(That’s Hello in Kiwi Language 🙂 )
Below are some top tips and advise for anyone planning to or heading off to New Zealand which I learnt during my 6 weeks exploring this amazing country.
My top Tips for travelling New Zealand:
- Pre-Book accommodation during the summer months (November – March). I cannot emphasise this enough. If visiting over the summer period it is essential you pre-book your accommodation! This includes if you are on the kiwi experience bus pass (Which only guarantees 1 night accommodation each stop).
New Zealand is a small country – much smaller than Australia. There were times I literally could not stay in a town because all accommodation was fully booked in the area, and I had no choice but to move on the next day on the kiwi bus. This happened to me in Lake Tekapo and Wanaka. I was gutted I could not spend an extra night at these two amazing places.
- Couple Travelling? If you are a couple who are travelling in the summer period and want to have a private double room in hostels – again you must pre-book this as early as possible. Also private rooms triple in price over the summer period, so be-warned they are expensive. Stay in a dorm room if you are not desperate for some privacy and stay in double rooms somewhere else, or just a few nights of your trip.
- Budget – New Zealand is expensive, I’m afraid to say. Between activities, transport, food, drink and accommodation it adds up quick.
Accommodation – Expect to be paying NZ$30-35 per person per night in a hostel dorm room. If booking a private twin or double room, expect between NZ$40-70pppn depending on location.
Activities – There are so many activities to do in New Zealand it is quite easy to spend all your precious savings in the North Island, that by the time you hit the South you are starting to realise you should have done the majority of activities here! Look ahead at what activities you would like to do where so you don’t make that mistake. A really good breakdown of some activities can be found on the kiwi bus website here which provide a rough guide on how expensive some of the activities can be: http://www.kiwiexperience.com/why-choose-kiwi-experience/best-price-guarantee
Eating out – $40-70pp per day. Cooking in hostels – $15-20 per day.
- Cook! New Zealand I found more expensive that Australia – which was abit of a shocker as I expected it to be the other way around! Of course you can get cheap meals in the hostels, but in general there are large supermarkets in all the towns. Stock up here and cook your meals in the hostel, restaurants are a small fortune so save eating out for the special occasions if you can.
- Checkout Hostelworld. I love using this site, as when you make a booking you simply need to pay a deposit and if you decide you want to cancel at a later date, for an extra £1 you can protect your deposit and use the money you have paid towards another booking in the future instead.
- It gets cold. Although I was travelling in the heart of summer and most of the days I was content wearing shorts and a T-shirt, we got cold weather especially of an evening. And it was constantly raining in Auckland. Bring a waterproof jacket and a few layers in the form of a long sleeve top/leggings as these are versatile and you can layer up. I bought 1 pair of jeans in Queenstown and a warm hoodie which saw me through ok.
- Visit in Spring – It is worth noting I was visiting New Zealand from 18 January – 30th February 2016 which is the height of New Zealand’s summer season, consequently meaning it is also peak tourist season. I would advise against visiting in January and February if possible, as accommodation gets booked up weeks in advance and the cities are full to the brim with tourists. It does not help there is an influx of Chinese tourists that arrive and book up all the accommodation to celebrate Chinese New Year at the end of January ( for some reason they decide to come here and celebrate!)
In hindsight, I believe visiting in the spring from October – December would be a much better time to enjoy the best of what New Zealand has to offer, as it gets warmer yet the mountains can still be seen with snow, and as they melt the waterfalls thrive. Otherwise autumn would be just as gorgeous for seeing the first snow begin to fall. Of course visit in winter if you are a skiing fan and hit the slopes!
- Research. Do not come to New Zealand without a list of places you want to see and visit. You can book activities as you go around on the kiwi bus, but you really don’t want to miss out on something because you didn’t know it was there.
- Not sure where to do what activity? As a rough guide, If you travelling both the north and south Island, are a bit of a thrill seeker and not sure where to do everything, I would recommend you:
Skydive in Taupo or Franz Joseph for amazing scenery.
Bungee Jump in Queenstown which has 2 famous jump sites. AJ Hackett Bungy at Kawarau Bridge and AJ Hackett Nevis Bungee Jump (the really really high one!).
Do not miss out on the glacier hiking in Franz Joseph. Seriously amazing.
White water rafting is most famous at River Valley (Grade 5 rapids) or in Taupo at the Huka falls.
Black water rafting and cave experience in Waitamo.
Shotover Jet Boat ride in Queenstown, or Taupo if you are not going to the south Island.
Horse riding is best at river valley.
- Watch out for sunburn! Seriously, I got burnt in New Zealand and not Australia. The ozone layer here is super thin, and although New Zealand is rightly known as having temperamental and mostly cold and rainy weather, in the summer when the sun is shinning or sneakily hidden behind the clouds it is very easy to get burnt and not realise until it is too late. Don’t forget to use that sunscreen with a decent spf factor – could save you weeks of pain!
Hope these tips are helpful for anyone heading to or thinking of going to this gorgeous country!
The Sloan Ranger x