Our flight back to Australia was uneventful other then Australian customs has to be the only national customs service worse then their US counterparts. Literally every time I fly overseas and try to re-enter the country the knucleheads at customs screw up my visa allowing me to work in Australia. It usually takes an hour or two to clear it up but it is extremely annoying. Flying on Air New Zealand on the other hand is a pleasant experience and they even served some nice wine during the flight.
Anyway my wife and I were extremely happy to be back in Australia after being in New Zealand for nearly a month. The two weeks we spent in the campervan on the South Island had wore us out, especially me since I got extremely sick with food poisoning for nearly half the trip on the island.
When we returned to Australia something friends and co-workers would often ask is, which island we liked best, the North or South? I always respond that it depends on what you are looking for because the two islands are totally different from one another. My wife and I were personally more impressed with the North Island because of its many volcanoes, sub-tropical environment, lakes, beaches, and Maori culture. This is something that makes the North Island unique to someone from North America. The South Island’s mountains reminded me a lot of the Cascade Mountains in the American Northwest, so although they were spectacular to see, the scenery was familiar. However, for someone from Australia that has never seen large snow capped mountains before, the South Island may be the better trip to take.
Some other differences between the two islands is the weather. The North Island is sub-tropical with beautiful beaches, while the South Island is cooler with gigantic mountains and lots of snow. Another difference are the cities and infrastructure. The North Island holds the majority of the population of New Zealand and has its only metropolitan ciy, Auckland. The North Island also has much better roads and infrastructure in general making it easier to get around. The South Island on the otherhand has a much smaller population and is mostly farm land located around small rural communities. The South Island’s roads are a joke at times and the terrain itself also makes it harder to get around. However, if a visitor just flies into Queenstown and tour from around there then this isn’t a problem.
So my wife and I will definitely go back to New Zealand some time in the future, but the place we will probably visit first will be the North Island again. There is still a number of things we want to do on the North Island such as climb Mt. Taranaki, see some more of its beaches, the capitol city Wellington, and I wouldn’t mind hiking around Mt. Tongariro again. That is just an amazing hike you cannot walk enough.
The people in New Zealand we found to be very nice and welcoming and if you can believe it, even more laid back then Australians. That is one of the good things about staying at caravan parks; we got to meet and talk to many native New Zealanders. The country is very safe and at no point did we feel threatened by anything other then the substandard infrastructure and a snow storm.
So we are definitely glad we went even if it meant I spent nearly a week of our tour running back and forth to the toilet from the food poisoning I received. So I recommend to anyone thinking of visiting New Zealand to definitely check it out, but pass on the sushi.