NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL GUIDE
New Zealand is a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty: jagged mountains, rolling pasture land, steep fjords, pristine trout-filled lakes, raging rivers, scenic beaches, and active volcanic zones
A country at the bottom of the world, New Zealand lies hidden in misty solitude. Kupe - the first explorer to land on its shores named it ‘Aotearoa’- Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand has everything an adventure holiday destination should have - mist-covered volcanoes, clear blue seas teeming with fish, snow-capped mountains, geysers, virgin rain forests, glaciers, the indigenous (Maori) culture and lots and lots of adventure sports.
NEW ZEALAND QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Wellington
- Currency: New Zealand dollar ($, NZD)
- Area: 267,710 km²
- Population: 4,886 million (2018)
- Language: official: English, Māori and New Zealand sign language
- Electricity: 230V, 50Hz (NZ plug)
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NEW ZEALAND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 2 January, Day after New Year’s
- 6 February, Waitangi Day
- 25 April, Anzac Day
- 1st Monday in June, Queen’s Birthday
- 4th Monday in October, Labour Day
Also, Good Friday through Easter Monday.
FESTIVALS IN NEW ZEALAND
BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand has four seasons, similar to those in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Summer (December to February) is the warmest time of the year, with high temperatures and long daylight hours. It's a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and beach-going.
- Autumn (March to May) is a transitional season with mild temperatures and changing foliage. It's a great time for wine tasting and harvest festivals.
- Winter (June to August) is the coldest time of the year, with snowfall in some areas and shorter daylight hours. It's a great time for skiing or snowboarding on the South Island.
- Spring (September to November) is a transitional season with mild temperatures and blooming flowers. It's a great time for hiking, especially in the National Parks.
The best time to visit New Zealand depends on what you would like to do and see.
December to February is the summer season, and it is a great time to visit if you want to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and beach-going. June to August is the winter season, and it is a great time to visit if you want to ski or snowboard on the South Island.
Overall, the weather is relatively mild year-round, so any time can be a good time to visit.
NEW ZEALAND WEATHER SYNOPSIS
New Zealand has climate zones ranging from subtropical to sub-antarctic. The climate is heavily influenced by New Zealand’s location in a latitudinal zone with prevailing westerly winds and by the surrounding ocean. It is also influenced by mountain chains that modify the weather systems as they sweep eastward. This leads to more rainfall in the west and drier conditions in the east.
NEW ZEALAND TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN NEW ZEALAND
The snow sports season in New Zealand can stretch from June until October, with the most consistent season being from July to September.
HIKING & CYCLING IN NEW ZEALAND
The best time for outdoor activities in New Zealand will depend on where in the country you are. It is generally both drier and warmer from October to April.
BEACH OPTIONS IN NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand has a long, stunning coastline with plenty of beautiful beaches. The summer season for relaxing on these beaches is from December till March, although March can already start cooling down significantly.
SURFING IN NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand offers fantastic surfing conditions almost all year round. Winter can be very cold though, thus the most suitable conditions are usually from September to April, with the best and warmest months being December to March.
KITESURF IN NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is a fantastic yet underrated kitesurfing destination. You can find suitable wind somewhere in NZ almost throughout the year if you are prepared to travel. The most consistent winds, and luckily warmer weather too, are from September to April.
For more details on kite surfing in New Zealand expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN NEW ZEALAND
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to New Zealand can vary widely depending on a number of factors such as time of year, length of stay, and individual preferences. Some expenses to consider when budgeting for a trip to New Zealand include:
- Airfare: Round-trip flights from major cities in the United States to New Zealand can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500 or more, depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book.
- Accommodation: Prices for accommodation in New Zealand can vary depending on where you stay and how luxurious you want your accommodations to be. Budget options such as hostels or camping can cost as little as $15 to $30 per night, while mid-range options such as hotels or motels can cost around $100 to $150 per night. Luxury accommodation can cost several hundred dollars per night.
- Transportation: New Zealand has a comprehensive public transportation system, including buses, trains and ferries. Prices vary depending on the distance you travel. You can also rent a car or a campervan, which can also vary depending on the type of vehicle and the length of rental.
- Food: Eating out in New Zealand can be expensive, especially in tourist areas. A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost around $20 to $30 per person. However, you can also find cheaper options such as food trucks, street vendors, and supermarkets.
- Activities: New Zealand offers many activities like hiking, skiing, bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. Prices can vary widely depending on the activity, but many popular activities such as hiking or skiing can cost around $50 to $100 per person.
Overall, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $150 per day per person for budget travel, $150 to $250 for mid-range travel, and $250 or more for luxury travel in New Zealand.
Here is a sample budget for a one-week trip to New Zealand, assuming mid-range travel:
- Airfare: $1,200 (round-trip from a major U.S. city)
- Accommodation: $700 (7 nights in mid-range hotels or motels)
- Transportation: $200 (car rental for a week)
- Food: $350 (eating out for most meals)
- Activities: $500 (visiting popular tourist attractions and participating in activities such as hiking or skiing)
Please note that this is just a sample budget, and actual costs can vary depending on individual preferences and factors such as time of year and location. The budget can also be adjusted by choosing budget options for accommodation and food, or by reducing the number of activities.
NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL TIPS
Here are a few travel tips for visiting New Zealand:
- Plan ahead: New Zealand is a popular destination, and popular tourist spots can get crowded, especially in the peak summer season. Book accommodations and activities in advance to ensure availability.
- Rent a car: New Zealand is a beautiful country with lots of natural wonders to explore. Renting a car will give you the flexibility to explore the destinations at your own pace.
- Pack for all seasons: New Zealand's weather can be unpredictable, so pack for all seasons, including warm clothing for the mountains and rain gear for the frequent rain showers.
- Be prepared for the great outdoors: New Zealand is known for its great hiking, camping and outdoor activities. Be prepared with the right gear and clothing to make the most of your time in the great outdoors.
- Be mindful of the environment: New Zealand is home to unique and fragile ecosystems. Be mindful of your impact and take steps to minimize it. This includes not disturbing wildlife, leaving no trace, and following Leave No Trace principles.
- Respect the local culture: New Zealand has a rich Maori culture and traditions, be respectful and learn about it to gain a deeper appreciation for the country.
- Get travel insurance: New Zealand is a long way from home, and it's always a good idea to have travel insurance in case of unexpected events such as trip cancellation, medical emergencies or lost luggage.
- Don't be afraid to ask locals for advice: New Zealanders are known for being friendly and helpful, so don't hesitate to ask locals for advice on where to go, what to see, and what to do. They may have insider tips that can make your trip even more enjoyable.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is divided into two main islands, the North Island and the South Island. Each island has several regions, each with its own unique highlights and attractions.
- Auckland: Known as the "City of Sails," Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and offers a mix of culture, history, and outdoor activities. Highlights include the Sky Tower, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the Auckland Art Gallery.
- Rotorua: Known for its geothermal activity, Rotorua is a popular destination for those interested in Maori culture and natural hot springs. Highlights include the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, the Polynesian Spa, and the Tamaki Maori Village.
- Bay of Islands: A popular holiday destination known for its clear waters, beautiful beaches, and excellent fishing and boating. Highlights include the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the Hole in the Rock, and Cape Reinga.
- Queenstown: Known as the "Adventure Capital of the World," Queenstown offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and bungee jumping. Highlights include the Skyline Gondola, the Shotover Jet boat ride, and the Milford Sound cruise.
- Christchurch: The largest city on the South Island, Christchurch is known for its gardens and parks, as well as its historical sites. Highlights include the Botanic Gardens, the Christchurch Cathedral, and the International Antarctic Centre.
- Fiordland: A remote and rugged region known for its stunning fjords and glaciers. Highlights include the Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and the Kepler Track.
- Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, as well as glaciers, alpine lakes and valleys, and hiking trails.
These are just a few examples of the many regions and highlights that New Zealand has to offer. Each region has its own unique character, and exploring them all will give you a comprehensive experience of New Zealand.
New Zealand offers a wide range of activities and sights for visitors to enjoy. Some of the best things to see and do in New Zealand include:
- Hiking: New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the Milford Track, and the Routeburn Track.
- Skiing and Snowboarding: The South Island offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, especially in the ski fields of Queenstown and Wanaka.
- Adventure activities: New Zealand is known as the "Adventure Capital of the World" and offers a wide range of activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, and rafting.
- Wildlife watching: New Zealand is home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife, including the endangered kiwi bird and the playful dolphins and seals.
- Scenic drives: New Zealand has many scenic drives that offer breathtaking views, such as the Milford Road, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Catlins Coast.
- Maori culture: New Zealand has a rich Maori culture, and visitors can learn about it by visiting a Marae (a traditional meeting place) or a cultural performance, such as the haka.
- Wine tasting: New Zealand is known for its wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough region and Pinot Noir from Central Otago.
- Beaches: New Zealand offers many beautiful beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, such as the famous 90 Mile Beach and hot water beach.
- Visiting national parks: New Zealand has 14 national parks, each offering unique landscapes, habitats and experiences such as the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Tongariro National Park, and Abel Tasman National Park.
These are just a few examples of the many things to see and do in New Zealand. The country is diverse and has something for everyone, from nature lovers to adventure seekers, culture enthusiasts and history buffs.
WHAT TO EAT IN NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand offers a variety of delicious and unique cuisine that visitors should try when visiting. Some of the traditional and popular dishes to try in New Zealand include:
- Fish and chips: Fish and chips is a classic New Zealand dish, often made with freshly caught fish such as snapper or tarakihi, and served with chips (french fries) and tartar sauce.
- Hangi: A traditional Maori dish, hangi is a method of cooking food by placing it in a pit oven. Meat, vegetables, and potatoes are cooked slowly over hot stones, giving it a unique and delicious smoky flavor.
- Pavlova: A dessert made of meringue with a crispy crust and soft marshmallow-like inside, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits, particularly kiwifruit.
- Feijoa: A small green fruit that is native to New Zealand, feijoas have a unique tangy and sweet flavor. They can be eaten fresh or used in baking.
- Lamb: New Zealand is known for its high-quality lamb, which is considered some of the best in the world. It is often served as a roast or in a traditional New Zealand dish such as a lamb pie.
- Seafood: New Zealand is surrounded by ocean and has an abundance of seafood such as mussels, oysters, and scallops. Some of the best seafood can be found in coastal towns like Nelson or Kaikoura.
- Cheese: New Zealand has a growing artisanal cheese industry, offering a range of styles from cheddar to blue cheese and more.
- Ice cream: New Zealand is known for its delicious ice cream, particularly boutique ice cream makers. Some of the unique flavors that you can find are feijoa, hokey pokey (vanilla with honeycomb pieces) and pavlova.
These are just a few examples of the delicious and unique cuisine that New Zealand has to offer. Visitors should also keep an eye out for local farmers markets and food festivals to discover even more local delicacies.
LGBTQ IN NEW ZEALAND
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people's rights in New Zealand is advanced, relative to other countries in Oceania, and is one of the most liberal in the world. Same-sex marriage in New Zealand has been legal since 19 August 2013, making the country the first in the region and thirteenth in the world to enact same-sex marriage.
Discrimination regarding sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression has been banned since 1993 and the large majority of New Zealanders area accepting of same-sex relationships. There are annual Gay Pride events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch amongst other cities.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW ZEALAND
When visiting New Zealand for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in a few different locations to get a feel for the different regions and what they have to offer. Here are some recommendations for where to stay when visiting New Zealand for the first time:
- Auckland: As the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland is a great place to start your trip. It offers a mix of culture, history, and outdoor activities, and it's a great base for exploring the surrounding area.
- Rotorua: Rotorua is a popular destination for those interested in Maori culture and natural hot springs. It's a great place to learn about the culture and history of New Zealand, and it's also a great base for exploring the surrounding area.
- Queenstown: Known as the "Adventure Capital of the World," Queenstown offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and bungee jumping. It's a great place for those who want to experience New Zealand's adventure culture.
- Christchurch: The largest city on the South Island, Christchurch is known for its gardens and parks, as well as its historical sites. It's a great place to explore the South Island and it's also a good base for visiting nearby destinations such as the Banks Peninsula.
- Fiordland: A remote and rugged region known for its stunning fjords and glaciers. This area is best for nature lovers, those who enjoy hiking and the outdoors.
- Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, as well as glaciers, alpine lakes and valleys, and hiking trails. This area is best for those who are interested in mountaineering, hiking and skiing.
These are just a few examples of the many regions that New Zealand has to offer. Each region has its own unique character, and exploring them all will give you a comprehensive experience of New Zealand. It's also a good idea to consider the time of the year you are traveling and the activities you want to do, as it can affect the best places to stay.
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