Goodbye USA - Hello New Zealand

12/5/17 - It's about 10:30 am at the time of writing this and we are nearly square dab between SF and Honolulu, 38,997 ft above the Pacific Ocean, traveling 499 mph through the -81 degree air toward our last stop on American land, Hawaii.

Bags have been packed, loose-ends have been tied, all systems are a go! We are currently on a 13 hour plane ride to Auckland, NZ to begin our NZ exploration. Yesterday, I arrived back in SF to reunite with Hannah after a week apart. Hannah arrived back in SF Sunday. We spent most of yesterday getting our bags organized, purchasing some last minute items, getting insured, and catching up on work. We ended our last day in SF scrambling to complete some urgent work-related matters and spending some dinner time with our closest friends at The Grove on Fillmore. I learned yesterday for the first time that our 14 hour flight does not have Wi-fi, something that immediately threw a wrench my in-flight ambitions. On a positive note, when we went to check into our flight at 7 am this morning, an old co-worker and friend of mine noticed Hannah and I checking in. He mentioned that he didn't like where we were sitting and he was going to upgrade us to something with more leg room. Very cool indeed, especially since I always feel claustrophobic in airplane seats.

Let's briefly talk about travel insurance and what we've learned about this kind of trip. Firstly, many countries from the UK to New Zealand have many different kinds of "backpackers" travel insurance policies to choose from...However, they don't insure US citizens. For us American citizens, our options seem to be very limited. The difficulty is the length in time of the total trip from time left to time returned. It seems to be the single factor that limits the options. There are annual, multi-trip policies but these policies all limit each individual trip to 90 days. Which means that you have to return to your "home" within 90 days or else all time after that 90 days is not covered. This severely limits your options when you're going to be gone for 330 days. We want to get fully loaded travel insurance that covers all kind of trip protections such as medical and evacuation emergencies, lost/stolen bags, missed/canceled flights, etc. There are plenty of insurance companies that provide this, but only 2 insurance companies provide all this for a trip of 330 days in length. Those two are World Nomads and STA. The latter of the two is supposedly a little sub-par. Makes the decision easy in a way, but it's definitely at a premium cost. Also, we wanted to add vehicle collision for our time renting vehicles, such as our campervans in Australia and New Zealand. The only plan that offers this add-on available for World Nomads excludes campervans. We had to pay an additional premium price to add insurance on the campervans directly through the companies we are renting from.

Recall from our first post, that we will be adopting the New Zealand travel route from this other blog. This route has us visiting both the North and South islands, and, after extending a couple days in certain locations, works out perfectly time-wise. Check out this blog to see a preview of our route. However, we will of course be making this our own adventure. We plan to go rafting and parasailing while in Rotorua and Taupo while on the North Island. For New Year's Eve we will be seeing Fat Freddy's Drop at the Rhythm and Alps Music Festival. We're going to kick off 2018 bungee jumping and rafting in Queenstown. Otherwise, our time will fill in with other activities, such as camping, hiking, swimming, eating new food, and mingling with the locals. Check out our route all mapped out here:

For everyone who wishes to stay in touch with us, we can use a couple different platforms to stay in good touch. Firstly, both Hannah and I will have unlimited data and text messages on our phone but we do have to pay extra for phone calls. Therefore, feel free to text us whenever you'd like, but if you want to talk to us, please download Google Hangouts or Skype app on your phones/computer. Text us for our Skype contacts. Our Google Hangouts are tied to our Gmail emails. Really there are no lack of options with free video call providers. Keep in mind the time-zone difference. For now we're off to tomorrow-land where we are 21 hours ahead of PST. We have our first night upon arriving in a hotel by the airport, then we go and check into our campervan the next day, which will be home for the next 35 days. Catch ya on the other side!

12/7/17 - It's about 2:00 AM, New Zealand time, at the time of posting this. We have safely arrived in Auckland, NZ. Truth be told, the 14 hour flight over was easy. It was filled reading, watching tv, drinking wine, and sleeping. Time went by quick, and, except for a couple crying babies, no complaints. We checked into a hotel near the airport to enjoy a traditional bed/bathroom/roof combo before we check into our campervan tomorrow morning. We will spend the next couple days exploring Auckland before hitting the road for the grand tour of both islands. This is the part of the story where things really begin to get fun for us and you readers. Until the next post, mahalo and aloha!

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