Month One Summary: January – February 2014

I have been on the road now for over one month!  I really cannot believe it has been a month already, but they say time flies when you are having fun!  I will be summarize each moth as I go so you all can have some perspective as to what I have been up to, how much it costs, and share any insights I have gathered.


22 January – 21 February 2014*

*I have decided to include the entire month of February so each subsequent month to follow is singular

Days Traveled this Period:       37

Countries Visited:     2

  • New Zealand
  • Cook Islands

    NZ map

    My full route with Stray

Cities Visited (Overnight stops):                18

New Zealand

  • Queenstown
  • Holleyford Valley
  • Invercargill
  • Mt. Cook
  • Rangitata
  • Kaikoura
  • Wellington
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Auckland
  • Whangarei
  • Paihia
  • Hahei
  • Raglan
  • Mourea
  • Lake Aniwhenua
  • Whakahoro

Cook Islands

  • Rarotonga
  • Aitutaki


Number of Flights:     6

  • Denver, Colorado (DEN) to Orange County, California (SNA)
  • Los Angeles, California (LAX) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
  • Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN)
  • Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Rarotonga, Cook Islands (RAR)
  • Rarotonga, Cook Islands (RAR) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)

Distance Flown:                                  11,890 miles (19,134km)

Time Spent on Flights:                       23 hours, 30 min


I have a backpacker bus pass with Stray while in New Zealand and I am loving it!  It is a perfect way to get around the country, not have to drive, see all the highlights (and some unique stops), and meet a TON of awesome people.  If you are interested in booking with Stray, use this Straymates code: AM7622 for an additional 5% off your bus pass!

Bus Segments:                   17

Distance on Bus:                2,514 miles (4,092km)

Time Spent on Bus:           49 hours


Ferry Rides:                        2

  • Picton to Wellington (South Island to North Island)
  • Paihia to Russell (Bay of Islands)


Different Beds Slept In:                                                 23

Number of Top Bunks (ugh!):                                         8

Number of nights of free accommodation:                    6

  • Thanks to the Lewins and Wendy for their hospitality!

Best Hostel:                        Adventure Queenstown or Karioi Lodge, Raglan

Worst Hostel:                      Base Wellington


Adventure Queenstown spoils you!


Items Lost:

  • Nalgene – I seriously lost this within a day of being in NZ.  I just buy and reuse water bottles
  • Spork – bummer, but haven’t felt the need to replace it
  • Hat – This is seriously such a sad loss for me!  I loved this hat it traveled with me across 4 continents and now it is MIA.  I think I sadly left it behind at a hostel along the way 🙁

Items Purchased:

  • Hoodie – the South Island was much cooler than I was expecting! ($50)
  • Shorts – I am absolutely in LOVE with the Icebreaker brand (merino wool).  They are comfy, quick dry, and don’t hold smells 🙂 They are a NZ brand so I sprung for a pair of shorts for the North Island – much warmer and for the Cooks!  They were a bit pricey ($90), but worth it.
  • 2 Tank Tops – cheapies for the islands ($10 each)
  • Swimsuit – got a 2nd cheap bikini before I went to the islands ($30)
  • Hat – to replace my beloved hat that I lost 🙁 ($20)


Number of times eating out:      3

Best Meal:                                   Vudu Café, Breakfast

Best Deal:                                    Free drinkable tap water!


Books Read:                       7.5

  • Divergent, Veronica Roth
  • Insurgent, Veronica Roth
  • Allegiant, Veronica Roth
  • Fluke, Christopher Moore
  • Unwind, Neal Shusterman
  • Unwholly, Neal Shusterman
  • Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  • Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walt (finally finished the last half!)

I have read more books in the last month than I have read in the last 3 years!  Loving this.  More recommendations are always welcome!


*Watch for blog postings for all of these soon!

Emerald Lakes along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Money, Cheddar, Moola, Dough….STATS

Money Spent:   $3,933…ouch.

Daily Average:  $106

  • This is definitely going to be one of the most expensive months for me over the next year.  I knew New Zealand was going to be the most costly countries I would be visiting, but leave it to me to throw in some exotic islands too!
  • This figure excludes the flight to NZ and the cost of the Stray bus pass used while in New Zealand since these were paid for prior to coming here.
  • It does include the cost of flights between NZ and Cook Islands ($511) and the inter island flight in the Cooks ($329)
  • Rooms pretty much cost what they cost…dorms average about $28/night in NZ
  • My eating out was pretty limited, but it took me awhile to find my groove in buying groceries. I felt like I was spending money everyday on new food. Planning ahead and group meals helped. Try and find grocery stores outside of the main tourist towns…you’ll save a ton.
  • Going out and drinking alcohol isn’t cheap in NZ (or the Cooks), but I found a new love for cider while in NZ!  Try and have some drinks prior to going out to save a few bucks at the bars. Also, try and buy your alcohol at the supermarket to save.
  • Internet is tough in NZ and free wifi is almost none existent.  In major tourist areas you can buy 24 hours for $4, but usually it’s pretty slow with heaps of people using the same network.
    • Cook Islands is even worse (obviously).  It is a good time to just turn off and enjoy being disconnected.  I did pay $9 for 60 min of internet time because I needed to shore up some things

Overall, I think I am doing quite well with my spending.  We have the option (aka…temptation) for activities everyday that range from $10 – $500.  I am pretty selective in what I choose to do, but at the same time I don’t want to miss out on something amazing.  I do look forward to the time where I can stop the hemorrhaging a bit soon, though 🙂

I will be posting a more in depth summary for each country I visit as I complete them so you can see what my actual budget turns out to be.  It will be more extensive with a breakdown of costs for accommodations, food, activities, etc.

What other things are you interested in knowing?  Let me know in the comments below and I will see if I can add that to next month’s summary!

Photo Credits:

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4 Responses to Month One Summary: January – February 2014

  1. Martha Maruca March 13, 2014 at 23:20 #

    I like your approach regarding sharing your lists, etc. Keep it up! Enjoy…and Thanks for being a good ambassador for the USA.

    • Amy March 14, 2014 at 01:06 #

      Glad you are enjoying them, Martha! I always loved reading other blogs that provided information like this, so I am trying to return the favor. I hope it helps to inspire others to travel as well 🙂 let me know if there is anything else you would like me to include!


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