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10 Things I Wish I Had Done When I Was In New Zealand

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Traveling to New Zealand under New Zealand Working Holiday Visa is our first experience of staying away from home for so long. What that means is that we can work and travel in New Zealand for 6 months, unless if we extend it for another 3 more. In the end, we did extend another 3 months and ended up staying 11 months in New Zealand! During this period of time, there were 10 things I wished I had done when I was in New Zealand.

I’ve never been away overseas that long in my life, and that proved its challenges. For example, the culture, language, and everything else is very different from Malaysia. Along the way, I’ve encountered things that have built up my character and helped me grow stronger and tougher. And if you’re a person who’s just started traveling, I hope my guide can be your help!

1. Know My Way Around

It’s easy to rent a car in New Zealand and convenient to look for a freedom camp spot using the Campermate App. Get out of your comfort zone and start experiencing the city! Take the bus, train, cycle, or even something as simple as walking around the neighborhood! Don’t get cooped up in your room like us and feel even sluggish from the already-terrible jetlag!

2. Bring more cash

Bring more cash to last until your first job! Both of us brought only $1000 between us the day we arrived in Auckland, and it was just sufficient with a bit more to spare to last us at least two weeks before we receive our first pay. It’s easy to get bogged down by the lack of cash and end up getting really intimidated by not having enough money! However, that’s a different story if you’re looking to travel on a budget.

3. We really don't need so many things

Brought a pouch full of facial products that I ended up not using the whole year and donated a few clothing items to the local clothing bin. Just leave those things at home! Humans really don’t need that many things to survive! Besides, most of the things can be bought in supermarkets for cheap!

4. be brave and explore

This may be your only chance in your life. One thing that I don’t regret is doing the skydiving, which is an experience that I’ll never forget. Louis and I tried going on a swim in the river in a deserted free camp spot in the middle of nowhere. It was freezing, but no regrets there as well! New Zealand is an adventure outdoor, utilize the beauty that it’s giving. Despite that, know your limits or you’ll be risking your life!

5. hitch a hike

man cycling in the streets of auckland

Although it is said to be ridiculously easy to hitch a hike in New Zealand, Louis and I did not try it. We gave up too quickly after waiting for less than 10 minutes. We could’ve waited for a longer time, but ended up walking instead. Be brave and don’t be like us!

6. make sure your passport has enough validity

I thought that a year’s validity left on my passport was enough to get me to New Zealand. It was enough. However, it was not enough when I realized that I needed at least 3 months validity remaining on my passport before I could go to Australia in November. My passport expires in January, hence it was too risky. I ended up waiting about 3-4 months for my passport to be sent from Malaysia to NZ. Because I moved around a lot as, plenty of address-changing and certifying of documents were needed. Not forgetting, lots and lots of phone calls. Spare yourself from this torment and make sure you have at least 2 years validity left on your passport before traveling! 

7. do something else when your seasonal job is out of work

It’s easy to find yourself out of work when it rains too much or when it’s nearly the end of the season. Don’t lay around doing nothing when your seasonal job is out of work! Instead, look up on freelance job openings or work for accommodation to support yourself during this period of time!

8. don't be too concerned of other people's words

There were many times we did not feel so accepted in the community. Although we have never really heard people giving snide remarks about us nor blow our self-esteem, we’ve heard stories of others who did. Even though New Zealand is well-known for its kind community and welcoming attitude (and it is!), there are people who still show obvious disliking toward us. I am also aware that it happens everywhere around the world. A little bit of awareness is enough to tell myself to stop being too concerned of what others think of us because it’s really isn’t worth it to be sad over something you can’t control.

9. know your limits

a motorbike during a run off in dairy farm

Sometimes we just need to come to terms that not everyone can do everything. When you find yourself breaking down and reaching the limit—stop. No one is in charge of your own mental health and well-being but you. Push yourself as much as you can. But if you feel like you’ve reached the breaking point, take a step back and reassess your options before you continue.

10. Know that you are capable

When I was asked by the boss of the flowerbulb company to become a supervisor for one of the grading teams, I doubted my own abilities. All the time, I was afraid of making mistakes, thinking that someone else could do better. Thinking back, I was foolish to think that way. I did not give myself a chance and I was already saying I can’t. You can only grow when you make mistakes.

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