My Month in New Zealand

I flew into New Zealand with a very loose idea of what I wanted to do and I wasn’t even sure how long I was going to spend here. Instead of creating an itinerary beforehand, I wanted to figure things out as I went by talking with locals, other travelers, and playing things by ear because I had the luxury of time. Now as I am waiting for my flight out, here’s a look back on the itinerary I ended up with during my month in New Zealand.

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Photographing the Milky Way with a Sony A6000/A6300/A6500 Camera

For about a year I’ve been trying to see the Milky Way, which isn’t visible in the light polluted Los Angeles Area, and after visiting a handful of dark sky spots: Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Fairbanks, Alaska, and not seeing it due to weather or other conditions; I finally caught my first breathtaking view of the Milky Way on the Big Island of Hawaii. *See bottom of post for more on this

Since then my next goal has been to photograph the Milky Way. Initially I just assumed that I couldn’t do it without thousands of dollars of equipment, but after some research, learning and a lucky attempt in Raglan, New Zealand on a night with just the right conditions, I realized that it’s possible to capture spectacular images of the night sky with a mid-level DSLR or mirorrless camera.


I think anybody nowadays with a decent camera can take this photo or better. Just takes a bit of research and persistence.

What you need:

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Hiking Mount Ruapehu

I heard from other travelers I met in New Zealand that Tongariro National Park was a place I couldn’t miss if I wanted to see some of the unique nature/volcanoes of the North Island. The area itself has 3 majestic active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings” films) and Ruapehu, as well as some more cool colorful lakes and boiling mud pools.

So I headed over hoping to do one big hike in the area.

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Volcanic Landscapes of Rotorua and Wai-o-tapu, New Zealand

This is my photo journal exploring the volcanic and geothermal landscapes on New Zealand’s North Island. It was otherworldly in both sight and smell.

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Unglamorous - Choosing Between Moldy Socks and Rotten Eggs

I love traveling because it expands my perspective and I get to see new places, meet so many different people, and experience new things around the world. But even though Instagram might try to convince us otherwise, it would be crazy to think that it’s all glamorous.

This is a story of one of the unglamorous moments of travel:


About 2 weeks after I started to travel through New Zealand, I arrived at a town called Rotorua. I was here because this place was known to have a lot of volcanic and geothermal activity with steam vents, boiling mud/water pools and geysers. I thought that was cool and wanted to check it out. Upon arriving I noticed that the city also had a distinct smell of rotten eggs due to all the volcanic/geothermal activity everywhere releasing sulfur into the air.

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A Week in Raglan

After exploring the Coromandels and Auckland, I headed to a remote town by the ocean on the North Island of NZ called Raglan. I was hoping to just slow down and do some surfing, since the waves here are touted as some of the best in New Zealand. However I ended up doing way more than just surfing. I hitchhiked for the first time, made a fellow traveler friend, and took the best photo I’ve ever taken.


I checked into my hostel in Raglan on Monday September 24th, 2018. It was pretty cheap (~$20/night) empty and quiet but during the busy summer season it’s a yoga/eco/surf retreat. There were a handful of other travelers there but most of them were staying and working for their accommodation. The ‘rooms’ were just repurposed old train carriages and there was limited wifi and power outlets.

The room that I stayed it. It's dorm style and sleeps 6 people on 3 bunk beds inside

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The People I've Met in New Zealand

In my first week and a half of traveling through New Zealand I’ve chatted and hung out with some really interesting and friendly people. I met most of them at the hostels that I stay at, and it’s eye opening to see how different people from all over the world travel, live, and set goals.

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Exploring the Coromandel Peninsula - The Pinnacles

Day 2 of exploring the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand. I went to hike the Pinnacles, which is a ~6hour round trip hike to a peak with great views of the surrounding areas. Originally used as a path for loggers. I was excited as this was my first hike in New Zealand and I’d get a chance to see all the plants and nature firsthand.


We were planning on doing a hike on Saturday but it was raining so we decided to explore some beaches and other spots on he peninsula first. We drove through rolling hills and passed a lot of sheep

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Exploring the Coromandel Peninsula - Beaches and Coves

Made a friend at the airport in Auckland and we made plans to explore the Coromandel Peninsula over the past weekend. It’s an area about 2 hours east of Auckland with some stunning hikes and beaches. Over the course of 2 days we explored New Chums Beach, Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and did the Pinnacle Hike. I keep hearing the South Island is much more scenic than the North Island of New Zealand but that’s almost hard for me to believe because I was blown away at the natural beauty I encountered this weekend.

Day 1 - Beaches and Coves:


We were planning on doing a hike on Saturday but it was raining so we decided to explore some beaches and other spots on the peninsula first. We drove through rolling hills and passed a lot of sheep

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Finding Pockets of Home Abroad

It’s been a week since I left home to go on a long term trip around the world, and being a homebody, I know that not having a place to call home for a while will take it’s toll on me if I’m not able to manage it. But even though I don’t have a physical place to ‘go home to’ as I bounce from hostel to hostel, I think that I may be able to find little pockets of ‘home’ in everyday things. If I can do that, it’ll allow me to enjoy all the new things without being overwhelmed, and keep the feelings of homesickness at bay.

So far I’ve been looking for and finding these pockets of home in:

  • Music - Reviving and listening to my old playlists.
  • Food - Taking my time to cook warm hearty meals and buying food and snacks that I used to eat a lot back home.
  • Friends - Messaging friends back home, and making new friends and connections.
  • Rituals - Drinking a cup of hot chocolate or tea in the morning or taking my time to wash up and get ready for the day.
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