New Zealand – my home, well kinda, I was born in the UK but raised in New Zealand and consider myself a kiwi at heart - with a the genetics of an English man (bad teeth, prown to baldness, fat, pasty). Although I haven’t been involved in any Black Ops missions in NZ I have had many adventures and feel well equipped to give some reasonably well informed travel advice for the land of the long white cloud. Most of the info I will give you will revolve around the north island as I haven’t even visited the south island ( yes I know this is terrible, but most English people I meet in London haven’t been to Wales or Scotland so fuck off with your comments about that).
So these are my musing on my adopted homeland: First things first, NZ is a beautiful place. When you live there you kind of forget, but after living in grey, dirty London for the last 7 yrs every time I go home I’m amazed at the landscape and countryside, its rugged, isolated and seriously stunning.
The local people are generally really friendly and be advised, when in a supermarket or any other place of custom, you will most probably be expected to have a conversation with the person serving you. The food is similar to what any English person would be used to except the quality and freshness of the ingredients is unbelievable, which really does make a difference. For foodies NZ is definitely a place to enjoy great quality eating and drinking. The seafood is unbelievably good and the pies are amazing; to this day I have not found a country that does meat pies like you can get in NZ. Steak and Cheese is my pick of the bunch but there are hundreds of different flavours to choose from. The NZ pie is something kiwis hold dear to their hearts and once you have tasted one you will never want a watery steak and ale pie from Tesco again.
Café and coffee culture is huge in NZ and for the first few years of living in London I severely missed good coffee, luckily London has finally caught the coffee bug.Once in NZ you will realize how seriously people take coffee and will be spoilt for choice when it comes to good cafes. Arts wise we have a fantastic film industry, great music scene, plenty of galleries and museums but most people come to NZ for the outdoors and this is where my homeland shines. You can hike, snowboard, raft, surf, skydive and basically do any adventure type sport within a few hour’s drive of each other.
During my time living there I went snowboarding every season on Mt Ruapheu which has to be a highlight. It has the largest ski area in the north island and although it can get icy, the boarding can be excellent. In Summer it’s worth taking the chairlift up to the top just for the views and a walk around. For LOTR fans you will be in heaven as loads of the film was shot around here. Another awesome thing you can do right next to Ruapehu is hike the Tongariro Crossing which has been voted one of the worlds best walks, it takes a whole day and the scenery you walk through is spectacular. I would recommend not doing it in converse and cut off jeans in the middle of a storm.
The volcano you walk past features as Mt Doom in Lord of the rings (basically everything in existence in New Zealand has appeared in LOTR or The Hobbit).
If you like walking or snowboarding/skiing check out The National Park, it has everything and is only around 4 hours south of Auckland or 4 hours north of Wellington.
We basically have two major cities in the North Island - Auckland which is massive and is made up of loads of different areas which each have their own vibe surrounded by awesome beaches & Wellington which on the other hand is small, windy and a very different beast to Auckland. There is an endless debate about which is better, I personally prefer Wellington, it’s prettier, easy to get around, has awesome bars, cafes, cinemas and a more chilled out vibe. Auckland is bigger, nosier, loads more beaches, and although it has better weather I just don’t know it as well. In between the two cities are basically loads of towns, some larger than others, these towns mostly consist of a pie shop, a tinnie house (where people buy cannabis) a BP, and a gift shop.
Some are nicer than others, if you see loads of massive dudes in leather jackets with patches on their back with emblems such as Mongrol Mob or Black power, I would just drive to the next town for your steak and cheese pie.
The Beaches are awesome, if you are from Europe or a populated country you will be shocked when you head to a beach and have it to yourself, this obviously doesn’t happen in the big cities but if you go out a bit you can find beautiful sandy beaches stretching for miles on end without another person in sight. You won’t find any deck chairs or people offering you massages or sunglasses for sale here. Some of the best beaches to check out would be (starting in Auckland); Piha - big surf and and pretty rough but good fun, try not to drown or get caught in a rip. Any beaches in the Coromandal are going to be stunning but cathedral-cove is one of the favorites. Across to the west coast you have the volcanic black sand beaches such as raglan for great surfing, before heading down to Wellington and the numerous beaches surrounding the city. Basically you will be spoilt for choice in NZ for beach time.
Wellington – the capital city has a load of hidden gems when it comes to things to do and some of the best coffee and food in New Zealand. It has a pretty decent city beach and a small but great nightlife.If you are visiting for a few days there are a few key things you should do. One is drive around the bays starting in oriental bay (city beach) and just follow the road around until you get to scorching bay and check out the beach and café there. A real pretty little spot for a swim and some food; sip on a flatwhite while eating some calamari. You can also check out Peter Jacksons film studios on this drive and head to the Weta Cave which is a free museum/shop from Weta workshop where you can check out some props from all the films Weta have worked on. The Food scene in Wellington rocks and some classics are Fidels on Cuba st which does delicious food and fantastic coffee so it’s well worth a visit plus you can check out the iconic Cuba st of wellington. Another big thing in Wellington is Malaysian food, best I’ve had anywhere except Malaysia and dirt cheap too. Head to Satay Kingdom for some Roti Chani and a ginger beer. Finally head up to Mt Victoria Lookout for an epic view of Wellington and the Harbour for sunset. Head back down to the city for numerous craftbeer bars, typical pubs or cocktail bars. There are loads of good drinking spots and they have probably all changed but basically Courtney place is full of cheesy, meat market type bars, where as Cuba st is better for live music and hipster esque bars. If you like film you are going to be in heaven in Wellington, the cinemas range from the small independent ones, to the Multiplex, to the very grand and ornate Embassy Theatre. Peter Jackson even owns his own Art Decco cinema in Miramar not too far from his studios, if I was in Wellington and wanted to see a film I would go check out the Embassy theatre, have a drink in the very trendy bar underneath and then pop in to watch a film. After this I would pop across the road to Sweet Mothers Kitchen for some Southern American style food and a delicious beer or cocktail.
There are a few spots out of Wellington worth checking out as well Makara is a sparsely populated area not too far from wellington with an awesome rugged coastline looking out over the Tasman sea, it is well worth a day trip for a walk along the cliff tops a picnic followed by a drink of two. There are loads more place I could write about but I think this will do for now.
In summary NZ is a great place to visit, its not cheap, but you will be eating yourself to shit everyday, seeing amazing sights, talking to mostly happy people and having an awesome time.
Make sure you get involved with the pies, the coffee, the local beers and make friends with some locals as they know all the hidden spots to take you too.
Everyone smokes weed in NZ, if you want any it shouldn’t be hard to find, ask someone with dreads where you can get some.
You can’t buy spirits in supermarkets only beer and wine
You need a car to get around without one you will be travelling on shit buses which are full of the dregs of society and expensive and slow.
Green Lipped Mussels are amazing, eat as many of these as you can. Try a Paua Fritter as well.
Chip and Pin is called Eftpos in NZ and everyone pays with card for everything even gum.
KFC serves potato and gravy in a tub. Eat it.
Get a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island for the day, drink wine, hang out on the beaches.
Best Bakery in NZ for Pies is easily Bucharts in Wangnaui
people like to drink in garages.