Annie and Jon left corporate America to do some world traveling. This blog chronicles their unconventional path and hopefully provides a little inspiration along the way.

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Entries in New Zealand (9)


new zealand unmapped

New Zealand Unmapped from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

It has been a long time coming. Annie and I spent five weeks exploring the north and south island of New Zealand and while it was one of our first stops, it still remains one of our favorites. In reality, this video is just a glimpse into our entire experience but I hope it provides some perspective of our adventures in this beautiful country. The video is one of the largest I have assembled in a long time and couldn't have been done without the encouragement of Annie, the help of Pai, and the hospitality of Pete and Danielle. Thank you.

I hope you enjoy and check back often because there are several more in the pipeline. Thanks for the patience and if you like it, please pass it along as we continue to build the base. I would encourage everyone to check out this video at Vimeo for a larger viewing experience.


land of the big white cloud

Land of the Big White Cloud from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

I promised a New Zealand recap video and it is on the way. In the meantime, Land of the Big White Cloud is a taste of what is to come. I combined several of the time lapse videos from various locations on the North and South Island of New Zealand including Kaikoura, Queenstown, and Mt Ruapehu (aka Mount Doom for you LOTR fans). I hope you enjoy and keep an eye out for the recap that should be out shortly as well as some new photos from South Island. Thanks for all the comments and wonderful emails!


ten things we loved about new zealand

  1. Hospitality and friendliness of the people – Pete and Danielle…need I see more than mention their names? The numerous people who helped us when our hippie got stuck on the side of the road
  2. Small town lifestyle – you can tell the size of a town by the speed limit. 80km = not much there, 70km = maybe a petro shop, 60km = town is more than 5 blocks, 50km or less = likely a tourist attraction worth checking out. It’s hard to get lost.
  3. Changing topography around every corner – one minute you’ll see a rainforest, and the next minute a sheep pasture. It’s crazy!
  4. Amazing natural attractions and wildlife - Ninety-mile Beach, Cathedral Cove, glaciers, fiordlands, glowworm caves, dolphins, and fairy penguins. We could go on forever.
  5. Beautiful scenery – if I had a dollar for every time we said, “wow…isn’t that beautiful?!” we could travel for another 6 months.
  6. Tourist friendly country – the most helpful information centers who will book everything and anything, load you up on free maps and are really knowledgeable.
  7. Camper life allowed us the freedom to explore – our hippie never failed us and offered us the essentials we needed – car and bed. When we got tired we could just pull over and nap in our bed.
  8. Camper sites were very well equipped and maintained – we roll up to a site and there was always availability. All of them had kitchens and hot showers, which were cleaned everyday. Met some of our dearest friends there.
  9. Saw more sheep and cows than people – we enjoy socializing with people but it’s also nice to get away from it all. The sheep and cows seem so peaceful. There would be days when we didn’t see a living soul except the manager of the camper site when we checked in. We loved it!
  10. Felt at home – could this be our next home?! Stay tuned to find out!

our routine

Even while traveling we have settled into a routine. Jon usually gets up when there’s light out. We don’t have a watch so it’s hard to tell what time it is. It’s nice to have him wake up first because that leaves me to stretch out on our camper bed, which is a full size bed. We’ll have breakfast consisting mostly of cereal and toast with peanut butter or nutella (my favorite) though Jon has made an occasional egg and cheese bagel sandwich, which is a real treat. Our camper is pretty well equipped with a toaster, kettle, single burning stove, refrigerator, and pump sink. 

We take turns showering so someone can always watch the camper though we now have gotten less paranoid and usually there’s not many campers around. We aren’t sure why but our normal time of heading the road is 10:00am. We are working on leaving by 9:00am. We try to map out our road in the morning and what town we like to end the day in so we have an idea how far we have to drive. We try not to drive more than 200km a day since it starts weary on us to be in the car for so long. But sometimes we get side tracked because someone tells us a cool spot to check out or we are too tired of driving so we’ll find the closest campsite.

Jon drives in the morning and when he starts feeling tired usually after lunch I’ll take over the car. We have found these great salad packets that come with lentils, sprout beans, and peas, which are delicious and filling for lunch. Or we’ll make sandwiches. 

We usually try to get to a campsite by 5:00 or 6:00pm so we can set up shop for dinner. We have eaten out only a few times. Our home cooked meals have been pretty simple but nutritious: pasta, stir fry, tacos, grilled chicken, etc. The fridge is big enough where we can store about 2-3 days of food so we are always getting fresh produce. 

All of the campsites have power sites so we can plug in our camper to recharge the fridge and anything else we need like our laptop. They also have a community kitchen, sometimes with an outdoor grill, hot showers, laundry facilities, and other amenities so it’s quite convenient. Most of the sites we have been to are very clean and well equipped since they are cleaned daily. And the campers also do a good job in maintaining their own area so you never see any trash around. Jon also bought a screen mesh to put on our car window so we can open the window without bugs invading our camper since it can get pretty stuffy at night.

After dinner we get ready for bed and are in the camper bed by 8:30pm or so. We’ll read, play scrabble, look at videos/pictures from the day, or check email. And it’s off to bed by 10:00pm.  

Pretty hard life.



First of all we wanted to say thank you to all the wonderful support we have received on the road. It is so nice to hear from friends and family on those cold and rainy nights in the camper van. The internet has been pretty challenging on our travels in New Zealand and we may not have responded to you but appreciate all your emails and comments. Please keep them coming. We are very fortunate to have wonderful friends and family like you.

I wanted to do a bit of a state of the union for the Unmapped Life. We have made some changes recently and I wanted to make everyone aware. For the super hardcore fans (all 3 of you know who you are), we have added a daily details page. We will try to update you on our adventures in a little more detail as to what we are up to on a more day to day basis. We will keep the main blog a more big picture with tips, observations, and videos. Annie is working pretty hard on this and it will allow us to remember what we have been up to as well. It can be a blur after a while. I have also split up the location and contact form. I try to update our location from time to time. So if you want to see where we are or would like to come visit, please check out this page. The contact is pretty much the same and you can send us a direct email via this page. 

Keep an eye out for a few things in the pipeline. I plan to update the photo section with some pics from New Zealand over the next few days and stay tuned for a New Zealand video that is in the pipeline.  

All for now but thanks again for all the support. We miss you guys!

(The title is a little inside joke to see if that special someone is paying attention.)


hitting a speed bump

It had been 17 days and 13 hours when Jon and I hit our first bump in the road. We were leaving Taihape after visiting Gumboot Day, which only comes around every two years. Since it was getting close to dinner time we were looking for a campsite to stay for the night. I was driving and the winds were really picking up. When a big truck would pass us on the opposite side of the road, our hippie van would rock back and forth as if we were going to tip over. I was a little nervous about the wind but also anxious to get to a site for some dinner so I was driving pretty aggressively. 

We had been driving 200 - 300 kilometers each day, which can be quite a bit considering you are doing it day in and day out. We had enough. I was stressed and tired from the drive since I can’t reach the pedal comfortably and my shoulders get tense. Jon was feeling queasy from my crazy driving and exhausted from being cooped up in the van.

To make matters worse, we played scrabble that night to pass the time and it didn’t go so well. Jon had been winning all the games while we were in Fiji but New Zealand was my territory. Needless to say, we went to bed that night in our cozy full-size bed feeling each other’s cold shoulder.

The next morning when we woke up I told Jon we just passed our first bump. He laughed and asked if that was what it was. We agreed for our sanity that we would stay in a hotel that night in Wellington before we boarded the ferry to the south island.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to have cold and hot water coming out of the same pipe in the sink and to not have to carry my clothes and shampoo when I showered. Plus, Jon got to use the internet for free and they had unlimited usage! You can bet we were downloading stuff all night. It’s really the little comforts of life that we miss.

I’m glad we passed our first but certainly not last speed bump and now know what to look out for on our path. I think next time we’ll just go around the speed bump and stay at a hotel. We’ve also switched to reading more and playing cards.

Speed limit: you define it as you go along.



When we started our journey one of the goals was to not plan too much and be open to opportunities that crossed our path. Hence, one of the meanings behind our blog’s name.

An overwhelming consensus we got from people was to head to the south island of New Zealand. Spend three fourth of your time in New Zealand visiting the south.

So our plan was to stay in the north island for just a few days until we met Danielle and Pete. We were waiting for the ferry to Waiheke Island when they sat down next to us and we started chatting it up. They are an American couple who live three months out of the year in New Zealand and the rest of the time between Virginia and Vermont. Within 20 minutes we decided to rent a car together to drive around the island and they had also invited to stay at their home for a few days up in Mangonui, a town in the northland. When people think of Mangonui they immediately think of fish and chips. And were they delicious! Danielle and Pete even had a guest cottage for us with a real bed that Jon could comfortable lay out on. It all sounded too tempting for could we say no?! But it was going against the path that we had set our eyes on...heading down to the south island. We were only in New Zealand for 18 days and already that didn’t seem like enough time.

However, we are so glad we took them up on their offer. They showed us some great sights such as St. Paul's Rock (oh, what a hike), Ninety Mile Beach, and the beauty of the northland. We went over to their friends’ house for dinner and stayed in our last night to watch a movie together. It was as if we had known them for years. We kept thinking is this for real? Who invites total strangers to come stay at their place only after meeting them for a few minutes? We’ve learned it’s part of the Kiwi hospitality as we have received similar offers along our journey.

Thank you, Danielle and Pete, for reminding us that detours can lead to unexpected good surprises. We hope to see you again somewhere in the world and pass your hospitality and generosity forward to someone else.


hippie camper

Hippie Camper from Jon Carr on Vimeo.

A quick behind the scenes tour of our wheels and accommodations in New Zealand.



After two months of planning we are finally heading off. We have given up our apartment in Cow Hollow and are putting our stuff in a friend's basement. After we move our things we are driving down to Los Angeles to see my family for a few days. We are lending the car to my 18-year old niece who just got her license a week ago. I am not sure if she is more excited about us going on a world trip or the fact that she has a car to drive while we are away. I'm betting on the latter.

We leave for Fiji on Tuesday and decided to treat ourselves by staying at a white sandy beach resort on Treasure Island. It has been grueling getting ready so our goal while we are there is to do absolutely nothing except for lift a cocktail once in awhile. We will be in Fiji for four days and then head to Auckland, New Zealand. We will be in NZ for three weeks traveling from North to South Island.  Based on feedback we have gotten from people who have visited NZ we decided to rent a campervan. This is no ordinary Great American RV. It is a one of a kind hippie campervan. Go all out or go home is what I say. We will be able to sleep and cook in our camper.  From Christchurch, NZ we will fly to Sydney, Australia. I am really excited to see some friends of mine who I met in Japan. And that's what we have planned so far.

Our hope is to be away for six months but it's up in the air. Jon says if we come back sooner than six months it's a bit weak. We'll see what happens. Maybe we will like a particular area and stay there for a few months. Stay tuned to find out.