“A ride to remember- Winding roads of New Zealand”

Prrems Conversation Over a Cuppa


Recently severely bitten by the traveller bug – Amit Vaid. He and his newlywed wife were bitten on the beautiful winding roads of New Zealand. A keen traveller and a driving and bike enthusiast, here is his travel story!

Vini:  Hello Amit! You went to New Zealand last summer, any particular reason why you chose it as your first destination abroad?

Amit: The idea was of a honeymoon in New Zealand. We went in February, that is the summers, which is the best time to be there because they have extreme winters and also because summer is the ideal time for all the activities there. Considering that a couple of friends had been to New Zealand for a honeymoon and they loved the place, we too decided on going there. I am glad my first trip abroad was here!  This is where the travel bug bit me and now I wish to travel around the world and go back to New Zealand again and this time stays for a longer period- maybe six months or even more!

Vini: How did you go about planning the trip?

Amit: It was a self-planned trip. So we spent around 5.5 lakhs for a twenty-two-day trip- which is way more economical compared to what friends have spent on a fourteen-day trip. We had a list of more than ten places we wanted to travel to.  I started with getting itineraries from various travel agents- this gave a skeleton to the plan.  Now, it was important to decide what to do once we were there- so I started with every location, looked for what activities we could do where. There are many activities that need to be pre-booked but, I would suggest leaving some for the spur of the moment since the weather is pretty unpredictable. For travelling, I chose to hire a car around the country- contacted over ten companies that lease cars and finally decided on one! So finally the plan was ready after a month of serious research and planning on the itinerary and how to travel and everything!

Vini: Wow!!! To do a budget trip for a honeymoon and for long duration is quite a feat, especially since you didn’t compromise on comfort! How did you manage this?

Amit: (laughs) So there are quite some hacks actually. We saved largely on two things- food and travel. We packed as much food as we could- ready to eat packets (GITS, MTR), dry snacks, dry fruits- everything that we could possibly carry, we did. We were allowed 30 kg each as check-in luggage and 7 kg as cabin luggage plus a laptop/handbag; we carried almost 30 kg of food with us! We saved on travel by hiring a car. We hired a car and did a road trip around New Zealand- not only did we save some money we also got a more fulfilling experience of the beautiful country, along with the convenience of stopping by anywhere. So it’s not like they don’t have public transport- In fact, they have a well-connected network of buses with different pass options as well, but in our case, where we stayed for not more than two nights in one place, a road trip was more viable. Apart from this, we made sure to book our flight tickets 3 months in advance. Here’s another hack- While making the bookings try changing your IP address. What often happens is that the ticket rates will increase for the day you are looking for because of the cookies and policies, changing the IP address can help. Also because they reserve the cheapest category ticket for someone booking from New Zealand’s IP address. There is an extension on chrome called ‘Hola’ that you can use for this. There are security issues with it, try doing this on a shared computer at a Cafe or something. Oh very important! For making bookings for activities remember that most places have 100% cancellation charge if you cancel within 24 hours before the activity- here’s a way of dealing with that. A lot of credit card companies offer a virtual credit card, so when you make bookings you give these details and if you want to cancel the booking, just block the card- that way they can’t charge you on it! Or you can use any old deactivated card. Always bargain on cash- they save card transaction commission and paying by cash always saves you at least 10%.

Vini:  Tell us more about your road trip.

Amit: We drove almost 5000 km in New Zealand. One good thing is that the Indian license works in New Zealand (The only condition is it should be in English). We met a friend on the first day and he told us about all the basic dos and don’ts about driving in the country. The best thing is, not a single person honks over there! You come back here and you just can’t take what happens here! There are rules – you may not follow them here but you have to follow them there, especially the lane discipline! Driving there seemed to be difficult initially plus I went from manual to automatic driving after a long gap, the first day, I kept jerking (laughs) but once I got used to it, I enjoyed every bit of it! The whole country is a two-lane road almost so you have to make sure you follow lanes and rules to overtake.  You drive around New Zealand and you see everything it has to offer. There were moments when we just stopped and parked by the side and just sat there taking in everything. We went there at a time when people from almost the whole world were there. Many people take a trip around New Zealand just hitchhiking or cycling. We picked up some on our way. The people who used to travel with us got everything- Hindi music, snacks, food. For us, eating time used to be during travelling. Most of our time went in travelling and to make sure we don’t waste time eating when we reach the destination.

Vini: Must be really interesting to meet new people! How would you remember the locals?

Amit: The time we went, there were people from all over the world, as it is summer and like I said, it’s the best time to explore the country. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE smiles and waves at each other! The people are so friendly there, you feel sad when you come back here! You see the people there living a life! They work from 9-5, everything shuts down by say nine or ten. Everyone there is extremely health-conscious; they follow a healthy early-to-bed-early-to-rise lifestyle. If you look at the life they live there, you won’t feel like returning! Apart from this, the country itself is so organised. Every single path is marked. This makes it so much easier to do things all by yourself. There are times when we don’t even need any guidance or tour guide, all you need is some research and a car. Their websites are so organised and elaborate; every city, every town has a tourist centre where you can get information and help regarding everything and anything you may need.

Shraddha: We read that New Zealand is one of the countries with the lowest crime rate too! Anyway, tell us about the adventure activities you indulged in!

Amit: We did Sky-Diving; Bungee Jumping and white water rafting.

For skydiving, once you’re at the door, they don’t let you think. You turn for a picture and down you go! So when you start, there is a quick introduction, a few instructions and then they suit you up and go on the plane. There are options to choose from what height you want to jump. There is 15,000 feet and 12,000 feet, we jumped from 12,000 feet- as it fits in our budget and also gave us that time to take in the entire experience of the jump- not too much, not too less. So while we were boarding the plane, I walked in last and I realised I’ll be the first to jump out (laughs). Thankfully it was a tandem- like a kangaroo with its baby, so everything was dependant on the guy with me.  Bungee jumping was way scarier! You have to do it by yourself and there’s no one else going down with you. But the experience was great. We did it at the Kawarau River suspension bridge. That is the first commercial bungee jumping site. So, we had an option of jumping and touching the water, and mind you, the water is always shivering cold. There is nothing like it! It’s only the initial jump that is scary, once you do it you feel so much more confident that you want to do it again! White Water Rafting at Okere River (Kaituna) which takes you through 3 waterfalls among the 14 rapids, 2 smaller ones to practice before attacking the 25 feet drop named Tutea Falls. One advice, please jump into the river whenever you get a chance and don’t miss this if you’re around Rotorua.




Vini: That is quite an experience! If you had to suggest some must-visit places, which would they be?

Amit: The thing is, even 21 days were not enough for us to see everything, in fact, we had to let go off a lot of things because of the limited time that we had. Even 2 months wouldn’t have been enough to cover all that the country has to offer. What happened with us is that we travelled to places we wanted to, but didn’t get to enjoy everything. So for my must-visit list, it would be- Milford Sound, Lake Tekapo, Rotorua and Bay of Island.

Vini: What makes these places so special?

Amit: So Milford Sound is a fjord. The weather conditions are just simply amazing. You can see rainfall, bright sun, strong winds- all this in a span of only 2 hours. So it’s like a boat that takes you around the fjord and almost every time we came out on the deck it was a different sight in the sky. Lake Tekapo…I can exactly describe the sight of that place. The night sky is so beautiful- a million stars! You can simply lie on the grass by the lake and watch the sky all night. They even have organised stargazing for those interested. Try to cover the western side of the islands. We sadly missed it and really regret it. The west side has amazing national parks which are a must-see!

Shraddha: Any packing tips you’d like to share?

Amit: Always carry your rain and winter gear- windcheaters and winter jackets. The weather is very erratic. We went in the summers but there was still one day where there was slight snowfall. On other days there was rain and sun when you least expected them. In fact, we went to Haast, the rainfall over there is measured in meters! When we went, it was raining so much that we couldn’t see the road even 5 meters ahead of us.  At Lake Tekapo, the temperature at night was around 2-3℃. So yes, keep your jackets handy! Apart from this, while you are stocking up on food, make sure you don’t carry any fruits or other degradable items. Reason being, when you land, they’ll ask you to throw it away because they are trying to maintain the natural habitat of the country and the biggest challenge they face is trying to keep away foreign species. Apart from this, nothing really, just pack smart, carry what you need and always have sports shoes.

Vini: We can see that you are clearly smitten by New Zealand. In fact, you told us you would want to go there again as well! But where would you like to go next?

Amit: People have told me that I’m saying things like going back there for more time because it is only the first destination abroad I have seen but, trust me, I know what I’m talking about…that place is just brilliant. As for other places, I got suggestions from Iceland, Norway and some more places but my next is a road trip to Leh-Ladakh.

It was great meeting you Amit! Hope you have many more exciting travels!



Our history goes all the way back to early 50s. Prrem and Aloo Vazirani – an accomplished couple who chased after their wanderlust bug. She was a doctor, he was a businessman, and both were filled with a desire to explore the world.

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