There’s this great community called Couchsurfing. Hosts post profiles offering up couches or beds in cities all around the world, and traveling “surfers” make requests to stay with people for a few days at a time for free. It’s a great way to visit new places very cheaply, meet people, and learn about local culture and events from real locals. We knew some people in Brussels who were very into the community, and have actually been members of the site ourselves for a while. But we hadn’t had a chance to host or experience surfing until we came to New Zealand.
It turned out that our flight to Wellington was a few days earlier than our housesit started, and we didn’t want to have to find a hostel, so I jumped on the couchsurfing website, finally wrote up our profile, and put out a request. We heard back from a really nice guy who lived about 10 minutes from our housesit, and who even offered to pick us up at the airport! He was really friendly and had an amazing house a hill overlooking the bay. We had a nice evening of sharing stories of our lives and travels over a few glasses of wine and then headed to sleep in his guest bedroom.
Next day, while our host was at work, we walked around the streets of the Miramar peninsula, and the trails around Mt. Crawford (we’d heard there were still a few sets from filming The Hobbit around, but we didn’t find any). We had dinner with our housesittees that night, so we didn’t get to spend much time with our host, but the experience was really great. True to what we thought, couchsurfing turned out to be a great way to meet people and hear interesting stories, and to see parts of new cities that you might otherwise not learn about. Our host was really generous and welcoming, and we had a great time surfing with him. We hope to do more soon!