New Zealand is our favorite country in the world. Why? Because New Zealand has the perfect mix of breathtaking landscapes, adventure activities, beautiful cities, wine regions, stunning beaches, amazing drives, and gourmet food. This is the land of fiords, hiking trails, bungy jumping, sheep, glowworms, and glaciers. Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans journey here to tour Middle Earth. For those in search of epic adventures and scenery that is so gorgeous it is hard to believe it is real, come to New Zealand. This is a country that will live up to your expectations…it did for us!
Things To Know
The official language is English. Maori, the native language of New Zealand, is also spoken.
230V 50Hz. Plug type I.
The New Zealand Dollar (NZD). As of February 2017, $1 USD equals $1.4 NZD.
Citizens from visa-waiver countries (USA, Canada, the European Union, Japan, South Africa, Singapore, and Hong Kong, just to name a few) are permitted to enter New Zealand for three months without a visa. Citizens from the UK are permitted to enter New Zealand for six months without a visa.
Best Time To Go to New Zealand
There is no “best time” to go to New Zealand. Summer (December, January, and February) is peak season. The days are long and warm. The weather is great but expect large crowds of people and more expensive prices for activities and lodging. The fall season (March, April, and May) has cooler weather and less tourists. The trees are ablaze in yellows and reds and for those who like hiking, this is one of the best times to be in New Zealand. Come to New Zealand in the winter (June, July, and August) for winter sports on the South Island. Spring (September, October, and November) is another beautiful time to visit New Zealand. November sees a lot of flowers but not many tourists.
The Internet is Slow and Expensive
When staying in hotels, expect to pay extra for internet access and do not be surprised when it is slower than what you may be accustomed to. Many places will also limit your daily megabyte usage.
North or South Island?
If you have limited time in New Zealand (two weeks or less) stay in the South Island. The scenery is stunning in the South Island. In fact, the farther south you go the better it gets. There is Queenstown, the Milford Sound, Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Cook, the wine regions around Marlborough, and Kaikoura, just to name a few places that should not be missed.
Campervan or Rental Car and Hotels?
There is not much of a cost difference between traveling by campervan or renting a car and staying in B&B’s. A campervan does give you more freedom in that you do not have to prearrange hotels as you travel. Whether or not you travel by camper van or rental car is a personal decision. Do you want the flexibility of a camper van or the comfort of a B&B?
Milford Sound. You cannot visit New Zealand without taking a cruise on the Milford Sound. You can tour the Milford Sound on a day trip from Queenstown, but if you have the time, stay overnight in Te Anau, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery between Queenstown and the Milford Sound.
Queenstown. This is New Zealand’s adventure capital and the coolest city in the country. This is where you go to get your crazy on! Go jet boat riding, bungy jumping, parasailing, mountain biking, skiing, whitewater rafting, and so much more.
Go Tramping. Tramping is a New Zealand term for walking or hiking over rough terrain. New Zealand is home to some of the best long distance hiking trails in the world, such as the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track. Some say that tramping is the best way to properly see this country.
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Located in the Southern Alps, Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak. The Hooker Valley Track is one of the best half day walks in New Zealand and gives visitors some of the best views of Mt. Cook. It is an easy walk suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Here is your chance to walk on a glacier. For those wanting a more unforgettable experience, charter a helicopter for awesome views of New Zealand.
Roys Peak Track. If you want to keep your feet on the ground but still see some amazing views, this is one of New Zealand’s most scenic hikes. Climb up to Roy’s Peak for a breathtaking view out over the lakes and hills of the South Island.
Wanaka. This is one of our favorite towns in New Zealand. This is where you would stay if you were to hike Roy’s Peak Track. After your hike, relax at the Cinema Paradiso, the coolest movie theater ever!
Bungy Jumping. Do you dare? Go for it! New Zealand is where this crazy sport began. Where better to leap off of a bridge than at the Kawarau Bridge, the site of the first commercial bungy jump. There are more options around Queenstown and Taupo as well. Even bigger kids can get in on the action, doing the bungy swing all while overlooking beautiful Queenstown. This is the place to check bungy jumping off of your bucket list!
Waitomo Glowworm Caves. For a super cool, unique experience, journey to Waitomo on the North Island. Glide on an underground grotto and gaze up at the tiny living lights carpeting the walls and ceiling over your head. It really is a neat experience and great for families.
Hobbiton. You do not have to be a Lord of the Rings or a Hobbit fan to enjoy this visit. This tour of the filming site of “The Shire” is pure fun. Feel like a giant as you wander past these small, hobbit houses. At the end of your tour, drink a glass of ale at the Green Dragon Inn. Again, fun for the entire family.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Labeled as New Zealand’s single best day hike, we agree! You need an entire day to complete this hike but it is worth every step that you will take. Hike past Mt Doom and Mordor (yes, this was another filming site for Lord of the Rings), gaze over the emerald green lakes and smell the unpleasant sulfur odor bubbling up from the ground, and walk past active volcanoes. If you are an avid hiker, put Tongariro at the top of your list!
Auckland. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. Most likely you will fly into here when entering New Zealand. There is a lot to do in and around the city and it is worth visiting for at least a few days if you have the time.
Bay of Islands. Located near the northernmost tip of New Zealand, this is one of the North Island’s most popular destinations. Tour the Bay of Islands by boat or by airplane, go snorkeling, or go fishing.
Wellington. Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. This city has an awesome dining and nightlife scene. It is also the home of Weta Cave, the special effects company that brought the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, and many more movies to life.
Marlborough Wine Region. New Zealand produces some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc. Tour the wine regions by bicycle, car, or private tour, and sample some of New Zealand’s best wine.