November has been a month of stark contrasts: white sandy beaches and snow-capped mountains; suffocating heat and freezing cold temperatures; first class flights and camping; some of the cheapest prices in the world to some of the more expensive. If you read our October recap, you’ll know that we went to the Philippines and New Zealand this month. Without further ado, here’s our November monthly recap!
- Cebu (1 night)
- Malapascua (5 nights)
- Boracay (5 nights)
- Coron (5 nights)
- Manila (1 night)
- North Island (6 nights): Auckland –> Pinnacles –> Rotorua –> Tongariro –> Wellington
- South Island (7 nights): Renwick –> Abel Tasman –> Granity –> Greymouth –> Arthur’s Pass
As you may have read above, November has been a month of diverse places for us. Going from the Philippines to New Zealand was quite a large change in terms of pretty much everything: from the weather to the crowds to the cleanliness to the scenery. Our favorite spots in the Philippines were Malapascua (Pete) and Coron (Brittany), and in New Zealand were Renwick (Marlborough), Abel Tasman National Park, and Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Having a kitchen in Boracay. It was wonderful getting to cook ourselves breakfasts!
Island hopping in Coron, Palawan. We really liked “Tour C,” which consisted of gorgeous beaches. Blog post coming soon!
First class flights on Singapore Airlines. Spending time in our own suites in the air was a luxurious experience we’ll never forget.
Renting a car in New Zealand. The freedom to go anywhere, at anytime has been so nice.
Hiking in NZ. After so much chaos in Southeast Asia, the fresh air and abundant nature has been incredibly appreciated.
Meeting up with friends in NZ. Hanging out with Brandon & Jared was so much fun! We’re so glad they let us hijack their vacation 🙂
Wine tastings in Marlborough. Most of these were cheap or free and boasted glorious views, and wine was a nice change from all the beer we drank in Asia.
Lighthouse walk in Malapascua. Being lead up the hill to the lighthouse by adorable, outgoing girls was a perfect example of how friendly the people were in the Philippines.
Warden at the Pinnacle Hut. We briefly met Pete, a 70-ish-year-old man, when we were taking shelter from the rain mid-hike. He romped into the hut wearing short shorts, a tank top, rain boots and a baseball hat, exclaiming, “Well, that’s a bloody nuisance” in his New Zealand accent. He was simultaneously a cutie and a badass; we wanted to be his friend.
Hair scare in Boracay, Philippines. I decided to get my hair dyed and it almost went horribly wrong. Blog post coming soon!
Random ailments in the Philippines. Pete got a strange rash on his lip in Malapascua that made it numb for a while. I found out that humans can get flea bites in Coron. That same day, Pete watched a (tiny) bug crawl out of my eyeball.
First night in New Zealand. We went straight from the over-the-top suites on Singapore Airlines, in first class, to purchasing camping gear and tent camping that same night. As you can imagine, we did not sleep well that night, mostly because we were wildly unprepared for the cold. We bought the wrong sleeping bags, didn’t have enough layers, and shivered all night.
Going to the hospital in Blenheim, NZ. While we were camping, it was really windy, and a huge gust of wind blew some debris into Pete’s eye. We ended up going to the Emergency Department the next day, where multiple doctors tried to take out the “foreign objects” with a sharp needle. Pete’s worst nightmare came true. Luckily, this was covered under NZ’s ACC program and the visit was completely free!
Lack of wifi in NZ. It’s so frustrating.
Sand flies in Abel Tasman. We camped in the national park, and while it was incredibly gorgeous, we got attacked by sand flies our first night and have been itchy ever since. Luckily I have some anti-itch meds from the flea incident in Coron…!
Booked hotel in the wrong location. If you’re wondering why we spent a night in Granity, it’s because I accidentally booked us a night there instead of a town on the way. We drove 4.5 hours instead of 2 (as planned) that day…oops!
The Best Things We Ate
Sweet & Sour Pork in Malapascua. Pete still raves about this dish from La Isla Bonita.
Mangoes in the Philippines. The best mangoes we’ve ever tasted. They were absolutely mouth-watering.
Our first meal from a restaurant in NZ. We’d been eating sandwiches for a week straight, which made our first restaurant meal (at Cork & Keg) that much more enjoyable.
Pies in Blenheim, NZ. New Zealand isn’t exactly known for its food, but its pies are pretty tasty. Our pies from The Burleigh were out of this world!
The Best Place We Stayed
Our favorite accommodation during November was
surprisingly the Skotel Alpine Resort in Tongariro National Park (pronounced “sko-TELL,” but we cracked ourselves up by fondly referring to it as the SKO-tle). We actually booked here last minute on Agoda, only because the campsite we planned to camp at only accepted cash, we didn’t have any cash, and the nearest ATM was >30km in any direction.
While not super luxurious, it ended up being remarkably affordable, cozy, and right next to the walking trail we wanted to take. Tongariro was freezing, so we were super grateful for the heaters in our room; we also took advantage of their free hot tub (or as they called it, the spa).
- Top 5 Credit Card Offers: November 2016
- Tokyo to Kyoto: Planes and Trains
- The Micronesian Hopper
- Hyatting through Japan and Hong Kong
- Yet Another Great use of Avios: Hong Kong
- 6 Month Miles and Points Review
- What I’ve Learned in 6 Months of Travel: Pete’s Thoughts
- Where to Eat in Gili Air, Lombok
- What to Do in Palau, Micronesia (Besides Scuba Dive)
- Getting Scuba Certified in Koh Tao, Thailand
- 9 Nights in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka
- Train from Bergen to Oslo: Experience and Photo Essay
- Manta Rays and Rainy Days in Yap
- Micronesia Expenses: 9 Nights in Palau & Yap
- Smiles and Sharks in Malapascua, Philippines
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Coming Up in December 2016
Here are our plans for December:
New Zealand: Continue throughout the South Island, making sure to go to Central Otago, Queenstown, Lake Wanaka, Arrowtown, and probably Milford Sound.
Australia: We’ll fly into Sydney, head up to Cairns for some scuba diving, then spend 7 nights in the Brisbane Marriott (thanks to my points!) for the holidays.
Blog Posts: Expect more posts about the Philippines and NZ, as well as some 6 month recaps, as we’re about halfway done with our journey!
We hope you enjoyed our second monthly recap! Is there anything else you’d like us to include (or remove)? We’d love your feedback!