Christchurch, New Zealand

Damaged church in Christchurch

Christchurch ended up being a sort of last minute booking for me. I hadn’t really thought out what I wanted to do there, and my main motivator for visiting was the tour bus that I was planning on taking from Christchurch to Queenstown (you can read about that further down this post). There isn’t quite as much to do in Christchurch as there is in other cities, thanks to the massive earthquake that devastated the city in 2011 and reduced around 80% of the downtown core to rubble. But, I was able to make my short time there worth it!

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Wellington, New Zealand

The Northern Explorer train

As I mentioned in my Auckland post, I decided to travel from Auckland by way of the Northern Explorer, a train that runs through the North Island countryside over the course of about 10 hours. The seats were comfortable, the food available on board was tasty (albeit not cheap), and the views were spectacular!

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Auckland, New Zealand

The Green Dragon

It was so, so refreshing to step off the plane and out into the cool, New Zealand evening air after a month straight of roasting hot weather. I was greeted at the airport by Terry, a friend of my aunt. He and I had coordinated him picking me up, but he graciously offered me dinner and a night’s stay at his home in the Auckland suburbs, which I accepted. Sure, I’d arrive at my hostel one night late, no big deal. We had a wonderful Indian meal and then I more or less went right to bed for the night.

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New Zealand - 100% Pure New Zealand

View of Lake Tekapo and nearby mountains

New Zealand was actually the second country I selected for this trip, despite it being the last one I ended up visiting. For a while, I even considered skipping it because I’d be there during the winter, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything like swimming or surfing! It also meant packing extra warm clothing that I’d be carrying around with me for a month in Japan and Vietnam. But I decided to do it, even just to check out some of the skiing on the South Island. And damn, was it worth it.

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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Gate leading into an alley

By the time I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City from Da Nang, I only had a couple of days time to explore. And being a city with a population of 10 million, I definitely didn’t get the chance to see everything I wanted! But I had to make due with the time I had.

I checked into my hostel, The Like Hostel, after a quick bus ride from the airport. It was pretty nice - tucked into an alley in District 1, it offered relatively quick access to many of the places I wanted to visit. It also featured a fun rooftop bar that provided free breakfast in the mornings.

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