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 Place to Blow Your Budget: Queenstown – New Zealand

** Thanks to Elle-Rose Williams, the resident blogger at http://www.no1traveller.com for this inspiring guest post!

We all know that one of the most popular backpacking destinations worldwide is New Zealand, and it’s unsurprising that every year thousands and thousands of us flock to this tiny country to see what all the fuss is about.

And does New Zealand disappoint? Of course not.

Elle

I’ve been living here for 6 months now, and I’ve loved every second. I moved from busy, manic London – so New Zealand was a huge culture shock – but it was the kind of shock that you enjoy, and that I loved embracing. We moved to Queenstown – a small town on the South island – affectionately known as the adrenaline capital of the world.

That’s a big claim – I hear you thinking. But trust me – there is no where quite like Queenstown if you’re a thrill seeker. And any adrenaline junky will find that they are beyond spoilt for choice here. There is just so much to do, you’ll be counting up your pennies trying to figure out just how much stuff you can afford and just how much time you have to squeeze it all in.

The truth is – if you’re going to blow your budget anyway in New Zealand – Queenstown is where you should do it. Save it all for here – seriously, you won’t regret it. It’s not just the activities and adrenaline seeking – it’s the food and the nightlife too – both of which deserve just as much attention as the crazy stunts you can pull diving out of an airplane. Oh, and did I mention this place is beautiful!?

Not just… “Oh hey, that’s a nice view”

Elle - New Zealand

I’m talking….

“Holy crap. This view is the best I’ve ever seen. I never want to leave”

Elle - New Zealand

So what activities can you do here? Well, I’ve tried to round up the majority below for you, to give you a bit of pre-trip inspiration.

–          Jet Boating – A super fast speed boat that will take you along the rivers and canyons around the local area. It’s great fun and there are a few different tour companies that offer it at varying prices.

–          Sky-Diving – If you’re going to jump out of a plane – you might as well do it above Queenstown as the views will blow you away. There is no where quite like it in the world.

–          Canyon Swinging – Similar to Bungee jumping but with a twist. These guys are all about the banter and making sure you have an awesome time.

–          Bungee Jumping – Jumping off a platform attached to a massive piece of elastic – this is definitely one of the most popular activities here in QT. There are a few operators who do it too, so lots of choice.

–          Zip-lining – Quick zipping and zooming through Queenstown forest, on zipwires is a great activity for big groups and also for those who want a good thrill – without jumping out of a plane!

Elle - New Zealand

–          Luging – Found at the top of the Gondola – this is the fast paced (very fun) go carting on top of the mountain. One of my personal favourites, and always so much fun and laughter.

–          Jet Skiing – The lake is an awesome place to experience jet skiing – because it’s not salty (salty spray is no fun!) and it’s safe and not busy either. There are a couple of tour companies who offer this and the prices aren’t half bad.

–          Kayaking – A bit more low-key, this is great for people wanting to relax and explore the local area by water. There are lots of kayak tours in the summer, or you can just hire one from the beach.

–          Quad Biking – Found a bit out of town – this is run by Nomad Safaris and is great fun. But then, quad biking always is!

–          BMX Biking – Hire out a bike for the day and experience some of the awesome bike track that lead down from the top of the Gondola. There are tracks for every skill level too – making it awesome for beginners and expert riders.

Elle - New Zealand

Oh and once you’ve tired yourself out doing all these awesome activities – don’t forget to fuel yourself up with some amazing food! Queenstown is literally splitting at seams with great food places, there is (of course) the infamous Fergburger for all your meaty needs, but don’t forget about the incredible Flame Restaurant if you love steak and ribs – they serve up the best ribs I’ve ever tasted in my life. Which is a big claim!

Then there is also the sushi on the mall (a cheap favourite for quick lunches) and Winnies and Fat Badgers for incredible pizza. Then, if you have room – try a scoop of ice-cream at Patagonia. Trust me – you’ll never look back… it’s the yummiest ice-cream in all of New Zealand!

Elle

This guest post was written by Elle-Rose. Elle-Rose is the resident blogger for No1 Traveller, and she is currently travelling the world. You can read more about her personal travel experiences here.