Photos: (clockwise from left) Unsplash/ThatPhotoGuyNL, Photoholgic and Tim Marshall
So the first travellers from the “non-essential travel” category arrived here from New Zealand recently, after Singapore lifted restrictions on travel from the Pacific country.
Looking at the news pics of these visitors collecting their luggage and loading it onto a baggage trolley at Changi made me a bit wistful – wouldn’t it be nice if we, too, could be doing the same at Auckland or Christchurch airport? Or tearing across the awe-inspiring Ahuriri Valley like in Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” (which, if you didn’t already know, was partly filmed in the South Island)?
Of course, New Zealand hasn’t lifted any border restrictions yet. In fact, a government job advertisement posted last month sparked rumours that it only plans to do so in two years. If that’s truly the case, a visit to the Land of the Long White Cloud could be a lot further away than you might think.
But thanks to passionate Kiwis (and a chunky government discount on campervans), scratching that NZ itch in the meantime won’t be tough. Many have taken to hiring the discounted vans to explore the length of their country, and they’re sharing their adventures on YouTube in what’s turning out to be the best collective guide to New Zealand ever.
Below, a few juicy picks from the bunch. But before you start watching, here are some essential things to know about this island country in the Pacific Ocean.
DESTINATION NEW ZEALAND
At around 268,000 square km, sprawling New Zealand is roughly 374 times the size of Singapore, with a diverse landscape that makes it a filming location hotspot.
Movies filmed here include everything from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy to “King Kong”, “The Piano” and of course the newly released “Mulan”. (Not forgetting one of my fave indie movies, the 2007 comedy horror film “Black Sheep” about genetically engineered sheep who take over a New Zealand farm – especially terrifying when you realise that there are six times more sheep in NZ than people).
The country is divided into two main land masses: The temperamental, volcanic North and the ruggedly scenic South, plus around 600 smaller islands.
Given its remote location, New Zealand was one of the last areas in the world to be settled by humans (just 800 years ago, it was unknown to man). In fact, it’s the third-closest country after Argentina and Chile to Antarctica!
So what does this fascinating destination look like today? Hop on board these #vanlife videos for an insider look at New Zealand.
DISCOVER AWESOME SEAFOOD MEALS
Go on a North Island seafood feast with YouTube foodies Thomas and Sheena as they drive their campervan up to the coast, chuck a line into the sea and cook up some grilled fish and potatoes. In this episode of their new North Island food series, they also discover a pie shop that sells delicious abalone pies. Warning: Don’t watch on an empty stomach.
GO BEACH EXPLORING
Cute young couple Daneger and Stacey have just rented a campervan for five weeks and are hitting up New Zealand’s Coromandel region to discover the area’s best places. Get in the van with them as they settle in, get used to van life and visit the popular Hot Water Beach in this first episode of their Reveal NZ series. Totally wishing Singapore had campervans for rent now!
TAKE IN SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS SIGHTS
Join former teacher Benjamin Hilliam’s family expedition as he takes his kids on a drive to New Zealand’s most famous fjord, Milford Sound, and the lakeside resort town of Wanaka. Check out the quaint villages along the way and learn about the region with Hilliam’s interesting info nuggets and reviews of the various campsites. Great for parents planning an epic family road trip for when we get to travel again.
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