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New Zealand country notes

Kakapo flightless bird

Where to start? 🇳🇿

Let’s start with the local i-site visitor information center. The official NZ tourism website is excellent. Check out their helpful map of i-Sites. AA Travel is a comprehensive New Zealand based travel agency well worth browsing their website.

What does New Zealand look like?

NZ  is a forested green wrap of islands straddling the Pacific Ocean.  From sub-tropical Northland to sub-Antarctic region of the Campbell Islands New Zealand is a contrast in scenery and climate. Scenery to binge on with volcanic activity as a bonus.

TIP : Variety is around every corner with views from sandy beaches ringed with bush to high altitude tussock framed by mountain peaks.  

One third of the population lives in Auckland, that means the rest of the country is thinly populated.  The population is 5 million. Filling in the spaces are forests, bush, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and beaches waiting for your footprints.  

TIP : Pack your favourite walking shoes and that does not mean two or more pairs for walking.  Remember shoes are bulky.

NZ South Island
NZ South Island
NZ forest, bush
NZ native bush

What is the best time to travel to NZ?✈️

Year round, just pick your activity and go for it. Summer, beaches/swimming with walks and hikes in the bush, polynesian festivals in Auckland or Hokitika’s wild food festival. Spring, blossoms in Christchurch botanical gardens, rhododendrons in New Plymouth’s annual garden festival or open air music events in Napier. Autumn, yellow, gold and bronze leaf fall in Arrowtown, lazing on a warm beach in Northland or fishing for trout in the Tongariro River.  Winter, snow and ski in Queenstown, visit Te Papa (National) Museum in Wellington or soak in thermal pools in Rotorua.

TIP : The country has a coastal climate where four seasons in one day encourage clothing layers.  

TIP : Remember to bring a waterproof poncho.  As a general guide summer daily high temperatures average 11-24ºC in the South Island and 14-27ºC in the North Island.

TIP : remember your sunblock as our sun is unfiltered due to the lack of pollution and New Zealand’s location. 

How can I get around New Zealand? 🚗

Drive on the left. Major highways are not difficult with numerous passing lanes and/or multiple lanes on either side.  Drive to road conditions off the beaten track. New Zealand roads can be narrow and winding. Road signs indicate rest stops which are usually good spots to take in the views. Check my video below to get know the top 10 things you must consider before driving in NZ

TIP : Your international driver’s licence will be necessary for car rentals. Trains, very limited coverage in regional areas. The main trunk route North Island contacts seemingly with interisland ferry services. Domestic flights long distance between islands is a good idea. Planning short regional hops consider either a rental car or bus service.  Always check travelling time (google maps is accurate) as 45km on a narrow winding road can take up more time than anticipated. 

TIP :  Monitor Air New Zealand specials and deal of the week/month. Inter-island connections ferry services include vehicle and passengers on NZ Rail service. Bluebridge is passenger only service. https://www.bluebridge.co.nz or  https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/

TIP :  travel from Europe / North America involves considerable travel.  Give yourself a day (or two) to get your body clock in sync with where you are before embarking on a road trip.  For our neighbours, Australia we just a short hop across the ditch (three hour flight to Sydney).  

TIP :  Travel calculator https://www.newzealand.com/int/travel-times-and-distances-calculator/

Opening hours, when is the best time to get to a destination?

Check opening hours on activity website.  Museums in small towns can be closed Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  Tides, sunrise and sunset can influence your ability to get to a location such as Cathedral Cove or Raglan beaches.

All day dining in major cities and tourist hot spots is the norm. Travelling off the beaten track breakfast is served between 8.00 to 10.00am, lunch between 12.00 to 2.00pm with snacks and hot drinks available all day.  

Is New Zealand cycling friendly? 🚲

There are numerous cycle rental companies located in tourist hubs. This eliminates the need to transport equipment around New Zealand. http://nzcycletrail.com/

Bike hire within cities try out ONZO bike hire https://onzo.co.nz/

New Zealand cycling biking
Cycling trails of NZ South Island
Cycling trail in Abel Tasman Regional park

New Zealand and Australia — are they the same?

As different as chalk and cheese. New Zealand is polynesian in spirit. Maori cultural experiences and etiquette are part of the fabric of New Zealand. Maori language is an official language, customs play a large part in any welcome.

TIP : Kia Ora greetings are frequent. Your welcome starts with a friendly Air New Zealand boarding message.

Is New Zealand expensive? 💳

While NZ is not cheap when compared with our neighbours we offer reliable, consistent value for money.  Check out the labelling ‘Made in NZ’ quality and care is a hallmark of locally manufactured goods. Bartering is not encouraged and tipping is not expected. It is easy to pay for goods as Eftpos / credit cards / banking system is world class.

TIP : Craft markets could have vendors where cash only transactions are accepted.

Food and Feast 🍷

New Zealand is a part of the international circuit for vineyard and wine tours.  Nelson, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Otago are notable. Vineyards are dotted around the country.  Together with a growing craft brewing industry, rustic cafes in the countryside or urban savvy venues restaurants will serve drinks for the discerning palate.  Cuisine is influenced by abundant seafood as well as a temperate climate that encourages fruit and vegetable production. An opportunity to indulge in fresh produce or fish and chips at the beach is an experience that will make you feel like a local.  And then there is the pavlova.

NZ fish & chips
Pavlova dessert

Opening hours for cafes and restaurants?

All day dining in major cities and tourist hot spots is the norm.  Travelling off the beaten track breakfast is served between 8.00 to 10.00am, lunch between 12.00 to 2.00pm with snacks and hot drinks available all day.

Does New Zealand have dangerous animals?

None, no snakes, crocodiles, lethal biting insects.

TIP : mosquito repellant might be required for some river beaches, especially in summer.

Is New Zealand safe?

Yes, relax you are on holiday in New Zealand.  For up to date travel safety tips check out NZ Police website.

Beaches 🏄🏻‍♂️

Swimguide is a mobile friendly app “It helps you easily find your closest beaches, know at a glance which ones are safe for swimming, and share your love of beaches”

Travel safe with your valuables and documents stored appropriately.    Travel theft does occur, lock your car, do not leave valuables in plain sight and lock your hotel / motel door.   An independent solo female traveller is safe in New Zealand.

TIP : you can ask a local where to go and expect a polite reply.

TIP : remember to check out with the local ‘i’ Site for driving directions.

Health 👩‍⚕️

NZJane recommends travel with a summary of your existing medical condition together with a prescription description.  Medical clinics are open six days with emergency care available from public hospitals. Health care is state funded for citizens.  

Always invest in travel insurance.

TIP photograph your prescriptions so that it is at your fingertips when you need it, plus email yourself a copy of the photographs.  

TIP provide your emergency contact at home with all your medical details as well as notify your doctor you are travelling overseas.

Laundry, cleaning and all that domestic stuff

Your accommodation will offer either self cleaning or laundry services.  In larger towns there are numerous laundromats outlets. See my handy hints on laundry while travelling

New Zealand is nature plus.

Accessible wilderness together with a superb graded mapping system is good reason to visit New Zealand. [NZ Department of Conservation provides a good start to your itinerary]. Wilderness that is marked and graded for your safety makes walks, hikes and tramps easy to plan.

TIP : Department of Conservation guidelines ensure our guests are safe in the bush.  Follow their safety protocols.

TIP : check the weather forecast before you start your adventure.

Electricity

240 Volts AC, 50Hz flat, 3 pronged plugs used.

Telephone

Country Code: +64

My country

The country is filled with green layered forests, peaks and valleys, lakes where the only footprint is yours. Our coast is just one long beach.  The country has beaches safe for paddling children, ocean fed roaring surf and hot geothermal water bubbling beneath the surface. I live in Auckland with the urban buzz of cafes, world class museums, historic homesteads and craft markets.  Nothing like a local market for food and gift treats. Auckland is a polynesian town with the beat of the Pacific. Maori language, etiquette and values are woven into the New Zealand fabric of people, sights and scenery.

The journey is worth it