New Zealand

 No photos have been retouched, filtered or photoshopped.
This is 100% New Zealand! 

If you want to get to know a someone, travel with them.  If you really want to get to know someone, live with them.  If you really, really want to know someone (and yourself), hit the road in a camper van. – Passionfruit


Matatiaho Conservation track, the Alps of NZ


We free-ranged our way around the south island of this country for 3 weeks, in a sweet little camper van, and… we’re still married! Yah! We fell hard for this place. It came to represent everything that is still right in the world. In a nutshell, the whole country looks and feels like a National Park.

Take my Breath Away NZ

  1. Most unspoiled waters, lands and air we’ve ever experienced in all of our travels.
  2. Glaciers. This land was carved up by ’em! Sadly, they are receding quickly due to that fake news called global climate change.
  3. Blissfully unpopulated even during “high season”. NZ’s entire population is 4.7 million people. The south island a mere 1 mill. Coming from a city of 2.7 million in Taichung this felt like low season to us.
  4. Cute sheep, 27.6 million of them (that’s 6 sheep per person)! I think a few would go well with the 2 corgis and a dozen beehives I plan to have someday.
  5. No billboards, chain hotels, restaurants or malls mucking these country sides.


We saw 4 glaciers: Fox, Franz Joseph, Tasman and Hooker and all have dramatically melted in the past 10 years. Just 10 years ago this beauty was sitting where we are standing. Going fast.  🙁

Grazing Paradise for animals & humans

Sheep, cow, deer (not wild, but farmed ones) and hares are everywhere, aka Bunnyland, NZ! We kept looking for the inhumane treatment of animals, packed in tight awful conditions, but nope, not here. Our favorite milk in Taichung comes from NZ (our second favorite milk comes from Hokkaido, Japan – also lots of happy grazers there too). Most animals seem to have fabulous lives here with one bad day if ya know what I mean unless you’re a lucky Icebreaker supplier.

This country is ‘keeping!

We have never seen so many hives so evenly dispersed throughout a country. It seems every farmer, regular Joe-blow and the Department of Conservation is ‘keeping. It pays off too because the produce and booze in NZ is delicious. Wine, hops, fruit trees galore, and beloved avocados… I bow to you! One can stumble across a delicious fresh produce stand any day, often selling jars of honey too (via an honesty cash box). The vibe felt like what you might experience in a small, safe, un-populated, un-junked up, environmentally savvy town in the USA (not sure where that is anymore), but it’s the happening in southern NZ!!!

It’s confirmed. I’d like to be a NZ honey bee when I’m reincarnated and if that’s not possible, a NZ sheep, preferably in the French Pass region. Pickles’ is sticking with a lobster because they live 100 years.


Van life was way more fun and exhilarating than expected. Living in a van is like being a flight attendant of your own minimalistic home. Every item has a place and it must be battened down before lift-off. Being a lover of all things organized made this lifestyle easy-breezy. Multi-use spaces rule! By day our van had two cushioned benches and by evening it converted to a dining room, then by night it transformed to the the double bed snuggle zone. It was unclear if Pickles’ most serious house rule of NO EATING IN BED would apply or not.

* We rented a certified self contained van which means that we carried enough water for 3 days, had our own porta toilet and could contain all our own waste water. NZ created this certification for vehicles to help protect the environment and public health. Having this sticker on your vehicle also enables you to legally camp in beautiful, remote areas that have no facilities (bathrooms/water). Here are the guidelines if you want to pimp out your vehicle. We recommend this paint job:

Chasing Sunbeams & Glacial Waters

We didn’t plan much except that we wanted to circumnavigate the island counter-clockwise starting in Christchurch (17 different camp spots noted on map or check out the interactive google link). Our virtual guide for where to camp was an app called Camper Mate. Camp sites are so plentiful that we decided where to camp that day and rolled in without reservations. Really, only the huts (for the multi-day trampers) in the National Parks require reservations. We had booked a 3 day tramp in the Kepler Track in the Nat. Fiordland Park, but weather was 0 degrees with rain so we canceled and chased the sun. After all, our goal was to have fun and stay married.

Grapes & Hops – a – lot

Brittany (and her sister Ashley) rock ‘n the work visas from OREGON… living the dream!

Solo Woman’s March on Jan 21st

His happy place

Her happy place

This is French Pass = Verklempt

the original selfie stick

High season

Cape Farewell

The northernmost part of the south island and the windiest!

Angry Frothy Sea Foam


Oh, to be young. We picked up all hitchhikers we encountered and all were rock ‘n the working holiday visa. Mandate that your kids take advantage of this before they turn 30 or have them call Uncle Pickles & Auntie Passionfruit and we’ll set them straight. US citizens can go to Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Ireland (pending Trump doesn’t piss them off in the next 4 years). We’re trying not hold it against our parents that we weren’t mandated to do this, but really… how did we miss this opportunity?!


Brakes screeched for these hitchhiking Chilean fun tights!

Lake Pukaki & Mount Cook

A favorite freedom camping spot, perched high without a soul around except graceful hares poking in and out of the tall grasses. It was like stepping in to Kit Williams’ Masquerade book.


Mount John University Observatory

Drunk Kiwi in Queenstown

Alpine Wetlands! What the Heck?

Fiordland Hiking

We spent a day hiking Gertrude Saddle… just a wee alpine valley carved out by a big ass glacier. Oh, we humans… we are such small specks in this universe. Humbling indeed.


Kiwi lumbar stretch


Steampunk HQ in Oamaru, NZ


New Zealand is Kit Williams-esque

This is a favorite book (published in 1979), also a real life treasure hunt if you could solve the elaborate puzzle – which my sister and I spent hours trying to do as ten year olds! I couldn’t stop thinking about this book throughout our trip, even though it’s based in the UK, the scenes draw beautiful parallels to NZ. If you can snag a copy of this gem, do it!

One last stop before we fly home..


It’s a long flight, but if you get the opportunity, go. Experience this place. We think it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet . No photos will ever do it justice.

* The weka (also known as Maori hen or woodhen) is a flightless bird species, endemic to New Zealand. Who’s a dirty weka? We are!




Pickles & Passionfruit

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5 thoughts on “New Zealand

  1. Wow, WOW ,WOOOOOWWW! What photo did I like the best? Hummm
    1. French Pass Bicycle
    2. Frothy Sea
    3. French Pass
    4. Cape Farewell with black sheep
    5. All the rest!

  2. WOWZERS! I’m with Kate in being WOWED by your amazing photos and fabulous commentary. Very cool to see all the places you went on the interactice google map. I commend your primary camper van goals of having fun and staying married. Mission accomplished. Well done 🙂

  3. You were in a Toyota Hiace Camper van!!! So jealous! I’m predicting we will become an intentional van’munity caravaning around together as old farts.

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