26 Feb My Top 5 Tips for Visiting New Zealand
If you love adventure then New Zealand is the ideal place for outdoor exploring. Known as “The Land of the Long White Cloud”, New Zealand has some breathtaking natural spots and all sorts of crazy activities for the intrepid traveller including zorbing, bungee jumping and glacier hiking. It’s definitely a popular tourist destination, particularly for gap year travellers who are looking for an exciting adventure.
If you’re planning your holidays to New Zealand, here are my top tips:
North, South or both
New Zealand is split into two islands – North and South – and both have quite different attractions. North Island is known for its hot springs, beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan cities like Auckland, while South Island is known for its dramatic landscapes and rugged scenery. You could plan a longer trip to both islands, or if you don’t have much time, then you’ll probably want to pick just one island to discover.
Pack for all weather
In New Zealand you can experience all four seasons in one day, so make sure you pack for all eventualities. The summer months are between December to February, when temperatures are pleasant, reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius. This is the ideal time to visit if you wish to hit the beach and enjoy New Zealand in the sunshine. Winter is the opposite of Europe summer between the months of June to August and this is the best time for skiing or winter sports. Definitely bring warm clothes and a winter jacket if you’re planning a visit at this time of year.
Know the driving rules
New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road, so it’s easy if you’re a British traveller road tripping around New Zealand, not quite so easy if you’re from the US or elsewhere in Europe. There are lots of winding roads, so distances can sometimes take longer than you think. As New Zealand is quite rural, you also might come across hazards in the road, for example farmers moving their cattle.
Visit these Must-See Places
Most people fly into Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Known as the “city of sails”, Auckland has a huge harbour and is a popular spot for sailing, so make sure you take up the opportunity for a cruise on the water. From Auckland you can drive 2 hours to visit Hobbiton, the village of hobbit huts used in Lord of the Rings. Rotorua is also a must-visit due to its geothermal activity, geysers and hot springs, so make sure you put it on your itinerary. Spend the day exploring one of the geothermal parks before heading to a luxury spa to relax and unwind. Sitting on the southern tip of the North Island, Wellington is the country’s political capital and also worth your time. Highlights here include the National Museum (which is free to enter) and the country’s Parliament buildings. For the best view of the city, take a historic trip on the Wellington Cable Car to the botanic gardens, where you can see all the way out to Wellington’s harbour and beyond.
Christchurch is the largest city on South Island and is nicknamed “The Garden City” due to its greenery, parks and flowers. Make sure you go punting on the River Avon and pay a visit to Cathedral Square. Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital and is popular for skiing, bungee jumping and jet boating. From here you can book a day trip to Milford Sound, a beautiful fiord that is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins. Carved by glaciers in the Middle Ages, the fiord is absolutely breathaking, with cascading waterfalls and mountains rising up out of blue waters.
Eat these things
New Zealand is home to 40 million sheep and of course, lamb is on the menu everywhere. Since the country is surrounded by water you’ll also find plenty of fresh seafood, including green lipped mussels, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.