Backpack Gear List: Auckland, NZ

Backpack Gear List: Auckland, NZ

Spending a month in Auckland and exploring the city was incredible (check out our post on public transportation in Auckland here).  When we would leave our Airbnb for the day we always made sure to have our EveryDay Carry (EDC) bag ready. We developed our EDC bag during our time in Auckland to satisfy both our needs and wants while out exploring the city.  Having a bag with basic needs tailored to your current location is important as it provides a sense of security and comfort while away from home. Everyone’s needs are different but we thought we would share with you what we carried in Auckland to give you guys some ideas for your bag.


The purpose of our bag

When packing an EDC bag you need to decide on the purpose of the bag.  Our EDC bag for Auckland needed to provide us with comfort and security for up to 12 hours while exploring the city.  It also needed to have enough extra space in case we bought merchandise or groceries while out.

Let’s take a look at our bag

  1. The pack – Frost River Isle Royale Jr.

We use a Frost River Isle Royale Jr. which we absolutely love!  The waxed canvas bushcraft style pack not only has plenty of room but a timeless style that can’t be beat.  We knew that we wanted a large, well built backpack that was going to last a lifetime and we believe our expectations have been met.  The bag has also been carry-on compliant (without a water bottle in the front pocket), which makes it the perfect size.

  1. Umbrella (x2) – 12” when folded

We learned quickly that all four seasons occur every day!  This means that every day it will be cold, hot, sunny and raining.  It is really quite interesting how fast the weather changes! The rain is very unpredictable as it comes in fast and with heavy spurts.  Therefore having two umbrellas with us at all times was important. Reminder:there are four of us so that meant two people per umbrella-sharing is caring.

  1. Tripod – Sunpak 4200XL

Although we love selfies, we also love having a tripod on hand.  We ended up getting a travel tripod with extending legs. When folded up it is no larger than 12” and can fully extended to 4 feet tall.  We have used it frequently and always make sure to pack it.

  1. Flashlight – Maglite mini

Several times we have been out past sun down and have needed a flashlight.  We almost always use the flashlights on our cellphones but have an emergency backup just in case.

  1. Lighter – Bic

You never know when you might need a means to start a fire.  This is another “just in case” item and we always make sure to have one.

  1. Chapstick – Carmex Jar

It seems like our lips are constantly dry, possibly due to the intense sun in New Zealand.  We make sure to have chapstick in our pack.

  1. Hand Sanitizer – Travel size

There is always those times some hand sanitizer is needed and we make sure to have some in our bag.

  1. Pocket knife – Buck folding knife

From opening packages to cutting a string having a pocket knife is indispensable.  We always make sure to have a pocket knife as part of our pack, provided local laws permit the carry of a knife.  Please always check local laws and regulations before finalizing your pack! This knife was a valentines gift from Lorena to Sean back in 2014 and he loves it so very much!

  1. Water bottle – Stanley 25 oz. Insulated

When exploring a new city through walking and public transportation for up to 12 hours at a time it is extremely important to stay hydrated.  We always carried a water bottle as you never know when you might need a drink. Free tap water is available most everywhere in Auckland which gave us plenty of opportunities to refill our water bottle throughout the day.  This wonderful water bottle was a birthday present (Lorena’s mom to Sean) and is awesome!

  1. Camera – Sony a6000, Canon G12 powershot, Polaroid Cube

We love taking pictures and always double check that at least one camera is in the bag.  You never want to miss a shot!

  1. Dry bag – Magellan outdoors 5L Dry Bag

We have an extra waterproof bag that we can use for anything that might require it rolled up.

  1. Phone wall charger – Standard USB block plug and wire

Our first line of defense from the dreaded dead phone is a wall charger.  We all rely on our phone GPS system to get to where we need to go and this is especially true for Auckland.  As mentioned in our Public transportation post, the bus doesn’t display which stop is next and you need the app to know.  We ended up purchasing a New Zealand plug style phone charger so we could make sure we could charge our phones while out exploring.

  1. Backup phone battery pack – 4” long

We carry a backup phone battery pack that has worked very well.  We have already had to rely on it while trying to get home on the bus and we’re so grateful we had it in our bag.

  1. Compass – Personalized from from Bgenious15

Everyone should always make sure and have some form of a compass with them, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar area.  This way you can orient yourself even when your phone is dead. This beautiful compass was a Christmas present from Gabriela to her daddy (Sean).  If you are interested in purchasing one check out Bgenious15 on Etsy!

  1. First Aid kit – Total Resources International 123 Piece

We have a pre-assembled First Aid kit that we added too that has been very useful.  We added a bottle of headache medicine, allergy medicine, water purifier tablets, and toilet paper which as satisfied our needs while out.

  1. Travel wallet – Generic with Zippers

While traveling outside America you need to have extra documentation on hand that you would not normally carry.  A travel wallet is larger than a normal wallet and has additional pockets that contain this documentation nicely.

  1. Snacks – Frost River small accessory bag

As with carrying water, having snacks on hand is very important.  We have found that having a good amount of trail mix or several granola bars is perfect.  We currently use Frost Rivers small accessory bag with a cotton handkerchief as a liner to hold our snacks and it is perfect!

  1. Blanket – Sonoran Supply Company

We carry a blanket not only to use when we get chili but also to sit on.  We spent September/October in New Zealand and although the weather was getting warmer there were still times it unexpectedly got cold and having a blanket was nice.  It was equally nice to be able to layout on the blanket and take in the amazing views Auckland had to offer! This blanket was another wonderful Christmas present (from Lorena to Sean) that is so very loved! It was purchased from SonoranSupplyCo on Etsy if you would like to purchase one of your own.

We started out with a general idea of what we might need throughout a day exploring Auckland, New Zealand and packed our bag accordingly.  Our bag evolved, however, as we learned what we both needed and wanted during our days exploring. EveryDay Carry bags should be tailored to not only the user but also to the location.  As we continue this journey it will be interesting to see how our pack will evolve as our locations change and as the locations change us.

What do you guys carry when you explore? Let us know in the comments below!

Transportation Tips for Auckland, NZ

Transportation Tips for Auckland, NZ


Let’s take a look at transportation in Auckland, New Zealand. Our first stop in New Zealand was in Auckland where we spent one month and came up with some great travel tips.  Auckland is the largest urban city in New Zealand and is located on the North Island and has several forms of transportation available including car, taxi, Uber, bus, train, and ferry.  Before we decided on our first place we researched several areas around New Zealand and knew that we would need good public transportation when we first arrived. Therefore, with its bus, train, and ferry systems, Auckland became a perfect location to begin our journey.  


Shuttle from the airport

Before we arrived in New Zealand we booked a shuttle to get us from the airport to our first Airbnb.  There are many different companies to choose from and we booked our ride with Supershuttle. Although the price was a little higher than other options (i.e. bus or Uber) the convenience and comfort provided by Supershuttle after an extremely long flight was a warm welcome.  We were able to quickly locate the company after collecting our luggage as we exited airport security. The company had more than enough space on their shuttle to accommodate our luggage which included four (4) large “checked” suitcases three (3) small “carry-on” suitcases, four (4) backpacks and a satchel.  We highly recommend booking a shuttle from the airport in advance as it was quick and stress free. Having so many bags did influence our decision as we would probably not have been able to fit it all in one car.

Discovering AT HOP card

We arrived at our Airbnb at around 7:00 am and after getting settled decided to explore the city.  After some quick research we discovered that the public transit system was not only extensive but that there was a bus stop very close to our Airbnb.  That afternoon we walked down the street to what would become our bus stop and waited. After just 5 minutes our bus arrived and we were on our way to New Lynn to purchase our AT HOP cards.


When riding public transportation in Auckland, New Zealand you can either pay cash every time or purchase an AT HOP card.  You can buy an AT HOP card online and have it mailed to you or you can go to a main transportation station or authorized dealer and purchase one directly.  Please refer to the official list on their website for all the available locations:

Cost of At HOP card

The card costs $10 (New Zealand Dollars) and is non refundable but does provide the following discounts and is therefore beneficial if you are going to use the public transport as much as we did!  These discounts were the reason we decided to get the AT HOP cards as there was a child discount of 40% and the standard adult 25% discount. There are so many wonderful discounts that we can’t list them all here so please consult their website for more information (  Just remember to register the cards online after purchase for the discounts to become active.


The cards work on the bus, train, and ferry systems within Auckland and you can add money to them or “top them up” at a main station in person, automated machine, authorized convenience store, or online.  Be aware, however, that if you “top up” online it may take up to 72 hours for the card to clear and the funds to be added to your AT HOP card. It took us a while to figure this out as we would “top up” our card online but when we would try to ride the bus our card showed no balance.  

After we went to New Lynn and bought our AT HOP cards we rode the train to Auckland Central Business District (CBD) and enjoyed our first day in Auckland exploring the city.  


Using the AT HOP card

You must remember to “tag on” and “tag off” when using an AT HOP card.  As you enter a bus/train/ferry you place your card on the sensor to tag on and do the same to tag off when exiting.  Just don’t forget to “tag off” or you might get charged for a longer ride. The only stations where we found this hard to remember was at certain train stops where the location to “tag on/off” was an unmanned and discreet post.

When is your stop next?

The bus does not have any sign indicating which stop is next or coming up.  This was a little tricky at first as we did not know anything about Auckland but we quickly learned that not only are the drivers extremely nice but they also have a wonderful app provided by AT HOP.  Their app is exceptional and alerts you to when your stop is next. If you don’t have a smartphone, not to worry, because the drivers are more than happy to stop if you let them know where you are going.  We actually got on the wrong bus once trying to get to Mt. Eden and after talking with the driver he made an extra stop for us to get off and explained to us how to get there.


Our cost for transportation?

The cost of using the public transit system was exceptional! In comparison, in the USA we were spending approximately $300 a week on transportation but in Auckland we were spending approximately $25 a week.

We used the public transportation the whole month we were in Auckland, New Zealand and loved it dearly.  Auckland has an extremely well developed public transport system available, with bus routes, trains, and ferries that frequently run all over the city.  We never waited at a bus stop longer than 15 minutes. It was extremely affordable, clean, and quick. For anyone visiting Auckland, New Zealand and looking for a means to travel we recommend Auckland’s public transit system!


The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins


Flashforward to today. We are sitting in the airport right now waiting for our flight to New Zealand. We did it! We are here, now I can breathe. Shit…what have I done? No, its ok…this is awesome! You are an explorer, you are a jet setter (I don’t even really know what this means), you are a super mom and wife. It hasn’t and will not be easy, but this is what I wanted. This is what we wanted. This will make our kids better humans. However, it is difficult, and I will miss my family and my friends very much. Hopefully they come visit.

So…how did we get here. Well, the planning really probably began as an individual idea and goal for both Sean and I. We both knew we wanted to travel the world and had a goal to do so. We didn’t know it would be together but boy am I happy that it is. After our honeymoon to Barcelona, Spain we made a serious plan to travel as soon as Mireya finished high school. She was already so well established with her school and friends and only had a few years left. So we waited, we planned, we tried to save, we spent it, started over, and eventually landed here.

One of the things that changed everything for us was starting our own company. As architectural interns we worked for many different firms over the past 8 years and realized that we did not want to be the typical architects. Stuck in offices all day and working 80+ hour work weeks. We wanted to spend time with our kids, with each other, and see the world. How could we do this? Well its simple but not really. Start our own company. Lorena had already worked as an independent contractor and provided drafting services from home (I told you she was a hustler). So why could she not take what she learned here and create a new type of architectural business? Both Sean and Lorena had been working on getting their licenses and decided that once one of them was licensed we would create our own firm. Sean won…Yes, it was a competition. Dammit. So MC2Archiecture was created. We teamed up with some pretty dope people and told them our dreams and desires for the firm. They were cool with it. So, with that information in hand they decided it was time.

We had a job, we were our own bosses, we created our own hours, and made it work. So the list began 1. Mireya graduate from high school 2. Lorena graduate with her Master of Architecture degree (yeah she is a smarty pants too)  3. Continue to look for cool people willing to work with us so we could afford eat 4. Sell our house 5. Sell our cars and our all of our belongings (minus what could fit into one carry on, one checked bag, and a personnel bag each) 6. Find a home for the animals 7. Spend time with our family and friends 8. Get cool hats 9. Start our adventure 10. Take over the world