Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women/femme-identifying travelers (and, occasionally, their partners) all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure~. The internet is full of travel advice, but none from young millennials just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Kristin Corpuz's Wander or Bust guide to The Coromandel, New Zealand.
My Name: Kristin Corpuz
What I Do: Freelance editor and writer
Where I Live: Los Angeles, CA
Where I Went: The Coromandel, New Zealand
How Long I Stayed: Three days and two nights
My Spending Style: Occasionally indulgent, but I don't mind spending money on comfort and luxury, especially when I'm traveling.
The Game Plan
Where I Got My Recommendations: Most of my recommendations came from The Coromandel's official tourism board's website. I also picked out a few photo spots by exploring geotags on Instagram.
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: 1 NZD = $0.60 USD
What That Looks Like IRL: 50 NZD = $30 USD
Preferred Payment Method: Debit card, but I always stop at a bank ATM at the beginning of a trip to withdraw $100 of local currency in cash just in case. (And whatever I don't end up using, I save for the next time I get to go back.)
Phone Bill: Verizon has TravelPass, which allows me to use my domestic phone plan for $10 USD every 24 hours. The one exception is data — I have unlimited high-speed data in the U.S., but TravelPass only gives me 0.5 gigabytes of high-speed data abroad, and then it goes to low-speed after that. (You can pay for extra high-speed for an additional $10 USD per 0.5 gigabytes.)
Luggage Type: Team carry-on forever and always.
What I Packed
The 10 Most Important Items I Packed...
1. Bathing suits
4. Crop tops
5. A layering cardigan
6. My DSLR — Nikon D3500
My extra essentials:
8. Hey Dewy portable facial humidifier
What Shoes I Brought:
1. Waterproof boots from Steve Madden because they are great for both walking around and going out to dinner.
2. Waterproof sneakers from Vessi because they are super warm and comfortable. They allow me to be prepared for any inclement weather and also have traction so I can hike in them.
3. Nude heeled sock boots from Nasty gal (similar to these) for any nicer dinners.
4. Water shoes for the kayaking excursion and any other beach trips that might lead to hiking or walking.
5. Flip flops, just in case.
How I Got There
Mode of Transport: Airplane
Price: $4,560 USD (business class round-trip)
Extra Costs: None. My boyfriend drove me to and from LAX and my tour provider drove me to and from Auckland Airport.
Hired Driver: $600 USD per day = $1,800 USD for three days
Transport Total: $6,360 USD
Where I Stayed
Location: Grand Mercure Puka Park
Price: $177.50 USD per night
Extra Costs: None — breakfast buffet was included
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else: Absolutely! This hotel was so beautiful and remote, and it made me feel like I could really retreat into the wilderness of The Coromandel. My cabin was so spacious, and with all of the trees surrounding it, I had total privacy.
Accommodation Total: $355 USD
What I Ate
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $25 USD per day (breakfast was included at the hotel)
Dinner Cost: $40 USD per day
Average Total Cost: $65 USD per day
Tip Situation: Tipping isn't required, but it's always welcome, of course. Standard is 5-10%.
Food Situation: I ate out for every meal, and everything was delicious. The seafood in New Zealand is unparalleled, and the culture there really revolves around farm-fresh ingredients.
Favorite Restaurant: It wasn't actually a restaurant, but when I embarked on an "ocean-to-plate" excursion with The Provider, we were able to catch and eat our food right on the boat. I've had fresh fish before, but never this fresh. There was something so incredible about catching a fish (Yes, I did catch one myself!) and eating it less than an hour later. Plus, my guide had gone scuba diving before my excursion and brought back some fresh lobsters and sea urchins. The meal was delicious, to say the least.
Location: On the ocean!
Price: My share was $120 USD ($600 USD for a private excursion for a group of four)
Honorable Mentions: I also loved The Falls Retreat, which is a family-owned business that focuses on homegrown products. They have a little garden that grows all of their veggies and herbs, and they source all of their proteins and dairy from local farms. The food was a delicious introduction to New Zealand culture and cuisine.
Food Total: $195 USD
What I Did At Night
Nightlife Situation: I actually didn't go out at night. The Coromandel isn't really known for nightlife since it's such a wilderness destination, so there wasn't much happening. Plus, all of my excursions started pretty early in the morning so I wouldn't have gone out anyway.
What People Wear Out: It's a super casual destination. Most people wear outdoors-friendly clothes on a regular basis (hiking boots and all), so for dinner, people wear something a touch more formal. Jeans, a blouse, and boots or sandals are appropriate for dinner attire.
Average Cost Of A Pint: I'm not a huge beer drinker, and since NZ is known for wine, I indulged in a glass or two every night with dinner. Most local wines ranged between $12 and $25 USD.
Extra Cost To Know About: None
Last Call: Early! (at least for me)
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: N/a
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To: N/a
Going Out Total: None
How I Spent My Days
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It: The business class seats on Air New Zealand. I'm not always the bougiest traveler, but when I have an opportunity to upgrade my seats on a long-distance flight, I will never say no. The seats were beyond comfortable, and I loved the modern vibe of the lighting inside the business cabin. I loved being able to stretch out for the flight (12+ hours on a plane has never looked so chic or felt more spacious).
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It: Nothing! Everything I did there was absolutely incredible, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome: A trip to Hot Water Beach, which has thermal water lying underneath the sand's surface. The idea is to dig a hole in the sand so the thermal water comes up to the surface, while the cold water from the ocean flows around your sand hole. It's free to go to the beach, so you can go on your own and dig a hole by yourself, but I had Nick, who founded local tour company Sand Shifters to help me out.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost: A trip to The Lost Spring. Hot springs are something that I always look for when I travel, and this one was particularly incredible. The Lost Spring isn't just a hot spring — it's a completely designed experience. It has different bridges, passages, and pools to explore. I really loved getting lost in the maze of the springs because it felt like I was completely secluded from the outside world. Plus, there's a spa onsite, and you best believe I enjoyed a 30-minute massage while I was there.
Hidden Gem I Found: Most of the spots I went were main tourist attractions of the region, so what I found was the most valuable part of each experience are the tour guides. Everyone who guided me through my excursions are such pros. They know so much about the region and are clearly so passionate about their jobs. Nick from Sand Shifters really made my trip one to remember since I spent so much time with him, but I also loved Hayden from my Cathedral Cove Kayak trip (He's been a tour guide for them for over 10 years!), and Carl from The Provider.
Excursions/Extras Total: $562 USD
- Cathedral Cove Kayak Excursion: $75 USD
- Lost Spring All-Day Entrance + 30 Minute Massage: $184 USD
- The Provider Ocean-To-Plate Excursion: $120 USD (my share)
- Kiwi Dundee Walking Wildlife Tour: $183 USD
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone: Tours are your best friend in The Coromandel. It's definitely an area you can explore on your own if you're an experienced outdoorsy traveler, but because it's a pretty remote area, I'd recommend that travelers who don't have as much of an outdoors background should book with tours. I learned so much about the region from my guides, and I feel like they really made the entire trip so much better.
Total Trip Cost: ~$7,500 USD
Worth It? 100%. I cannot recommend heading to this part of the world enough. It really is an incredible place full of so much magic and beauty, and I wish I could have stayed there longer.