resort & Holiday Park
Would We Recommend: SO MUCH.

Our final stop before Darwin, this resort of Lake Argyle was everything we could’ve hoped for. Not only is a lush and green, a welcome break after weeks in the dust and sand, but it has an unbelievable infinity pool looking out over the lake. We camped out here until they literally had to kick us out when it got dark. You can take a tour of the lake by boat as well, but we didn’t have time. 

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Darwin

Where We Stayed: Darwin YHA aka Melaleuca on Mitchell
Would We Recommend: Yes, if you’re looking to party

We weren’t prepared for how much we would love Darwin. It’s not a huge city, but if you’re a backpacker looking to meet some cool people and party/celebrate the end of your insane three-week road trip, it’s everything you need. Don’t miss out on this hostel, we had the time of our lives during our weekend in Darwin.

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Get Up for Sunrise, Make Time for Sunset

It doesn’t get more beautiful than it does on the west coast of Australia. We started our longer driving days at 4am so we could enjoy sunrise out in the middle of the desert. Highly recommend it.

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What We Wish We’d Had Time For (AKA Our Regrets)

No trip is perfect (unless you have 6-7 weeks to do it), so here are some places we’re going to have to come back for (and some super fun ideas for you when you go cause we’ve totally sold you on this road trip!!).

  • Karijini National Park

  • More Time at Lake Argyle

  • Diving with Whale Sharks in Exmouth

  • Diving in Coral Bay

  • Gibb River-Wyndham Road (southwest of Darwin)

  • Emma Gorge (southwest of Darwin)

  • Kununurra (near Darwin)

  • Kakadu National Park (near Darwin)

  • Wine Tasting at Margaret River (south of Perth)

  • Serpentine National Park (near Perth)

  • Lancelin Sand Dunes (near Perth)

Going Out in Queenstown

Our explorations in New Zealand took us up and down mountains, into the ocean, and down some of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever seen. It also took us to a lot of bars. Let’s be real, we’re exploring the world with the young, fun, and single and we’ve been living it up. Drinks are reasonably priced throughout New Zealand (or free, LADIES) and in general the atmosphere is always fun and accessible. We took full advantage. 

From whiskey slaps in the Coromandel to a beer pong competition in Wellington to bar hopping with two brothers dressed as Luigi in Wanaka, we’ve picked up a story or two. Many won’t be shared here (sorry, I bet you were really curious), but one thing we decided to share is our experience going out in Queenstown. 

Other than Wanaka, Queenstown is the place where we’ve spent the most amount of time in one place. We came here ready to party and that’s exactly what we did. Yes, yes, we hiked and explored and did many fun nature things as well. MJ’s got you covered on those posts. I’m going to take you through the messier side of the story. 

We spent our time in Queenstown at a hostel called Base Queenstown. Base and Nomads are hostels that operate under the same umbrella and you can find them all over New Zealand and Australia. They’re typically one of if not the cheapest option, tend to have awesome locations, and always have a bar underneath or next door. 

We stayed at Base in Auckland, Wanaka, and Queenstown. Auckland we didn’t love, but we had a blast at both Wanaka and Queenstown. 

These are hostels I’d recommend for people who are looking for somewhere easy to base (haha) themselves out of when they know they’re looking to meet people and party. The bar is loud and you can definitely hear every word until 3 a.m. on the first floor, but the easy solution is to go join in. If you’re looking to relax and enjoy the more natural side of Queenstown, this isn’t your place.

Without further wait, here is the list of all of the bars we went to while we were in Queenstown and what we thought of them:

Loco: this bar is right underneath Base Queenstown. It’s themed every night of the week and if you’re staying at Base you can get a free drink voucher for each night. They have live music in the evenings and switch it up to greatest hits style music later in the evenings. We typically started or ended our nights here, it tended to get kind of crowded in the middle. They seem to pull some bigger names music-wise too, so if you’re in town see who’s playing.

Rhinos: this smaller bar was one of MJ’s favorites (duh) because it’s a ski bar. All the TVs feature slope victories and fails and the walls are covered with decals from some of the greatest places too shred around the world. Drinks were reasonable and music was great. It wasn’t really crowded when we went so we left on the early side, but our two friends who were with us and went on another night said it could really pick up. A bit of this is always luck of the draw.

Cowboys: We really digged this place. It’s western themed (obviously) and may have one of the few, if not the only, mechanical bull in New Zealand. It was out of order when we went so, no, we did not get the chance to make America proud of something again. The bar is huge and each time we went it was packed. They have FREE table top shuffle board and FREE pool. Needless to say we were there for a while. Music is oldies but goodies. 

Bungalow: This was probably the most club-esque place we checked out. It’s open until 4 a.m. and features darker decor and a more deep housey playlist. It’s a fun place, but felt a little out of place in Queenstown, at least for us. 

Barmuda: This bar was definitely playing to a more upscale crowd than what we were looking for. The bar is beautiful, backlit and packed with every kind of liquor you could want, and they have an outdoor area as well as a lounge-type section. We didn’t stay long here because it was a little more low key than we were at the time, but it would be a nice place for a “let’s go get a drink” date or to start off the night.

Surreal: This three story bar is really cool. They play different music on each floor, the first two each have their own bar, and the upstairs is a rooftop, which I’ve sorely been missing since my Miami days area over (for now). Once the upstairs closes the downstairs gets pretty packed and it gets almost rave-like. This was the scene of my first margarita since leaving home and while I definitely got a weird look from the bartender it was a great drink.

1864: Similar to Barmuda, this is somewhere I’d definitely say is more date night/drinks after work than “the first three bars were great but now I’m ready to really turn up the night,” but maybe that was just the time of day/day of the week I went. They have a beautiful outdoor area that’s lit with string lights and the drink menu is great. 

Disclaimer: we obviously didn’t make it to every bar in Queenstown, we were rocking with a limited time frame and we did the best we could. 

Tip: if you’re looking to party in Queenstown, stay at Base or Nomads and then ask one of the lovely humans that works there for recommendations. They served us well.

CHEERS!

Road Tripping New Zealand’s South Island

Highlighting the best routes for the ultimate roadside views.

 

Why Road Trip?

It’s just fun. Plus, New Zealand’s tourism industry is modeled around the assumption that most tourists are getting around via car rental. Most attractions are pretty far apart, and buses don’t run very frequently. The country is too small (only 5 million people!) to invest in an extensive and inexpensive transportation system to connect two islands with insanely varying terrain. As such, car rentals are the most reasonable and reliable method of transport. 

New Zealand is world renowned for its breath-taking landscapes and plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities. So we brought camping gear and bookmarked tons of secret spots for camping. (They’re not actually very secret. There’s a great app called CamperMate that shows you all the local camping options on a map.) Having a car just makes it easier for us to explore some of the more remote treasures. Plus, camping helps us save money on accommodation. which in turn helps fund the cost of the car! Full circle!

The Department of Conservation, mainly referred to as DOC (as in, waddup doc!), is absolutely phenomenal here in New Zealand. Most areas have an i-Site and/or DOC visitor centre dedicated to helping tourists plan their visit around the local area. So many pamphlets. So many maps. So much support. 

 

Renting a Car

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to rental cars and campervans. JUCY is the most popular - and iconic - choice here in New Zealand. They make a whole line of vehicle options, including the infamous purple and green campercan. A lot of people opt for campervans because they’re well equipped and easy to maintain here in NZ, but being that we already have an outstanding backpacking tent and two mediocre sleeping bags, we chose to downsize to the “el cheapo” option. For 40 days, this little cherry red hyundai would be home.

Unfortunately, you can’t get around the fact that you constantly need to buy gas. It takes 91 unleaded, which isn’t cheap compared to prices in the States, but luckily el cheapo’s are relatively fuel efficient. Much more efficient than a campervan would be.

Also it’s weird, but you pay for gas after you pump it. We learned that the awkward way our first time at the pump. Apparently they “trust people” here. Also it’s called petrol, not gas.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

It’s not actually that weird. It really only takes a day or two to get used to. As always, never drive distracted, and it’s totally fine. At first, turning is the trickiest part. Roundabouts, too. While they’re super efficient for traffic control and emission reduction, they’re definitely less straightforward than a 4-way intersection.

Only complaint: windshield wipers. Every time we go for the blinkers, our wipers start wiping. RIGHT HAND for indicating, not the left. 

 

Our Route

After a quick two weeks in the North Island, we hopped on the Interislander Ferry in Wellington for the beautiful cruise to Picton. It’s a very enjoyable cruise, with lots of available snacks on board and lots of opportunities to see stunning landscapes and maybe even some wildlife - especially going through the Marlborough Sounds when you get closer to Picton. If you’re planning a double-island road trip, make sure you look into prices and timetables for the ferry! It’s always easier to book in advance, especially during the busier months.

Once we landed in Picton, we headed dead south to Blenheim for a weekend of well-deserved wine tasting. Next we darted over to Nelson Lakes National Park for a few days of hiking and camping. After that, we zipped to Kaikoura for a day of whale-watching, and then up into Arthur's Pass for a night. Then we headed down to Tekapo for a night, and onwards to Wanaka for a few days. We ended up doubling back north to spend a night in Mount Cook National Park, and then looped south again to Queenstown. We spent the last week based out of Queenstown, venturing out to Glenorchy for a day, and to the Fiordlands a few times too.

 

Kaikoura

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Unfortunately, we drove this route at night and can’t provide any proof of the pretty views. BUT I’ve driven it before, and if you like winding through mountains and across river valleys, make sure to take SH 76 to Kaikoura. (Depending on when you visit, you might not have a choice… both main access roads to Kaikoura were heavily damaged in a recent earthquake…). Make sure to check road closings before you head out!

 

Arthur’s Pass

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Depending on whether or not you plan on going to the west coast, you can choose to go through Arthur’s Pass, or just into the village and back out. Both are great options, as there are plenty of viewpoints along the way. Just north of the main village, there’s a cool part of the road with a rock slide shelter and aqueduct that’s well worth a quick visit before leaving even if you’re not headed to the west coast!

 

Road to Wanaka

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Another beautiful pass through farmland and rolling hills. We went on a moody day, bringing out the exceptional rustic colors around us.

 

Road to Blue Pools (Haas Pass)

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Haast Pass is aa exceptional drive along the isthmus between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. There are plenty of lookouts to stretch your legs and snap a picture, or for the more adventurous, stop along the way for a day hike up to Isthmus Peak for even more incredible views. Continuing towards the west coast, you enter Mount Aspiring National Park with recreational pull-offs every few minutes. Plenty of things to do!

 

Road into Mount Cook National Park

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There’s only one way in, and one way out. The entire approach to the National Park will be one big tease of Mount Cook staring right at you, waiting for you.

 

Paradise Road

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The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy will put you in a trance, slowly meandering along the east side of long Lake Wakatipu. But, even better, if you continue north after Glenorchy you will find a secret backroad called Paradise

 

Queenstown to Fiordlands

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The first time we followed this road was on a big bus on our way to a Doubtful Sound Cruise. For the first part of the drive, you follow parallel to the Remarkables - which frankly, are quite Remarkable. Once you get into the Fiordlands, it’s all open spaces and distant peaks. Quite peaceful. 

 

Bonus road: Up to the Remarkables

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On the way back from hiking the Key Summit Track, just a few minutes outside of Queenstown, we found a very steep drive up to the Remarkables ski area. Do not do this drive in the winter. If the roads are clear, and you’re confident driving twisty, windy, switchbacks at high elevations - you will be rewarded with absolutely stunning views of the Remarkables and greater Queenstown area. 

 

Interested in the North Island? Check out our other road trip post!

North Island, New Zealand Road Trip

Highlighting alternative routes for the ultimate vehicle-based experience.

 

Why Road Trip?

It’s just fun. Plus, New Zealand’s tourism industry is modeled around the assumption that most tourists are getting around via car rental. Most attractions are pretty far apart, and buses don’t run very frequently. The country is too small (only 5 million people!) to invest in an extensive and inexpensive transportation system to connect two islands with insanely varying terrain. As such, car rentals are the most reasonable and reliable method of transport. 

New Zealand is world renowned for its breath-taking landscapes and plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities. So we brought camping gear, and bookmarked tons of secret spots for camping. (They’re not actually very secret. There’s a great app called CamperMate that shows you all the local camping options on a map.) Having a car just makes it easier for us to explore some of the more remote treasures. Plus, camping helps us save money on accommodation. which in turn helps fund the cost of the car! Full circle!

The Department of Conservation, mainly referred to as DOC (as in, waddup doc!), is absolutely phenomenal here in New Zealand. Most areas have an i-Site and/or DOC visitor centre dedicated to helping tourists plan their visit around the local area. So many pamphlets. So many maps. So much support. 

 

Renting a Car

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to rental cars and campervans. JUCY is the most popular - and iconic - choice here in New Zealand. They make a whole line of vehicle options, including the infamous purple and green campercan. A lot of people opt for campervans because they’re well equipped and easy to maintain here in NZ, but being that we already have an outstanding backpacking tent and two mediocre sleeping bags, we chose to downsize to the “el cheapo” option. For 40 days, this little cherry hyundai would be home.

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Unfortunately, you can’t get around the fact that you constantly need to buy gas. It takes 91 unleaded, which isn’t cheap compared to prices in the States, but luckily el cheapo’s are relatively fuel efficient. Much more efficient than a campervan would be.

Also it’s weird, but you pay for gas after you pump it. We learned that the awkward way our first time at the pump. Apparently they “trust people” here. Also it’s called petrol, not gas.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

It’s not actually that weird. It really only takes a day or two to get used to. As always, never drive distracted, and it’s totally fine. At first, turning is the trickiest part. Roundabouts, too. While they’re super efficient for traffic control and emission reduction, they’re definitely less straightforward than a 4-way intersection.

Only complaint: windshield wipers. Every time we go for the blinkers, our wipers start wiping. RIGHT HAND for indicating, not the left. 

 

Our Route

Most people go the most direct route from Auckland to Wellington, stopping in Waitomo, Hamilton, Matamata, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro, and finally Wellington. That’s pretty much the most basic way to go through the North Island, hitting some of its top attractions.

However, we took a very different route, expanding out to other regions of the North Island and cruising roads less travelled. We started in Auckland, and immediately shot north to the Bay of Islands, where we stayed at a friend’s place in Russell. Then we revisited Auckland briefly before heading down to EcoQuest on the Firth of Thames, and around to the Coromandel Peninsula where we stopped along Hahei Beach and the town of Coromandel. Afterwards, we wandered around Waikato, Matamata, Tauranga/Maunganui, and Rotorua. After that, our plans got a little jumbled, but we headed down past Wai-o-tapu to Taupo, and then back up to Ohope to take the East Coast Road to Gisborne and Napier. Finally, we took route 2 through the mountains to the North Island’s southernmost city, Wellington.

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If you’re wondering why we doubled back from Taupo, read this post.

 

Road to Russell

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Dome Forest trail, off SH1 leaving Auckland

Dome Forest trail, off SH1 leaving Auckland

Rockman trail, off SH 1 leaving Auckland

Rockman trail, off SH 1 leaving Auckland

Kauri Grove Trail, Russell Whakapara Road

Kauri Grove Trail, Russell Whakapara Road

 

Coromandel Peninsula - the 309 Road and the Pacific Coast Highway

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Waiau Falls, the 309 Road

Waiau Falls, the 309 Road

Stuart and the Pigs, the 309 Road

Stuart and the Pigs, the 309 Road

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Pohutukawa trees along the Pacific Coast Highway

Pohutukawa trees along the Pacific Coast Highway

 

Southern Waikato

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Limestone rocks poking out of farm hillsides in Southern Waikato

Limestone rocks poking out of farm hillsides in Southern Waikato

Surprise rainbow over the farms along the Waikato River

Surprise rainbow over the farms along the Waikato River

Rainbow over the limestone rocks

Rainbow over the limestone rocks

 

East Coast Road (Tauranga-Gisborne-Napier)

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The East Coast Road climbs and falls through the mountains right up against the ocean

The East Coast Road climbs and falls through the mountains right up against the ocean

Blue and purple rivers wander out to the ocean under the overpasses of the highway

Blue and purple rivers wander out to the ocean under the overpasses of the highway

The East Coast is known for the "old time" feel, where townspeople still ride horses from place to place

The East Coast is known for the "old time" feel, where townspeople still ride horses from place to place

Churches dot the coastline

Churches dot the coastline

 

And of course, no matter where you go:

Sheep

Sheep

 

 

 

Exploring The Coromandel, New Zealand

The Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand stretches along the coast directly east of Auckland. This beautiful peninsula attracts hikers and nature-enthusiasts from around the world because of its lush hiking trails, landscapes, and coastline attractions. 

While our original plan was to spend a day or two hiking the Pinnacles, we had to make different plans after we learned that the trails were closed due to excessive rain (curse you, Spring). We therefore spent a couple of days exploring the Coromandel region and found these gems along the way.

EcoQuest

This was our first stop on the way to the Coromandel and MJ had been talking of nothing else for the weeks leading up to our trip. She spent 15 weeks on a field studies program during college as a study abroad and was seriously looking forward to going back.

It’s beautiful, right on the coast in a small town called Kaiaua which has one bar and a seriously amazing fish & chips takeaway. We spent a night there in one of their cabins, resting and recharging before carrying on to Hahei Beach. 

MJ recently wrote a post on her experience at EcoQuest and its significance to her and her studies. Check it out here.

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Hot Water Beach, Hahei Beach

Hahei Beach was high on our list of things to do after we learned that hiking the Pinnacles was no longer on the table. We got two bunks at a hostel called On the Beach Backpackers, which is a crazy colorful and crazy awesome spot along the beach in Whitianga. We stayed the night, caught MJ up on Lord of the Rings before getting to Hobbiton later that week, and got up early to catch low tide at Hot Water Beach.

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This beach is a pretty famous phenomenon and is usually pretty crowded. We happened to go on a cold, rainy day (again, awesome Spring we’re having here) which ended up working out for us because there weren’t too many people. So, after borrowing a shovel (this is a BYO-shovel location people) from our hostel, we drove 30 minutes and found the beach and the tell-tale group of people clustered around the “hot water” section of the beach.

This beach has a natural hot spring just along the edge of the water. This means that, at low-tide, you can literally dig your own hot tub in the sand between the spring and the ocean. The water can get crazy hot, so don’t try and dig too far up the beach, stick close to where the tide is just coming in. 

Turns out, digging your own hole in the rain isn’t too fun. Lucky for us, we met a couple of German backpackers who invited us to share a huge hole that they had found already made once they got to the beach. We sat there, in the mixed rain and shine, for about two hours with people from all over who had managed to get there in time for the low tide. 

We also befriended a couple of fellow Americans, who hitched a ride with us to our next location: Cathedral Cove. 

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Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach

For those of you who don’t know me personally, there are a few things you should know. I am a Pinterest fanatic (seriously, I don’t even know how many hours I’ve spent on there) and the beach, any beach really, is my favorite place to be. 

SO, after seeing, and pinning, many images of Cathedral Cove in preparation for this trip, I was SO excited to get there. 

Yes, it was magical. Yes, it was everything I hoped it would be. Yes, I swam in the ocean even though everyone there was in full hiking gear. (And, yes, I paid for it afterwards by getting sick almost immediately.)

Unless you decide to go by boat or kayak, it’s about a 45 minute hike to the beach. It’s not particularly difficult, but it can be muddy and you should wear decent shoes (looking at you, American friends who decided to do it in sliders). The beach is beautiful and the “cathedral” cove is just as amazing in person as it is in pictures. We got lucky and managed to snap a couple of pictures before it was crowded with tourists. 

After the beach, it was back to the hostel. We had an incredibly entertaining night of teaching our American friends about whiskey slaps (ask MJ about these) and trying to teach some French friends we met how to play Kings. In French. It got difficult a couple of slaps in.

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Kauri Grove

This grove was a stop along our route out of Whitianga. We followed the Pacific Coast Highway, which started a little after this grove, to get to Matamata. It’s an incredibly beautiful route to take, you can read more about it in this post.

There are numerous Kauri groves in New Zealand, but the one we stopped at is particularly famous for its Kauri formation. The Kauri is one of the native trees of New Zealand and is both very important in the Maori culture as well as in the native New Zealand environment. They’re massive trees and awe-inspiring to look up at. 

While we were here, MJ told me a little history of the Kauri tree. There used to be many Kauris in New Zealand, but they were so big that many were cut down in the early ages of the logging industry. She told me that there was one tree that was cut down that was so big that they used the stump as a dance floor. Now, the trees are protected, and for good reason.

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Driving Creek Railways & Potteries

This was another stop along our way to Matamata. Its a beautiful, unique experience that has you boarding a tiny train that takes you up in to the mountain to a tower overlooking Hauraki Golf. We got lucky with yet another beautiful day and the view is absolutely stunning. 

MJ wrote a more detailed post about our adventures at Driving Creek, you can check it out here.

Home Away From Home

Coming back to EcoQuest.

 

There sits a small town on the coast of the Firth of Thames named Kaiaua. Few people, including native kiwis themselves, know of this fishing town. Kaiaua, however, holds a pot of gold cherished by the lucky few who have gotten to experience it: Kaiaua Fisheries (also known as the best fish n chips shop in the entire world).

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Upon leaving Auckland, we headed straight to the little blue shop for the nostalgic taste of fried hoki and garlic aoili.

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Better still, there sits a small campus just north of these chips in a town called Whakatiwai (the wh- is pronounced as “f”.) This campus is near and dear to my heart, as many of my friends reading this can attest to. EcoQuest Education Foundation is a precious gem that only the luckiest of college students get to discover. 

EcoQuest is a field studies program accredited through the University of New Hampshire, drawing anywhere between 20-26 students from around the US every semester. For 15 weeks (or 5 weeks for the summer program), “EcoQuesters” are immersed in hands-on learning all over beautiful Aotearoa. From the sparkling waters of Goat Island in the north to the secluded forests of Craigieburn in the south, insightful EcoQuest educators turn the natural world into a classroom with just a few Write In The Rain notebooks.

I was lucky enough to spend my fall semester of 2015 at EcoQuest - or rather spring, since we’re technically in the southern hemisphere. In those 15 weeks, I learned about the towering kauri trees of the Coromandel and the deep water trench of Kaikoura. But more importantly, I learned the depths of my passion and the scope of my aspirations.

So, what better place to begin a life-changing 16-month journey around the world than a faraway place I call home?

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I walked the empty campus and let the memories flood my mind - some of which I had forgotten were there. I imagined both hectic days and lazy ones, wishing to be surrounded by my family just one more time. It’s rare in life to be changed in such a profound way that EcoQuest can do to its students. A part of my soul will forever remain in the tattered couch in Granny’s, in the creaky picnic tables outside the Wharekai, in the spirit of EcoQuest.

While I admittedly held onto a bit of jealousy for the current EcoQuest students, I was mostly excited for them to discover the magic of the adventures they’re about to have. In fact, a lot of the value of EcoQuest has been in the years following my departure from Aotearoa, looking back in reflection as to how it changed me for the better. It’s hard to explain the forces of EQ, and I surely wouldn’t want to spoil it for them, but it would be against the spirit of the EcoQuest family not to leave a note for the current students:

Dear EcoQuesters,

I am sorry to have missed you this weekend, I would’ve loved to meet you and give you all the secrets to a perfect semester here in Aotearoa. Lucky for you, they are even more magical when you discover them yourselves. I walked around an empty campus and memories flooded my mind. I would give anything to be back here with my family. I miss the early morning coffee on the Wharekai patio, or afternoon volleyball, late night Granny’s shenanigans… even 3am DRP all-nighters - don’t worry, they’re not that bad. Cherish every moment you have in this magical place with these magnificent people. Enjoy your adventures, big and small. Absorb the knowledge of those around you. Let it change you. Leave this place better than when you arrived. But again, don’t worry, it happens naturally.

Even in facing the trip of my dreams, I can’t help but covet the days I spent here. EcoQuest made me who I am. EcoQuest gave me passion and ambition to follow my dreams. I am beyond grateful to start this journey at my home on the other side of the world. <3

Take care of it. Leave part of yourself here. Take some of it with you. Hold onto it forever.

All my love,

Marijane Soilis, EQ Fall 2015

Revisiting such a meaningful place reminded me how to open myself up again, how to make myself vulnerable to self-improvement. As I head out on the road for the foreseeable future, I take with me the spirit of EcoQuest. I hope to find the same inspiration as I did two years ago. 

Many, many thanks to Ria & Jono for putting us up in cabin 5 this past weekend, and changing my life forever.

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Love It or Leave It

Well, we’re not quite sure if we figured it out, but here’s what we’ve got:

Solving the Climate Crisis

What does New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, India, the Mediterranean, and Northern Europe all have in common? Not their climates. 

To solve this problem, we have set up a very particular solution - with the help of our loved ones back home (thanks moms!). Aside from what we brought on flight NZ 5 (pictured below), we additionally packed three more boxes of clothes/gear to be shipped to locations along our path. First, a box of tropical wear will be shipped to us for muggy Southeast Asia. Second, a box of dresses and sandals will be shipped to us for the sunny Mediterranean. Lastly, a box of sweaters and socks will be shipped to us for wintry northern Europe. With each box, we will swap out what will no longer be needed for the next leg of the trip — i.e. that Patagonia nano puff will not be needed in Southeast Asia. 

But until those swaps happen, enjoy a peak into our 70L packs:

Kim’s magenta Gregory Amber 70L (left) &amp; MJ’s Egyptian blue Gregory Deva 70L (right).

Kim’s magenta Gregory Amber 70L (left) & MJ’s Egyptian blue Gregory Deva 70L (right).

 

The Overflow Part

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Kim:

  • Lo & Sons camera bag

  • Lewis N Clark day pack - compacts down into teeny pouch

  • Generic black purse

  • Nat Geo baseball cap

MJ:

  • Osprey Talon 33L day pack

  • Generic grey purse

  • New York Yankees baseball cap - to rep the home state

 

The Gear Part

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Kim:

  • First Aid Kit - ace bandages, neosporin, band-aids, aquaphor, various meds, dramamine so as MJ does not puke on boats, etc.

  • Outdoor Master ground tarp

  • Screen cleaner rag

  • Camping utensils

  • Luggage scale - we’re looking at you, budget flights

  • Black Diamond headlamp

  • Build & Fitness pack towel

  • Collapsable coffee mug

  • Collapsable water bottle

  • Sea to Summit UltraLight sleeping mat

  • Bandanas x2

  • Sleeping bag in a Sea to Summit stuff sac

  • Cocoon Mummy Liner (silk)

  • Eno double hammock and straps

  • MAPS!

MJ:

 

The Please-Don't-Steal-These Part

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Kim:

  • BUBM electronics organizer - assorted cords and accessories

  • Nintendo DS - Pokemon is a religion for me (see toiletries below)

  • Bose bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones - f*ck you airplane turbines

  • GoPro Hero 4 with underwater housing unit and float accessory

  • iPhone camera attachment

  • Canon EOS Rebel T2i

  • Canon EFS 18-55mm lens

  • Canon EFS 18-200mm lens

  • Apple earbuds x2

  • MPOW rugged portable speaker

  • Divoom portable speaker - yes, we need two

  • Skyroam - useful portable wifi and service generator (look it up if you’re interested)

  • RAV Power iSmart battery pack

  • Matador camera case

  • Assorted chargers and car charger

  • Universal outlet converter

  • Flexible tripod

  • Apple MacBook Pro

  • iPhone 6S

MJ:

  • Bose noise-cancelling headphones - thank you Mama Walker

  • POWERADD solar battery pack

  • MatadorUp camera case

  • Altura padded camera lens case

  • Canon EFS 55-250mm lens

  • Canon EFS 24mm "pancake" lens

  • Canon EOS 80D - represented by the empty space

  • Commander hand strap for camera

  • TIMEX Expedition analog watch

  • NZ outlet converter

  • Apple earbuds

  • Extra camera battery and charger

  • A/V camera battery car charger - we are road tripping after all

  • FitBit Flex 2 - ask me about it, I will rave for hours

  • Port converter - honestly Apple, you’re getting on my nerves

  • ZOOP dive computer

  • GoPro Hero 4 with underwater housing unit

  • Phone charger - sticker on it to distinguish my own from the 50 other ones in a hostel

  • Micro SD card reader

  • Extra SD card

  • SD card reader

  • iPhone 6S

  • Seagate external hard drive - I’m taking A LOT of photos

  • Apple MacBook 12” in gold - I know, it’s super cute :)

 

The Bulky Part

Fun fact: Kim &amp; MJ are the same size shoe… HOW CONVENIENT.

Fun fact: Kim & MJ are the same size shoe… HOW CONVENIENT.

Kim:

  • Mime et Moi black leather sandals with two pairs of heel attachments - because I couldn’t bring just one pair of heels..

  • Columbia lightweight rain jacket

  • Timberland boots

  • Pink Tevas - we don’t have to talk about how cute they are, but we can

  • Croc sandals (they’re cool, okay)

  • Patagonia fleece - SUCH a classic

MJ:

 

The Hard Part

Socks, underwear, and bras not pictured. Obviously we brought them. And yes, they’re sexy. Sometimes they match. We’re on the road, but we’re still single.

Socks, underwear, and bras not pictured. Obviously we brought them. And yes, they’re sexy. Sometimes they match. We’re on the road, but we’re still single.

Kim:

  • Sun hat

  • Black v-neck wool sweater

  • Patagonia hat - it’s MJ’s. She loves Patagonia. Ask her about it.

  • Gloves

  • Long-sleeve base layers x2

  • Short sleeve purple dress

  • Romper

  • T-shirts x6

  • Tank tops x3

  • Encircled multi-way infinity scarf

  • Black leggings x2

  • Blue jeans

  • Bikinis x2 - BEACH PICS

  • Rash guard - for diving

  • Shorts x5

MJ:

  • Black Patagonia mid-layer

  • Black cardigan

  • I <3 Pizza hat - shoutout to Picasso in Stowe, VT

  • Gloves

  • Grey infinity scarf - RIP American Apparel

  • Belts x3

  • Rash guard

  • Long-sleeve base layers x2 - one of them is Patagonia…

  • Tank tops x3

  • Lace bodysuit

  • T-shits x10

  • Dresses x3

  • Romper

  • Bikinis x2

  • Patagonia shorts x4 - I honestly didn’t mean to do that

  • Jean shorts x2

  • Blue jeans

  • Joggers

 

The Fun Part

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Kim:

  • Toiletries - just what you’d expect

  • Pokemon face masks - I told you it was a religion

  • Inflatable neck pillow and eye mask

  • Mini plastic bags - I have a sand collection, it’s really cool

  • Mystical Fire color packs x2 - keepin’ it colorful

  • Waterproof phone bag thing

  • iPhone powered fan - #selfie game strong

  • Mini spray bottle with peppermint oil - spiders hate it, and that’s what matters here.

  • Twist ties and locks

  • Sunnies

  • Sunblock and tattoo guard

  • Journal - thanks Sarah

  • Harry Potter playing cards - I’m a Slytherin. My patronus is a hummingbird, since you asked

  • Kindle

  • Flask - thanks Dave

  • Pencils n pens

  • Business cards - gotta work bitch

  • Snazzy hair clips x2

  • Mase & a taser - fuck with me.

MJ:

  • Sunglasses with croakies

  • Gold switchblade with roses on it - definition of a badass babe

  • Inflatable neck pillow that I forgot to use on the 12hr flight

  • Extra Ziploc bags

  • Journal

  • Doorstop

  • Purell

  • Waterproof phone bag thing

  • Leatherman Juice CS4 - literally the best thing I’ve ever owned

  • Aquatabs

  • DIY travel candle and matches

  • Pen

  • Sudoku book - I’m not a grandma, I just like to stay sharp

  • Polaroids from home <3

  • BANANAGRAMS

  • Kindle

  • Makeup bag with 50 shades of lipstick

  • Toiletries - just what you’d expect

  • Mase & a taser - fuck with me.

 

Oh, and paracord. The blue thing running down the middle.

 

The Thoughts Part

We’re guessing here. This is not a science. We had limited space, and this is how we filled it. Yeah, it’s pretty heavy - around 42.5 lbs each to be exact. But right now, we can’t imagine getting rid of any of it. Maybe we’ll change our minds after carrying them up a few mountains. We’ll keep you posted.

*           *          *

“What is the weirdest thing you brought with you?”

Kim: Pokemon face masks and Mystical Fire color packs.

MJ: BANAGRAMS.

 

 

Fun fact: between the two backpacks, we brought a whopping 17 Patagonia items. SPONSOR US PLEASE. #girlswhoexplore