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Digital Nomad Life Month 102

Month 102 was spent entirely in New Zealand and was pretty low-key on the travel front – but sometimes a quiet month is nice.

I spent the first four nights of the month staying with my Mum and Stepdad in Papamoa where I caught up with friends and did some hiking, then I spent three days on the Coromandel Peninsula based in Coromandel Town at the wonderful Buffalo Lodge. 

One of the top things to do in Coromandel Town is to take a train ride at the Driving Creek Railway

It was back to Auckland after that where I spent 12 nights and managed to get a kind of routine of going with almost daily walks, working, cooking, and catching up with friends. It was a nice novelty.

And just as I was starting to get bored, I was on the road again, flying down to Nelson to hike the Heaphy Track. I spent a day in Nelson catching up with friends and getting ready for the hike, then I spent five days hiking the track.

The weather wasn’t perfect and one night I froze, but overall I loved my experience and even made some new friends.

Cave on Heaphy Track

I spent two nights in Karamea after the hike, a tiny and remote town on the West Coast, where I mostly just relaxed but also explored the town center and walked out to the foggy beach. Then I took the long and windy shuttle ride back to Nelson.

I had two nights in Nelson before flying back to Auckland for a night and I spent my day there walking along the coast to Tahunanui Beach.

Nelson waterfront

After a day and night in Auckland, I picked up my Dad’s van and my brother and headed to Papamoa for the last three nights of the month where I met up with friends in Tauranga, walked around the Mount, and swam at Papamoa Beach.

Now onto the stats!

West Coast beach

Countries Visited: New Zealand

Places Visited:

  • New Zealand: Auckland, Papamoa, Tauranga, Coromandel Town, Pauanui, Whitianga, Thames, Nelson, Karamea

National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Papamoa Hills Regional Park and Kahurangi National Park in New Zealand.

Islands Visited: North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Hiking around Mauao

Days on the Road: 12 days.

Best Meals: Fish and chips from Coromandel Takeaways in Coromandel Town; Szechuan Peppered Fried Squid from Harbourside Restaurant in Tauranga; Courgette, olive, and onion Neopolitan pizza from That’s Amore in Auckland; Breaded orange roughy with parmesan, mashed potato and salad from Lone Star in Nelson.

Best Craft Beer: Spicy Pickle Beer from Garage Project; Crumble Confection Feijoa Sour Ale from Mount Brewing Co; Passiontini Sour Ale from 8 Wired; Ginger Fusion Ginger Beer from Hawkes Bay Brewing Co., Cherry and Plum Hazy IPA at Urbanaut Brewing, Tropical Thunder Pineapple and Jalapeno Sour beer from Brother’s Beer.


  • Mauao summit track in Mount Maunganui 2 miles
  • Papamoa Hills Loop track at Papamoa Hills Regional Park 3.6 miles
  • Kauri Block Loop in Coromandel Town 2.5 miles
  • Long Bay Kauri Walk in Coromandel Town 1.4 miles
  • Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park 48.7 miles (in five days)
  • Mauao Base Track in Mount Maunganui 2 miles

Auckland at night

Watching: Squid Game: The Challenge, My Kitchen Rules New Zealand, Leave the World Behind.

Reading: Home Front by Kristin Hannah, Wild by Kristin Hannah, The Big Dark Sky by Dean Koontz.

New Posts: I wrote one new post this month, The Very Best Things To Do in Coromandel Town after my excellent trip there at the end of November – the first time I have been since 2018.

Papamoa Hills Regional Park


A Trip Down Memory Lane in Pauanui

When I was a kid, we used to go to Pauanui on the Coromandel Peninsula for 2-3 weeks every summer and it was my favorite place in the world, it still is one of my favorites even now. I haven’t been back for years so I stopped there for a few hours on the way to Coromandel Town.

Pauanui Beach

There have been changes over the years but it mostly looks just like it did when I was a kid so it’s a surreal feeling to visit the places there that I used to spend so much time in.

I walked the length of the beach, visited the shopping center and the beach house that belongs to one of my best friend’s family, and the street where the beach house we used to rent every year used to be. It was so good to be back.


A Relaxed Stay in Coromandel Town

I really enjoyed my stay in Coromandel Town this month. I was invited to spend two nights at the incredible Buffalo Lodge, a peaceful spot surrounded by native bush and with coastal views just outside of town.

Downtown Coromandel Town

Coromandel Town is a beautiful small town with historic buildings and an arty/alternative vibe. I explored town, did a couple of short hikes, rode the Driving Creek Railway, and visited a couple of nearby beaches.

Coromandel Town beach

Checking Out Some Auckland Breweries

The brewery scene in Auckland is getting better and better and I visited a few new ones this month with friends. I finally made it to the excellent Urbanaut Brewery in Morningside which specializes in hazy IPAs, sampled craft beer from all over New Zealand at The Beer Spot, also in Morningside, and tried various beers and pizza at Epic Beer in Onehunga.

Beer flight

A Fun and Hilarious Night Out at Briefs: Dirty Laundry

On a rainy Sunday, my friend Kurt and I had a fun night out at Briefs: Dirty Laundry at Q Theatre in Auckland. Briefs Factory is a touring Australian creative collective/circus company that puts on a saucy, acrobatic, and hilarious show that is a cross between burlesque, drag, and circus and it was absolutely captivating.

Unfortunately, they have finished with their Auckland shows but follow them on Instagram to find out where they are touring next.

Gouland Downs

Five Days Back to Nature on the Heaphy Track

It was so nice to be offline and hiking the Heaphy Track in the South Island this month. Hiking always helps me relax and reset and multiday hikes are my favorite. I loved being in nature, hearing native birdsong, sitting by the fire in a cozy hut, chatting with other hikers, and seeing some incredible scenery.

Saxon Hut

New Friends on the Heaphy Track

It’s always easier to meet people when you are hiking and that held true when I hiked the Heaphy Track. I met some awesome people while hiking and ended up going to one couple’s place for dinner when I got back to Nelson, and hung out with a couple of new hiking friends during my time in Karamea too.

Hiking buddies

Lots of Family and Friends Time

It has been nice to spend time with some of the people I am closest to this month, this is the main reason I come back to New Zealand every year after all. If only Toby and Joni could be here too.

Sunset Papamoa Beach

Having Some Form of Routine

I don’t generally have a daily routine because I am practically always on the move so it was actually nice to have one for a couple of weeks this month in Auckland.

I got a lot of work done that I have been putting off, went for daily walks around the city, met up with friends and family, cooked regularly, and did daily exercise and face yoga. 

Rangitoto Christmas

Trying Out Intermittent Fasting

Now I am in my 40s and because I don’t have a routine, it is hard to eat healthily and consistently exercise, so it is hard to lose extra inches. 

I had been wanting to try intermittent fasting for a while and started doing the 16:8 (16 hours a day fasting with an 8-hour eating window) and it is going well so far. I feel like I have more energy and I think I have lost a little mass. It is meant to be good for sharpness of mind, preventing cancer, and lengthening life too.

Auckland city view


Rainy and Cool Weather

Another month another complaint about the weather. It rained more often than not this month, ruining my beach and hiking plans in Auckland and Papamoa, putting a dampener on a couple of my days hiking the Heaphy Track, and my whole time in Karamea. 

It was also colder than it usually would be in early summer and a couple of nights on the Heaphy Track dropped to freezing, pretty crazy for mid-December in New Zealand.

Rainy West Coast

A Freezing Night on the Heaphy Track

Of the four nights I spent in huts on the Heaphy Track, there were two nights where it dropped to freezing or below – my second and third nights. On the first cold night, I had a raging fire that warmed the whole hut so it only felt cold in the early hours of the morning.

But the second cold night all the wood was wet so we couldn’t light a fire and it was the day of the worst weather with low visibility, strong wind, and intermittent rain all day, so we absolutely froze. It reminded me of being back at a high elevation on the Annapurna Circuit.

Heaphy Hut beach

A Bed Bug Scare

I found some big bug bites on my butt after hiking the Heaphy and I was nervous that it might be from bed bugs – my arch nemesis. To be safe I washed, froze, or heated everything I took to the South Island as soon as I got back to Dad’s and haven’t had any more bites since.


I don’t include international flights in my recaps. Some of my costs are shared with Toby.

Total: USD$2436.50

More than I thought it would be this month but I did end up having a few big expenses including all my Christmas gifts, my half of a Garmin In Reach, a new Kindle, and my Heaphy Track/Nelson trip.

Accommodation $320

My 19 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of ten nights at my brother’s in Auckland, three nights in a hostel dorm in Nelson, four nights in huts on the Heaphy Track, and two nights in a hostel dorm in Karamea.

My 11 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of seven nights at my Mum’s in Papamoa, two nights at a lodge in Coromandel Town (sponsored), and two nights at my Dad’s in Auckland.

Albert Park

Food and Drink $703

It is crazy that food actually costs less in New Zealand now than in the U.S.! I ate out a fair bit but also cooked a lot so this month’s food costs weren’t too bad.

Clothing $122

  • 4 x Underwear $27.50
  • Sports bra $12.50
  • Sandals $40
  • T-Shirt $17
  • PJ pants $25

Transport $570

  • Gas $119
  • Auckland Transport $11
  • Ubers $5.50
  • Return flight from Auckland to Nelson $270
  • Heaphy Track shuttle $126
  • Karamea shuttle $15.50
  • Taxi from Nelson to Airport $23

Activities $50

  • Train ride at Driving Creek Railway in Coromandel Town $25
  • Howick Historical Village Christmas Market entry x 2 $25

West Coast Coromandel

Other $617

  • U.S. Phone plan $35
  • Spotify $12
  • Toiletries $37
  • Gifts $248
  • AllTrails One Year Subscription $11.50
  • Garmin In Reach $165
  • Backpacking pot $12
  • One Drive Storage $2
  • Kindle and cover $70.50
  • Spork $3.50
  • Locker $1.50
  • Eye test $19

Website Costs $12

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12

Van/RV Costs $42.50

  • RV and van insurance for the month $42.50

Boot Pole Corner

What’s in Store for Next Month

I will be spending the first half of the month in New Zealand. I have a few days left in Papamoa with family in the lead-up to Christmas and then we will be spending Christmas Day in Cambridge with extended family.

From there, I will be visiting one of my besties and her family for a couple of nights in Hamilton where we are planning to do a day trip to Raglan and possibly the hot water beach at Kawhia, then I will be spending a night with another bestie in Auckland.

I have six nights of camping scheduled next at beautiful Uretiti Beach in Northland with friends for New Year’s. I want to do a couple of day trips from there too but we will mostly be hanging out and swimming at the pristine beach.

My last five nights in New Zealand will be spent back in Auckland where I am hoping for good weather so I can go beach hopping and hiking on the West Coast, and do a day trip to offbeat Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

After leaving New Zealand I have a week in Sydney, my former home, to visit a good friend in the Northern Beaches but I will spend the first two nights at one of my favorite places in Sydney, Coogee Beach. I definitely want to visit two of my other Sydney faves while I am there too – Newtown and Manly.

From Sydney, I will be flying to LA then Phoenix where I will be reuniting with my husband and our sweet baby kitty. We will spend the last week of the month hanging out with friends and family in Phoenix and hiking around the red rocks in Sedona.

To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here

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