New Zealand is one of the worlds best travel destinations which has at any one time has around one million tourists visiting. If you're seeking a perfect combination of adventure, beautiful nature, friendly people and memories that will last forever, then New Zealand will appeal to you. New Zealand one of the most popular countries to go backpacking and travelling as there are so many adventures and sightseeing activities. Get ready for the most amazing experience of your life.
Find activities, experiences, travel packages, backpacking ideas, eco & adventure holidays in New Zealand.
Get information, tips, itineraries and inspiration for visiting New Zealand.
Expect a mild climate of around 14 but in summer it can rise as high as around 40, whilst in winter it can get really cold wrap up warm for temperatures below -20. The most popular time for peopl to visit is from November - May. Whenever you plan to visit New Zealand – regardless of winter or summer – you are guaranteed to experience the time of your life.
Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand enjoy moderate, maritime climate and temperatures. The country is located in the southern hemisphere. This means summer starts in December and winter begins in June. New Zealand has moderately high rainfall and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country.
Most flights arrive into Auckland which is located on the North island. This is a spectacular island to visit and we have put together some useful travel information, tips, highlights, suggestions for places you should visit which might help have the best experience possible. In Auckland there are lots of places where one can hang out cafés, bars, shops and the library and lots of day options all within close proximity. During November the Auckland Santa Parade is worth checking out, its an early big event organized for Christmas by the big retail chain Farmers. It is a quite random funny mixture with the only link between all the different sections of the parade being some kind of clowns dancing around.
All the main enterprises of the city have cars and its really more a celebration of the city of Auckland and its great variety more than anything else. From Auckland if you need an excuse to go out of the city you can catch the ferry to Waiheke Island which is around forty minutes from mainland Auckland. The island is a beautiful place certainly packed during Summer and very famous for its various and numerous vineyards (more than twenty). You can walk around the Western half of the island and go swimming when its hot. You might also like to go to one of the prestigious vineyards like Mudbrick Vineyard ("A must-see when visiting Auckland" says the New York Times). Expect a expensive glass of wine there but you'll probably agree with the American newspaper, it is a beautiful place! This is a great way to spend an afternoon and you can easily get back to jump on one of the last ferries back to Auckland.
An expedition to the Coromandel Peninsula is recommended, you might want to aim to reach Cathedral Cove and stop for a night in Pauanui. On this route you will get to see a bit of countryside and the wonderful beaches of the East coast of New Zealand. Karekare is a west coast black sand beach very close to Piha which is a really beautiful place too. Everywhere you go in New Zealand you will experience stunning scenery, you'll see stunning landscapes within the one hour range drive from Auckland. Karekare is great for swimming and fishing.
In the North Island you can do so many things and there will be random beautiful scenic stops around every corner. Snells Beach and Scotts Point on the Mahurangi Harbour where you can walk to the beautiful and quiet Casnell Island Reserve is highly recommended if you are looking to get off the beaten track. If you love fishing the whole area is populated by fishes that each time you throw a line in, a fish will bite (all snappers). The island of Rangitoto is another beautiful and scenic place that you will enjoy. But try to arrive early as you'll have to leave in the afternoon as the last ferry leaves the island at 3:30pm during the week and 4:30pm on weekends. Travelling in this country makes you wonder if there is an area of the New Zealand countryside that isn't beautiful! Cape Reinga is almost the Northest point of New Zealand and symbolically a very important place in native Maori culture.
It is also where the Tasman Sea and the pacific Ocean meet and locals will tell you the impact of the two tremendous forces created a visible vertical line in the sea. This part is unfortunately not true, but the place is still full of charm. It can take a very long time to reach the Cape by car. You will need to stop a bit over midway Saturday at Paihia right next to the scenic Bay of Islands. Be sure to book accommodation in advance as you'll find most places fully booked and "No Vacancy" signs welcoming you. When visiting the Cape you might want to check out the impressive giant sand dunes at Te Paki and also discover the huge Ninety Mile Beach (56 miles in fact and approximatively 90 kilometres, which is still massive). This is a great place to stop for photos and a swim. Further South, Wellington is a great stop on the way to the South Island, it have a vibrant coffee scene and there are lots of great cafes and restaurants.
New Zealand's South Island is a very impressive and beautiful place to visit with lots of destinations to visit and things to do, here are some of our best tips. Wanaka is an extremely charming small town right by the beautiful homonymously named Lake Wanaka where the visitor knows at once that time will take another value. Most people tremendously enjoyed the stay in Wanaka, you can go skiing or snowboarding at nearby Cardrona mountain range for one full day or just go walking around the city and its immediate surroundings. The hours, even the minutes spent in such a great location indeed really are precious!
From Wanaka you can travel South to the more touristy and bigger, but just as scenic, neighbor town Queenstown, right by Lake Wakatipu. On arrival you can get a good idea of the place which is such a spectacular location. Both cities are extremely busy during the heart of the ski season and both are a lot of fun with lots of bars, cafes and places to eat. We recommend taking the Tranzalpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth through the New Zealand's Alps which is truely spectacular and a good introduction to the South Island. Some other recommendations include at the Franz Josef Glacier and walk over its impressive glacier or if you in search of adventure you can also go sky diving. Everything you will have heard about how scenic the South Island of New Zealand will end up being true and you really have to experience this magical island for yourself.
There are two fiords in New Zealand - Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound which are accessible by land in this part of the island and its recommended to see both of them. Both places are not easy to access, the splendid drive to Milford is quite long and icy during winter and further South, in order to go to Doubtful Sound, you even have to cross a lake first (beautiful Lake Manapouri). As the days are much shorter during winter and the number of visitors less important, there are even less boats doing the visits and the overnight cruises are cancelled until the better months. The main cruise company Real Journeys runs services on Milford Sound.
Try to catch the special deals which are often offered by the cruise / travel companies. Doubtful and Milford Sounds are quite distant from each other and very different. Seeing both if possible is really a treat but please note in winter bad weather conditions can mean no departures are available. Doubtful Sound is the longest of the only two fiords you can access by land in the Fiordland region in the South West of the country and this will leave you awestruck. You'll be able to get spectacular photos in this beautiful area. You can easily spend a few days or longer in either place and but there is so much more to see in the South Island its good to see as much as possible.
Best Time to Visit: If you are arriving from Europe or Australia you should find New Zealand cheaper than these destinations, things like buses and accommodation can be slightly cheaper. New Zealand is located a long way from anywhere and your best option for getting here might be a round the world ticket, sometimes this is just a little bit more expensive than a return flight. Try to avoid visiting during peak season where accommodation can be booked up in advance and more expensive than off peak.
Cities: You will also find the main cities like Auckland and Wellington are more expensive than the rest of the country. Another money saving tip is a lot of hotels and hostels charge to use the internet and this can be expensive. An alternative is to visit the local library or go to a local coffee shop, lots now offer free wifi. There are lots of good deals you can get to explore more of this country, lots of companies operate and you can also book in advance to save money. Also think to yourself how much you really want to and need to see.
Food: There is a wide variety of food available. You can find cheap buffet restaurants like Chinese and Japanese and there are usually good deals on lunch offers. Eating dinner out can be expensive, expect to pay around £7 - £12 ($15) for most meals. There are a lot of fast food outlets which are cheap but even this can add up, it is also really unhealthy to eat this everyday. If you are going to stay in a hostel most have world class facilities and clean kitchens so you can prepare your own food.
Our top recommendation is to find a local supermarket and buy your own food, this will save you a lot of money every week. Bars usually have great deals on beer during happy hour, usually around 4 - 7. Sometimes you can get a huge container with four beers in for less than the price you would pay for one normally. Expect to pay around £1.50 ($3) during happy hour and £3.50 ($5) out. Also if you are drinking alcohol on a daily basis this can eat away at your budget so try not to drink too much.
Accommodation: You can find cheap, generally hostel dorms are your cheapest bet, they cost around £10 - £20 ($15 - $25 USD). If you are planning on staying somewhere for more than a few days you might also be able to work in the hostel in exchange for free accommodation, these types of hostels can be found but generally off season. Hotels are usually around £25 ($40) per night and again in the main cities this will be more expensive. You could also rent your own campervan, try couchsurfing or WWOOF which allows you to work in exchange for free accommodation. Recommended to book hostels and hotels in advance during peak season when most tourists visit.
For travellers who want to travel at their own pace with their own itinerary should consider hiring a campervan. Campervans or motorhomes offer both transportation and accommodation in one. Don’t forget that your kitchen will also travel with you; this is very useful especially if you are looking to save money (food wise). It's quite cheap to rent or buy a van and most of them have been adjusted by previous owners so that they now include a double bed and serve as a mobile home.
And it´s quite handy that you don't have to build a tent after a long hiking day. Be careful where you intend to spend a night though, since most of the land is privately owned and the rest (parking lots, picnic spots) are being checked by local authorities that they´re not being used as a camping spot. But have a look at DOC campsites - these are some basic camping places where you can spend a night for free or for some minimum fee, they provide toilets and water, some of then even showers etc.
Here are some of the available campervan hire companies in New Zealand, starting from the lower end rental price:
New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world but please check you buy the right insurance policy, some do not cover dangerous and extreme sports. Please also apply lots of sunscreen, New Zealand has a thin ozone layer and has the worlds highest death rate from melanoma. Crime is relatively low but please be street wise and don't flash valuables in public. Always lock valuables in hotels and hostels. For emergencies dial 111 and you will be put through to the emergency services like the police, fire brigade and ambulance services. If calling from an international mobile phone please dial 112. Natives are extremely friendly and welcoming, you might want to get to know more the history of the islands and learn about Maori culture.