Best blog and website about traveling to New Zealand
1. 10 BEST WAYS TO TRAVEL AROUND NEW ZEALAND
One of the most important decisions you will make for a trip to New Zealand is how you are going to get around. Transport is a crucial part of the enjoyment of your trip! While some transport methods for travelling on a budget are great for your budget, others provide an awesome experience to meet other travellers or travel independently. So you know all your options, we have put this list together of the best ways to travel around New Zealand.
While not one transport method to get around New Zealand is better than the other, it really depends on what sort of travel experience you are looking for. We have tried to outline the highlights of each transport method, as well as challenges in this list. However, for a more in-depth look at each transport method, take a look at our pro and cons list in What is the Best Way to Get Around New Zealand?
1. BUY YOUR OWN CAR
Doing a long backpacking trip in New Zealand for more than a couple of months? Or in New Zealand for a working holiday? Then buying your own car gives you the ultimate freedom to travel New Zealand independently. It’s a convenient transport method for getting around. By selling your car at the end of your trip, buying your own car can be extremely cost-effective. However, there’s the hassle of buying/selling a car and the risk of breaking down which can be expensive.
2. RENT A CAR
For shorter trips in New Zealand, renting a car is the way to go for that freedom and independent travel. While there are many car rental companies in New Zealand, picking a company can be a comparison mission. To make things easy, take a look at our Guide to Renting a Car/Campervan in New Zealand so you know what costs to expect and how to compare rentals.
3. BUY YOUR OWN CAMPERVAN
Again, if you have plenty of time to spend in New Zealand and you want to always have a place to stay, then consider buying yourself a campervan. Of course, there’s more maintenance required than a car as you will need to look after your amenities. Plus, it’s more money to pay up-front when you buy the campervan. However, by freedom camping (for certified self-contained vans only) and using cheap campsite, you may save a significant amount of money on accommodation over time.
4. RENT A CAMPERVAN
For the ultimate outdoors experience and perhaps saving a little bit of cash on accommodation while travelling New Zealand, why not rent a campervan? Campervan rentals come in a huge variety of sizes and facilities, as well as price ranges. If you want to freedom camp while in New Zealand, i.e. camp anywhere for free, then you need a vehicle which is certified self-contained. Find out more in What it’s Really Like to Freedom Camp in New Zealand.
2. The Best Times to Visit New Zealand for Every Type of Trip
Whether you want to hike, sun on the beach, or sip wine (or all three) take note before planning your trip to New Zealand.
New Zealand is a dream destination. From the crystal waters of the Abel Tasman, to the expanse of Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach, to the mountains surrounding Queenstown — the country knows no shortage of breathtaking scenery. Visitors can experience the best of it by hiking, lazing at the beach, or soaking up views from a vineyard with a glass of local pinot noir in hand. With flight durations from the West Coast around 13 hours long, this trip does require a bit of planning. Use this guide to determine the best time for your bucket-list trip to New Zealand.
When and Where to Find the Best Weather
The two main islands that make up the country, appropriately called the North Island and the South Island, are long and narrow: meaning the weather can change rapidly and be vastly different from one end to the other. In Auckland, temperatures typically hover in the high 40s during the winter and rise to the low 70s in the summer, although days can get much warmer. On the North Island’s east coast, Hawke’s Bay has a reputation for year-round sunshine, and Queenstown, on the South Island, has warm, sunny summers and winters that dip into near-freezing temperatures. Some regions experience slightly more rainfall in the winter and others in the summer, but there is no true ‘rainy season’ in New Zealand. Travelers should be aware no matter when or where they’re going, New Zealand weather is unpredictable, and it’s likely to rain at least a little bit at any time of year.
The Best Time to Visit New Zealand’s Beaches
Beaches here are at their best during the summer. Although locals will tell you otherwise, the water is rarely warm. During the winter, ocean temperatures are quite cold (bring a wetsuit if you plan to swim).
But in January, February, and early March, the beaches are often hot enough to make the ocean temperatures comfortable. There are many rugged coasts, too, so even during the winter it’s worth stopping by for the views. New Zealand does have riptides, however, so swim between the flags on beaches protected by lifeguards.
3. THE ULTIMATE NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL GUIDE
Black sand beaches, white snow capped mountains, still lakes, thunderous waves, creaking glaciers and smoking volcanoes. And, of course, hobbits. New Zealand is at times almost impossibly beautiful. It’s a picturesque paradise at the bottom of the world, 4,000 kilometres away from its biggest neighbour, Australia. It’s also my home.
After spending the last three years traveling through Europe and China, I’ve returned home to put my ‘local knowledge’ to the test. The result is this article: the Ultimate Guide to Traveling to New Zealand on the cheap.
In this guide I’ve used New Zealand Dollars (NZD) for rough prices on accommodation, transport, food and activities. At the time of writing, $1 USD will buy you $1.42 NZD, $1 CAD will buy you $1.06 NZD, $1 AUD will buy you $1.08 NZD, and £1 GBP will buy you $1.83 NZD. These fluctuate but will give you a fair idea of what things cost.
How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost?
Let’s get the bad news out of the way quickly: New Zealand is not a natural budget destination. Its remote location, rugged landscape, and reasonably wealthy economy mean that prices for food, transport and lodging are at least as high here as Western Europe or the United States. But that doesn’t mean that budget travelers should forget about this country.
If you’re willing to crash on a few couches, cook most of your own meals, and find creative ways of getting from A to B then you can absolutely conquer New Zealand on a budget.
The biggest expense you’ll most likely face is getting here. New Zealand is far away from even its closed neighbour, Australia. If you’re flying from Europe, expect to pay around $1000 and spend a few days recovering from the 24 hour journey. Flights from Australia are much easier and can be as low as $100 if you’re flexible with dates. Most travelers fly into Auckland, the biggest city. You can find the best flight prices on Skyscanner, and by reading our guide How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible to Anywhere.
If you’re coming purely to travel, then you’d be wise to budget at least $100 per day to make the most out of your trip, including outdoor activities, accommodation, food, transport and, of course, wine. And even with this budget, you’re going to have to be pretty switched on with how you spend your cash. Let’s drill down into the details.
Hire a Car or Campervan
One of the best ways of getting around the country is simply to drive. The roads are well maintained and the scenery is beautiful. Petrol prices are not cheap, typically around $2 per litre, but you’ll still find this option more efficient and reliable than the country’s public transport. The added freedom is a huge bonus. Car rental prices vary widely by website, so use a comprehensive site like BookingBuddy to search multiple car rental websites at the same time.
Rental prices in New Zealand are typically around $50 a day. Caravan rental options tailoring to budget travelers can even be cheaper than cars at as low as $40 / day. Jucy is quite popular (and easily recognizable with its bright green vehicles), though many other companies exist. RV relocations are also very popular here, landing you a one-way RV/campervan rental for as low as $1 per day. Just remember, we drive on the left here!
4. Top 25 Ways to Save on New Zealand Travel
New Zealand’s sweeping mountain vistas, pristine beaches, unique wildlife and fascinating Maori culture make it a dream destination for many travelers. But exploring the Land of the Long White Cloud doesn’t come cheap. An expensive long-haul flight will take the first chomp out of your budget — and once you arrive, you’ll find high prices for gas, food and excursions.
To help make your dream trip a reality, we’ve gathered 25 secrets for saving money on every aspect of your New Zealand vacation. Read on to learn how to trim tour costs, find a cheaper flight and eat well for less.
1. Travel at the right time. New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere, so the busy summer travel season runs from December through February. Both international travelers and Kiwis swarm the country’s most popular sights this time of year, and prices rise accordingly for everything from airfare to accommodations. Consider visiting during the quieter spring or fall shoulder seasons, or during the winter (where tourism is down everywhere except ski areas like Queenstown).
2. Focus your trip. New Zealand may not look like a big country, but if you want to take in the major sights on both islands, a week or two just won’t cut it. If your time or budget is limited, concentrate on either the North Island or the South Island, not both. Staying focused will save you a mound of money on internal transportation; domestic flights or gas for long car trips can eat away at your vacation budget.
3. Look for airfare sales. Because of New Zealand’s remote location, airfare is a pricey proposition for most international visitors. To help trim costs, keep an eagle eye out for fare sales on major carriers like Air New Zealand and Qantas. Both airlines offer sales and discounts by email; you can also sign up for fare alerts from your favorite booking site or airfare aggregator (such as Expedia.com, TripAdvisor.com/CheapFlightsHome, Momondo.com or Kayak.com).
4. Get creative with fare combinations. For American travelers, most sales on Air New Zealand and Qantas are for departures from Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you don’t live near one of these airports, consider booking a cheap fare aboard a discount airline like Southwest, JetBlue or Virgin America to get you to and from California. The cost of that flight plus an LAX-Auckland sale ticket on Air New Zealand could be cheaper than booking the whole itinerary through a single airline.
5. Keep an eye on exchange rates. Along with fuel prices, currency fluctuations can have a noticeable effect on the cost of your airfare. I took advantage of this myself on a recent trip; I made my booking at a time when the U.S. dollar was strengthening against the Kiwi dollar, which resulted in lower fares from Air New Zealand.
5. Top Ten New Zealand Summer Destinations
The New Zealand Summer is bustling full of backpackers who want to experience it all, from the stunning sunny weather to the ever-changing scenery to the pure adventure. However, some backpackers have limited time, some don’t know the country too well yet and some are open to the advice of people in the know so here we go…
The Best New Zealand Summer Destinations
1. Bay of Islands
It’s a favourite of all travellers, you have the beach there as well as surfing, swimming, sailing and dolphin safaris. Only another 4 hours drive away and you’re at New Zealands most northern point, Cape Reinga, the big massive sand dunes and the Giant Kauri Trees! The Bay of Islands is also home to one of New Zealand’s major historical events, where the Europeans and Maori people signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
Auckland is one of New Zealand’s gateways, where the majority of travellers come and go. People come and think “I MUST GET OUT” but in fact there is heaps to do and it’s a lot cheaper and better to do it in Auckland. Also we have 48 Volcanoes that Auckland is based on and some are expected to BLOW, well in 60 Years but still! Auckland is also the home to the Hauraki Gulf, boasting some stunning and unique Islands to visit, you can’t miss Waiheke Island!
3. Hot Water Beach
People reckon this is just a beach, but in fact it is an awesome place to be, where else in the world would you have a beach, an awesome beach side campsite and a natural spa!!! At this Beach all you need to do to get to a FREE SPA is dig. Yes that’s right, dig into the sand and make yourself a little pool, and just like that a spa!
This place is known as the Ultimate Surfing Capital of New Zealand, with the population as low as anything. This small town has said ‘NO!’ to Macs, KFC to everything! Raglan is such a small town you could walk from one side to the other in 20 Seconds! Make sure you stay at the Secret Karioi Lodge, located in the middle of the bush, but has everything you need – TV, Stereo, Pool Table, Flying Fox, a beautiful deck to see the sunset over the ocean and even a place to hire surfboards and learn to surf!
6. 25 Best Places to Visit in New Zealand
The southwest Pacific country of New Zealand is made up of two islands, both of which have a diverse and beautiful natural setting. Known for its glaciers as much as its beaches, New Zealand is the perfect destination for adventurers and lovers of the great outdoors. It also has a worldwide reputation as the real life Middle Earth, due to its history as the filming location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit films. Sensational national parks, diverse and exciting cities, and pleasant weather make New Zealand a location that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Queenstown, on the South Island, is one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand for tourists. There are so many outdoor activities to be done in Queenstown that it’s pretty much a requirement on any traveler’s bucket list. Visitors can skydive or bungee jump, with amazing views of lakes, canyons, and mountains on the way down, or go whitewater rafting on the Shotover River. There are also opportunities to see some of the prominent and recognizable filming locations from the Lord of the Rings series on a guided tour of nearby Glenorchy.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located on the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is renowned for its gorgeous sandy beaches and the granite cliffs that rise up above them. The perfect spot for a day trip to the beach, where visitors can kayak, canoe, and sunbathe on a secluded stretch of sand, Abel Tasman National Park is also well known for its hiking trails. The most famous of these, the Abel Tasman Coast Track, is nearly 40 miles long and takes an average of 3 to 5 days to complete, but there are plenty of other shorter trails for amateur hikers or those looking for a simple day trip.
Aoraki — Mount Cook
The village of Mount Cook sits at the bottom of this massive mountain, which at 12,218 feet at its summit is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. The mountain lies within the bounds of Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, which is an exceptionally beautiful place, full of rocky snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear glacial lakes, and some lovely hiking trails. All the trails in the area provide some wonderful mountain views, and most take about 3 hours to complete, but climbing Aoraki / Mount Cook itself is not a feat that is recommended for amateurs.
Auckland is one of the biggest cities on New Zealand’s North Island and is one of the most major cities in the whole country. It’s a world-class city with some unbelievable nature right at its doorstep, and it makes a great homebase for a stay in New Zealand. From here, it’s easy to reach some of the wonderful surrounding nature and the adventure that it brings — kayaking to a volcano or strolling along the black sand beaches, for example — all while being able to return to a place with countless restaurants, shops, nightlife, and accommodation when you’re done.
7. 35 Unforgettable Things to do in New Zealand – The Ultimate NZ Bucket List!
New Zealand is one of those places that excites the imagination. A land of mystery, Māori folklore and magical scenery. A country where you can ski and surf in the same day, hike on a glacier before sinking into a natural hot pool the evening, or take a boat through a cave of glow worms before entering the mystical land of Hobbiton for the afternoon. As a New Zealand native, I often forget how incredible my home country really is. So as a reminder to myself, and to inspire others to visit this remote island nation, I’ve compiled a list of the 35 top things to do in New Zealand – that will ensure your visit is unforgettable!
Top 35 Things to do in New Zealand
For each of these New Zealand activities and attractions, I’ve included links to further information or recommended tours, to help you further plan your holiday.
#1 Glacier Hiking
New Zealand is home to several glaciers. Two of the most impressive are Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier located near the West Coast of the South Island. While you used to be able to hike up the glaciers from the bottom, their rapid deterioration and subsequent instability led to the closure of the track. These days the only way to access the top of the glaciers is to take a helicopter ride to the top. The trip is part of the experience though and adds to the thrill of walking on a giant iceberg!
#2 Immerse Yourself in Māori Culture
There are many ways to get acquainted with New Zealand’s indigenous culture, from spending the night in a marae, witnessing the power of a haka, eating a hangi, visiting an ancient Māori village, getting a greenstone carved in Hokitika, or learning about Māori heritage at Te Papa. Whichever way you chose to learn about New Zealand’s past, you’ll come away with a new respect for the land and its people.
#3 Star Gaze at the Southern Cross in Tekapo
The sky above the southern town of Tekapo is an International Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places in the world for some serious star gazing. This reputation has meant that several stargazing tours have popped up in the area – allowing you an even more memorable experience with the stars. Be guided through the solar-system as you soak in a hot tub, learn how to take astrophotography, or peer through a powerful telescope. The sky is the limit!
#4 Walk up Auckland’s Highest Volcanic Cone
A surprisingly short walk will have you at the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone, Mount Eden. Catch your breath (it’s a short but steep walk) as you take in the expansive views of Auckland City and its busy harbour. The 50m deep crater is unlike anything you’re likely to have experienced before. It’s a sacred place, further witnessed by relics of an ancient Māori village. Then on the way back down, check out the Eden Gardens, a tranquil oasis in a bustling city.
#5 Chow Down on New Zealand’s Favourite Exhibit
Did you know New Zealand is home to the only colossal squid display in the world? Wellington’s Te Papa Museum houses the 470kg specimen that was captured in Antartic waters in 2007. It’s a much loved New Zealand icon and now another of the country’s icons – Giapo – have recreated the squid into an edible work of art! Giapo has long been famous for creating the most incredible ice cream in the world, and their latest creation – the Colossal Squid – is no exception. A visit to Giapo’s Auckland store is always an experience in itself, so head downtown to sample an amazing range of flavours (which includes many vegan varieties!) and tick this New Zealand must do off your list!
#6 Climb a Volcanic Island
Rangitoto Island is New Zealand’s youngest volcano – erupting from the sea a mere 600 years ago. A scenic reserve, the island is uninhabited save for the native birdlife that thrives here. A daily ferry service will deliver you to the island where you can spend the day exploring the various walks on offer – including the most popular summit track. This short, steep track will reward you with breathtaking 360 views over Auckland and its islands. One of the most unique ways of experiencing Rangitoto Island is to take the evening guided kayak. This tour allows you to watch the sun setting from the summit, before paddling back across the Waitemata harbour under the stars.