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If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go, the latest augmented reality mobile game that’s taken the world by storm, you must have been living under a rock. Players use an app on their smartphones to hunt for these cute animated critters in the real world, capture them and take on others in battle.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to have access to Pokémon Go when it was released this year and Kiwis young and old can be seen pacing the streets and running through parks in search of both Pokémon and Pokéstops (designated spots where players can collect necessary game items).
And it was a New Zealander, 24 year-old Tom Currie of Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast who made headlines around the globe when he decided to quit his job and travel the country by bus to become a Pokémon trainer.
“I was visiting my dad on the West Coast when I downloaded Pokémon Go and got hooked,” Tom explains. “So I called my boss, handed in my resignation and set off.” He embarked on a two-month long trip around New Zealand on InterCity buses, starting in the South Island and planning to work his way up to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the bus and every trip has been great so far,” Tom says. “I’m super thrifty so I got some $1 fares and some free trips with InterCity Rewards. And I love the free WiFi InterCity provides; it helps me catch Pokémon on the bus!”
After arriving in each town Tom sets off on foot to explore and catch as many Pokémon as he can. With many Pokéstops and gyms located at significant landmarks and public places like parks, churches and monuments, he says it’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in a new place. And of course he’s also taking in some of the more traditional sights – like going whale watching in Kaikoura, and visiting Milford Sound on a day tour from Queenstown.
“Kaikoura was amazing,” Tom says. “I’ve wanted to go whale watching since I was 10 – but no, there were no Pokémon on the boat! And Milford Sound was indescribable, definitely the highlight of my trip so far.”
So are Tom’s travels more about Pokemon or the travelling? Or is one a good excuse to do the other? “It’s a good balance of both,” he says. “The travel has been incredible. It’s an awesome way to get around and explore new places.”
InterCity provides over 100 daily bus services connecting more than 600 towns, cities and communities around New Zealand, with fares starting from just $1 plus booking fee and a range of flexible bus pass options.
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