Hi, my name is Bryony. I am a Letz Live Gap Assistant in New Zealand, and I just had the most incredible summer travelling. I left my base at Ngā Tawa Diocesan School for Australia at the start of December. I then returned to Auckland and road tripped around New Zealand, covering a whopping seven thousand kilometres.
This distance included a long but beautiful drive up to Cape Reinga in the far north before ending up in Invercargill, Southland ten days later. My friends and I planned this trip down to the second, but we soon discovered that this increases the chance of something going ‘wrong’; so here are some of the tricks of the trade that I learnt this summer.
Number one: Go with the flow!
The first thing you should know is that planning your road trip to the last activity is not the most effective way of travelling. Though it is good to have an idea of what you wish to see or do in a day, the timing of: activities, weather, and traffic should be taken into consideration. It is also worth noting how much you’ll find to do while driving through areas.
We passed through places as breath-taking as our planned destinations and had to stop to check them out. When you take away the stress of micro planning and the obligation you feel to go everywhere, the experience becomes less stressful and a whole lot more exciting.
We had no plan to stop in Paeroa on our way to Waihi Beach, but when the giant L&P Bottle came into view, a photo was believed necessary. Another spontaneous stop included the Viaduct lookout along Arthur’s Pass in the South Island.
Number Two: Spend money on experiences.
Travelling on a budget is challenging, but one thing I will never regret is the money that I set aside and put towards new experiences. I completed my first bungee jump from Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world.
Experiencing the first-time emotions of bungee jumping in such an incredible place contributed to my satisfaction of the activity, and the conclusion that it was the best money I had spent over the seven weeks of travelling. It really took my breath away. So much so, I almost had to buy myself the chicken tee shirt. That was before I was reminded of the impossibility of a refund, my feet then soon left the platform.
We headed out on countless other excursions during my gap year which cannot be replicated back home. Some of my favourites included: kayaking, snorkelling, sand boarding down the Te Paki Sand Dunes and learning (or trying to learn) to surf on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Number Three: Travel with friends!
This year I have grown and found my individuality. I have made friends for life in New Zealand and when I think of the distances we have travelled this summer, it would have been so much less enjoyable without good company.
I couldn’t imagine the roadtrip without a car full of friends and constant music blaring through the speakers. Although there are merits to solo travelling such as, the growth of independence, your ability to be self sufficient and personal self-growth.
For me, travelling with company and experiencing my first Christmas away from home made the homesickness a little bit more bearable. If you aren’t travelling with people whose company you enjoy, the journey becomes a little bit longer and a little less bearable.
Number four: Use Roady!
The app is amazing. Most of New Zealand’s walks and viewpoints, set in the most stunning kiwi landscapes, are all shown by their location on the map. This makes planning much easier. I have personally ticked off 67 locations on my Gap Year, each being gorgeous in their own way and having strong links to the Māori culture of Aotearoa New Zealand.
The opportunity to immerse myself in culture is made so much easier when the locations recommended by Roady have so much information readily available onsite. There has not been any place which wasn’t a success and without Roady we possibly wouldn’t have found them at all.
Something I feel makes a location that little bit more special is a sunset or sunrise, the West Coast of the South Island was somewhere this summer where we saw the most beautiful sunsets ever.
Number Five: Budgeting
When travelling over the summer honesty about what we could and could not afford was key. We camped a lot of our time on the road and spent the rest in hostels. For me, staying in luxury resorts or having every meal out wasn’t my goal of travelling. I wanted to see everything I could on a budget. You should plan for the cost of your trip, including food and fuel for example.
Having a chat between friends to work a way to split costs evenly and have an open line of communication when it comes to finances. Even though we were travelling on a budget, I didn’t want to regret any missed opportunity this summer and I didn’t. On your Gap Year, it is important to understand that you will become financially independent and there are more costs to consider than back home.
My best tip for future gappies?
My biggest tip for travelling on your gap year will always be to say yes to the new experiences and opportunities both offered at your school and on the road. This year is the time to let go of fear and immerse yourself in the unknown, try something new and come away with memories. New Zealand is an amazing place for a gap year and there is never nothing to do; next for me is a rodeo, horse racing on the beach and another South Island road trip.
Now is the time to listen to that inner voice urging you to take a gap year! We offer a range of paid gap year programs – don’t hesitate to contact us here or drop us a message on Instagram for more information about upcoming adventures!