Meet The Roamers: Abigail Hannah

Tell us about yourself. What makes you tick?

I’m Abigail, I love all things travel and adventure. To me that means everything from an afternoon walk in the park to months on the road! I run my own business, we do social media marketing for travel and outdoor brands. However, I’m trained as an urban planner and will geek out on all things planning if you ask me about it!

A lot of my sense of adventure comes from my husband, Isaac, we’ve been married for 5 years and he’s my adventure buddy that has talked me into trying vanlife, rock climbing, tramping and sea kayaking… I now love them all and those are the main ways I love to spend time outdoors!

Where did your interest in travel come from? Particularly when it comes to touring around NZ?

So I grew up in India, we moved around quite a bit when I was younger - having lived in six cities and visited 14 countries before the age of ten! My family has always been spread out around the globe - from the UK to NZ to Bolivia to Laos. Travel is in the blood, both my parents having also grown up in South Asia.

At 18, I moved back “home” to New Zealand and found the move really challenging. Where India was full of colour and flavour, New Zealand felt…well…bland. I struggled with my mental health (read about that here) and spending time in nature started to heal my depression.

Getting outdoors and exploring nature helped me fall in love with Aotearoa and find out what makes this country so incredibly special and unique - our landscapes - from the maunga to the moana. We started exploring small - from short walks in Auckland, to overnight trips to the Waikato, to our first South Island road trip!

Now it's been 7 years of exploring Aotearoa and I help others plan their perfect New Zealand trip too!

What is your favourite adventure to date?

This is a very hard question, but I ask all my podcast guests this, so it’s a taste of my own medicine…

I think I would pick my first South Island road trip. It was 21 days and we had this cheap $2500 van (AKA rustbox). I had heard everyone talking about how amazing the South Island is - and all the rest of it. But I was a broke student and just couldn’t justify the time and money to get down there.

Then Covid hit in 2020 and with all our family overseas, we had an excuse to spend our time and money exploring home, instead of visiting them! It was a whirlwind trip, I think 3 weeks is the absolute minimum that you need to spend in the South Island, but it gave me a taste.

I remember the drive up to Auckland and I said, “my whole world has grown a little bit bigger!” That’s what it felt like. New Zealand was bigger than Auckland, bigger than just the North Island.

My first solo hike was another memorable adventure, it really pushed me to my limits, but that’s where the growth happens!

Who are some people and things that inspire you? (Can be from any corner of your life).

My biggest inspiration are the guests I have on my podcast. Each week I talk to someone from a different walk in life. My youngest guest has been 16 and my oldest in their seventies. Everyone is passionate about something else, everyone has incredible stories to share and lessons that can be applied to daily life.

I’m also inspired by my grandad. He drove overland from London, UK to Calcutta, India in the 60s in these soviet trucks - what an amazing overland journey and I hope to retrace his steps one day.

Tell us about your Podcast!!!

Aotearoa Adventures is New Zealand’s number one travel podcast! We are soon to celebrate 100 episodes on the show and each episode is with a different guest about their travels around New Zealand. The podcast goes to show that Aotearoa is a giant playground and each of my guests “play” in the outdoors in a different way - whether its Roam founder Jack and his overlanding journeys, a kayak circumnavigation of New Zealand, bikepacking from Cape Reinga to Bluff, tramping notoriously muddy, sandfly-infested trails, enjoying local weekend escapes and so much more…

I may be biased, but I think the podcast is totally binge-worthy, it’s perfect to listen to on a road trip - so give it a go and let me know what you think. Your story might be next!

Tell us about your van (Maybe just talk about the everything up until now and write something that’ll tease what coming up)

Our very first van was that $2500 rust box that we bought. We popped in a basic bed and kitchen for self-containment certification and were good to go for our first South Island road trip. It was absolutely freezing and we were scraping ice off the inside of the van on those winter mornings, but hey - it got us out there and gave us a taste.

Our second van was an interim vehicle, as we waited for our “forever van”. We explored Northland and the East Cape in that vehicle. It was a rushed basic build - basically thrown together in 24 hours on our driveway!

My husband, Isaac, had a very specific list of what he wanted in a van as we were looking at being on the road full time. When it was that 2022 Auckland lockdown - we found the van we wanted but it was located on a farm in Invercargill… We decided to go for it anyway and bought a long wheelbase, high roof, 4WD Toyota Hiace off TradeMe without even seeing it! Some friends in Wānaka then picked it up for us and stored it at their place until we could pick it up!

We then build out the van - another quick conversion - out of the Wānaka Community Workshop (great place)! And spent the next 10 weeks exploring the further corners of the South Island that we’d missed - Milford Sound, the Catlins, Abel Tasman, as well as beautiful Aoraki and the central South Island. We did 10,000 kms on the van before we took it to a mechanic in Auckland because we didn’t want to know if anything was wrong!

Safe to say we love this van, it’s got super low mileage and we are getting ready to convert it into our home on wheels. We’re done with bare minimum setups - I’m an adult and need a fridge and electrical system!

Watch this space…

What is your all-time favourite camp spot in NZ?

There are so many beautiful spots around the country. The best are always the ones you have to yourself. I can think of some awesome spots on the West Coast, but my favourite, favourite has got to be at Lake Pūkaki because of the friendships shared there.

We stay there every time we’re at Mt Cook and we’ve been there for Christmas, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, New Year, with overseas family, with strangers turned best friends and it’s just an incredible place with the mountains as your backdrop and stars that are absolutely unreal.

Finally, What is one piece of advice you could give yourself 10 years ago?

Life is going to surprise you in ways you can’t imagine. Always say yes to new opportunities, new friendships and new adventures. Life is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the ride!

Here's Abigails top five favourite conversations that she's had on her podcast so far!

Go follow Abigails Adventures and the Aotearoa Adventure's Podcast via the links below:
Abi's Instagram
Aotearoa Adventures on Spotify
Aotearoa Adventure On Apple