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New Zealand Travel Tips: Guide to Kiwi Adventure

Follow our tip travel tips when you travel to New Zealand and don't miss out on all the adventure and excitement!

Manuel M.

February 20, 2024

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Planning an adventure to New Zealand? Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, navigating the land of the Kiwis can be an exhilarating experience. To ensure your journey is smooth sailing, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide filled with essential New Zealand travel tips.

Read about where you can book a flight, accommodation, and packing before leaving. We’ll also give you an overview of costs, so you have an idea of how to plan out your budget.

Furthermore, we’ll provide advice once you’ve landed, like how to get around, nuances you should be aware of, and more! Get ready for your Kiwi Adventure!

How to Travel to New Zealand: Planning Your Stay

Beautiful scenic view in Canterbury
Beautiful scenic view in Canterbury, New Zealand. Source Pexels.com:

While planning your trip to New Zealand, there are crucial travel tips to keep in mind. Create your itinerary with us and avoid drawbacks while exploring The Land of the Long White Cloud. Keep in mind factors such as the weather, popular events that you can attend, how to get around, what documents you need, and how to get an internet connection in another country.

New Zealand is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that is very much isolated from most of the rest of the world. Getting there is not always easy, or cheap, but it’s definitely worth the visit. Their currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD), so keep that in mind when you need to exchange any money. 

Here are some key considerations:

Best season to travel to New Zealand

The best time to visit New Zealand depends on what you want to see, where you would like to go, and if there are any special events that you wish to attend. The archipelago has a temperate climate, making it a year-round destination.

Certainly! Here are the different seasons in New Zealand along with suggested activities for each season:

Summer (December–February):

1. Beach Activities: Enjoy surfing, swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports at places like Piha Beach, Mount Maunganui Beach, and Abel Tasman National Park. Dive into water sports like kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.

2. Hiking and Outdoor Adventures: Explore New Zealand’s natural landscapes like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Routeburn Track, and Abel Tasman Coast Track.

3. Festivals and Events: Experience vibrant summer festivals such as WOMAD, Christmas in the Park, Marlborough Wine & Food Festival, and Pasifika Festival, celebrating music, culture, and cuisine.

Autumn (March–May):

1. Wine Tasting: Visit New Zealand’s renowned wine regions, such as Marlborough and Central Otago, for wine tours and tastings.

2. Foliage Viewing: Witness the stunning autumn colors in parks and gardens across the country, particularly in regions like Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay. Observe seasonal migrations of birds and marine mammals, including whale-watching tours.

3. Scenic Drives: Take leisurely drives through picturesque countryside, enjoying the changing colors of the landscape.

Winter (June–August):

1. Snow activities: Hit the slopes in New Zealand’s premier ski resorts, such as Queenstown, Wanaka, and Mt. Hutt. Try snowshoeing, snow tubing, and sledding in alpine regions and national parks.

2. Thermal Hot Pools: Relax in natural hot springs and geothermal pools, such as Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa and Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools.

3. Stargazing: Experience clear winter nights for stargazing and aurora viewing, especially in remote areas with minimal light pollution.

Spring (September–November):

1. Flower Festivals: Admire blooming flowers and gardens at spring festivals, such as the Taranaki Rhododendron & Garden Festival.

2. Outdoor adventures: Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking as nature comes alive with new growth and wildlife activity.

3. Adventure sports: Try thrilling activities like white-water rafting, zip-lining, and paragliding in mild spring weather.

Wellington in the South Island
Wellington in the South Island. Source: Unsplash

Despite that there’s plenty to do all year round, summer is the most popular season to visit New Zealand, thanks to the warm weather and the long daylight hours, and we have some travel tips for you.

During this time, in the months from December to February, it is ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and beach adventures. Additionally, it intersects with winter break, which brings in more events and festivities.

Check the average temperatures per season in New Zealand and decide which is the best one for you!

SeasonMonthsAverage Temperatures
SummerDecember–February20 – 25˚C
FallMarch–May17 – 21˚C
WinterJune–August12 – 16˚C
SpringSeptember–November16 – 19˚C

Flights

When booking your flight to travel to New Zealand, it’s important to stay flexible and follow some important tips. 

Keep an eye out for deals and consider flying during the low season to grab the best airfares. For any layovers, make sure you have a visa or permit, if not, apply for one as soon as you can, or look for any other routes you can take. 

We’ve created the following chart of the average prices for airfares.

OriginWinterSummerSpringFall
USA$1200 – $1800$1200 – $1900$900 – $1400$1000 – $1450
UK$800 – $1200$1400 – $2000$900 – $1400$700 – $1500
Australia$660 – $1020$950 – $1450$750 – $1200$820 – $1270

Find bargains through websites like Skyscanner, Kayak or Google Flights. When deciding to travel to and where to arrive in New Zealand, if you’re coming in from the USA, one of your tips is to select your destination as Wellington, the capital, or Auckland, which is also a major city. Likewise, from the UK, the cheapest tickets are those arriving at Auckland.

Accommodation

From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels, New Zealand offers a diverse range of accommodation options. 

Remember to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred choice.

Hostels:

Hostels are mainly for travelers on a budget who intend to spend most of their time outdoors. For solo travelers seeking a social and communal atmosphere and backpackers.

Budget dormitory bed: $30 – $40 USD per night

Private room in a hostel: $60 – $100 USD per night

Pros: Hostels typically offer cheaper rates, ideal for travelers on a tight budget. Additionally, there are communal areas where guests can mingle, exchange travel tips, and make new friends, creating a vibrant and social environment. Many hostels are independent, providing guests with an authentic experience of the local culture.

Cons: Hostels generally have shared bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas, which may not appeal to travelers seeking privacy and exclusivity. Because of this, noise levels can be higher, especially in dormitory rooms, where it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep. This accommodation type may have fewer amenities than hotels, such as no room service, on-site dining options, or recreational facilities.

Why Choose Hostels:

This type of accommodation is ideal for travelers on a tight budget who prefer affordability and social interaction over luxury amenities. They are a great option for solo travelers looking to meet like-minded individuals and make new friends during their journey.

Average Hotels:

These accommodations are for travelers seeking comfortable and convenient accommodations without splurging on luxury amenities. Families, couples, and business travelers seeking a reliable and standardized hotel experience are the perfect audience.

Budget hotel/motel: $50 – $150 USD per night

Mid-range hotel: $135 – $260 USD per night

Pros: Average hotels offer comfortable accommodations with essential amenities, providing guests a comfortable and hassle-free stay. Unlike hostels, hotels typically offer private rooms with bathrooms, allowing guests to enjoy privacy and relaxation. Furthermore, these accommodations balance affordability and quality, offering good value for money, and chain hotels often provide a consistent level of service and amenities across different locations, making them reliable.

Cons: While average hotels offer essential amenities, they may lack the upscale features and services in luxury hotels, such as gourmet dining options, spa facilities, or concierge services. Some average hotels may lack character and personality, feeling impersonal compared to boutique or independently owned accommodations. Remember that prices for average hotels may increase during peak travel seasons or in popular tourist destinations, which makes affordability variable.

Why Choose Average Hotels:

Suitable for travelers seeking a comfortable and hassle-free stay with essential amenities and services.

A great option for families, couples, and business travelers looking for reliable and standardized accommodations at a reasonable price point.

Luxury Hotels/Resorts:

Luxury hotels are the best for travelers who are used to an indulgent experience with top-notch amenities and services. Great for travelers looking for exclusivity, privacy, and personalized attention during their stay. Also, perfect for couples celebrating special occasions, honeymooners, and VIP guests.

Luxury hotel: $250 – $700 USD per night

Pros: Exclusive hotels offer high-end amenities and services, including gourmet dining options, spa facilities, fitness centers, concierge services, and personalized attention from staff. Additionally, accommodations are generally spacious and elegant rooms with high-quality furnishings, luxurious bedding, and state-of-the-art technology. These types of hotels may also offer exclusive experiences and perks for guests, such as private tours, VIP access to attractions, and airport transportation.

Cons: There’s a premium price tag, which makes them inaccessible for those looking to save money while traveling. These spaces may have attire restrictions and a very refined atmosphere, which is definitely not the place for travelers seeking a relaxed and casual vibe. There may be limited availability, especially during peak travel seasons or in popular tourist destinations, requiring guests to book well in advance.

Why Choose Luxury Hotels:

If you’re a traveler who wants the ultimate comfort, luxury, and sophistication during your stay, then this is your option. These exclusive stays are ideal for special occasions, celebrations, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences where every detail matters.

Auckland, Capital of New Zealand
Auckland, Capital of New Zealand. Source: Pexels

Getting Around and Local Transportation

There are plenty of ways to get around New Zealand, you can rent a car, which gives you the liberty of not depending on schedules or routes, however, for any long-distance travel or escapades, public transport is very efficient and can even be fun.

Taking a bus from Auckland to Wellington takes around 11 hours, and the ticket can range from $36 to $47. 

On the other hand, the train is an experience to marvel at, you’ll travel during the day from north to south, riding for about one day and tickets cost around $145.

As mentioned above, you can rent a car and go wherever you want, whenever you want. 

Get a car according to your needs, if you’re traveling alone in New Zealand, you probably don’t need a big car, but if you’re traveling with your whole family, you’ll most likely require much more space.

Many tourists enjoy the biking adventures that New Zealand offers and go on mountain biking. 

Destinations around New Zealand like Rotorua, Taupo and Wanaka serve as the perfect spots to enjoy the thrilling excitement of racing down the mountain. 

Don’t forget to wear protective gear! This is a perfect way to stay fit while you travel!

Packing Essentials

When packing and getting everything crushed into your suitcase, it’s just about taking the appropriate clothing, there are crucial items that have to be on your checklist.

  • – Have a valid passport and visa or permits up to date
  • Pack appropriate clothes for the weather. However, New Zealand is famed for its varied climate, so taking a jacket or raincoat for summer is not too crazy. Check out what to pack for international travel for a full guide.
  • – You’ll be doing a lot of walking, especially if you’re a nature lover, so pack comfortable but sturdy and resistant shoe wear. Boots are very popular for safari excursions.
  • – Sunscreen and insect repellent are vital for any outdoor activity.
  • – Camera or smartphone for capturing breathtaking scenery
  • – A reliable internet connectivity on the go, to look up routes and tourist hotspots

Other Travel Tips for New Zealand

In addition to the basics, here are some extra tips to make your New Zealand experience one to remember:

Make reservations in advance

Summer is usually packed and vacancy is very low as bookings are done well in advance. Get your flights and book your accommodation beforehand. Last-minute bookings can be very expensive and break the wallet. We recommend booking at least 4 months prior.

Camping in New Zealand

Even though New Zealand is a country full of nature and scenery, it doesn’t mean that you can camp anywhere.

With over 250 designated camping sites in New Zealand, you’re bound to have a time of your life, whether alone or with friends. Check the Department of Conservation website to find out where you can find the nearest camping site for your next adventure. 

Keep in mind that sometimes there are fees to enter these grounds, so be aware that you pay and keep the area clean with no trace.

Respect Tradition, History, and the Maori

  • – Immerse yourself in Maori culture by visiting cultural sites and attending traditional performances.
  • – Learn basic Maori phrases to connect with locals and show respect for their culture.

Have ID at all times

In New Zealand, the only valid IDs are your passport, the +18 card or a New Zealand driver’s license.

You’ll be asked for your ID for any activities that are only legal for those of age, including tourists. If you intend to stay for longer than a regular travel visit, it’s recommended to get a domestic ID.

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. Source: Pexels

Safety Tips for Traveling Around New Zealand

While New Zealand is generally a safe destination, you still need to take precautions to ensure your well-being, just like on any other trip or any other country:

  • – Consider buying comprehensive travel insurance to cover medical emergencies and trip cancellations. International travel insurance generally provides coverage for around $30.000.
  • – Stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially at night and if you’re on a solo trip.
  • – Don’t leave your valuables unattended. New Zealand is safe, but someone may still take advantage of the situation, so keep this as one of the important travel tips.
  • – Do your due diligence and get packages or tours with recommended operators, and follow safety guidelines whenever you’re out and about on adventure activities.
  • Stay updated on weather forecasts and road conditions, especially when driving in remote areas.
  • – Stay connected with one of the many options available to you, an eSIM card is one of the most reliable ones.

Staying Connected

As a visitor, you might not be sure of what road or bus route to take from the airport to your hotel. The best way is to have a data plan on your smartphone. 

Many services are available for you to connect abroad, like pocket WiFi, roaming, and even the new digital SIM card. Let’s take a look at each.

New Zealand eSIM card
Download, Scan, and Connect in minutes with a New Zealand eSIM. Get 5% discount. Code: MYESIMNOW5

eSIM

This is an embedded SIM chip that comes preinstalled in eSIM-compatible smartphones. You can easily switch carriers just by scanning a QR code! Providers like Holafly and their New Zealand eSIM provide the following perks and benefits:

  • Unlimited Data during your stay
  • Customizable plans from one day to a maximum of ninety days
  • Various payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, credit and debit cards, PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • Connection as soon as you land
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Take a peak at the top best eSIM for New Zealand

Roaming

  • Use your home cellular plan in another country. This way, all you’ll need to do is activate roaming, and you’re good to go. You’ll have data, calls, and text messaging.
  • The only downside is that your provider will charge extra rates and fees, and if you go over your monthly allowance, you might have to pay more to connect.

Pocket WiFi

This is a small device that generates a network in the surrounding area and that you need to carry around with you all the time.

  • You have to pay for the rental and the data plan separately.
  • It’s advisable to also purchase loss or damage insurance because if something happens you’ll have to pay a fee or penalty.
  • Remember to recharge the device every time you get back to your accommodation so that you don’t end up without a connection while you’re out exploring.
  • Perfect for traveling in groups, however, can be expensive.

Free WiFi

  • You can easily find free WiFi hotspots in airports, restaurants, and cafés.
  • These networks are not very safe or secure: keep your data safe
  • The connection may be slow and lagging since many other people connect at the same time.

With this mini guide with travel tips, you’re well-prepared to take on New Zealand as your next destination with posts and videos on social media. 

We suggest you plan for a thorough trip to the North and South Islands, visiting the main cities and landmarks, but don’t exclude your connection with nature. 

Camp for a couple of nights out in the open and disconnect from the routine. Pack sufficiently, stay safe and connected to be blown away on your best Kiwi experience.  

Frequently Asked Questions about traveling to New Zealand

What travel tips do I need to know before going to New Zealand?

Before visiting New Zealand, familiarize yourself with the local customs, weather, and popular attractions. Additionally, ensure you have the necessary travel documents and accommodations booked in advance.

How many days are enough for New Zealand?

The ideal duration for a trip to New Zealand depends on where you want to go and see. While some travelers opt for a whirlwind tour in a week or two, others prefer to explore at a slower pace over several weeks or even months.

Where should I go for my first time in New Zealand?

For first-time visitors, must-visit destinations include Auckland, Queenstown, Rotorua, and the stunning landscapes of Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. Don’t forget to explore the North and South Islands.