New Zealand travel guide

New Zealand travel guide


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

Now, although he was a Kiwi, it's this sort of casual confidence that has long been persuading travelers that the journey 1,500km east of Oz is well worth making. Both North (Te Ika-a-Maui) and South (Te Waipounamu) Islands hold their fair share of big hitters with a trip from Auckland to Queenstown, in either direction, easily able to incorporate both Christchurch and the capital, Wellington. Cities aside and New Zealand really comes into her own with Rotorua, Milford Sound and the dominating form of Mount Cook (3,754m), all providing one unforgettable scene after the next.

As the Kiwi I met in Australia went on to demonstrate, the people of New Zealand also help to make the country such an endearing prospect with both indigenous traditions and laid back locals creating a cultural experience that definitely extends much further than just over the Tasman Sea.

Things to do in New Zealand


MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

Things to do in New Zealand


Queenstown is a must for outdoor enthusiasts with the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu showcasing some extremely awesome backdrops. Ski slopes, bungee jumps and mountain bike trails all add to the natural attraction with a good old tramp around the lake or visit to the local vineyards presenting a couple of relaxing alternatives once you’ve had your fill of adrenaline-fuelled adventures.

Whales, seals and dolphins off Kaikoura Peninsula or penguins on Otago Peninsula are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wildlife watching in New Zealand. This country presents an absolute treasure trove for anyone vaguely interested in animals and if you think bird watching is boring then head to Hawke’s Bay or Whirinaki Rainforest and prepare to put your preconceptions to the test.

Discover the myths and legends of the Maoris. The first Maori initiation for many will be the All Blacks’ Haka and a visit to New Zealand offers a chance to delve a little deeper into a culture that’s rich in korero purakau (myths and legends). The Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands, the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in Te Puia, and staying with a Maori family on the shores of Lake Rotorua, will all add more meat to the cultural bones.

Things not to do in New Zealand


Try and cram it all in over a week. Whizzing from one site to the next is certainly one way to ‘do New Zealand’, but staying a little longer provides a much more insightful experience. Milford Sound, tick, Mount Cook, tick, Queenstown, tick – but what about Christchurch and the Kaikoura Peninsula? Arrgghh, there’s still North Island and we’ve not even met a Maori! Calm down, relax, take it easy, and give both of New Zealand’s islands at least an extra week.

Expect speedy service. Laid back and chatty best describes some of the customer service you’ll encounter in New Zealand so be prepared to practise your patience, particularly if you’re inclined to fast queues at the till. Try to get into the swing of things and give yourself an extra few minutes whenever you’re planning to pop to the local shops or rural markets.

Ignore the advice of the locals. Staying with a Maori family on the banks of Lake Rotorua is not the only way to learn from the locals and no matter whether it’s the best place to spot kiwis on Stewart Island or the best fish supper restaurant in Christchurch, local recommendations are like gold nuggets and not to be ignored at any costs.

New Zealand travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN NEW ZEALAND

Reading up on the Maori


Miles Clark, New Zealand expert at our supplier MoaTrek: “Books that I’d recommend to accompany your journey include ‘The Penguin History of New Zealand’ by Michael King, ‘The Luminairies’ by Elanor Cotton and the Maori Wars Trilogy by Maurice Gee.”


Linzi Bird at our supplier Audley Travel: “If you’re looking for reading material then check out The Bone People by Keri Hulme, a Booker prize winner that gets to the heart of New Zealand’s Maori and European heritage.”

From our New Zealand vacation reviews


“There is never enough time! We went for 19 days and needed another week. If you do not plan on another trip back then go longer. The company booked our trip and did an excellent job. Not hard to do yourself either but certainly was easy doing it through them.” - Cathy Shiner, who travelled on a tailor made tour.

“Pay attention to the information about what to bring before coming on the trip. Get what you need before the trip and have it with you. Good rain gear, broken in hiking boots, and lots of film (or extra batteries for digital) would be an excellent idea. Once you arrive in Motueka you may not have the time to sort out anything forgotten.” - Allan Justus, who was hiking the Heaphy Track.

Accommodation advice


Linzi Bird, New Zealand specialist at our supplier Audley Travel shares her local knowledge:
“Kiwis are so kind and friendly that it’s definitely worth staying in a B&B or homestay, especially outside of the cities, as you’ll make friends for life as well as learning loads of local info such as the best places to eat or where to watch the sun set, which, for my mind, has to be the Coromandel Peninsula, simply stunning."
Photo credits: [Mount cook: Tristan Schmurr] [Maori culture: Sids1] [B&B - homestay: Jocelyn Kinghorn]
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