DESTINATION NEW ZEALAND

 New Zealand [Aotearoa, as it is called by Māori] is known as ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, lush valleys, dramatic glacial mountain peaks and emerald hills and waters.

KIA ORA
Welcome to New Zealand
(pronouned kee-a or-a),

When people say kia ora they are offering an informal greeting in Māori that can be used instead of hello.

New Zealanders sometimes refer to their country as "God Zone," a rather prideful twist on the phrase "God's Own." But if you like gorgeous scenery and gutsy people, you'll agree with them. New Zealand is blessed with some of the most varied and dramatic terrain in the world—from glaciers, fjords and beaches to mountains, meadows and rain forests, known to New Zealanders as "native bush." If you're so inclined, you can admire the breathtaking scenery while skiing, surfing, horseback riding, mountain climbing, hiking (which the locals call "tramping") or kayaking.

And if those pursuits aren't exciting enough, you can try some of the adventures the Kiwis (as New Zealanders are called) have invented: You can bungee jump off cliffs or bridges; paddle through white-water rapids; rocket through narrow caverns on jet boats; or strap yourself inside a giant plastic ball and roll down a hillside.

If you prefer more leisurely activities, you can still enjoy New Zealand's natural wonders by strolling on its pristine beaches, sailing along its picturesque coastline or fishing in its crystal-clear rivers and lakes.

New Zealand is invigorating, exciting and delightfully refreshing. With awe-inspiring scenery, spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forests and miles of sandy coastline.

Discover how Māori values have an ongoing influence on everyday life with many opportunities to experience the culture first-hand. See geothermal activity up close in Rotorua with spouting geysers, hot water pools and bubbling mud pools.

New Zealand consists of two large islands (called the North Island and the South Island), as well as numerous small islands. Of these smaller islands; the largest ones are Stewart Island and Chatham Island.  New Zealand is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Both major islands are mountainous with coastal plains. The North Island is more populated and has a warmer, temperate climate, along with vigorous geothermal areas and active volcanoes. The South Island has a more open, spacious feel with mighty fjords, glaciers, agricultural plains, and hundreds of streams and lakes.
 

The North and South Islands are separated by the Cook Strait which is 14 miles in width at its narrowest point. The distance between the very north of the North Island and the very southern tip of the South Island is just under 1000 miles. And the 29 regions that make up the two big islands are also located approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Australia. 

The country is one of the world’s least populated countries with approximately 4.9 million people here.    

New Zealand's islands make up a surface area of the continent called Zealandia. Zealandia, now, for the most part, submerged, was formerly a large portion of the super-continent of Gondwanaland.      

New Zealand and Australia have similar cultures and combining the two countries make up a region called Australasia.            

It is a unique land of breathtaking scenery that includes some of nature's most surreal and fascinating flora/fauna and wildlife, from flightless birds to gigantic kauri trees. Awesomeness abounds here and visitors may find it hard to adequately describe everything they see and experience.

According to Māori legend, New Zealand's North Island was a great fish hooked by Māui, a heroic demi-god figure who appears in many Māori legends. The South Island was his canoe and Stewart Island his anchor. Therefore, the North Island's name in Māori is Te Ika a Māui, the fish of Māui, and Stewart Island Te Puka o te Waka a Māui, the anchor stone of the canoe of Maui. And while the South Island is thought of as Māui's waka or canoe, its name is Te Wai Ponamu, the waters of Ponamu (or greenstone) in acknowledgment of places on the island where the deep-green stone, valued for weapons, tools, and ornaments, was sourced.

Thrust into the world's spotlight by the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the country has seen a massive surge in visitor numbers and continues to reap the benefits of this successful movie; and if the country overwhelmed and wowed viewers on the big screen, it'll leave them in  awe when they arrive and explore its remote, rugged and remarkable landscape in reality. Other popular films that were made in New Zealand include ‘Once were Warriors’, ‘The Whale Rider’, and ‘The Piano’.                                                   

New Zealand is one of only three countries that have two official (and of equal standing) national Anthems. The first is ‘God Save the Queen’ (the English National Anthem) and the other is ‘God Defend New Zealand’. The other two countries with two anthems are Denmark and Canada which both have a Royal Anthem and a State anthem.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • When it was determined by Dutch explorers that New Zealand was not attached to the South American continent, they changed its name from Staten Landt (South America) to Nova Zeelandia (New Zealand), after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

  • While tsunamis have been recorded in every ocean on Earth, about 80% of all tsunamis occur in the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

Cultures

Approximately 15 percent of New Zealanders now claim Māori descent. Most Māoris live in the North Island, and seven out of every ten live in the Islands northern half. It is a young population, and although the birth rate is now diminishing, three-quarters of Māori people are under the age of 40.

 

In 1945 only 15% of the Māori population lived in the main urban centers; today, the estimated number is 57%. The main incentive to move has been lack of work in rural areas. As a result, the proportion of the young Māori population found in the larger towns is high and, as with all such population influxes, social adjustments to the new situation are still necessary.

Over the last two decades, there has been an increasing movement to retain and re-establish a Māori identity, expressed as Māoritanga. Two key concepts are fundamental to this movement - that Māori identity is important to the Māori people in terms of self-esteem; and that New Zealand is a multi-cultural society in which it is possible for each culture, Māori, European, Pacific Islander, and others to live side by side in harmony.

Etching engraving handmade style illustration of a Maori chief warrior wielding a patu with tattoos kneeling on one leg performing war dance and in fighting stance facing front set on isolated white background.

History

Many historians designate 800-1350 as a likely time frame for the Māori (pronounced MAU-ree) settlement of New Zealand. The Māori called their new home Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud), and their oral history recounts how they took a large fleet of canoes from a place called Hawaiiki (perhaps a set of islands in French Polynesia) to sail to what is now New Zealand.

For hundreds of years, Māori life went untouched by the outside world. They had spectacularly elaborate body and face tattoos and maintained a culture of fishing, hunting and gathering. Rival tribes warred with one another, and the battles often resulted in the losers being eaten or enslaved by the victors.

The next epoch in the islands' history opened in 1642, when Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted the land and called it "Niuew Zeeland." He charted part of the coastline but left without officially claiming it after some of his men were killed by Māori. Some 130 years later, Capt. James Cook claimed the islands for the British crown. He circumnavigated both main islands, which he mapped with an accuracy that is still admired (and used) today.

Once European settlement began in earnest, the introduction of muskets and other weapons to the Māori led to fierce intertribal wars, which—in addition to new European diseases—nearly wiped out their population. Calm ensued by the 1830s, however, and in 1840, a conditional alliance between the Māori and the British, called the Treaty of Waitangi, acknowledged British sovereignty in exchange for some Māori land rights. Despite being signed by more than 500 Māori chiefs, it was a controversial document. It was only after several subsequent decades of bloody war over these land rights that an easier coexistence—which persists to this day—evolved.

From the 1860s to the 1880s, gold fever drew thousands of prospectors to New Zealand. About the same time, large sheep farms began to be established on land cleared from the native forests. The country became autonomous in 1907 and is today an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

While it is no longer the case, New Zealand was once governed as a part of the territory of New South Wales (later a part of Australia). When Australia federated in 1901, New Zealand was offered a place as one of their states. New Zealand refused and is its own country with no ties (other than economic and commonwealth) to Australia.

The British colony of New Zealand became independent and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand's full participation in several defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • New Zealanders refer to themselves as Kiwis, which probably dates back to
    World War I when New Zealand soldiers acquired the nickname.

  • The New Zealand dollar is also called the Kiwi in international financial markets.
    The dollar coin features a kiwi bird on one side.


Agent Recommendation: Download onto your smart device an app that will
translate the Māori language to help in your everyday exposure to it while visiting this country.

New Zealand's Industry and Land Use

One of the largest industries in New Zealand is that of grazing and agriculture. From 1850 to 1950, much of the North Island was cleared for these purposes and since then, the rich pastures present in the area have allowed for successful sheep grazing.

Today, this country is one of the world's main exporters of wool, cheese, butter, and meat. Additionally, it is a large producer of several types of fruit, including kiwi, apples, and grapes.  In addition, the top industries are food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, mining and tourism.

DID YOU KNOW?

It is said that a New Zealander can fix anything with a length of Number-8 fencing wire, a testament to the New Zealander spirit of inventiveness and do-it-yourself spirit. This refers to the fact that the most commonly used wire for fences to keep cows and sheep in their paddocks is called Number-8 wire.

THE ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND

The North Island of New Zealand - [Te-Ika-a-Maui]

The North Island is less dramatic visually and offers lush sub-tropical vegetation, exotic flora, and fauna, beaches with small quant friendly towns. It has most of the country’s major urban cities here, including the capital Wellington and the largest city Auckland, with a lively and multicultural region. But nature's still a major player, with volcanoes, paths of the forest, rushing rivers, spectacular thermal regions and a mass of outdoor activities to undertake.

Hawkes Bay is one of the most attractive regions on the North Island and is greatly appreciated by wine lovers and lovers of art deco architecture. The twin cities of Hastings and Napier were flattened by a massive earthquake in 1931 but were rebuilt in a better and more elegant style. During rebuilding, an earthquake-proof building code was enforced, and architects adopted the fashionable Art Deco style. Today, the city’s Art Deco buildings, with their pastel colors, bold lines, and elaborate motifs, are internationally renowned.

There are many vineyards within easy reach of Hastings and Napier, mainly dotted around the southern end of the Ngaruroro river valley. The success of the region’s wine is not only evident in its international awards, but in one of New Zealand’s most important wine events, the annual Harvest Hawke’s Bay celebrated during the first weekend of February.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (“Our Place”) is one of the largest national museums in the world. Educating and telling the stories of all cultures in New Zealand, home to the national Art Collection, and with ample gallery space for touring exhibitions, the museum opened on its waterfront site in 1998.

From Wellington, you can cross over to the southern island, where you will find just as many exceptional attractions, like the mountains and glaciers of the most southern regions.

Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu in the background, seen from the summit of Mount Tongariro, the three active volcanoes that dominate the landscape of the central North Island.

The North Island area is of a volcanic and thermal nature as it is part of the Pacific Rim of Fire. The island’s main volcanic mountains are Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, Taranaki, and Ruapehu.

The Tongariro region is a dream for many adventurers. It has New Zealand‘s largest ski fields and famous Lord of the Rings locations. In the heart of it, all stand Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro: the three mighty volcanoes that form part of Tongariro National Park. The park was the first in the world to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status for both its natural and cultural value.

Mt. Ngauruhoe cannot be considered dormant, as it still has eruptions, and is on the list of New Zealand volcanoes monitored on https://www.geonet.org.nz/

Mt. Tongariro is 12 miles to the southwest of Lake Taupo and is the northernmost of the three active volcanoes [Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu] that dominate the landscape of the central North Island.

DID YOU KNOW?

Lake Taupo was the source of the world’s largest known volcanic eruption in the last 70,000 years. It is estimated that its violent birth spewed 15,000 times the volume of material ejected when Mount Saint Helens in Washington State erupted in 1980.

However, the most active volcano is Mount Ruapehu, found in the middle of the North Island within Tongariro National Park. Last erupting on September 25, 2007.  But don’t be afraid, installed warning signs and alarms make it a very safe place to visit. Most popular activities here are hiking and skiing, with the Tongariro Alpine Crossing being the major highlight.

Mount Taranaki last erupted in 1755 and has been dormant ever since. However, on its southern slope is a bulge known as Fanthams Peak, said by some to be the child of the two lovers huddled upon his back. But the slightly more worrying fact is that Mount St Helens, in Washington State, USA, had the same bulge appear on its back before its deadly eruption.

Cities & Regions you may plan on exploring on the North Island

Here is an overview of the most major cities on the North Island in Kiwi-land.

North Island


Auckland – [aka: The City of Sails]

Auckland is New Zealand's largest, most culturally diverse and cosmopolitan city. Its European, Pacific and Asian influences make it a destination unlike any other. But its urban credentials—a flourishing cultural life and abundant commerce—are often upstaged by its breathtaking geography.

 

Sprawled across an isthmus, of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, the city envelops more than 40 extinct volcanoes, several of which stand in green, pastoral parks overlooking a broad harbor, gulf islands and a seemingly endless shoreline.

All in all, Auckland is a gateway to nature and outdoor adventure, with fine dining and culture there for the asking, too.  It earns its nickname from having more boats per capita than any other city in the world. During the weekends the traffic congestion waters look like that of a typical freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour…but, instead it is a nautical traffic jam.

This city offers its visitors all the amenities of a world-class city. Browse the shops of Queen Street or the Parnell area with its galleries, dozens of cafes, shopping spots and boutiques in quaintly restored Victorian buildings.

For a magnificent panorama of the city travel to Mount Eden, the city’s highest point, or visit the SkyTower [the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand] for loftier views. At the top of the tower there’s a skywalk that allows people to stroll around the outside perimeter with a harness but it’s an activity best suited to those not fearing heights. Here the Kiwi sense of adventure can be found urban style.

Of course, just as you would imagine Auckland has some of the greatest restaurants, most beautiful parks, a pretty active night life, all within easy driving distance of much of the North Island.  However, minutes from downtown you can relax on a black sand beach or explore the America’s Cup Yachting Village.

If you have time, the Otara Market just outside of Auckland is a Polynesian delight. Arts, crafts, clothing, music, and food clamor in this ethnic smorgasbord – it’s a fun cultural experience. North of Auckland is the Bay of Islands, known for its stunning beauty and history. A sightseeing cruise is a must-do for a chance to see some of the native wildlife including dolphins, whales, penguins, a variety of birds and more. While cruising be sure to visit the “Hole in the Rock" and enjoy a sub-tropical paradise.

Back on land, check out the Waitangi Treaty House to learn about New Zealand’s past and tackle a hiking trail or shop in the local boutiques.

Some of the suburbs of Auckland have distinct and very charming characteristics. Devonport, across the bridge in North Auckland, has a magic charm. It is easy to explore at a gentle walk, and there are restaurants & shopping galore especially their glass art.

Further afield there are the spectacular pine-clad Waitakere Mountains, the amazing Waitomo Glowworm Caves and the verdant vineyards of Kumeu River Wines.

DID YOU KNOW?


The Auckland City Sky Tower, at 1,076 feet (328 m) high, is the tallest
freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

Waitomo

For an unforgettable, eerie adventure, visit the Waitomo Caves, 45 mi/75 km south of Hamilton on New Zealand's North Island. Carved by the force of the water on soft limestone over millennia, the caves feature amazing rock formations. Among the huge stalactites hanging from the ceiling are thousands of luminescent glowworms. The more understated Aranui Cave also has thousands of tiny stalactites.

The most popular ways to see the Waitomo Caves are either on foot or by boat. Ride a tour boat or float on a rubber tube through the dark caverns and visit the Museum of Caves. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try "black-water" rafting in the Ruakuri Cave. Rafters don wet suits and miner's helmets to float through the glowworm caves and down a small waterfall.

Rotorua

Rotorua, New Zealand, 145 miles southeast of Auckland in the center of the North Island, sits on top of the most active geothermal region in the country, which explains why the town reeks of sulfur.

The boiling mud pots and geysers at the Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu thermal reserves are outstanding, and you can take mineral baths and marinate in mud packs at one of the many spas in and around town.

 

Boiling mud pots present interesting hazards at Rotorua Golf Club—we suggest you take the penalty stroke.

The city is also a key center of Māori culture: Attend a Māori hangi (feast and concert) and take a Māori-village tour. Near the main entrance to Whakarewarewa is the Māori Arts and Craft Institute, a replica of a traditional Māori village with wood-carving and weaving demonstrations.

Other attractions include a Skyride with stunning views, the Agrodome, featuring sheep-shearing displays and shows, and two large mazes, one of the hedges, the other an incredible three-dimensional wooden maze that has to be seen to be believed.

Outside of town are the famous Tarawera Lake Craters (a dormant volcano) and the historic Te Wairoa village, sort of a Māori Pompeii: The village was covered in volcanic ash during the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. It has since been partially excavated.

Another great delight of a visit to Rotorua is a cruise on the lake. Hundreds of the famous black swan’s escort you on your sundowner cruise.  Rotorua promises to be a cultural highlight of any New Zealand vacation.

Tauranga
 

The most populous and fastest-growing city in the Bay of Plenty region, Tauranga is a popular tourist area and is a hot spot for business and trade. Outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and water rafting, are popular among locals and visitors. The waterfront area, called The Strand, has experienced a revitalization in recent years and is home to many of the city's hippest restaurants and bars.

Cruise ships dock at the Port of Tauranga.  Rotorua is 31 mi (about an hour) away from the port. To get to Rotorua, hire a taxi, sign up for a shore excursion or join one of the tour operators available at the port gates. It is not possible to squeeze exploring Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, and Rotorua into one day.

Napier

Almost completely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in the early 1930s, Napier, New Zealand, 205 mi northeast of Wellington on the North Island, is famous for its beautiful art-deco buildings. The art museum sponsors guided tours of the architecture on Sunday afternoons.

 

The National Aquarium is one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere, housing turtles, seahorses, sharks, and other fish, as well as rare tuatara lizards.

Be sure to pick up an Art Trail brochure from the tourist information office, which lists more than 40 home studios, workshops, and galleries of local artists. While in the area, go wine tasting at some of the country's best vineyards.

Bird enthusiasts should visit nearby Cape Kidnapper Gannet Reserve: Gannets (related to pelicans) nest there October-April. It's a long walk down the beach to the colony, although tractors towing trailers often provide rides for visitors. If you choose to walk, keep an eye on the tide: the cliffs are too high and crumble when you attempt to climb.

The other famous attraction in Napier is the world-renowned Cape Kidnappers golf course, which boasts spectacular clifftop views.

With over 50 wineries in the area, that specialize in Pinot Gris and Syrah, two of the region’s signature drops.

Cruise ships dock in Napier's industrial port, which is located 1.5 miles from the town center. The town offers a complimentary shuttle to transport people to the i-SITE Visitor Center, which is located in the center of town, with most attractions within a 10-minute walk.

Wellington

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is located at the southern tip of the North Island. Known as Windy Wellington, it is less-visited than Auckland—410 mi to the north—and it's a pity that those who do go seldom stay more than a day.

Wellington's waterfront is a true gem and a great starting point for immersing yourself in its arts and culture. It's easy to pass a day strolling the harbor's edge, ducking into museums and admiring the sculptures along the way.

Lord of The Rings fans should pay a visit to Weta Workshop and Weta Cave; tours offer behind-the-scenes insight into the making of Peter Jackson's famous films. Wellington also happens to be a base for various Middle-earth tours, although the scenery on these may not be on the same scale as their South Island counterparts.

Weather in Wellington is famously finicky, but luckily the city buzzes with outstanding bars, cafes and restaurants. It is known for being the windiest city in the World with avg speeds at 18mph.Cuba Street and Courtenay Place are the main hubs of entertainment.

In 1855 New Zealand was hit by an 8.2 earthquake which permanently altered its landscape. To protect Wellington’s national treasures in the Te Papa museum, the building sits on 150 shock absorbers to protect it from earthquake movements.  While there be sure to stroll the Botanical Gardens also.

To reach Wellington’s highest point, cable cars crisscross the top of Mount Victoria for stunning 360-degree views of the city, its harbor and lush green hills. Some residents even have personal cable cars to reach their hilltop homes.  

As you head toward the high country, Mount Cook is an essential destination on the southern end of the north island – a stunning area with pristine mountain vistas of snow-capped mountains. Taking a helicopter ride, where you can hover above the inspiring, untouched summits and rugged peaks, is a great way to see this mountain. 

 

If you have the chance to get out to the Tasman glacier for a little walkabout it’s well worth it and a great way to experience this region. The waters here are dotted with massive ice structures that have been naturally carved and shaped by wind and weather. A stop at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center will give you invaluable insight into this remarkable land.

DID YOU KNOW?

Wellington, New Zealand, is the southernmost national capital in the world at
latitude 41.2° South. It also shares the honor of being the most
remote capital with Canberra, Australia, over 1,243 miles (2000 km) away.

 

The South Island of New Zealand – [Te Wai Pounamu]

The South Island is the largest of the two main islands in New Zealand. Two-thirds of this island is mountains and one-third plains.  The island (59,283 sq miles), offers stunning snow-covered alps, fjords, glaciers and charming British-style towns such as Christchurch and Dunedin.

The South Island offers breathtaking National Parks, the vast ‘’Southern Alps’ and one of the most active glaciers on Earth.
 

The Southern Alps, (Kā Tiritiri o te Moana), the mountain range runs 300 miles along the center length of the South Island. It is also the location of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook at 12,315 feet. Mt Cook is one the most treacherous to climb due to its heavy glaciation and ever-changing weather.

The Southern Alps, containing glacial systems, which have retreated and formed wide glacial valleys and inland lakes.  

Cities & Regions you may plan on Exploring on the South Island

Here is an overview of the most major cities on the South Island in Kiwi-land.

South Island

Christchurch – [aka The Garden City] – [Māori name: Otautahi]

Christchurch was named by the Canterbury Association in 1848 and it was officially established on July 31, 1856, making it the oldest city in New Zealand. 

It is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, and 300 miles northeast of Queenstown, is a graceful city where gardens and architecture still reflect some of the culture and heritage of its European immigrants.

Founded in 1850 as a Church of England colony, it is a picturesque mix of the old, the quasi-old and the somewhat new. Expansive parks lend Christchurch the nickname "The Garden City."

The Avon River curves through the city and its parks, and you can drift along the river in a punt (a shallow-bottomed flat-bottomed boat propelled by a long pole), enjoy a picnic lunch on its banks or just take a nice walk.

September 4, 2010, a massive 7.0 earthquake hit approx. 35 miles west of this city and the cities infrastructure took a hit with damage to the sewer system, broke water and gas lines. No fatalities were reported related to the earthquake despite the magnitude of it.

Then in February 2011, Christchurch was devastated by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which caused extensive damage to the city center trapping approx. 65 people in the rubble and taking the lives of approx. 181. Many buildings [some of which were historic] were destroyed.  Phone lines were knocked down, roads were damaged, and areas were flooded by broken water mains. It was one of the worst disasters in New Zealand's history. Much of the inner city, including the Christchurch Cathedral, was severely affected. The cathedral itself is being rebuilt.

While the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes may have unraveled the city, its infrastructure and affected much of its architecture, the people held steadfast in rebuilding. In the process of this rebuilding, the government decided to allow for more parks, greenbelts, and garden-areas thus reducing their business district. With this new plan, the city is now sometimes referred to as ‘The City in the Garden’s.’   Christchurch's Hagley Park is among the world's largest city parks.

The "red zone," which still encompasses some [but not many] of the Christchurch Central Business District, is still off-limits and may remain so for many more months [perhaps years] to come. Visitors are still welcome, however, and are vital to helping rebuild the local economy. Many visitor facilities are back to 100% operation, though some will take more time to recover.

With the 2011 earthquake, the city rebuilt their urban district utilizing shipping containers for the stores within its shopping mall.  The result to this utilization came what they call the Re: START village project offering 27 stores, some occupied by major retail name, in varied colored container-stacked boxes in the city center of Christchurch. Don't miss a chance to view the city’s most entertaining street performers there too.

The city offers many things to see and do from concerts, shopping, biking/walking along the river, to cultured dining.  At the top of the Port Hills, you will take in stunning views of the city and coast areas.

Nearby is the charming village of Akaroa, a former French and British settlement where plentiful native wildlife call this harbor-area home. These waters, surrounded by volcanic cliffs, feature stunning scenery and are home to fur seals, the rare Hector’s dolphin, and the white-flippered blue penguin—the smallest penguin in the world.

Christchurch is one of the world's eight pairs of cities that have an exact antipodal city (a city located on the exact opposite side of the Earth). Corunna, Spain, is Christchurch's antipode.

Dunedin

Distinctly Scottish in feel with stone buildings and Victorian houses, Dunedin, New Zealand, lies on the southeast coast of the South Island about 225 mi/360 km southwest of Christchurch. This university city claims New Zealand's only castle—Larnach Castle, which overlooks Port Chalmers and the harbor.

 

You'll also find many fine museums and galleries.

Other diversions include guided tours through the Speights Brewery, the Cadbury Chocolate factory, the 130-year-old Botanical Gardens, and the Olveston House (the original home of a wealthy merchant at the turn of the 20th century). Be sure to check out the railway station: Built-in 1908 from basalt, it's one of the most photographed rail terminals in the world.

Nature lovers will enjoy the nearby Otago Peninsula, home to the magnificent southern royal albatross (viewing season is late November-late August) and shy yellow-eyed penguins (the world's second-rarest penguin species). The Little Blue Penguin is a common sight on the beaches there, usually at night.

Don’t forget to look into a visit to the Cadbury Choc Factory - https://www.cadbury.co.nz/

DID YOU KNOW?

The world’s steepest road is believed to be Baldwin Street,
with a 38° gradient, in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers

The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, the most famous glaciers in New Zealand, are located on the western side of the Southern Alps within Westland National Park. Both are spectacular, especially their proximity to the sea (approx. 15 miles separate the two), but if your time is limited, plan to see at least one. You can walk over the moraine and right up to the edge of the glaciers, but we recommend that you take a guided walk on the glaciers. 124 miles from Churchchrist.

Or, if you feel like splurging, take a flight-seeing tour by helicopter or plane (helicopters land on the glaciers and let you out to walk around). Weather conditions can affect the flights at any time of year, but winter weather can also make getting to the glaciers overland from Christchurch—about 315 mi/510 km to the east via Arthur's Pass—or Queenstown difficult, as mountain passes, may be closed.

Milford Sound

Nearly all visitors to Milford Sound take a two-hour boat cruise along the length of the fjord toward the Tasman Sea and back. (Overnight cruises are also offered.) We recommend that you opt for one of the smaller boats as they can maneuver closer to the waterfalls and the aquatic wildlife. Some operators offer kayaking and diving trips in the sound, but they can have a rather casual attitude to weather conditions.

Milford Sound is also a port of call for some longer cruises. Often, the two-hour tour of the fjord begins at sunrise and the ship is back out to sea by breakfast. This is a particularly easy way to see the beautiful waterfalls and mountain peaks, as most visits to Milford Sound require extra planning and long traveling times.

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound, the second-largest fjord in New Zealand's Fjordland National Park, is powerfully serene and isolated. To visit, most people take a boat across Lake Manapouri (located 20 minutes from Te Anau), and then a bus over Wilmot Pass before reaching the head of Doubtful Sound. Some people access Doubtful Sound by sea, entering via Deep Cove.

Be on the lookout for the population of bottlenose dolphins that lives in the sound, as well as many other wildlife species, such as seals, penguins and even whales, if you're lucky.

Interested in a Cruise
 

If you would like more help/suggestions for your cruise, please visit us at

 

Dream Vacations/Travel Perks 

 

or call toll-free 877-7 GO CRUISE or

877-746-2784.  

877-7 Go Cruise TravelPerks

Queenstown

If outdoor adventure is your travel goal, Queenstown, New Zealand, 300 mi southwest of Christchurch on the South Island, is the place to go.

 

Scores of well-equipped and experienced adventure-tour operators there do a good job of organizing activities for you, and the scenic beauty of the surroundings will satisfy even idle vacationers. But before strapping on your bungee cord, take the Skyline Gondola above Queenstown for a wonderful view of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range. (The Remarkables are particularly beautiful at sunset.) Before heading back down, try the luge track a couple of times.

For even bigger thrills, try bungee jumping off a bridge over the Kawarau River on the road toward Lake Wanaka. Once you've done that, you'll be ready for other aerial adventures, such as hang gliding or parapenting (a maneuverable parachute). Choices when it comes to jet boating or white-water rafting are available on the Shotover, Kawarau and Dart rivers. The Shotover River has narrow canyons, so it probably offers the greatest thrill value. Opportunities abound for canoeing and kayaking, as well.

For less of a white-knuckle experience, take a walk-through Queenstown Gardens or a cruise on the lake on the old steamboat Earnslaw (it's been operating since 1912). Other options include fishing, horseback riding, four-wheel-drive safaris, an excellent golf course and, in winter, excellent snow skiing at nearby Coronet Peak or The Remarkables, as well as at Cardrona and Treble Cone—one or two hours away, respectively.

For a day trip, drive to Arrowtown (an old gold-mining camp with an excellent museum and several greenstone factories) and then over to Lake Wanaka for some fishing. Macetown (a mining ghost town, accessible only by foot, bike or horse) is another option, or closer to town, Glenorchy (at the head of Lake Wakatipu).

OTHER ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND

Stewart Island

Naturalists will be drawn to Stewart Island, 30 mi south of Invercargill, just off the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island across Foveaux Strait. 

Its permanent population is slightly over 400, most of whom live in the only major settlement, Oban.

About 85% of the island is designated as the Rakiura National Park, which has New Zealand's highest level of conservation protection. This sparsely populated and largely undeveloped isolated island is one of the country's best-kept secrets. It's primarily a haven for seals and abundant bird species (including albatrosses, kiwis and several kinds of penguins). The island also has salmon farms, wind-sculpted forests, lots of sand dunes and beautiful beaches (more than 160 mi/280 km of coastline). There are more kiwis on Stewart Island than there are people, making it one of the best places in New Zealand to see these iconic birds in the wild. Mason Bay and Ocean Beach are the prime kiwi-watching sites.

Most of the facilities are at Halfmoon Bay, a town on the northeastern part of the island. Be aware that accommodations tend to be rudimentary. Stewart Island is also a starting point for trips to the bird sanctuary on nearby Ulva Island. To reach Stewart Island, you can take a catamaran from Invercargill or arrive by plane.

Chatham Island

If you truly want to get away from it all on an ecotour, you can't get much farther than New Zealand's Chatham Islands—a three-hour small-aircraft flight from Wellington, which is 500 mi to the northwest. Of the 10 islands, only Chatham and Pitt are populated, but they all offer good beaches, scenic trails, birdwatching, scuba diving (with shipwrecks to investigate) and good fishing.

Ecotours are available if you want to check out the rare flora and fauna of the islands. A small museum in Waitangi (the islands' only town—not to be confused with the village of the same name in the Bay of Islands) displays artifacts of the Moriori, early Polynesian settlers who once populated these islands. Use Waitangi as a base for trips to the smaller islands.

Basic stats & Quick facts:

  • Population: 4.75 Million [2018]

  • Capital: Wellington

  • Largest City: Auckland

  • Land Area: approximately 263,300 square kilometers

  • Highest Point:
    North Island: The highest mountain in the North Island is Mount Ruapehu (2797m)
    South Island: Mt. Cook - New Zealand's tallest mountain 12,218 ft

  • Lowest Point: Pacific Ocean - 0 meters

  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

  • Country Code:  +64

  • Prices: Tax are included in pricing and not quoted separately

  • The Unofficial Bird: Kiwi - The term Kiwis has been used as a nickname for New Zealanders since at least World War I, and the bird's use as a symbol for the country dates from the same era

  • Predominant Religions: Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian)

      Best Time to Visit:  December - May

What to Know Before You Visit

Travel Warnings

Before embarking on your journey be sure to check for travel warnings and advise. The following government websites offer travel advisories and information for travelers to New Zealand.

US Department of State (www.travel.state.gov)
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade (www.voyage.gc.ca)
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz)

 

Time


12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+12 GMT).

 

New Zealand observes Daylight Savings Time [DST] from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April. DST in New Zealand starts one week earlier than in Australia. Clocks there are set forward from 03:00 (3 am) to 04:00 (4 am) local time.

  • Daylight Savings Time – Next Change will occur:
    Sunday – Sept 29, 2019 [1 hour forward local time]

Note: The Chatham Islands is New Zealand's second-time zone and are 45 minutes ahead of the two main islands, so clocks there are turned from 02:45 (2:45 am) to 03:45 (3:45 am) local time. Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean and does not use DST.

Future Daylight Savings Times

*Ends: April 5, 2020 [1 hour backward local time]

*Starts: Sunday – Sept 27, 2020 [1 hour forward local time]

 

*Ends: April 4, 2021 [1 hour backward local time]
*Starts: Sunday – Sept 26, 2021 [1 hour forward local time]

 

*Ends: April 3, 2022 [1 hour backward local time]
*Starts: Sunday – Sept 25, 2022 [1 hour forward local time]

 

*Ends: April 2, 2023 [1 hour backward local time]
*Starts: Sunday – Sept 24, 2023 [1 hour forward local time]

Electricity and Electrical Outlets


Outlet Voltage for outlets is 230/240V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Therefore, you will need a converter for your travels. Adapters will be necessary to adapt your plug into the outlet, but these may not convert the voltage, so both devices are necessary.

 

Type I: mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China, the South Pacific and Argentina.

 

See our recommended Power Converter below.


      Note: Most hotels [not all] have a 110v/20w A.C. outlet for electric shavers ONLY in the bathroom.  A converter from volts is required for all other appliances, as well as, an adapter to suit South Pacific plug shapes.

Language


Official Languages: English and Māori

New Zealanders speak English as a first language, although some may still speak traditional Māori. And, as of 2006, NZ Sign Language is the country's third official language. Way to go, NZ, is one of the first countries to do this.

Government


Most countries have embassies/consulates in New Zealand. Before traveling here know where to go if you should seek assistance.
 

U.S. Embassy/Consulate in New Zealand:

United States Embassy Wellington
29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 462 6000

U.S. Consulate General Auckland
Level 3, 23 Customs Street East, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 303 2724

Foreign Embassies in New Zealand

Canada: Canadian High Commission. Level 11, 125 the Terrace, Wellington. Phone 4-473-9577. Toll-free (from Auckland) 09-309-8516.

Canada: Canadian Consulate and Trade Office. Level 9, 48 Emily Place, Auckland. Phone 09-309-3690.

DID YOU KNOW?

New Zealand/Māori ex-prostitute Georgina Beyer became
the world’s first transsexual Member of Parliament in 1999

Rush My Passport
RUSH My Travel Visa

Passports


If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local embassy/consulate about requirements for travel to New Zealand. All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages.

Proof of sufficient funds and onward passage are required. A departure tax is included in most airline ticket prices. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.

Please carry proper identification (your passport and visa if required) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase, cruise cabin or hotel room. Most countries require you always carry your passport with you.

 

Crossing international borders can be complicated and sometimes requires many kinds of documents. Being prepared is the key to easing your way through this process, so make sure you know what documents you need, where to get them, and which ones will make your crossing quick and easy. This responsibility is not with your airlines, travel agent, cruise lines…It is ultimately your responsibility!

Remember to:

  • Carry a passport for all trips outside your country [not a copy of it].

  • Be sure that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your return date to your country.

  • Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself or carry it a separate location 

  • Leave a copy with a trusted friend or relative who is not traveling with you.

  • Keep your passport safe while traveling.

  • Do not leave it unattended in your luggage, vehicle, hotel or elsewhere.

  • Carry it in your money belt, inside coat pocket or purse, or lock it in your hotel safe.

For more information about passports, applications or renewals please visit the links below. All other nationalities/residences not listed please check with your local government websites.

US State Department  /  Government of Canada  /  Government of New Zealand

Visas


Before setting off on your Kiwi vacation an ‘Electronic Travel Authority’ [ETA] Visa [known as a tourist visa] is required for all citizens, except Australians, traveling to New Zealand and is good for 12 months; for multiple stays of up to 3 months each visit. For longer stays, it requires a 6-or 12-month ‘working’ visa. 

Beginning October 1, 2019, US and Canadian citizens will be required a visa to visit New Zealand. The New Zealand government is still finalizing the details of the visa, but all we know at this time is that visas must be obtained prior to departing the US through the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority website (website still being built). The cost is expected to be between $9-12.50 NZD per person.

                                                                                                                              

Information and the NZeTA visa application from the New Zealand government provided thus far can be found at New Zealand Information and ETA Application
 

In addition, the government of New Zealand has also implemented a visitor levy, which will be collected alongside visa and ETA per person fees. The cost of the visitor levy is $35NZD per person and is additional to the visa fee mentioned above.


Agent Note: Your NZeTA Visa is electronically attached to your passport. 
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your scheduled return home. 
Other restrictions apply for the application.

Customs

Visitors over 18 are entitled to a duty-free allowance of drink and cigarettes.  Any amount of cash may be taken in or out of New Zealand but amounts over $10,000 must be declared.  Food, plant or animal products must also be declared on arrival.


For detailed information on customs and quarantine regulations, contact:

New Zealand Customs  / Items for Declaration  / Currency/tax regulations

Health/Immunizations

Excellent health standards prevail across the country, and good medical facilities are available. No special food or water precautions are necessary, although mountain lakes and streams - even if they look pristine - often carry the bacteria giardia. Be sure to treat water taken from these sources while hiking or sightseeing.  

Tap water is safe to drink throughout the islands. However, for sightseeing and excursions, we recommend you purchase bottled water to bring with you. Bottled water is also common in restaurants.

The sun is a big health concern, so be sure to apply plenty of sunscreens. In some parts of the country you might encounter sand flies and mosquitoes, so take along insect repellent (the Kiwi version of Dettol, mixed with baby oil, is often the most effective against sand flies). Apart from the rare katipo spider, the country is lucky not to have any poisonous insects or animals but be careful when swimming on the rugged west-coast surf beaches—huge riptides pull the unwary out to sea during the summer months, so swim on beaches patrolled by lifeguards. Never swim alone.

The current health-care service is a government-subsidized system. Hospitals provide a variety of publicly funded health and disability services such as medical, surgical, maternity, diagnostic and emergency services. The range of services offered by an individual hospital is affected both by the size of the local population and the services offered by other hospitals in the region. Treatment is relatively inexpensive by global standards, but visitors should always have some form of travel insurance.

It is important to note that medical services are not free to visitors (except as a result of an accident), so it is strongly recommended that visitors carry adequate medical insurance which covers them against hospitalization costs, and loss of income resulting from hospitalization. Hotels and motels normally have individual arrangements with duty doctors for guest's attention should illness occur.

For non-emergency health concerns, it is better to consult a local general practitioner rather than going to a large hospital, which may have long waiting times. A list of general practitioners can be found in any telephone book or local directory, and nearly every neighborhood has at least one clinic.

No vaccinations are required unless you are coming from, or have visited, a yellow fever infected area within 6 days of arrival. You should consult the Center for Disease Control Center for further information.

DID YOU KNOW?

New Zealanders enjoy one of the world’s highest
life expectancy rates—82.3 years for females and 78.3 years for males.

Medication

Bring your medications in original, clearly labeled containers. If you require medicines containing habit-forming drugs or narcotics (i.e. diuretic, depressants, stimulants, heart drugs, tranquilizer, sleeping pills) you should have a prescription from your physician. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is a good idea, especially if carrying syringes. 

 

Narcotic drugs are prohibited import.  There is a lucrative market in smuggled counterfeit pharmaceuticals in New Zealand, thus the vigilance.

Insurance

It is important that a travel insurance plan is purchased before you leave home. Your insurance policy you currently have at home most likely does not cover international travel emergency needs.

 

A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is not only a very good idea but, some countries are now requiring this coverage before entering. Make sure to check that your travel insurance policy covers ambulances and emergency medical evacuations by air. The country of New Zealand is vast so being airlifted to the nearest hospital can be expensive.

 

     Level of Cover – Some policies specifically exclude designated ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba diving, skiing and even bushwalking. Make sure the policy you choose fully covers your planned (and perhaps unplanned) activities.

Have questions about Travel Insurance Coverages? Feel free to call 877-7 GO CRUISE - TravelPerks - Dream Vacations to assist you in how to prepare before you travel to New Zealand.

877-7 GO CRUISE - TravelPerks - Dream Vacations

COMMUNICATIONS

Telephone


The country code for New Zealand is 64. When calling to New Zealand from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in New Zealand are 8 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada:

011 64 # ### ####.

Telephone Codes:
9 - city code for Northland, Bay of Islands, Auckland;
7 - city code for Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Waikato;
6 - city code for Hawkes Bay, Gisbourne, Palmerston North, Wairarapa;
4 - city code for Wellington;
3 - city code for South Island.

Telephone calls made from a public booth (calling box) to the local area (free-call zone) cost $1 for the first 15 minutes, and $0.20 per minute thereafter, though coin-operated payphones are scarce (and if you do find one, chances are the coin slot will be gummed up); you’ll generally need a phonecard. The blue and yellow Telecom payphones will take phonecards, credit cards, Telecom TalkAway cards, Telecom Calling cards, and some will accept coins too. Telecom payphone cards come in $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations. You can purchase phone cards at visitor-information centers, convenience stores, post offices, gas stations, and most hotels. Out-of-town calls require a prefix area code.

Toll (trunk) calls to distant numbers in New Zealand or overseas involve placing the call through the long-distance operator. Costs are based on fixed charges and duration of the call.

Most hotel and motel bedrooms have direct dial telephones where long-distance charges can be made direct to your North American phone card.

Mobile Phones


Be sure to take the time to contact your mobile carrier at home before you leave to see if they have a travel data plan that works for you. Or, have them unlock your phone for use in New Zealand where you can get a local prepaid voice/data SIM card.

Cell phone coverage is generally good in mid to large-sized cities, but in rural or mountainous areas or offshore island locations, reception can sometimes be difficult. If you plan on taking your own cell phone, investigate buying a local GSM SIM card to replace the current one.

The prefix for mobile phone numbers in New Zealand is “02”, followed by seven to nine digits. Usually, there are eight digits. The first few digits after the “02” indicate the original mobile network that issued the number.

Spark and Vodafone are New Zealand's main mobile phone companies, but Two Degrees has made headway into the market by offering cheaper rates and simpler plans. All three companies sell SIM cards on a prepaid plan, which is convenient for short-term visitors.

Wi-fi access


Kiwis love technology and have joined the global move from plug-in to Wi-Fi. It's available throughout the country in hundreds of cafes and restaurants, airports, hotels, some train stations, ferries, libraries, and museums. Internet speeds, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, can be frustratingly slow at times; patience is required.

Travelers with a laptop or other wireless devices should consider buying a Vodafone NZ Travel SIM card (approx. NZD$29). It offers 500MB of data to be used within a month, as well as 200 minutes and 200 texts. For a list of locations and details, visit the website. http://www.vodafone.co.nz/travel-sim.

Compared to many other countries, the Internet in New Zealand is less than stellar! But you don’t need to be cut off from the world while there.  You just need to be more aware of how to find the Internet and be prepared to pay a little for it.

  • All of New Zealand’s Public Libraries have free WiFi service.

  • Internet cafes are available in most towns and cities.

  • Major hotels usually offer high-speed, in-room connections (Wi-Fi or plug-in).

  • Many i-SITE Visitor Information Centers provide free WiFi service.

  • Some cafes/restaurants also have a free WiFi service when you purchase food or drink.

Budgeting


The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages.


● Approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US $3.
● Average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US $12.
● Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US $40.

Money/Currency

New Zealand the local currency is the New Zealand Dollar. 1 New Zealand Dollar (NZD) = 100 cents. Although goods are priced in single cents, this is often rounded to the nearest 5c.

In addition to banks, there are many bureaus de change in larger cities; however, they do charge more than the usual bank fee. ATMs are everywhere and are the easiest and cheapest way to withdraw local currency.  Traveler's checks are accepted mainly at hotels or can be exchanged at local banks.

Bank hours are like those in the USA and UK and most have cash dispensers. Visa, Mastercard, Diners and Amex cards are widely accepted.

● Banknote denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
● Coin denominations: 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2

For the most current exchange rates, please go to www.xe.com

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in New Zealand, and you should have no problems using them in larger shops and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit.

New Zealand is a plastic nation – almost all personal financial transactions are made with a card – credit or otherwise. Most shops offer EFTPOS (debit card) and cash is seen less and less. Most taxis now allow you to pay without cash through this system.

Taxes


There is a compulsory 15% government sales tax on all consumer items, including restaurant meals, drinks, and hotel rooms. There is no specific bed tax.

Tipping

Although tipping is not as widely expected compared to the US and Canada, it is customary to tip approximately 10% of your bill at a restaurant or bar.  Tipping for good service or kindness is at the discretion of you. 

Hotels and restaurants in New Zealand do not add a service charge to their bills.  Rounding up your cab fare to the nearest dollar is appreciated.  Tipping hotel staff for bar and room service is not customary.

Postal & Package Services

New Zealand offers a world-class postal service. Stamps can be bought from PostShops (New Zealand Post) along with all packaging and documentation required. For packages, it's worth getting quotes from both NZ Post and courier services.

Post Offices generally open from 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Thursday and to 8 pm Fridays. In some rural areas, postal services are available from the general stores. Postage, cables, telegrams, telex, fax, and telephone facilities are available at New Zealand Post Offices.

Health

 

Sandflies – There are 2 species of sandflies [out of 13] that bite humans. These tiny sandflies are in wetter areas of New Zealand and can be pests but are effectively controlled by use of an insect repellent.

 

Lion’s-mane jellyfish - This is the jellyfish most found in New Zealand waters. The lion’s-mane jellyfish, which is a stinging jellyfish. It can be found in colors from white to deep blue. For first-aid advice please visit New Zealand’s Ministry of Health website.

Safety & Security

New Zealand is generally a safe place to visit. Unprovoked violent crime is minimal even in the larger cities, but as you would anywhere, take commonsense precautions.

The overall crime rate has declined since a peak in 1992, but crime can happen anywhere, at any time. A good rule of thumb is to not be lulled into the false sense of security by the generally laid-back attitude for which New Zealand is known. Visitors who hire cars and recreational vehicles can be an obvious target, so never leave valuables in your car, especially if parking at the head of a walking track/trail or tourist spot.

Most New Zealand cities are safe during daylight hours, but there is always an element of late-night rowdiness on weekends, even in provincial towns, as many young Kiwi males, and some of the females too, can become aggressive after drinking. This can be avoided by staying away from the main gathering spots such as nightclubs and late-night bars.

Keep in mind that New Zealand has strict laws concerning drinking and driving: Police checkpoints are common, and the penalties are harsh.

Crime levels are generally low, but street crime can occur in major towns and cities. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars and camper vans in major tourist areas (the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been a rash of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Don’t leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms. Use the hotel safe if possible. Keep passports, travelers’ cheques, credit cards, etc. with you or in your room/cabin safe.

Terrorist attacks in New Zealand can’t be ruled out. There are thousands of visitors every year and most visits are trouble-free. Stay alert and if you see something; say something.  Popular and public venues are all subject to issues.

Accidents do happen and there have been a number of tragic accidents involving visitors, including during extreme sports activities. If you are taking part in extreme sports check that the company is well established in the industry and that your insurance covers, you.

 

If you are visiting remote areas, check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. Make sure you register your details with a visitor information center or leave details with family or friends.

 

Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.

Lodging Balconies the railing heights may be considerably lower than the recommended measurements in Europe or North America, and gaps between uprights may be wider, too.

 

Please take care when using balconies, particularly if you have children. If you’re uncomfortable with the balcony situation in your allocated room, you should request an alternative.

Hiking/Walking in the beauty of this country gets many visitor’s disorientated or lost. Stay on the trails and make sure you register your details with a visitor information center or leave details with family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas. Keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.

Sun Exposure - You won’t notice it at first, but once you stay out in the sun on a summer day in New Zealand, you’ll begin to feel just how much sharper the sun’s rays hit you. At all times of the year the sun can be strong and prolonged exposure can be harmful. Apply a High SPF sunscreen to exposed areas is a must and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours.  If you are spending time in the water be sure to get a Water-Resistant Reef Safe High SPF Sunscreen. And, don’t forget those sunglasses to protect your eyes. Polarized lenses will be the best if you are out in the waters or boating.

 

Earthquakes - Know what to do if an earthquake happens.  It’s nothing to be super concerned about, safety-wise, but earthquakes do happen in this small country constantly. Because of the fault lines under the islands, engineers design tall buildings to sway with the fluctuations of the ground and not topple down when struck. There’s a chance you might experience a small earthquake while here at least once, so it’s important to know what safety precautions to take in the event one does occur. The biggest safety tips are to have an earthquake plan with your fellow travelers, stay indoors until the shaking stops and it’s safe to exit, take cover under a desk or table, and stay away from windows and bookcases or anything that can fall on you.

 

If you’re outdoors, move to a clear spot away from buildings and trees and drop to the ground; if you’re in a car, drive to a clear place and stay inside the car. New Zealand’s most recent major earthquake was in Christchurch in 2011, which was quite devastating, but the country has not seen one as severe since.

To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, New Zealand Earthquake Commission and Get Ready Get Thru websites.

 

If a major earthquake or landslide occurs close to shore, you should follow the instructions of local authorities, bearing in mind that a tsunami could arrive within minutes.

ADDITIONAL ADVICE AND INFORMATION FOR EMERGENCY EVENTS:

VOLCANO’S
STORMS
FLOODS
TSUNAMIS
LANDSLIDES

***Emergency Services like police, fire or ambulance dial 111
Non-Emergency Services dial 105
Hearing Impaired Emergency Services – TEXT 111

Getting TO New Zealand

                                                                                                                                                                 

AIRPORTS & AIRLINES

International Flights:

Most major airlines offer direct flights to New Zealand from Australia, USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Chile. Connecting flights from these countries link New Zealand with the rest of the world.

Approximate Flight Times;

·        Los Angeles - LAX - 12 Hours

·        Chicago - CHI - 17 Hours

·        New York City - NYC - 18 Hours

International Airports:

 

Auckland Airport (AKL) New Zealand's largest and busiest airport. Auckland International Airport (AKL) is 15 miles south of downtown Auckland.

 

Christchurch Airport (CHC)   Wellington Airport (WLG)   Queenstown (ZQN)    Dunedin (NZL)

There are about 25 other regional airports throughout New Zealand available for domestic flight arrivals and departures.

DID YOU KNOW?

New Zealand is said to have more helicopters per capita than any other population on Earth. They were first used
during the 1960s to cull deer, with up to 50 copters culling as many as 200 deer each in a day.

Shuttle Service

Shuttle buses operate to and from all New Zealand international airports and most domestic
airports.  They can pick-up and drop-off at most hotels and accommodations.  You might even be able to arrange with them to be dropped/picked-up at a specific address as some are pretty flexible.


Shuttle service is, for the most part, cheaper than a taxicab however, shuttles are shared rides and there may be several stops before you reach your destination. Your ride may be extended even more depending on traffic and construction. Make sure when booking your shuttle, they know your check-in times for your airlines.
 

Taxi service is also available at taxi stands. Bus service may also be available for an even less-expensive alternative.

Private Limo transports may also be available to book.

CRUISING INTO and AROUND NEW ZEALAND

Cruise ships sail these waters most all year long to bring international visitors to the ‘Kiwi Land Down Under’.

Due to cruising popularity and the demand for more exotic ports-of-call in recent years, Australia and New Zealand have opened to receive visitors.  If you are cruising into New Zealand, then the city of Auckland will, most likely, be one of your ports-of-call.  There are two possible berths where your ship may dock: Queens Wharf and Princes Wharf; both are located right downtown.

Port of Auckland

Where You're Docked

 

Auckland's main cruise terminal, Shed 10, refurbished in 2013 is located on Queens Wharf next to the central business district and the Britomart Station. The City Rail Link [CRL] system will take you into the shopping district of Auckland. For more information on it please click the link.

The cruise terminal at Princes Wharf at the adjacent pier to the west continues to be used as a secondary location. 

Local Transport available:


Most sites are in the city center and within walking distance. The red city LINK bus runs along Queen Street and is only $1 (Mar 2017). Explorer runs a hop-on, hop-off bus service.

Auckland Sights Close to the Pier

 

Sky Tower - you can walk around the outside with a harness or jump off as well. Those less adventurous can stay inside the observation deck. A 15-minute walk from the cruise pier - just lookup. $29 entry to Sky Tower Observation Level (Mar 2017). http://www.skytower.co.nz/

 

War Memorial Museum - located in the Auckland Domain, this museum has significant collections of natural, social, military history and culture related to New Zealand and the South Pacific. A $10 donation is suggested for adults. From Britomart, take the Green Inner LINK clockwise to Parnell Road outside the Parnell Community Centre. 15 min trip, 5 min walk from stop, $3.50 fare (Mar 2017).

Mount Eden - This extinct volcano provides a great view of the Auckland skyline. Take bus 274 or 277 from Britomart (15 min, $3.50, Mar 2017).

There is an i-Site tourist information center by the entrance to Princes Wharf. The maritime museum is next door.

 

Shopping & Restaurants  

Queen Street is the main street with lots of shops and malls. There is a large Countdown supermarket about six blocks directly east of the pier on Quay St and a New World supermarket on Queen St at Shortland.

Trendy waterfront bars and restaurants can be found on the west side of Queen's Wharf and the adjacent Viaduct Harbour area.

Internet

There is a lot of free Wi-Fi services downtown. Tomizone provides a maximum of three 30-minute sessions daily though you can pay for more time. The public library on Wellesey St has free Wi-Fi but 200MB daily limit. The McDonalds on Queen St and most cafes like Esquires provide free Wi-Fi for customers.

Port of Wellington

Where You're Docked.

 

Cruise ships dock within walking distance of the city beside Westpac Stadium. Shuttles may be provided dropping off at the i-site tourist info by Civic Square.  Wellington is very walkable unless you want to go further out.

Must See Sights close to dock

  • Te Papa Museum - This modern museum has great architecture, cultural exhibits and best of all it's free. http://www.tepapa.govt.nz

  • Wellington Cable Car - ride this for a view of the city up to the botanical garden. http://www.wellingtoncablecar.co.nz

  • Take a walk along the harbor to Orient Beach passing Civic Square.

  • If you're interested in government, tours of the beehive parliament are free.

Shopping & Restaurants - Restaurants can be found downtown and along the harbour. There is a small pedestrian mall on Cuba Street with Willis St being the main shopping street.

The closest supermarket to the cruise terminal is the New World inside the Wellington train station.

Internet - Wellington's CBD [Central Business District] has free Wi-Fi. http://cbdfree.co.nz/

Click here for PDF maps for the Wellington area.

Port of Tauranga

Where You're Docked

Tauranga is a beach resort town and 40 miles north of the seismically active town of Rotorua. Cruise ships actually dock in the town of Mount Maunganui which has restaurants, shops, and a nice beach. You can take a shuttle to Tauranga which is a bigger town or head out to Rotorua. There is also a public bus available: Click here for more info: http://www.baybus.co.nz/

Must-See Sights

If you are in decent shape, hiking up Mount Maunganui isn't too hard and will give you great views of the area. Popular beaches are on the north side of the peninsula.

In Rotorua, there are various competing thermal villages where you can see and smell geysers, bubbling mud pots and steam vents. These include Te Puia, Wai-O-Tapu and Whakarewarewa. You can take a gondola ride up Mt Ngongotaha for a view of the area and drive luges downhill as well.

For Lord of the Ring fans, the Hobbiton movie set is less than an hour drive west of Tauranga.  The Waitomo Glowworm caves [nature's form of LED lighting] is another hour west from Hobbiton.

Shopping & Restaurants

 

There is one main street, Maunganui Rd, in Mount Maunganui with shops and restaurants and a couple of main streets in Tauranga.

Internet - Cafes, and restaurants may provide free wifi to customer
 

Agent Insider Tip:   A beautiful walk from the cruise ship in Tauranga, down the bay boardwalk past the pines to the Mount (Mauao) and walk around - turn left at the end of the beach. It is very picturesque. Then have a waffle ice cream cone (a very popular way to finish this walk) or stop at a beachside cafe and then walk down further down the boardwalk. Then walk back via the main shopping street for some lovely small boutiques and cafes/restaurants. Less well-known touristy things but very popular are swimming with the dolphins or skydiving over the Mount. On a warm day paddle or swim in the harborside or in the surf. There are various water sports in the summer (Dec - Feb). But this port is a great budget walk around without spending on tours.

Other Less Popular Ports

Port of Gisborne

 

Cruise ships tender at Eastland Port which is 0.3 miles from the city center, smaller vessels may berth at Wharves 7 or 8. A shuttle bus service is provided from the port to the Gisborne i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, located close to the center of town.

Port of Napier

 

Cruise ships arriving in Napier berth at the Port of Napier, 1km north of the city center. It is a working port with no pedestrian access so you will need to catch the port shuttle to get to the city.

PACKING FOR A TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND

When laying out your clothes and miscellaneous items for any vacation be sure you consider the activities you’ll be doing when on your trip. Whether you are planning on going to the Sky Tower in Auckland, exploring the National Parks and lake/river areas, lounging on the beach, and taking in the city sights all demand their own unique apparel.

 

New Zealand ladies sometimes like to dress up in the major cities when the occasion calls for it, so a show-stopping day to night dress and comfy but attractive heel would also be ideal. However, New Zealanders generally dress casually for most occasions.

 

Even in the best hotels and night clubs, although neat attire is expected, formal dress (a suit and tie) is not imperative.

New Zealand weather can be wonderful much of the time, but sometimes it does randomly rain (particularly in Summer in the Northern Island) so a Light Rain Jacket or Lightweight Travel Umbrella may be prudent. Finally, Swimwear, a quality high SPF Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and a Wide-brimmed Hat are still must-haves!

 

While touring in late spring, summer and autumn (fall), garments of cotton and other cool washable materials are suggested. It is essential to include a sweater, cardigan or jacket for cooler weather, especially in the mountains. In winter carry an all-season coat, and generally warmer clothing is a good idea.

 

Travel Agent Recommended

 My Travel Products

Packing Suggestions

Pack as lightly as possible but, I recommend packing a diverse and practical set of outfits with items that can all be reversible, mixed and matched, apart from the occasional formal outfit or hiking gear.


For anything outdoors and active, a pair of sturdy Breathable sneakers or Walking Sandals will be crucial. SPF treated long pants and Mosquito-treated pants are advised to ward off mosquito bites and keep off the evening chill. To save money we recommend purchasing a mosquito-treating formula like Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent that you can use to treat at home before you pack on clothing you already have.

 

New Zealand ladies like to dress up in the major cities when the occasion calls for it, so a show-stopping day to night dress and comfy but attractive heel would also be ideal.

 

New Zealand weather can be wonderful much of the time, but sometimes it does randomly rain so a Light Rain Jacket or Lightweight Travel Umbrella may be prudent. Finally, swimwear, a quality high SPF Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and a Wide-brimmed Hat are still must-haves!

 

When laying out your clothes and miscellaneous items for any vacation be sure you consider the activities you’ll be doing when on your trip. Whether you are planning on going to the Opera House, exploring the desert areas, lounging on the beach, and taking in the city sights all demand their own unique apparel.

 

Let’s start with the most important investment in your vacation – Your Luggage.

 

Luggage – Today’s luggage is expandable, easy to maneuver and convenient for providing power to those devices you want to travel with. Visit our Blog for the Most Functional Bag Ever! - Click HERE>>


Packing cubes – These packing and storage cubes have made life so much easier for organizing while traveling. No more of tearing your suitcase apart to find something. Pack items in the theme’s hence if I want a part of underwear all your underwear will be in one packing cube.


Compression Bags – for your dirty/wet clothes. Depending on how long your trip is if you are not going to do laundry then you will need these bags to contain the odor of your dirty and wet clothes. Trust Me! phew!!!! Visit our Blog for our Choice for Compression Bags! - Click HERE>>


Luggage Tags – for all your luggage pieces AND your carry-on’s.  At the hotel/s there are other people who handle your luggage, so we want to keep it all together and accounted for, especially if you arrive earlier than your check-in time at the hotel and you leave your luggage with the concierge.

Luggage Straps – to keep your luggage secured in case the closures/hasps/hinges give way and break due to excess harsh handling by airport employee’s thus exposing the personal contents of your suitcase.

 

          Note: at most major airports there is a new service to wrap your complete piece of luggage in plastic wrap to secure it and keep thief’s down.  This service cost fluctuates between airports but can run from $10 to $25 per piece.

Now…we all know you need more than your underwear to complete your vacation wardrobe.  We also know that you need your medical supplies prudent to your medical needs.  But sometimes while packing we forget some of the ‘simple things’ we should take because we are too close to the forest to see the trees. So, we are only going to suggest some items that you may not realize you need…other than your underwear.

Hopefully, we stimulate your own ‘Packing List’ with these recommended suggestions.

Sound machine – to block the noises of people in the hallways outside your cabin, noises from decks above and below you, and/or noises from your cabin neighbors so you can sleep. An option to the sound machine is downloading a sound-masking app on your smartphone.


Motion Sickness Tablets –Take in the morning [after breakfast] of your embarkation day so you have the confidence to get on the ship and not start your vacation with a wave of nausea.  Consult your doctor or pharmacist for suggestions.  

Agent Insider Tip:   Most cruise lines will give you seasickness medicine FREE onboard if you begin to feel ill.
Just go to the customer service desk and ask. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for suggestions.

First Aid Kit is recommended with basic first-aid supplies and medications you may need, such as painkillers, antihistamines, allergy medicines or remedies for an upset stomach, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, steri-strips and etc.


Travel Sewing Kit
for those emergency wardrobe fixes.


Bluetooth Speaker – a nice relaxing item to have if you want to enjoy some music while getting ready in the bathroom, relaxing in your room, or chilling out on your balcony. Visit our Blog recommendation for a Travel Bluetooth Speaker - Click HERE>>


3-way plug with USB ports – a cruise cabin never has enough outlets…ever! Take a minimum of 2 of these.  They don’t take much room in your carry-on!  While in airports waiting to catch the next flight, these come in handy for sharing that strangers so everyone can use the power to pass the time.


Sweater or Pashmina – for those cool nights on your cabin balcony or those romantic walks on the ship’s decks. A must-have for a plane ride. Visit our Blog for our recommendation for a Travel Scarf - Click HERE>>


Duct Tape [small roll] – this is a ‘must-have’ accessory for your cabin.  It can be used to keep those curtains closed in the early morning hours when you just don’t want to wake up, secure items that are ‘coming apart’, keep those suitcases closed and secured so they don’t accidentally pop-open exposing your underwear when the airline employee’s pitch it over ‘hill-n’-dale’ into the plane...LOL! It truly has 101 applications can use it for.


Sticky Notes
– these come in handy for leaving notes for your room stewards on the mirror. 


Magnets
– not many people know that the area around your cabin door is all metal. So, using magnets are handy for posting important papers and notes to remind you to take when leaving your cabin like tour documents, dinners reservations, celebration announcements, etc.  I personally like the magnet bag-closure clasps which give you a two-fold holding unit…a pincher clasp and a magnet. 


Over-the-door Clear Shoe holder
– this is an amazing item, especially if you are taking a long river or ocean cruise or long land vacation.  It holds everything but shoes!! Put it on the inside bathroom door to hold, curling iron/pills/hair accessories/razors/hair accessories/first aid kits…you name it!  This helps to clear up the small sink area, so you have room to get the daily job done. And, because it is clear plastic you can see exactly what is stored in the pockets. This lays flat in luggage and takes next to nothing in the luggage room.

Carry-on Bag [for plane travel and/or cruising]

Guidebook or Kindle - helps with ideas, culture, maps, and important facts.


Jet lag remedy – if you are flying into the country this may come in handy. 


Sealed snacks - Granola Bars, dried fruits, gum, crackers, etc. – for the long flight.


Slippers & Compression Socks – on a plane you don’t want to walk into the bathrooms without slippers on and compression socks will be instrumental in keeping blood clots at bay.


Travel devices and their charging cords – keep all tech cords, power cords, 3-way plugs, and slitters in your carry-on for easy access during your flights and time on-board before you can get into your cabin. Visit our Travel Electronics to see our recommendations. - Click HERE>>

Melatonin Supplements – to help sleep on the flight, a cruise or in the hotel the natural way.


Headphone Splitter – helps both of you listen to the same book/music at the same time.


Travel Pillow
– here is our recommendation to keep your neck supported while you rest.


Travel blanket – sometimes you just don’t want to use the airline blankets to cover up knowing we don’t have to question where it has been before us!

Sweater or Pashmina – helps to keep you warm on a cold airplane. And, you can use it when you get to your destination as a neck-wrap, a sweater or a formal wrap.  It’s a lightweight-portable blanket perfect for the airplane, leisure time at the hotel room/cruise cabin balcony or for a formal night on the town.


High SPF Lip Balm – something you can use anywhere! In Australia, this is an important item.


Hand Sanitizer or Handy Wipes – Hear me out…not kidding!  This is a ‘must-have’ item for all travelers no matter the means of travel. This is an everyday item you MUST be diligent in using.

 

For more carry-on tips/tricks please call 877.746.2784

or email us at ma.siemens@dreamvacations.com

 

For your Hotel:

Australian Power Adapter and/or Converter – you may need this!


Allergy medicine – Allergens/pollen is tough to adapt to, pack non-drowsy allergy medicine. Consult your Doctor.


Country-Club Casual wear – to go to restaurants/bars.


Bottle Opener – ONLY if you pack it in your suitcase otherwise, it will be taken by TSA at the airport.


Sound machine/Sound machine app on your smartphone – to block out the noise of the city, airport hotels or hotel/cabin hallways. Wherever you are lodging.


Laundry Dryer Sheet – use these to brush off the sheets to rid them of any possible bedbugs. Plus, they make your packed clothes smell good.


Small spray bottle of Alcohol – to sterilize the doorknobs, remote control, and any surface that you deem need to be sterilized for your safety.


Bluetooth Speaker – this is a nice thing to have if you want to enjoy some music while you relax in your room or on your cabins balcony.​

Medical Needs:

Activated Charcoal/Anti-Diarrhea medicine – in case of traveler’s diarrhea and/or food-poisoning. While in a foreign country you could be eating food that your body may not be used to or get some tainted food.


Blue Gel Aloe Vera – to soothe the sunburn after being out in the sun all day and getting roasted.


Tylenol – after playing, hiking, touring, and squinting all day you may have a headache. This medicine will definitely help.


Ibuprofen – for those sore muscles, aches & pains from being active over what you are used to because you are on vacation and you are an animal.


Sewing Kit – For those quick-fix needs.


First Aid Kit – This is a must even if it is a small one…you may need to patch boo-boos.


Allergy Med’s – When we visit countries where the environment is not compatible with our bodies systems we run the risk of illness. Whether pollen allergies, food allergies or a foreign bug bite we need to be prepared. However, our medicines from our home countries may not make the grade in caring for us. We recommend you consult your Doctor.


Bug-spray with DEET – a formula that will ward off bugs indigenous at your destination.

SideNote: Purchasing a medical solution to help you at your destination may
not be something your body will tolerate. Be sure to bring the medicines from
home that work for you.  If you want to try the medicines indigenous to the area,
then you can get them when you need them however, you may run the risk
of an allergic reaction to it so if possible bring your meds from
home and have a better chance of helping you feel better.

How to be prepared for your day/s of activities.

Hiking:

Water bottle with built-in filter – you never have to worry if the water is filtered or not.


Quality sun hat – A hat is a key piece of travel gear while exploring Australia.


Sturdy Hiking shoes – you may want to think about an ankle-high shoe to support your ankles depending on the terrane you are hiking in.


Daypack – preferable one with a hydration system integrated into it especially if going to desert areas.


Rain Jacket – just in case as weather can change at any moment.


Hand Sanitizer – Did I say…I am not kidding!  This is a ‘must-have’ item for all your travel needs.


Cool Neck Wrap – water it down, snap it and get that cool feeling to help bring down your body heat.


Insect repellant with DEET - a formula that repels sandflies, no-see-ums, horseflies, and other pests


Wide-brimmed Lightweight Hat – You may want to consider one with a chin strap to help keep it on during windy days.

Note: If you are planning to visit very hot areas then we would recommend that you pack a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline, to prevent burning.

On the Beach or At the Pool

Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes or Sandals – help with walking on the hot beach sands, hot concrete and rocks.

Universal Waterproof Phone Case – protects from dust, rain, dirt, scratches, & moisture.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen – on most beaches it is mandatory to have this if in the water.


Underwater Camera – If you are scuba diving and/or snorkeling you will want this.


Water bottle – stay hydrated!


Quick-dry travel towel –where there’s the water you’ll need a towel, and you’ll need one that’s absorbent, quick-drying, and easy to pack.


Polarized Sunglasses – eye protection is very important.


Lightweight sunscreen protected shirt – to put on just to take a break from the high-intensity sun.


Cool Neck Wrap – water it down, snap it and get that cool feeling to help bring down your body heat.


Power-sticks – for that time you need an extra charge to play on your device.


Hand Sanitizer or Handy Wipes – and you thought I was just kidding!  This is a ‘must-have’ item for all your travel needs.

Hi-SPF Lip-balm & Sunscreen – protect and hydrate the skin.


Stinger Suits [for the beach] - to protect you from small jellyfish ‘stingers’. If you do not have one you can always rent one when you get there.


Wetsuit - if you plan to surf or do water sports the water can be cold and the sun extreme.

     
      Note: You may be able to rent water wear, as well as, some tour operators may provide snorkels, stinger suits and wetsuits.

Sailing/Boating

Sturdy Sandal - (not flip-flops) - so that you won’t trip or slip on wet surfaces.


Daypack – to hold items and keep them dry.

Sweater/Pashmina - for the chilly evenings out at sea or in the harbors.


Wide-brimmed Lightweight Foldable Hat – Get one with a chin strap to help keep it from blowing away.


Polarized Sunglasses – eye protection is very important.


Universal Waterproof Phone Case – protects from dust, rain, dirt, scratches, & moisture.

Items you may want to consider also taking on your New Zealand vacation:

Flash Drive, Spare SD Cards or better yet…‘The Cloud’ to store all pictures.


Travel Journal – if you are a writer you will want to log all your experiences.


ATM Cards – make sure you notify all the banks/card companies you are leaving the country.


Kindle & Kindle Cover and other electronic devices – if you just ‘Can’t Disconnect’!!


RFID Blocking Wallet – always a good thing in these days and ages of ‘Identity theft’.


Travel Laundry Kit – whether you cruise in or fly in to Australia this will help in not overpacking.


Hand Sanitizer – Probably the most important item.  Don’t want to get ill while on vacation.  Get some to hang off your backpack, purse or belt-loops on pants.


Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag – Hang bag off towel rack or over shower rod/door to keep the sink area clear and open.


Travel Toiletry Bottles – Don’t need to bring your large shampoo/conditioner bottles. Use these!


Bluetooth Speaker
– Having one of these compact portable speakers come in handy for all occasions.


Travel Pillow – For those LONG plane flights.


Foldaway Tote Bag – great for all the souvenirs you are going to take home. Fold and pack in a suitcase for easy transport until you need it.

Solar Powered Charger - For the more remote areas can come in handy as a back-up for your battery.

     I am sure that with this list you have thought there are other things you could use and should pack.  This is exactly why we make our suggestions.  It is to stimulate other ideas that are more suited for your needs, wants and desires.

Getting around IN NEW ZEALAND

Transportation by Water

Cruising around New Zealand

This countries coastlines and waterways are some of the most beautiful and dramatic and any visit should include some time exploring its coves, fjords, lakes and/or mighty rivers.

There are day trips available throughout the country and spending a little time voyaging away from the land you will be pleased beyond belief with the scenery and experiences which far fewer travelers get the chance to enjoy.

There are cruise options available in the Bay of Islands region, allowing you to get away from the big cities to enjoy secluded coves where you can swim or snorkel, perhaps encountering some friendly dolphins if you are lucky!

 

Exploring the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands have 144 islands that are scattered in the vibrant Pacific waters, which are abundant with marine wildlife. In the countless secluded bays, seals, dolphins and whales are often sighted.  To fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty, you can take to the waters, either on a Cape Brett and ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise from Paihia or sail out on board the ‘R. Tucker Thompson’, built in the style of a 100-year old schooner. Other exciting Bay of Islands cruise options are available in this area. Highlights include swimming with dolphins, or game-fishing for some of the world’s largest marlin, tuna and shark.

Ferries/Water taxis

Car ferries sail the Cook Strait between Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island). The journey, which eases through the island-flecked Queen Charlotte Sound, is regarded as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. It covers 57 mi/92 km and takes about three hours. The high-speed Lynx catamaran service has been suspended. To find out more about crossing the Cook Strait visit Bluebridge or the Interislander. It is not unusual to see marine animals like dolphins, whales and fur seals while crossing.  A Paddlesteamer cruise is offered in Auckland, Wanganui or Queenstown

Water taxis are a handy service for getting to the start of a hiking track or reaching a destination that isn’t accessible by ferry. Most water taxi operators can also put together a customized scenic tour of local sights. 

Denedin Railways
Dunedin Railway Adventures

Rail 

The network of rail in New Zealand is approx. 2,565 miles, and of that there is 314 miles that is electrified. Currently there are 1787 bridges and 150 tunnels on the rail network.

Rail travel is possible for selected routes, most notably The Overlander between Auckland and Wellington, via the volcanic plateau and the engineering wonder of the Raurimu Spiral on the North Island. On the South Island, the TranzCoastal runs between Picton and Christchurch; the line follows the coast for much of the journey, so sit on the left side southbound for sea views. The TranzAlpine crosses the island from Christchurch to Greymouth, with an open-air viewing carriage to maximize the incredible scenery. Travel passes are available for buses, trains, planes and ferries, and some allow you to combine several modes of travel.

New Zealand's long-distance trains are operated by Kiwi Rail's passenger division, originally called Tranz Scenic but returned to public ownership in 2008 as KiwiRail Scenic and in 2017 rebranded yet again as Great Journeys of New Zealand.  Who knows what it will be called next year? LOL!

Scenic and historic railway operating from Dunedin - Taieri Gorge Railway, Dunedin

New Zealand Public Transporation

Buses/Coaches

Escorted and hosted coach tours, rental cars, campers, motorcycles, and bicycles are popular ways to tour the country but are prepared to take your time.

Bus services on each island connect the major cities with smaller towns. A number of low-cost shuttle services operate between larger towns and are geared toward budget travelers and backpackers. -- Intercity Coachlines - New Zealand Bus Travel

Local Transport

All New Zealand’s major towns have reliable, affordable public bus networks, some even have trams/shuttles/train/light rail systems.  Taxis operate in all major cities and towns, especially handy if you’re having a few drinks out.  

Taxi


New Zealand city and town taxis operate from stands (known as a taxi rank), or on-call by telephone, giving a 24-hour service.  

 

Catching a taxicab or shuttle is simple. However, you still must watch out for the taxi drivers who take you the longest possible way, but these drivers are few and far between. Drivers will always try and take the best route, if you have any doubts during the trip please ask your driver. You can ask for an estimate of the price for your journey before you start. The driver must display an id card and a fare schedule to let you know what they charge. Each company set their prices, but most are similar.

 

When catching a taxi, you do not have to take the first cab in line, the drivers will not get upset.

Taxi drivers cannot refuse you because you do not want to travel very far. Make sure that the taxi you get into takes your form of payment; some don't take credit cards. There also may be a surcharge on credit cards, this is normal with some companies.

 

Additional Charges for taxi services:


Flagfall: A one-off charge to get into a taxi and start the hire.

Tariff: Rate for each kilometer traveled (there may be different rates charged depending on the day, pickup location, number of passengers or size of vehicle).

Waiting Time: Charge per minute that the cab is stationary during the trip for any reason.

Airport Fee: Charge passed onto the customer for the taxi to leave the airport.

Luggage Fee: Charge per item of luggage carried by taxi. (Only some taxi companies charge this)

 

The drivers should be polite, courteous and display knowledge of the city and where you need to go.  If you are unhappy with your driver to contact the company directly if it is serious or concerns criminal activity contact the NZ Police and Land Transport New Zealand.



Agent Insider Tip:

 

We recommend you use a metered taxi to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the journey. Otherwise, before getting into the cab negotiate the cost. When you arrive at your destination, note down the company and number of the taxi for any complaints or if you leave anything behind.

Uber


You can request an Uber car in 7 cities in New Zealand. The ridesharing experience is fast-growing all over New Zealand. Cities that offer Uber rides are Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Queenstown, Wellington and Tauranga

Lyft has yet to enter the New Zealand market as of this writing.

Agent Insider Tip:

 

We recommend you download the Uber app onto your smartphone BEFORE you leave home. 
Connectivity to hale an Uber ride should be good in all the cities that currently offer it.

 

Driving can be fairly slow because most roads have only two lanes, and the terrain can be rugged. Also, remember that driving is on the left side of the road.

Many roads in rural New Zealand can be a challenge for overseas drivers to navigate. Roads are often very narrow, sometimes one lane, and many are still unsealed gravel. Caution is a must—even if driving at low speed. On the South Island, icy conditions and black ice are added dangers.

Driving


New Zealanders love cars with 3.4 million cars registered in 2018 for 4.9 million people - making them one of the countries to have the highest car ownership rate in the world. 15 yrs. old is the legal driving age.

Some of the best times to drive in New Zealand are October and late March/early April. The climate is comfortable: in spring (October), the countryside will still retain the green lushness of summer, while in late March, there’s some residual warmth from the sun but the leaves are just beginning to turn.

You can legally drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current driver's license from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP).  Recent law changes require all drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their license, or permit, always when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country.  Make sure your driver's license is current. If your license is not in English, you should bring an English translation with you, or obtain an IDP.


New Zealander’s roads are wide, well signed, and well maintained on the main throughways. If you go into the backcountry, however, you may find unmaintained and unpaved roads.

The learning curve isn’t too steep if you’re a savvy driver but try not to be overconfident. There are also many roundabouts, [or rotaries], on the main roads, and driving through cities can be tricky if your instincts are to look right instead of left.

Car Rentals


In New Zealand, 18-21 years old is the legal age that you can rent a car in New Zealand.


Here you have a full selection of Rental vehicles including, campervan, motor home, car, 4WD, camper wagon, and RV’s to rent. 

Rental cars can be a cheap, convenient option that allows for greater freedom. Dozens of small budget operators rent small, slightly older-model cars. If you are traveling with a group and splitting the fees, this can be very cost-effective. All companies charge for insurance, but many have a discounted rate for longer rental terms. Prices vary among rental companies, and some include mileage, while others add this to the daily fee.
 

If your rental vehicle doesn’t already have a GPS in it then you may want to consider downloading a GPS app before you leave home to you don’t incur hundreds of dollars in roaming charges. AND, if you can save some money by not renting a vehicle with a GPS in it then your app should come in handy unless you get into the more rural areas.  There are numerous GPS apps available to download to your smartphone and use offline.

Agent Insider Tip:

 

It's never a bad idea to have a back-up plan. Take along an old-fashioned paper road map just in case you find yourself in an area where coverage is spotty, or your smartphone battery dies at an inopportune time. You always want to be over-prepared.

Be Advised:

 

Most major rental car companies do not allow you to transport a car from one island to the other but will arrange for a second car for you to pick up if you're traveling between islands. Some agencies do allow you to take a car on the ferry but check in advance. This does not affect campers or motor homes, which are often hired on a one-way deal with pickup in Auckland and drop-off in Christchurch.

WARNING:

Be aware that Kea, the large native alpine parrots with curved, sharp beaks, are fans of windshield wipers and tires.

 

Their attacks can seriously damage vehicles. Car parks usually have a sign notifying a Kea problem.

Tips for driving in New Zealand

  • Do allocate for more time in your route than you think you’ll need for any drive. This will give you time to stop, explore, take photographs and admire a view.

  • Rent your vehicle allocating for two drivers so you can alternate between who’s looking out of the window and who are concentrating on the road.

  • Expect animals to wander onto the road such as sheep, cows, and wildlife especially during feeding times when they may cross the roadways to get to water or feed.

  • If you are near Auckland around 3pm don’t go as this is their rush hour and you will be stuck in traffic for long periods of time.

  • Don’t be surprised if you intend to turn on your directional blinker and your windshield wiper flicks on instead — the two are reversed in many New Zealand cars.

  • Always remember with driving on the left to always keep the driver on the roads middle-line.  Passenger will be next to the shoulder of the road always.
     

Road Rules

  • Right-of-way – An important road rule is ‘give way to the right’ – if an intersection is unmarked (unusual), and at roundabouts, you must give way to vehicles entering the intersection from your right.
     

  • Speed limits – The Speed limits is approx. 65mph [100km/h] on the open road with approx. 30mph [50km/h] in the built-up [city] areas. All other changes of area speed limits are well signposted. 

 

  • Distracted Driving - Driving while using a hand-held cellphone is illegal in New Zealand.
     

  • Seat belts & car seats - It’s the law to wear seat belts in the front and back seats; you’re likely to get a fine if you don’t. Small children under 7 must be belted into an approved & certified car restraint seat.
     

  • Drinking & driving - The legal drink-drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of zero. The legal drink-drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per liter of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. 
     

  • Mobile phones - Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in New Zealand (excluding hands-free technology).


For more comprehensive information on New Zealand's road rules, read the full
New Zealand Transport Authority Booklet for Overseas Drivers.

Some of New Zealand’s Car Rental Companies

Enterprise
Go Rentals
Hertz
Apex Car Rentals
Omega Car Rentals – [they allow vehicle renters 18 yrs of age]
Jucy Rentals – [they allow vehicle renters 18 yrs of age]
Avis Car Rental
Budget Car Rentals
Thrifty Car Rentals

For Motorhome Rentals

For Motorcycle Rentals
 

  • Helmets are required and these laws are enforced with heavy fines. Anyone using a bicycle, motorcycle or scooter must always wear an approved helmet.

 

Agent Insider Tip:

 

One thing that will make a difference with renting a vehicle is getting an automatic. It’s worth the extra you will pay (manuals are still pretty common in NZ) but on top of that, you will be shifting with your left hand and with an auto-transmission that will be one less thing you have to worry about.  Just remember the driver stays next to the centerline.

FUEL
 

This site gives you all the fuel prices around New Zealand. Always updating, so a great resource for your fuel research.

www.pricewatch.co.nz

 

This is the New Zealand Governments fuel saver helpful website

www.fuelsaver.govt.nz

 

This is the New Zealand AA (Automobile Association) fuel information area of their website

www.aa.co.nz

Agent Insider tip: 

 

We highly recommend you download an app on your smartphone to convert kilometers to miles per hour and kilograms to pounds etc. to accommodate your visit to a country you may not be familiar with in their conversion rates.  Also, consider downloading a money conversion app from NZ to USD if you really want to know what your costs are for purchased items.

Animal Hazards

Sheep on The Roads

You may not face this situation through Auckland but it you stay in New Zealand for a while and travel around you are going to find yourself surrounded but New Zealand's woolly friends, the sheep. 


When you do find yourself in this sheep roadblock situation just pull over to the side, stop and wait until they pass or drive through them slowly. They will move and you shouldn't run any over. Don't honk the horn or all hell could break loose and you will have one angry farmer.

 

What to do if you find a dead bird, beached whale, or other native animal that might need help.
 

Who to contact - Call these phone numbers below and DOC or MPI will tell you what to do:

Report 1 or 2 sick, injured or dead animals

Ring the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
 

Climate & Season’s

Mountains? Beaches? Volcanoes? Rainforests? You'll find all of it in New Zealand. The temperate marine climate influenced by the surrounding ocean, the prevailing westerly winds, and the mountainous nature of the islands. The weather tends to be changeable.

Winds can be very strong, sometimes damaging buildings and trees. Rain, sometimes very heavy, occurs throughout the year. Cold southerly winds bring snow in winter, sometimes in spring. At Wellington, the yearly average rainfall is 27.24 inches (5.6” in July, and averaging 3.4” from November to February); average January temperature is 55-65°F, and July temperature 43–52°F. Most of the country experiences at least 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.

In recent years, weather patterns have been affected by La Niña and El Niño; some unusually high temperatures have been recorded, and drought and unusually heavy rainfall have occurred.

This country is amazing for the fact that you can drive for 4 or 5 hours and experience so many different landscapes and climates.  With New Zealand’s many different regions you will find varying climates. The climate in New Zealand is generally temperate either on the cooler or warmer side. This will vary greatly from north to south and from the flatlands to the mountains. However, for the most part, the country has mild temperatures with high rainfall.

Plan your trip around your interests, whether that is skiing the Southern Alps or kayaking on mountain lakes. The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are generally the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere.

Weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly…Be prepared!  Beware…The mountains can be extremely cold.  To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for New Zealand.

Agent Tip:

 

To convert to Fahrenheit, multiply by 2, then add 30. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.

SEASONS

 

SPRING – [September, October, November]

New Zealand’s springtime, for the most part, is warm. Depending on where you are in the country the temperature will vary somewhere between 66F in the north to 60F in the south. Spring showers are going to rain down on you so a light raincoat will come in handy. Mornings and evenings can still be rather chilly and crisp so don your sweater or extra layers for the drop-in temperature.     *Daytime average temperatures between 61 - 66˚F


SUMMER – [December, January, February]:

Remember the seasons are opposite to that of the Northern Hemisphere, so New Zealand’s summer runs during this time and most are taking their winter holiday breaks.

The heat is warm and can even get hot but, it won’t be muggy.  Rain is rare during this time however; the sun will be high so don’t forget that sunscreen especially as you take on the great outdoors.   *Daytime average temperatures between 68 - 77˚F
 

FALL – [March, April, May]:  Golden Autumn

Fall in New Zealand is a great time to visit as the crowds are low, beautiful colors on the leaves emerge and the sunshine is still high.  You will still have long days with still some high temperatures.  The nights really start getting chilly about April so coverup.  

*Daytime average temperatures between 62 - 70˚F
 

WINTER – [June, July, August]:

The mountains are full of snow and the ski bunnies are alive and playing atop them.  Winter here will bring cool and crisp days that are perfect for all outdoor activities especially if you want to take in the hot thermal spas. Rain and winds are more prevalent during this time so bundle up.  The north island is the warmest of the islands during the wintertime.

*Daytime average temperatures between 53 - 61˚F

 

 

NEW ZEALAND WEATHER MONTH BY MONTH


January - February

The warm sunny days of summer make this an ideal time to visit, particularly for snorkeling or outdoor pursuits, but it can be harder to find accommodation. School vacations run into the first two weeks of January, while tourists arrive in large numbers to make the most of the warm climate until the end of February. It's also a great time to spot dolphins and fur seals off the cost of the South Island.

 

March - May

The arrival of autumn brings cooler days and quieter roads. While the weather will be more changeable, there is still a fantastic array of wildlife to be seen and the changing colors of the autumn leaves add a new dynamic. If you are happy with cooler weather, then this is a great time to make the most of lower prices and fewer crowds.
 

June - July

Winter in New Zealand can be both beautiful and challenging. While the North Island sees much rain, snow in the South Island can make mountain passes more difficult and many excursions cease to operate. It is, however, a spectacular draw for skiers and a fantastic time to see the country away from the crowds that the summer brings

 

August

As winter continues, areas in the North Island such as Rotorua and the Bay of Islands remain relatively popular as they benefit from milder weather than the south. The South Island holds its own charms, though, as humpback whales pass by Kaikoura on their way north to warmer waters.

 

September - October

Temperatures begin to rise and snow on the mountains starts melting, making this a fantastic time for white water rafting as the rivers are full and fast. The weather is changeable, but as most tourists are yet to arrive the roads are quiet and accommodation is easier to secure. September is also a brilliant time to see newborn lambs gamboling in the fields and orcas gracing the coastline with their presence.

 

November
You’re onto a good thing with the weather in November. With the days getting warmer as this final month of spring approaches summer, the weather is generally good during November in New Zealand. What’s more, it’s the final month of the shoulder season in New Zealand before the summer tourist crowds hit so make the most of visiting those more popular destinations like Milford Sound during this time.

December

You’re onto a good thing with the weather in November. With the days getting warmer as this final month of spring approaches summer, the weather is generally good during November in New Zealand. What’s more, it’s the final month of the shoulder season in New Zealand before the summer tourist crowds hit so make the most of visiting those more popular destinations like Milford Sound during this time.

Wildlife

Fauna are often also unique because of geographical isolation, and include such flightless birds as the kiwi, kakapo and weka, and a great diversity of seabirds, as well as 400 kinds of marine fish and many sea-mammals including 32 whale species.

Before settlers began arriving, the country had only one mammal — a bat the size of your thumb. With the introduction of invasive land-mammals like possums, stoats and rabbits by successive settlers, Polynesian and European, they have seriously damaged the habitat of many species, including the flightless birds – of which the moa, adzebill and flightless goose have become extinct or on the endangered list – and reduced the forest area.

KIWI BIRD

The kiwi bird is the nation’s sweetheart. However, you won’t just find them wandering the streets and stealing your fries. These elusive nocturnal birds mostly live in forested areas. 

 

The kiwi is a flightless native bird about the size of a large chicken and, relative to its body size, lays the largest egg of any bird—up to 20% of its body weight.

 

There are six varieties of kiwi; females are always larger and more aggressive than males. They are active at night, sniffing out worms using tiny nostrils at the end of their long beaks.

LESSER SHORT-TAILED BAT

Bats, or pekapeka, are particularly special in New Zealand as they are the only native land mammal of New Zealand. However, this species unique to New Zealand is endangered and can only be found in a few sites across New Zealand.

HECTOR’S DOLPHIN

Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest dolphin species. They are named after Sir James Hector, who first examined a dolphin specimen. You can mostly spot them riding the waves in the South Island. More famously, there are many pods in the Akaroa Harbour near Christchurch.

Where Can you Swim with Dolphins

Not many experiences match that of swimming with some of the world’s most intelligent (and ridiculously cute) creatures. A must-do in New Zealand is to swim with dolphins, where they can be playful and swim close to you. What’s more, there are no pools, no confinement or treating the dolphins cruelly, you swim with dolphins in New Zealand in the wild. You are in the dolphins’ environment and they choose whether they want to swim with you. Spoiler alert: they usually want to! One pointer: make sure to check with your tour operator if there is actually “swimming” taking place when on a dolphin tour.

Kaikoura - There are opportunities to swim with dusky dolphins all year round in Kaikoura. This species of dolphin is known for their acrobatic ability, so swimmers could be in for bonus entertainment. Wildlife-lovers will also enjoy Kaikoura for its seal, whale and albatross sightings too! 

Akaroa - Swim with the world’s smallest dolphins: Hector’s dolphins. Hector’s dolphins are super friendly so are bound to come close and say hello (in their own dolphin way). What also makes swimming with dolphins in Akaroa special is the vibrant blue water, as well as the high possibility of spotting penguins and seals along the way. 

The Bay of Islands - swimming with bottlenose dolphins is now prohibited in the Bay of Islands. Dolphin-viewing cruises still operate in the afternoons.

Marlborough Sounds - Beautiful scenery surrounds you while there is a possibility of seeing five different species of dolphin. There is a high swim success to be had in the summer at Marlborough Sounds. 

Bay of Plenty - There is the opportunity to swim with more than just dolphins, as the waters of the Bay of Plenty hold seals, whales, sunfish and blue penguins. Dolphin swimming tours depart from Tauranga and have a different style of swimming where you hold onto the back of the boat while it slowly pulls you along, making you seem a lot more interesting to the dolphins. 

NEW ZEALAND IS HOME TO THE WORLD’S HEAVIEST INSECT

The giant weta is the heaviest insect in the world. It has been recorded to be heavier than a sparrow.

 

There are 70 types of weta in New Zealand and can be found in caves and forests. The best time to see them is when walking in the forest at night.

Here are just a few additional New Zealand unique and indigenous wildlife. This country is full of amazing animals that I can only list just a few here:

  • YELLOW-EYED PENGUINS - are found around the south-east of New Zealand, Banks Peninsula, and Stewart Island. They are one of six different species of penguins found in New Zealand and its surrounding islands. 

  • CHEVRON SKINK - These lizards are only found on the Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island. These secretive lizards are New Zealand’s longest lizards and have only had around 500 recorded sightings.

  • LITTLE BLUE PENGUINS - Little blue penguins are not completely unique to New Zealand, but New Zealand sure has the most amount waddling on the coastlines and off-shore islands.

  • NEW ZEALAND FUR SEAL - Once hunted for their meat, New Zealand fur seals are now a protected species in New Zealand. They are abundant on the South Island coastlines, particularly around Kaikoura, the Catlins and Fiordland National Park. However, they are even known to visit as far north as the Bay of Islands in winter. Although fur seals tend to stick to the coast, they have been known to wander into people’s backyards.

  • TUATARA - Tuataras are the only surviving reptile species from the dinosaur era, which gives them the nickname “the living dinosaur”. Another fun fact about the tuatara, they have a third eye on the top of their heads.

· 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Two species of bats are New Zealand’s only native land mammals.

  • New Zealand’s eels live to 80 years old and breed only once, at the end of their life—and they swim all the way to Tonga for the end of their lives.

  • Moa were flightless birds that were native to New Zealand. The largest species, the giant moa, reached about 12-14 feet in height and weighing about 450-550 lbs. Some of the largest birds ever to inhabit the earth, they were the dominant herbivores in the country’s ecosystem for thousands of years before they were hunted to extinction by the Māori by 1500.

  • New Zealand has 44 native reptile species. The ‘Tuatara’ is the largest, growing up to 2 feet (60 cm) long. It is believed to be the only surviving species of a family of reptiles that became extinct in other parts of the world 60 million years ago. Their name derives from the Māori language, and means "peaks on the back".

  • New Zealand is also home to the world’s only flightless parrot, the Kakapo.

Food & Drinks of New Zealand

Drinking age:  18

FOOD

New Zealand food is more than just fish and chips and barbeques. The country is known for remarkable wine and food with a distinctive Pacific Rim cuisine blends of European, Asian and Polynesian flavors. Local foods to try should include the traditional Kiwi cuisine utilizes ingredients from the surrounding waterways and pastures.

Expect to indulge in plenty of seafood i.e. green shell mussels, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters and fresh fish like Salmon, award-winning cheeses and, of course, the venison and lamb.

Local foods to try while in the country is venison, fresh fish (the salmon is especially good), shellfish (New Zealand is famous for mussels and oysters) and fruits such as kiwifruit, passion fruit and tamarillos (tree tomatoes). Make sure you sample a specialty meat pie—a tasty throwback of British influence but updated with a variety of unique ingredients. Steak-and-cheese pies are especially popular but are an acquired taste.

Lamb and hogget (1-year-old lamb) is delicious and very different from much of the lamb served in North America—it is milder and like high-quality beef or pork. For dessert, the country's specialty is a pavlova, an incredibly sweet baked meringue usually topped with cream and fresh passion fruit, kiwifruit or strawberries.

Seafood is without a doubt the biggest draw when eating out in New Zealand; species not found in North American supermarkets include John Dory, New Zealand snapper, kingfish, and North Island trevally.

When in season (late September and early October), look for whitebait fritters—delicate inch-long fish held together with egg whites—to appear on menus. Green-lip mussels are featured on most coastal menus; these are large and rather chewy, and usually served steamed in pots. Abalone, called paua in New Zealand, is often served minced in fritters.

In winter months, Bluff Oysters come into season. Fished from the cold waters of the South Island's southernmost coast, these large, firm oysters have a strong flavor and are best eaten raw with just a drizzle of lemon juice. Bought in pots by the dozen, prices are high—, especially in Auckland restaurants.

Auckland's Viaduct Harbor and Wynyard Quarter areas are a mecca of restaurants, as are the Parnell and Ponsonby districts. Wellington's Courtenay Place is packed with bars and restaurants that bubble over most evenings. Queenstown restaurants are all within easy walking distance right in the heart of town.

Distinctly different, and usually of the highest standard, are the many vineyard restaurants that have popped up around the country. Be spontaneous and stop at one in Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, North Auckland, Waiheke Island or way down south in the Otago region—and remember to complement your meal with a nice bottle of New Zealand wine. Note that screw caps are now more common than corks, regardless of the wine cost or quality.

Note: Be aware that the waitstaff will not bring your bill until you ask for it. Tipping is not expected but appreciated when you find the service good.

Dinner (also known as tea) is the main meal of the day. Be sure to try the roast kumara (sweet potatoes), kiwifruit, meat pies, pav cake (a cake of whipped egg whites), and pies. Don't miss a Hangi dinner – where food is cooked in traditional Māori earth ovens.

A local favorite is the Hokey Pokey - a creamy vanilla ice cream laced with pieces of honeycomb. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Pavlova, a meringue dessert topped with cream and fresh fruit.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Pizza Hut restaurant chain does not get its mozzarella cheese from Italy; it buys the cheese from Taranaki, New Zealand.

  • Some experts believe that kumara, a kind of sweet potato that the Māori brought to New Zealand, originated in South America.

WINE/DRINKS

It’s no secret that New Zealanders are wine zealots. They take great pride in their grape-growing regions. The country features more than 230 wineries and 120 vineyards offering spectacular scenery and indulgent food experience for the perfect pairing.

Marlborough is a world-famous wine-growing region in the pristine South Island of New Zealand. Sheltered by high country to the west and south it is New Zealand's sunniest region providing the perfect grape growing conditions.

They are best known for, and home to, several internationally recognized wine-producing areas known for Sauvignon Blanc [‘Sav’], Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet. The most widely planted grapes here are Sav and Pinot Noir which you can find almost anywhere. If you have the time for the food and wine journey you can travel the 250-mile classic New Zealand Wine Trail you will be able to sample world-class wine varieties.

Here are just a few top wineries in New Zealand

Allan Scott Family Winemakers

In the Marlborough region of the South Island, Allan Scott Family Winemakers.  

Fromm Winery
Also in the Marlborough region, Fromm Winery  - Their specialty wines also include Syrah, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer.

Wairau River Wines


Established in 1978, Wairau River Wines -  There is an on-site restaurant with chefs who specialize in wine pairings. Their cellar is open for tastings every day to take in the Marlborough landscape while sipping on your favorite wine.

Villa Maria Vineyards
Villa Maria - With a cellar door in Auckland and in Marlborough, tastings are offered at each location.

Kahurangi Estate
Kahurangi Estate is located within Kahurangi National Park in Nelson, and they specialize in aromatic handmade wines. With a backdrop of Mt. Arthur, the estate’s cellar door is open seven days a week and is a beautiful place to wind down at the end of your day.

Neudorf Vineyard
A small winery outside Nelson is Neudorf Vineyard which produces Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

Black Estate
Black Estate -  In 2017, they won the “Winery Restaurant of the Year” award, with their most popular wines like Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay.

Pegasus Bay
Located in the Waipara Valley, Pegasus Bay - They have a restaurant and cellar door that is open for tastings of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, to list just a few.

So…Drink up when you’re Down Under!

Popular NEW ZEALAND Recreation

Recreation in New Zealand is somewhat of a national pastime. Whether it's playing touch rugby with friends or sailing to secluded islands, Kiwis think they have one of the world's best outdoor environments in which to relax or get active.

Summer inevitably means picnics in the park, listening to outdoor concerts, or lazy days at a favorite beach spot. Other pastimes include biking along a waterfront or playing backyard cricket with mates before a Sunday afternoon barbecue—getting into the spirit of friendship is important.

Being surrounded by the sea means fishing and boating are high on most people's lists—one New Zealander in four is said to own a boat. The west coast boasts superb beaches for surfing, and the North Island's east coast, especially in the Gisbourne and Hawkes Bay areas, also attracts wave-riders. Blessed with high mountain peaks and year-round glaciers, winter rewards many with some of the Southern Hemisphere's best skiing resorts.

Teeing off for a round of golf is a perennial favorite, with championship courses dotted all over the country. Now more popular than ever, mountain biking and even more adventurous pursuits can be found on both the North and South islands.

For the more active enthusiasts of outdoor pursuits and activities on your New Zealand vacation, one can find an abundance of activities.

 

Adrenaline junkies head for Queenstown where you can ski and stay at the resorts, bungee jumping, do some whitewater rafting and speed along with the lake jet boating.

 

DID YOU KNOW?


New Zealand boasts over 400 golf courses, both public and private.
That’s one for every 9,000 people, the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world.

Hiking Boots

How to PACK for your day’s activities

 

Hiking/Walking/Trekking:

Nature is the main reason most people visit New Zealand and trekking on one of the country's many tracks (hiking routes) and spending each night in a hut is the best way to experience it. New Zealanders are ardent trampers, so it's also a good way to meet locals.

Of course, first-time visitors may have a problem setting aside three or four days, possibly longer, to undertake a trek. But if you're a returning visitor and like to walk, one of these multiday hikes should be a top priority.

Given the popularity of some of the tracks and the restrictions placed on the number of hikers at one time, planning ahead is essential. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for the tracks, and it has local offices throughout New Zealand. You can also access information at http://www.doc.govt.nz  

Of the hundreds of tracks in New Zealand, there are a few standouts:

South Island:

The Milford Track, a four-day, three-night hike in deepest Fiordland, is the most famous track. It stretches 35 mi from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound in the deep south. The best known and most popular, it is also the most expensive and must be booked well in advance (except in winter). There is separate accommodation for independent walkers and guided groups.

The Routeburn Track is almost as popular as the Milford for its beautiful mountain scenery (three days, 20 mi in Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks). Like the Milford, it must be booked in advance.

The Abel Tasman Coast Track (three to five days, covering 32 mi along beaches and bays on the South Island's northern coast, the Nelson and Marlborough regions) is also extremely popular. It is possible to shorten this to two days by arranging a pickup by sea. In summer, reservations are essential. This is classified as a Great Walk, requiring specific passes (see the DOC website for details).

More demanding four- or five-day walks include the Kepler Track (from Te Anau), the Heaphy Track (through rain forest to the beach, in Kahurangi National Park) and the Rees-Dart Track (steep hikes over a mountain pass and through river valleys, from Glenorchy). The Cascade Saddle route, regarded as one of the nation's hardest hikes, has spectacular alpine scenery. It creates an exciting through-route from Wanaka, past Mount Aspiring, to Queenstown.

Stewart Island, known by its Māori name Rakiura, has two recognized hikes: the Rakiura Track (three days) and the harder North West Circuit (10-12 days). These are much less popular than the heavily hyped mainland tracks and are therefore more relaxed; hiking there is like walking back in time.

It's essential to book all hikes in advance through the DOC—far in advance for the Milford, Abel Tasman and Routeburn Tracks, in particular.

North Island:

North Island walking tracks are less commercial than the Milford, Routeburn, Heaphy and Abel Tasman walks and require a little more planning. They have their own spectacular characteristics, and the terrain is generally less mountainous than on the South Island.

Several halves or full-day walks from the Kaimai Ranges to the Bay of Plenty begin from locations just outside Tauranga. Ask for local advice and directions at the tourist office, and don't overestimate your stamina in territory that is new to you.

The Te Urewera National Park is home to the Lake Waikaremoana Track (28.5 mi, three to four days). This is one of the most popular trails in the North Island, with great views, beaches, and swimming. The lake's name means "sea of rippling waters." It is one of the North Island's two Great Walks (the other is the Tongariro Northern Circuit).

Tongariro National Park is, physically and spiritually, the heart of the North Island. This sacred Māori homeland is also home to the Tongariro Northern Circuit, a four-day, 25-mi/41-km trek around the active volcano Mount Ngauruhoe. This Great Walk includes the Tongariro Crossing, regarded as the best one-day walk in New Zealand. On its own, this hike takes seven to nine hours (up to 12 hours if you include an ascent of Mount Ngauruhoe) and is a must-do for most hikers.

An iconic sight in North Island is Mount Taranaki, previously called Mount Egmont. This conical volcano rises 8,259 ft above sea level and is most spectacular when capped with snow. A four-day trek (35 mi) circumnavigates this beauty and is known as Mount Taranaki Around the Mountain Circuit.

Best time to go walking and trekking in New Zealand is September to November (Springtime) and January to March (Summer) are ideal months, as are the months of March to May.  However, spring offers the ideal experience with fewer crowds. Snowfall is still likely in the mountains.

If you are planning to visit during the hot season then we would recommend that you pack a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline, to prevent burning. Layer! Layer! Layer! So, lace up your hiking boots and explore New Zealand's natural beauty but don’t forget to bring our suggested My Travel Products by Travel Agents - Click HERE>>

Agent Insider Tip:

 

As with the multi-day hikes, do book as far in advance as possible, as permits are equally required
for some (though not all) one-day tracks

Kayaking/Canoeing

Kayaking in New Zealand is a must-do in this beautiful county.  Abel Tasman National Park on the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush walks and spectacular scenery.  The most recommended way to explore this area is to kayak to enjoy the maritime perspective and watch the numerous birds and seals that occupy the many islands and coves on the way.

What to wear depending on when you are going. When the air and water are warm, simply dress for a day at the beach. Keeping in mind to wear things that protect you from the sun and keep you cool. When the air is warm and the water is cold, you must assess the conditions and your capabilities more carefully. If you’ll be paddling a placid stream, dress for the air. If taking a dip is at all probable, dress for the water.

When deciding what to wear, follow these general guidelines:

  • Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and never take it off while on the water. If you need to adjust your top layers, find a place to take out instead. You can also “raft up” with a kayak buddy holding your boat firmly while you change, though changing onshore is the better option.

  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature; this may mean wearing a Wetsuit or Drysuit.

  • Dress in layers, especially on top.

  • Dress for sun protection. Regardless of cloud cover, a day on the water is a day of sun exposure. So, wearing clothing with UPF-rated fabrics is a wise choice (plus sunscreen for reflected UV radiation).

  • Avoid cotton in all layers, because it absorbs water and stays wet; seek quick-drying fabrics instead. For any clothing layer that touches your skin, go with wicking, quick-drying nylon or polyester (or another synthetic fabric). Wool dries less quickly, but insulates when wet, so is also a fine choice.

  • Wear clothes that let you move comfortably and will be comfortable for long periods of sitting.

  • Look for abrasion-resistant fabrics that are more rugged and can stand up to the wear and tear of sand, water and any rough materials of your kayak.

  • Avoid “rustable” zippers, fasteners and hardware: Water, particularly salt water, corrodes many metals, so rugged plastics are a good alternative. You can probably trust that metal components in paddling-specific gear are corrosion resistant.

Also, don’t forget:

Wide-brimmed Lightweight Hat – with a chin strap for when the winds pop up.  This will protect your face & shoulders while sitting on the beach or wading in the water.
Polarized Sunglasses – eye protection is very important.
Sunglass Retainers/Croakies – to hold onto those glasses.  Make sure it floats and stays attached at all times!
Lightweight sunscreen protected shirt – to put on just to take a break from the high-intensity sun.
Paddling gloves are nice because they protect against both blisters and blustery days or another cool-day option are “Pogies”.
Neoprene paddling booties are ideal because they’re lightweight, water-ready and protect toes and the bottoms of feet.

Fishing

Seventy years ago, author Zane Grey dubbed New Zealand an "angler's El Dorado," and the country has been proving him right ever since. Visitors will find some of the world's best fresh and saltwater fishing in locations as breathtakingly beautiful as nature has ever devised in crystal-clear waters for fish that are bigger and wilder than anywhere else.

Since the introduction of trout from California in the latter part of last century, anglers from all over the world have realized their finest fishing dreams in New Zealand. Copious rivers and streams, dubbed "clear as gin," crisscross the North and South Islands and offer excellent stream fishing for both browns and rainbow trout. Trout hatcheries are found throughout New Zealand because, while many of the lakes and rivers have plenty of food, but many lack adequate spawning grounds.

Licenses, including whole season licenses, week licenses, and day licenses may be purchased for use in any area of New Zealand except for Taupo. To fish in Taupo you must pick up a local license. Licenses can be bought at gas stations, sports stores, fishing shops or local fishing and game councils. Reputable fishing guides also have licenses for sale.

 

Equipment, such as waders, rods, reels, lines, tackles, and lures, as well as some cold and wet weather gear, is provided when hiring a guide. However, you should consider packing:
 

Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes – Need sturdy foothold on the river/lake banks and rocks.
Universal Waterproof Phone Case – protects from dust, rain, dirt, scratches, & moisture.
Wide-brimmed Lightweight Hat – with a chin strap for when the winds pop up.  This will protect your face & shoulders while sitting on the beach or wading in the water.
Polarized Sunglasses – eye protection is very important.
Lightweight sunscreen protected shirt – to put on just to take a break from the high-intensity sun.
Cool Neck Wrap – water it down, snap it and get that cool feeling to help bring down your body heat.
Rain Jacket – just in case as weather can change at any moment.

Snow Skiing/Snowboarding:

New Zealand is a land of mountains and adventure, so it comes as no surprise that there is a ski season in New Zealand. The ski fields in New Zealand tend to be open from July to the end of September when the mountains are high and powdery enough to offer excellent ski terrain. With some of the best ski fields and authentic ski experiences in the Southern Hemisphere, no wonder people flock here for some snow-filled fun in the middle of August.
 
You can rent skis and snowboards, poles, boots however, you will need to pack:
Snow gloves
Thermal ski socks
Long underwear – Tops and Bottoms
Goggles or Sunglasses with interchangeable lenses [Yellow – for foggy conditions or Green – for bright high-altitudes colored lenses]
Ski Cap
Bandana 
Ski Jacket
Ski Pants, Ski Coveralls, Ski pant slicks – depends on what you’re going to wear for pants to keep you warm.  Remember…layer, layer, layer for those warmer days on the slopes.

COMMERCIAL SKI FIELDS

The commercial ski fields tend to have a café, bar, retail, equipment hire, first aid and ski school. They have groomed runs, chairlifts and some have snow cannons. The commercial ski fields in New Zealand include:
 

  • Whakapapa (North Island)

  • Turoa (North Island)

  • Mt Hutt

  • Coronet Peak

  • Cardrona

  • The Remarkables

  • Treble Cone

  • Roundhill

  • Mt Dobson

  • Mt Lyford

  • Ohau Snow Fields

  • Snowfarm [Closed down]

Dune-Surfing:

Take a trip to the tip of New Zealand’s Northland to put in some time at the spectacular golden sands of the Te Paki dunes. There you can surf down the steeper slopes of the dunes with a body/boogie board at high speed giving you an adrenaline rush.

The Te Paki reserve is also home to a wide array of birdlife for the birdwatcher in you, and there are sheltered sandy bays which are ideal for swimming and fishing.  This area is also a walker’s paradise with beautiful trails through the reserve. Don’t forget to visit the 90-mile beach and stand on the tip of the island to get a view of the Tasman Sea merging against the Pacific Ocean.   Beautiful!

However, depending on the time of year you visit, you should consider taking, at minimum these items.

Hi-SPF Lip-balm & Sunscreen – protect and hydrate the skin from the sun and wind.
Wide-brimmed Lightweight Foldable Hat – Walkers especially…Get one with a chin strap to help keep it from blowing away. The winds can get strong in this area.
Polarized Sunglasses – eye protection is very important. Also, suggest Croakies to keep you from losing them.

Universal Waterproof Phone Case – protects from dust, rain, dirt, scratches, & moisture.
Water bottle – stay hydrated!

Golfing:

While Rugby remains the most popular spectator sport in New Zealand, golf is the most popular participation sport, with more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population, than any other country in the world. 

      

The staggering variety and lush beauty of its 400 uncrowded golf courses have given New Zealand its well-deserved reputation as a "golfers' paradise." On New Zealand's long narrow islands, one is never very far from the sea, but chances are, one is even closer to a golf course. Planted in fine grasses, marvelously designed courses are noted for being uncrowded, beautifully maintained and wonderfully diverse. New Zealand is also one of the most inexpensive golfing countries in the world.  

 

Don't be surprised by some unusual hazards: boiling mud pools, steaming thermal vents and even the occasional sheep.

THE BEST TIME TO GOLF

In New Zealand, the best time to golf is from October through April, when temperatures range from the mid-'60s to high 70's. You should allow at least two weeks to play the best courses and see some sights.

 

Over the years, courses here have attracted some of the world's top players, but regardless of the level of play, locals are always keen to meet golfers from North America. Visitors are very welcome to play on public courses; just book yourself a tee time and rent some clubs. Golf carts are available at the major courses.

AREAS OF NEW ZEALAND TO PLAY

  • Waitangi 
    Overlooking the lovely Bay of Islands, the site of the historic signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British and the Māori people, its fairways undulate through ferns and native bush.

  • Muriwai 
    A true links course, located just 40 minutes from Auckland on the west coast. Black-sand beaches provide a startling contrast to its vibrant greens.

  • Formosa Country Club 
    One of New Zealand's newest golf resorts situated 25 minutes from downtown Auckland and designed by Bob Charles, this $100 million development will be able to host international tournaments, with top-class facilities and unique golfing experience.

  • Gulf Harbour 
    One of the country's newest resorts on the Whangaparoa Peninsula. Its spectacular oceanfront holes will ensure that this Robert Trent-Jones Jr, par 72 golf course is destined to become a classic in the golfing world.

  • Mount Maunganui 
    A links course near Tauranga, built on rolling dunes overlooking one of the best surfing spots to be found in New Zealand.

  • Arikikapakapa 
    Nature has added some kicks to this course, the most celebrated in Rotorua. Its hazards include natural steam vents and boiling mud pools.

  • Wairakei International 
    An island course near Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, it boasts the country's longest hole at 615 yards. It was also named one of the top 25 courses outside the United States by the American magazine, Golf Digest.

  • Paraparaumu Beach 
    A superb links course near Wellington. Designed by Alex Russell, it offers length, tight fairways and shots that are challenged by winds off the Tasman Sea. Its 17th hole is rated one of the best in the world.

  • Shirly and Russley 
    Both of these courses are situated near Christchurch and feature gorgeous landscaping and fast, true greens. Shirley is the second oldest club in New Zealand.

  • Balmacewan and St. Clair 
    Founded in 1871, Balmacewan is New Zealand's oldest club and pride of Dunedin. "Scotland by the Sea." Also, in Dunedin, St. Clair offers fabulous ocean views and magnificent pines. From its 15th hole, you can almost see Antarctica.

  • Millbrook Resort 
    Near Queenstown, designed by New Zealand's Bob Charles, this demanding, uncrowded course winds around natural waterways, offering exciting golf with a spectacular alpine backdrop.

  • Kelvin Heights 
    Also near Queenstown, this course lies on a wooded peninsula that dips into Lake Wakatipu, situated at the base of the stunning mountains called ‘The Remarkables’.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

It’s true, the world’s fastest-growing sport has been lapped up quickly by Kiwis. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is just one other way to explore the great outdoors of New Zealand.

 

Apart from accessing some beautiful parts of New Zealand’s coasts and lakes, SUP is also a favorite pastime in New Zealand for fitness, yoga and even racing.

 

Join in with the Kiwi culture through the sport of stand-up paddleboarding! SUP tours in New Zealand usually come with an introductory lesson that will get you stood on the board in no time.

Bungy Jumping

Bungee jumping may very well have originated in ancient Vanuatu in the Pacific where young men, to prove their manhood, had to climb a bamboo tower, tie some fine ropes around their legs, and jump.

Modern-day bungee jumping was started in England by the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club but was commercialized in New Zealand by A.J. Hackett and Henry van Asch, who brought the sport into the spotlight when they bungee jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1987.

Other popular activities in New Zealand:

*Parasailing
*Jet Boating
*Ziplining
*Dive or snorkel the reefs
*Rent a bicycle
*Surfing
*Skydiving
*Diving

along with swimming, snorkeling, rafting, jet boating, skydiving, paragliding and hang gliding, parasailing, bungee jumping, climbing, hunting, caving, skiing and hot air ballooning. 

fishing, sailing, surfing, scuba diving, skiing, golf, hiking, thermal baths, wildlife and sheep, friendly people, Māori culture, vineyards and fresh seafood.   
                 plus much more…

NATIONAL PARKS/NATURE

National parks, forests, and reserves cover 20% of the country and 80% of the flora here is native. There are 13 National Parks in New Zealand.

Abel Tasman – Named after the first European to sight New Zealand, Abel Tasman National Park is 170 mi/280 km northwest of Christchurch. Its location on the South Island has a beautiful rocky coastline edged by rain forest and offers many opportunities for hiking, sea kayaking, boating and simply relaxing on the beach. Inland are caves and Māori rock carvings. Nelson is a good base for visiting the park.

Local companies offer day trips in the park and on the water, as well as shuttle service to Marahau, where the Abel Tasman Coast Track begins. Marahau is also a good place to rent sea kayaks. All kinds of birds (including penguins), dolphins and seals can usually be seen in and around Tasman Bay. You can also visit Tonga Island's marine reserve and seal colony.

 

Aoraki/Mount Cook – Most of New Zealand's tallest mountains are 200 miles southwest of Christchurch in the Southern Alps, including the country's highest, Mount Cook (12,345 ft), now also called by its Māori name, Aoraki. From Mount Cook village, there are several long and short walks that take you close to forests, mountains and glaciers. The Tasman Glacier is the largest of several glaciers in the park, but it's sometimes not as appealing to the eye as the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers.

Scenic flights in helicopters and planes are offered from Mount Cook Airport and other nearby airports. They're an excellent way to view the mountain scenery, and some of them land on glaciers. Be aware that weather conditions change quickly in the mountains, so flight-seeing trips can be grounded.

Arthur's Pass – Arthur's Pass National Park, 95 miles northwest of Christchurch, is on New Zealand's South Island and has magnificent mountain scenery, which you can experience on several short walks or full-day hikes. But most people just pass through the park on their way between the two coasts. The views are impressive whether you're traveling by car on Highway 73 or on the Trans-Alpine Express train between Christchurch and Greymouth.

Be aware that Arthur's Pass itself is sometimes closed to cars because of snow. During the colder months, you'll probably have to take the train. Otherwise, driving is a better option because the train enters a tunnel at the top of the pass—you miss some of the area's best scenery.

The visitors center at Arthur's Pass Village has a small museum, which offers weather and trail information. Among the shorter walks, both the Devil's Punchbowl Falls and Bridal Veil tracks lead to spectacular waterfalls.

Egmont – Dominated by the 2518m high volcanic peak of Mt Taranaki (also known as Mt Egmont), which offers a challenging climb and spectacular views.

Fjordland – Located in the southwest corner of the South Island, Fiordland National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring stunning waterfalls, mountains, forests, lakes and valleys. Lush and untouched, it's also one of the wettest regions in New Zealand. The local wildlife includes seals, penguins and dolphins.

It is home to the world-famous Milford Sound, which can be explored further via scenic flight or cruise, as well as Doubtful Sound—New Zealand's deepest fiord. Three of New Zealand's "Great Walks" are located in Fiordland National Park: The Milford Track, the Kepler Track and the Routeburn Track. Diving and kayaking offer alternative ways to explore.

The town of Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park. Many operators also offer day and overnight trips to Milford Sound departing from Queenstown.

Kahurangi – Covering the West Coast at the top of the South Island it includes the Heaphy Track, the longest of the country’s Great Walks. 

Mount Aspiring – Approximately 40 mi/65 km from Wanaka, this national park is part of a UNESCO World Heritage area. It encompasses a variety of landscapes, from mountains and glaciers to rivers, lakes and valleys. At its heart lies Mount Aspiring, or Tititea, which means "glistening peak" in Māori. Scenic flights depart from Wanaka, some combining a jetboat experience with the package.

The park is home to a number of popular hiking trails, including the renowned Routeburn Track (one of the nine great walks in New Zealand). Other notable tracks include the Dart/Rees River circuit and the Greenstone/Caples walk.

A jetboat ride along the Dart River is an iconic experience, while the Matukituki River lends itself to trout fishing.

Nelson Lakes – Protects the northern-most Southern Alps and offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and glacial lakes both big and small.

Paparoa – Most famous for the Pancake Rocks and blowholes of Dolomite Point, near the settlement of Punakaiki.

Rakiura National Park – Explore pristine beaches, sheltered inlets, and coastal forest, and see seals, penguins, kiwi, weka and many other birds. Makes up about 85 percent of Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Tongariro – Found 64 mi/103 km from Taupo, this is the oldest of New Zealand's national parks and a dual UNESCO World Heritage area, recognized for its unique volcanic features and Māori spiritual significance. The area was also immortalized as Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The park is dominated by three volcanoes: Ruapehu (depicted as Mount Doom), Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe.

Around these peaks lie hot springs, emerald lakes and lush forest. All these views and more can be taken in along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is consistently rated the best one-day trek in New Zealand. Many other hikes, both long and short, can be found throughout the park, although a guided tour may be a better option on multiday hikes.

In winter skiers flock to Ruapehu's slopes. The Tongariro River offers ample fly-fishing opportunities, while its rapids lend themselves to white-water rafting.

Westland Tai Poutini – Extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps to the rugged and remote beaches of the wild West Coast. 

For more information on each of the National Parks visit the Department of Conservation

What NOT to Take

Lots of cash: There are ATMs almost everywhere. Most shops and restaurants accept cards. Having a little cash on you may come in handy for making small purchases.

Items made of wood: It’s best not to bring wooden items into New Zealand, as you’ll have to declare.  Same for foods and camping equipment as they are banned in New Zealand so they can protect their native species from foreign species.

Untreated wooden items and woven straw bags or hats, for example, have to be disinfected, to your cost and inconvenience – and if you didn’t declare them, then you’re in trouble.

Plants:  Don’t bring flowers or plants on the plane. Just buy them when you arrive.
Seeds: Planting foreign seeds in New Zealand could be quite literally sowing the seeds of doom!
Animals:  Make sure you don’t have any stowaway rats or fleas in your luggage!
Equipment used on animals: You know, like a horse brush with horsehair still on it.

Anything that used to be an animal:  This includes items such as fur coats, feathers, bone souvenirs, things made with tortoiseshell and, a definite no-no, traditional Chinese ‘medicines’.

Honey and/or products containing honey:  Honey is also a big no-no, so check the ingredients of any natural beauty products you want to bring with you – if they contain honey, they’ll be confiscated.

Expensive jewelry: While crime is relatively low tourists are still a common target for petty thieves. It’s worth leaving your expensive jewelry at and just wear costume jewelry.

Foods: New Zealand’s government does its best to prevent foreign diseases from coming in on food products. Attempting to do so can result in heavy fines.  Some packaged food and chocolate is allowed if you declare it, but if you brought fruit to eat on the plane journey, for example, you’ll have to get rid of it upon arrival – the same with meat and cheese.

Muddy shoes/camping equipment: Just like foreign foods, dirty shoes or dirty camping gear are not allowed into the country as they may carry foreign seeds, plants, or insects. Make sure anything you bring into New Zealand is cleaned thoroughly or you could find yourself getting stopped by officers in the airport/cruise port.

Agent Insider Tip:

 

Just declare everything. Not sure about something? If in doubt, declare it. It’s far better to declare something unnecessarily than to not declare something and have it discovered. You get a rather nasty fine.

Do’s and Don’ts in New Zealand

Don’t Compare with Australia

New Zealand is not an island just off the coast of Australia. Unlike Australia, New Zealand is not stinking hot, and they don’t have any animals that can kill you, which is a bonus! New Zealand is 100% independent from Australia, and like any country, they have their our own customs, culture, and history. No comparison required!
 

Don’t Just Stick to the Big Cities

Checking out the big cities like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queensland, are on the must-do list but, if you can, add some of the less urban towns/areas into your itinerary if possible. New Zealand’s smaller towns have lots of Kiwi-charm that will round out your trip.   


DO watch your P.C.

New Zealand tends to be a very “politically correct” society. There is great emphasis on manners and politeness. New Zealand has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, but there are still isolated incidents of homophobic related crimes. LGBT travelers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly when visiting rural areas. See the information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

 

DON’T Disrespect the Māori Culture


As New Zealand’s indigenous people, the culture of the Māori is embedded throughout the fabric of the country. The history between the native Māori and the European colonizers who settled New Zealand is long, and often fraught with violence. Recent years have seen a wonderful resurgence in Māori culture and pride, but there are still debates regarding the legal ownership of the land. If you don’t know anything about the Māori prior to your trip, it’s helpful to do some quick reading before you arrive.

  • Be respectful of the Māori wishes if you're asked not to visit areas that are sacred to their culture such as a burial ground.  In NZ a canoe which has carried a corpse is never used again, but instead drawn on shore and painted red.

  • Only use the traditional hongi (touching foreheads and nose in greeting) if someone else initiates it.

  • Don’t enter, the marae, the area in front of a Māori meeting house, unless you are invited or unless it’s in use as a cultural center.

  • Don’t be tempted to sit on a table, in Māori or Polynesian cultural environments—it's considered rude and unhygienic.

You’re likely to see a lot of Māori culture on your trip; the Māori Haka is a ceremonial dance or challenge used to intimidate rivals or opponents with chants, the stomping of feet, and extreme facial expressions. The national rugby teams perform it before a game to assert their strength and power to the opposite team. It is also performed at funerals as a memorial to someone’s spirit.

DO be considerate

  • Ask before taking pictures of people, particularly Polynesians and Māoris.

  • When smoking, even outdoors in public places: New Zealand has a strong anti-smoking element. Smoking is banned in pubs, restaurants and public transport. Smoking age is 18.

DON’T spit in public…

 

Gross and disrespectful!

DON’T drop litter anywhere
     

This goes for land or sea. A long-standing slogan is "Be A Tidy Kiwi: Keep New Zealand Clean."

DON’T underestimate
    

The weather when hiking. Even a short-day hike can turn into a life-threatening situation when New Zealand's unpredictable weather takes a turn for the worse.

DO stop

 

In small New Zealand towns when traveling to and from the larger centers; it's there that you get a real taste of Kiwi life.

DO keep hands above table
     

When eating keep your hand above the table, but don’t put your elbows on the table. Put your fork and knife parallel on the plate with the handles facing to the right when you are done eating.

Holidays, Festivals & Events

PH = Public Holiday

January - 2020

  • 1-2:  New Year’s Day - [National Holiday]

  • Jan 20 – Wellington Anniversary Day - [Local Holiday]

  • Third weekend in February: Art Deco Weekend, Napier (w: artdeconapier.com); Devonport Food, Wine & Music Festival (w: devonportwinefestival.co.nz)

  • Jan 27 – Auckland Anniversary Day – [Local Holiday]

  • On the last Monday of January, the Auckland Anniversary Regatta takes place. With more than 1,000 entries, it is the world’s biggest one-day yachting event.

  • Rugby Sevens in Wellington (January to February): Rugby Sevens lights up Wellington as thousands flock to watch the country's favorite sporting event.

  • January 29: Anniversary Day (PH in Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Coromandel, Taupo and the Bay of Plenty), celebrated with a massive regatta on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Rugby is by far the most popular sport in New Zealand. It was born at the English school of Rugby in 1823 when a boy by the name of William Webb Ellis became bored with kicking a soccer ball and picked it up and ran with it. Today it is the national sport of New Zealand and is played by 250,000 at the club level. The national team is named the All Blacks.

February - 2020

  • February 1: Anniversary Day (PH in Nelson).

  • First weekend - The annual Harvest Hawke’s Bay

  • Feb 6 – Waitangi Day – [National Holiday]; formal events at Waitangi.

  • First Saturday in February: (in even-numbered years) - Ripp