, Destinations, Featured Partners, New Zealand

The Promised Land: From Oregon to New Zealand

December 3, 2012

We’re obsessed. Like new parents about their kid, or grandparents about their new grandchild (you know who you are), we can’t stop talking about her, bragging about her, and comparing everything to her.

We love Oregon. It’s that simple.

Yes, we think she’s the greatest state in the union (but not in the same way Texans do). Yes, we believe Oregon has something to offer everyone. Yes, Portlanders live 90 minutes from world-class windsurfing, skiing at Mt. Hood, gorgeous coastlines, and fertile farmland.

I could be preaching to the choir.

There’s just one problem with living in a paradise. It takes quite a place to actually compete with the beauty of Oregon.

Through 24 countries in the last 11 months, I have visited amazing places, seen amazing things, met amazing people. Truly.

But in two particular arenas, it’s been difficult for any place to compete with Oregon. First, our scenic landscapes. And second, our availability of fine espresso and craft beer.

In terms of landscapes, a couple of places blew my mind, and I humbly admit they made this Oregonian do a double-take. One was Bolivia, in particular the southern half. Virtually uninhabited, and literally barren of quality tourism companies, the landscapes took my breath away. Travelling at 12,000 feet on high plateaus, I saw huge volcanic-shaped mountains towering ahead of us, graced by pink flamingos standing in the bluest water I’ve ever seen. Salt flats, hot springs, and occasionally snow, I sincerely believe Bolivia would stop most Oregonians in their tracks. Mind you, one basically has to do without running water and electricity for three days. But hey, it was worth it.

A close second? Patagonia, a vast area shared by Chile and Argentina in South America. Through the forward thinking of men such as Yvon Chouinard and Douglas Tompkins, who incidently started companies such as Patagonia and North Face, this land benefited from early preservation efforts. It is stunning. It may even knock you off your feet, (in part because of it’s gusty, 100mph winds).

But I also mentioned beer and espresso, right? Ah, first world problems, I know. We’ve been fortunate to find treasures amongst much disappointment around the world; places like 961 Beer in Lebanon, Karusa in South Africa, and some promising microbrews available in El Chalten in Patagonia.

And the coffee, oh, I can’t even begin to express my heartfelt disappointment around the world. One good cup in Bolivia, served by a Swedish woman who intercepts organic Bolivian beans during export. Oddly enough, a top-secret blend specially created for Carmel by the Sea (I may have had up to six cups a day). And a couple of pleasant surprises in the outskirts of Chang Mai, Thailand.

Other than that, little of note. I get depressed thinking about how much precious dinero I’ve wasted in search of a good cup of coffee.

(Side-note, when I’m pretty sure the coffee will suck, I order tea. There, my secret is out. I’d rather have tea than bad coffee.)

I could go on about coffee, but another day.

Enter, New Zealand. Bethany hasn’t shut up about this place since living here 9 years ago. We put it at the end of our itinerary, as a grand finale to our trip, devoting the most weeks (second only to South Africa) and the most moolah.

Alas, here we are in Kiwi land, and it does not disappoint.

When it comes to Oregon and New Zealand, there are similarities galore. Both have a largish city in the north corner. Both have around 4 million in population. And the square mileage of their land masses differ by only 5000 (98000 and 103,000, respectively).

The scenery is spectacular. Micro-breweries are aplenty. And Kiwis “get” coffee. They really do.

In other words, I feel at home here.

During our year abroad, we have rented a car just twice, once in South Africa (totally worth it), and once, you guessed it, in New Zealand.

Having the freedom of getting around by car is probably my favorite way to travel. Beats taking a bus any day. And in countries offering the best-sees in more rural areas, it’s essential to have mobility.

That said. I hate the process of renting cars. In general, I just hate it. I walked out of a car rental shop four years ago in the states when, after being assured of their “final price” online, I was asked to pay almost triple at the desk.

I hate hate HATE hidden costs, extra fees, and deceiving “deals” promising reasonable rentals when in fact, they intend to take you for everything they can.

I understand that renting cars costs merchants. I don’t understand why they can’t give me a final price when I ask for it. It’s not like it’s impossible to arrive at a final price. They always have a new number when you’re ready to pay.

That’s why I was pleased to use They compare prices across several different companies and offer you the best (final) price. No add-ons later. It’s all included from the start. Even the insurance.

We priced several local companies individually, and beat them by all by over 25%.

Done deal.

We rented a car for three weeks. And in that three weeks time, we put 3500 kilometers on that puppy, and saw almost everything the north island of New Zealand had to offer.

From Portland

To Cathedral Cove

From the windy tippity-top Cape Reinga

To hot-water beach and the L&P bottle in Paeora with our cousin Sam

From the surfers and picturesque beaches of Raglan

To Zorbing in Rotorua

From Lake Taupo

To the active volcano Mount Ruapehu

From sights 1km through the ground at Nikau Caves (and Café!)

To the over the top impressive (and free) botanical gardens in Hamilton

From the desolate beauty of the beachfront in Wanganui

To the mud pools outside Wai-O-Tapu

From the 360 view from One-Tree Hill in the center of Auckland

To The Hobbit Red Carpet Premiere in Wellington

We had the north-island whirlwind tour of a lifetime. And it’s not over yet. Next week, Bethany’s parents join us for a 12 day adventure in Wellington and the South Island. Kiwi’s say the scenery is even better down south. Can’t wait to find out. TTFA -Ted

Big thanks to our fantastic twoOregonians Tour New Zealand sponsors for providing our little red Toyota Corolla “Cherry-ot.” After comparison shopping and doing our homework, we were sincerely impressed with their good deals on New Zealand car rentals, so much so that we’re renting through them again for our South Island adventure! 

Your Turn: If you had three weeks with a car in New Zealand, what sights would you see?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Heather December 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Glad you’ve finally found a place that feels close to home…and a good cup of coffee. Imma gonna go to NZ someday, make no mistake….
    Colorado is cool, but I’m always going to be an Oregonian at heart! Can’t wait to be back home all together!

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      I hope you do go! You’ll love it

  • Reply judy Loucks December 3, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Yep….I think you are ready to come home. Can’t believe a year is almost behind us since we prayed for you guys and your trip. Through all the salivating looking at the food pictures, I almost need a new keyboard. What a blessed experience this has been and a privilege to be a part of through your blog. Thanks!

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

      Yep, I’m ready. But looking forward to seeing Bethany’s parents here for a couples weeks first

  • Reply Cecilio December 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Hi Ted. Me and my Gf are really enjoying the time you are having in New Zealand.Merehuka is from Whakatane a small town on the east coast of the north island. Hopefully when we raise enough money like you guys did we can travel around too..Anyways glad you guys are having fun.

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks for reading Cecilio! Miss you guys. Tell Merehuka her country is gorgeous!! I do hope you guys get the chance to visit together someday…

  • Reply Kenin - The Constant Rambler December 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    It’s funny that you mention the coffee & beer issue. When we visit Oregon we spend more time drinking coffee and Beer than we do anywhere else! Lovely post, we have New Zealand on our travel list and these pics are just adding to the desire :-)

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      oh, good, there’s nothing better than coffee and beer :)

  • Reply Lindsay December 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I’m with you, Ted! When I suspect the coffee is going to be bad I order tea instead :)

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      good trick eh? ;)

  • Reply Jo (The Blond) December 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

    wow! These pictures are stunning! I had no idea that Oregon is such a beautiful place!
    By the way, I also love good coffee – so hard to find these days.

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Come visit Oregon, Portland in particular. You won’t be disappointed.

      • Reply Kenin Bassart December 8, 2012 at 2:22 am

        We visited Oregon for the first time in July, we loved it so much we went back in November!! It’s absolutely amazing.

  • Reply Brad Ketch December 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    While living in the Philippines, we got to know several lovely Kiwis. As they talked about their home, it frequently struck us that it sounded like Oregon. Now your post has made it official: for SE Asians who want to understand the US Pacific NW, think NZ, and you’ve got it.

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Yes true, I agree. Kiwis are very hospitable too…

  • Reply Jane Sadek December 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I’m a Texan and I love my state, but I have become a walking, talking advertisement for Oregon. I haven’t been to all the places you’ve been to, but I have been around and Oregon is amazing! Sounds like New Zealand’s not half bad, either.

    • Reply tedrydmark December 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      Funny how Oregon does that to you eh? :)

  • Reply Rhonda December 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I agree with you completely!!! As much as the rain occasionally makes me blue, We are sooo very blessed with all the natural wonder and close proximity here in Portland. However, we absolutely fell head over heels with New Zealand. I can’t wait to hear how you like the South Island, our personal favorite, and even more similar to Oregon. Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

  • Reply The Night Before Christmas: At the Auckland Airport - twoOregonians December 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    […] been a kiwi Christmastime. This November and December, we’ve traversed the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and I’ve been soaking up the spunk and joy in the little things, like this Christmas video […]

  • Reply Colleen - Colleen gets lost January 9, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Too bad you didn’t make it to Vietnam. The coffee (especially the sweet and creamy egg foam coffee) is to die for. It’s the first place I’ve been able to satisfy my Oregonian coffee addiction.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      I wish we would’ve been able to make more time and visit Vietnam! I know just the drink you’re talking about – Jodi from Legal Nomads was putting up Instagram pictures of the egg coffees ;) a few weeks back, and I was so intrigued. I wonder if any of the authentic little Vietnamese kitchens here in Portland offer an authentic version?

      • Reply Colleen March 19, 2013 at 7:01 am

        Ooooh, yes, I saw those. So glad she put the recipe online as well. She is so good at getting that kind of information. Did you have the coffee in Cambodia? Wonder what that was like.

        • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 29, 2013 at 10:45 am

          We did have coffee in Cambodia, though I don’t know that we found any great gold mines. To be honest…nothing was anywhere near as interesting as Jodi’s cup! ;)

  • Reply Natalie January 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hey guys! I’m a Kiwi & I just loved reading all the lovely things you have to say about my home! I’m living in London right now and I remember following your trip photos on Instagram and I was homesick more than once (in a good way!) I’m planning to visit Oregon this year and it’s funny, because it’s one state that I’m VERY excited about seeing, I was reading this post almost in a reverse way – I love NZ but it’s hard sometimes for other places to live up to now I have even higher hopes for Oregon! And I must say I’m even more excited about sampling all the the micro-brews and coffee on offer in your home state after reading this, sounds perfect :)
    Thanks for the great read!

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians March 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Hey Natalie! I somehow missed your comment until just today – so, so silly of me. It would be so much fun to connect with you (or at *very* least set you up with some good recommendations) while you’re in Oregon this year. When are you headed over? I think as a Kiwi you’ll definitely appreciate more than a few things about our fair state : ) Feel free to send us an email when you’re getting trip plans together – Hope you’re well! xx

  • Reply Ang NZ August 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Hey guys, I fell down a google worm-hole and found your blog after googling Oregon and NZ similarities. Glad you loved New Zealand, its my home and I am a proud kiwi.
    I am a travel agent and travelling is a passion.
    I would love to get out and see Oregon one day! I’ve added it to my bucket list.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians August 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Hey Ang! Thanks for taking time to drop us a line — we love New Zealand, and we love showing off Oregon to visitors. If you ever make it up here, let us know! : ) Can’t wait to make another return to NZ someday soon…

  • Reply Nadine March 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this site. Glad you enjoyed your time in good ol “KiwiLand”…. im a born bred Kiwi & have been to Portland Oregon.
    Weird I know , but right now looking at job opportunities in Oregon & stumbled upon your site.

    • Reply Bethany ~ twoOregonians April 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Hello Nadine! So sorry your comment slipped through the cracks. Very nice to hear from you and know that you’re familiar with the beauties of your home country and ours :) How have the job opportunities been shaping up? When do you hope to be back in Oregon? I’m just in touch now with a good friend from NZ who will be up here visiting me in August. I’m so excited… And, it goes without saying that I’m excited, too, for the day I can get myself back to NZ.

    What say you?