10 Things to Know When Traveling to New Zealand

A view that you can experience after traveling to New Zealand.

New Zealand is on many travelers’ ‘to go’ list, and for many excellent reasons. This beautiful island country in the Pacific Ocean has everything an adventurous traveler might wish for. Breathtaking nature, ranging from turquoise beaches to snowy mountain peaks, friendly and welcoming people, and unique culture. Not to mention New Zealand is an ideal destination for an active holiday. You can go surfing, swimming, bungee-jumping, skiing as well as hiking and climbing. Plus, it’s the perfect place to go exploring, either on your own or as a part of a tour group. If all of this appeals to you, it’s time to pack your bags and visit the land of kiwis, haka dance, and mesmerizing natural beauty. However, if you want to make the most of your trip, it’s best to prepare well. Here are the ten things you should know when traveling to New Zealand!

Customs screening is quite rigorous

New Zealand is an island country with a sensitive environment. There are many endemic species, and introducing non-native plants and animals could jeopardize local biodiversity.

For that reason, visitors aren’t allowed to bring any animals, insects, plants, herbal medicines, or fresh food. Even packaged food and dirty camping gear or shoes may be forbidden.

So, if you want to go through customs smoothly, declare anything of this sort you may have. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay some hefty fines!

Prepare for all kinds of weather

Most of us never travel without certain things, but when you’re traveling to New Zealand, don’t neglect your wardrobe either. The weather here is often described as ‘crazy’. That means that within the same day, you may experience intense sun, rain, and snow!

While it is part of the charm, it’s best to prepare accordingly – pack everything you’ll need, from swimsuits to rain jackets! Additionally, don’t forget to bring sunscreen (a lot of it) and some bug repellents (sandflies are notorious!).

Driving and getting around

Another thing you should definitely know and keep in mind is that you should drive on the left side. There are plenty of signs warning visitors about this. But even if there aren’t, check how everybody is driving and keep traffic rules in mind.

On the whole, roads in New Zealand are mostly quiet, and there’s not a lot of traffic. However, if you’re planning to visit more remote areas, ensure you know the way and check road conditions before the trip.

A mountain cliff with Maori motives and a lake in New Zealand.
Camping is an excellent way to experience New Zealand’s stunning nature and local culture.

Camping in New Zealand

If camping is your thing, there’s no better place for you than New Zealand. While free or dispersed camping is discouraged, there are plenty of other great options!

For example, you can stay at any of DOC (Department of Conservation) sites – you can find them all over the country, often amidst breathtaking scenery and beautiful nature. Or, you can opt for Holiday Parks – they’re slightly more expensive, but they offer many amenities you might want.

Internet connection

If you want to go ‘off the grid’ and immerse yourself in nature instead, New Zealand is the place to go. While wi-fi is available in larger cities and towns, there are many beautiful remote areas where you won’t have a signal. However, exploring them is definitely worth it!

The best way to explore New Zealand is by a camper van

Those adventurous folks who love road trips will enjoy traveling around New Zealand by campervan. It’s the best way to explore this splendid country on your own. Not only will you be able to make your own schedule, but you’ll also find many pleasant surprises along the way!

When is the best time for traveling to New Zealand?

The summer season in New Zealand lasts from December to February. The weather is wonderful, and these months are perfect for all types of outdoor activities. However, during this time, New Zealand is also crowded with tourists.

So, if you want to avoid crowds and cut down on costs, November and April are better choices. The weather is still lovely, but experiencing New Zealand at this time feels more intimate and less touristy.

New Zealand coffee is delicious.
You can expect to find fantastic food and beverage when traveling to New Zealand – make sure you try flat-white coffee!

Food and beverage in New Zealand

While New Zealand’s cuisine is not so different from the UK or the US, there are some unique combinations and flavors worth trying out. For example, don’t miss out on delicious seafood and Maori hangi, as well as some delicious desserts such as Kiwi Pavlova and Hokey Pokey ice cream!

Additionally, coffee is a serious business in New Zealand – long black or flat white are a must. Also, plain water is simply superb, and the wine is exquisite (and cheap!).

Immerse yourself in the local culture

When preparing for the trip of a lifetime, brushing up on the local culture is always an excellent idea. Therefore, learn a bit of the Maori language and culture before you visit.

Kiwis are generally friendly, laid-back, and hospitable. Showing some respect and knowledge will make a great impression on your hosts and enhance your experience.

Plan ahead to visit Hobbiton in New Zealand.
If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, Hobbiton tour and hobbit-dinner are a must!

Make the most of your visit!

New Zealand is a perfect place for an extended vacation – there’s simply so much to see and do! However, if you’re planning a short stay, ensure you make a to-do list and even schedule some of the tours well in advance. Here are some events you surely don’t want to miss:

  • schedule your tour of Hobbiton – experience a true Middle Earth where the Lord of the Rings movies were made
  • visit the glow worm caves in Waitomo
  • more than one of third of New Zealand are nature reserves, and they’re free to visit
  • famous hiking trails such as Tongariro Alpine Crossing or Milford track
  • enjoy scenic road tours and don’t be afraid to go off-the-track
  • plan enough time for all the other outdoor activities

Relocation to New Zealand

Visitors often fall in love with this beautiful and unique country. They usually can’t wait to go back or even decide to make New Zealand their home! If you happen to be one of them and want to relocate to NZ, ensure you create a detailed checklist for your international move. Changing countries can be both exciting and daunting. So, if planning to relocate here from another country, ensure you cover all the bases!

Enjoy your stay!

Last but not least, enjoy your visit to the fullest and embrace everything this fascinating island has to offer! Hopefully, these ten tips for traveling to New Zealand will help you prepare and have a pleasant and exciting experience!

The Best Places in the USA You Must See if You Are a Cheese Lover

Cheese at one of the best places in the USA you must see if you are a cheese lover.

Cheesemakers around the United States are creating tasty goat cheeses, rich, sharp cheddars, mellow brie, and various other types. There’s a cheese for basically everyone, whether you like it plain, on toast, with fruit or chocolate, or in velvety mac & cheese. Artisan cheese stores, cheese trails, festivals, and workshops are available in addition to the products of these cheesemakers. Here are the best places in the USA you must see if you are a cheese lover!

Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a must for every cheese-related list, and we could include the whole state, but it’s pretty big! Madison is the place to go if you want to cover most of Wisconsin’s cheeses. Specialty cheesemakers, artisan cheese stores, and many restaurants are scattered all across the state capital. Many varieties of cheese from all across the state (and further) are readily available on virtually every corner. What makes Madison unique is that they also have many new small breweries that go great with all of that cheese. You also have to try a batch of Wisconsin cheese curds while you are in Madison!

New Orleans, Louisiana

Home of the blues and buttermilk chicken is also proud to have a lot of delicious cheese. New Orleans is also famous for its beignets and smoky coffee (both of which you should try), but it has also become a gastronomic haven in recent years. New Orleans is wonderful for a weekend trip, with many brewers, bakers, and cheesemakers waiting for you to try their products. You can easily find restaurants selling elegant cheese boards, informal cheese tastings, and stores specializing in all things cheese throughout the city. You can even visit a cheese farm if you travel just outside of the city. New Orleans has many things to offer to pair with cheese, and that’s why it’s one of the best places in the USA you must see if you are a cheese lover!

Two wedges of cheese next to a flower and a pastry.
New Orleans is famous for more than just Mardi Gras.

New York City, New York

In New York City, you can’t travel very far without encountering cheese. Every possible sort of cheese can easily be found here, from goat to vegan and back. Locals from Manhattan argue that the best cheese can be found at the Ideal Cheese Shop on 1st Avenue, with many imported kinds of cheese and other delicacies. However, if you are here for the first time, there are many things to do in NYC as a newcomer besides eating cheese. You must go roaming through Manhattan; even if you go through it randomly, you will run into many beautiful places. A great view of the whole of NYC is offered from the top of the Empire State Building, and trust us; you don’t want to miss that.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Although cheese and New Mexico may not appear to go together, this state is America’s fourth-largest cheese producer, with around 150 dairy farms. Visit Santa Fe for a weekend of art and hiking in the area’s National Park, followed by cheese sampling at one of the area’s numerous dairies. The sheer amount of cheesemakers makes Santa Fe one of the best places in the USA you must see if you are a cheese lover, because it offers a vast diversity of different cheeses.

Cheese platter
New Mexico is more than just cacti.

San Francisco, California

With so many farms within driving distance of San Francisco, it’s no surprise that the city has some fantastic cheese stores. It’s also the site of one of the Cheesemonger Invitationals, which brings together the top cheese lovers from all around the country. Cheese connoisseurs should sign up ahead of time for The Cheese School’s three-day extensive cheese course. If that’s still too much for you, the school also offers cheese tastings and pairing lessons. Alternatively, pick up some traditional San Francisco sourdough and combine it with your favorite cheese from one of the city’s many cheese shops. To burn those calories you got from eating cheese, you should consider hiking while you’re in California. There are many great hiking destinations that will allow you to enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world!

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This Florida city managed to beat Philadelphia in the number of cheesesteaks made. The Philly cheesesteak in Fort Lauderdale offers many options on which cheese will be used. You can choose from a variety of cheeses ranging from regular American cheese to artisanal goudas. If you plan on visiting Fort Lauderdale, make sure to take a road trip through Florida, since it has a lot to offer. Fort Lauderdale is also home to hundreds of cheese and wine events that happen almost every day.

Three cheeses
It may surprise you, but Florida is one of the best places for cheese lovers.

Vermont

This small state has a lot of cheese. Vermont has the most cheesemakers per capita of any state, and they create over 150 different types of cheese. Plan a road trip through Vermont, following the Vermont Cheese Trail, and get the most out of this cheese destination. It will take you through beautiful landscapes, tiny towns with cheese sampling, and shopping possibilities at every turn. For cheese lovers everywhere, it’s a dream come true.

In conclusion

The United States of America has a lot of cheese destinations that you should visit. The diversity of cultures and different landscapes is represented in the diversity of cheeses. That’s why you should visit all of the best places in the USA you must see if you are a cheese lover. You will get to know the whole country better, and you will experience many different cultures and beautiful landscapes during your travels! 

Best places to experience the true spirit of Canada

a Canadian flag and mountain ranges

The Canadian natural and urban landscapes are undeservedly neglected in many travel plans. However, if you are looking for the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada, you have stumbled upon a guide that will list and explain why the home of maple syrup (among other things) should definitely be on your travel horizon.

Essentially, this is a big country that boasts one of the most mesmerizing and impressive landscapes in the world. On the one hand, you can encounter lakes, mountains, and other natural sceneries of indescribable beauty. On the other, Canadian cities are a perfect starting and finishing point on your trip. They offer you a chance to experience incredible architectural gems in a progressive and liberal society. Read on to find out more about the most breathtaking and exciting places in Canada you should visit on your next trip to the Great White North.

Toronto

If you are looking for the perfect city to start your Canadian journey, Toronto is the place for you (and my hometown). It is one of the largest and culturally most important cities in this country. Toronto’s distinguishing landmark is the CN Tower which you must have seen if you have ever received a postcard from Toronto.

When it comes to its tourist potential, Toronto’s transportation system makes movement through the city impeccable, with a network of subways, street cars, and roads. However, if you get bored with Toronto’s bustling urban energy, you can always take the ferry across the harbour to the nearby Toronto Islands.  

a Toronto skyline with skyscrapers and CN Tower
The famous CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline

Banff

If you are looking to visit the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is a great resort town to start your hiking, biking, or skiing journey from. It is located in the Banff National Park, the first national park established on Canadian soil. As for what it can offer to its visitors, Banff is a town that is brimful of small, local cafes, restaurants, art galleries, shops, and other tourist amenities. You can find the beautiful Mount Norquay towering over this little town and the famous Lake Louise just an hour away from Banff.

Icefields Parkway

Icefield Parkway is a world-famous 144-mile double-lane highway drive between Jasper and Lake Louise. What makes it so epic is that this road offers an incredible overview of the Canadian Rocky Mountains while taking you through orchards, waterfalls, lakes, and other intact natural scenery. This route is fantastic for those who enjoy hiking and camping in breathtakingly beautiful Canadian nature.

a big lake at the foot of mountains in Canada, symbolizing the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada
Canada is home to supreme vistas and natural sceneries.

Vancouver

Vancouver is another big Canadian city that should be on your priority list, especially if you are visiting western Canada. This city is famous for its multiculturalism and green living. Around 50% of its citizens speak languages other than English, making it a truly inspiring and eclectic city. As for what you can do besides the essential sightseeing around the city, Vancouver is a well-known stop for any serious skier given its nearby world-renowned ski resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb. The local city council continuously strive to achieve the best living standard by pioneering and incorporating green design ideas into the city’s infrastructure.

In fact, a rising number of US citizens are moving to Vancouver and other Canadian cities to pursue a cleaner, more humane way of living. If you are considering moving to Canada from NYC, be mindful that you might need to hire an international relocation company to help you get here from NYC, with the necessary vehicles and equipment.

Cape Breton

Cape Breton is a unique part of the province of Nova Scotia located on the east coast of the country. It is one of Canada’s most beloved road trip destinations because of its amazing landscapes that line the famous Cabot Trail – a 186-mile route through the Cape Breton National Park. You will be able to see fantastic nature from Cape Breton’s lookout points, picturesque fishing villages, and one of the most breathtaking scenic routes in the world. A drive through Cape Breton is one to not be missed.

Prince Edward Island

This lovely eastern province and island is famous for its green hills, red cliffs, and amazing seafood everywhere you go. Also, given that most locations in Canada are oriented towards active vacations such as walking or hiking, this island is the perfect getaway where you can relax and enjoy the island scenery. This island is also huge in the golfing world due to its many golf courses available for play. Beside these luxurious, upper-class amenities, the island is also famous for its seal population – as many as four different species of seal inhabit its shores throughout the year.

Niagara Falls

colorful waterfalls and a tree
Niagara Falls are an incredible sight any time of the year and the best place to experience the true spirit of Canada

And, last but certainly not the least, the amazing Niagara Falls. There is hardly a person who has not heard of this collection of waterfalls on the United States and Canada border. The Niagara Falls are indeed a natural wonder that merits at least a day of your attention, especially if you are staying or moving to Toronto in the future. 

The waterfalls – Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls – make up an astounding six million cubic feet of water that splash downward every minute. This makes the word wonder in the phrase “natural wonder” a literal description of what experiencing the Niagara Falls is like.

All in all, we hope this short guide has helped you visualize the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada. Of course, there are many more amazing spots which you can visit, especially if you enjoy spending your holiday in the great outdoors. Don’t forget Quebec, Newfoundland and the other provinces and territories (coming in a future post). Whatever your favorite places are, we are confident you will love every minute spent in this beautiful country. Just make sure you stay safe and healthy during your travel.