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New Zealand has been on our bucket list for a very long time, and when our plan to visit Australia began to shape, we gave in to the temptation to visit New Zealand as well.
After we managed to organize our itinerary for Australia, we had eight days left to spend in New Zealand.
We decided to spend 4 days on New Zealand’s South Island and 4 days on North Island.
New Zealand is undoubtedly a dream destination and a place we didn’t want to leave.
The mountains on whose cliffs flow thousands of waterfalls, the steep fjords, the scenic beaches, the rivers with stunning clear-blue water, the volcanic activity areas, the hot water rivers, the colorful lakes you look at and you cannot believe they are real, or the vast pasture lands are just some of the reasons why this country deserves to be visited.
How do you get to New Zealand?
New Zealand is located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean and consists of two main islands: the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu) and another 600 islands.
The official languages of New Zealand are English, Māori, and NZ Sign Language.
The most popular choice is to fly from Australia to New Zealand.
If you want to visit Australia, in this article you will find useful information for organizing a holiday in Australia (visa, transportation, international permit). Here you can read about Australia’s top attractions and this article covers our whole itinerary in Western Australia.
If you only transit through Australia and do not own another type of visa for Australia, you may need a transit visa. You will find more details on this website.
We flew from Sydney to Queenstown and from Auckland back to Sydney with Jetstar.
For internal flights, we chose Air New Zealand.
You do not need a visa if you travel to New Zealand for tourist purposes for a maximum of 90 days before October 2019 and you are from one of the countries on this list.
From October 2019 you may need an NZeTA ” New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority” to visit New Zealand for tourist purposes. You will find all the necessary information on this website.
Before you land in New Zealand you must fill in a form.
The airport interview is more of a discussion with a border officer to determine if you really visit the country for the stated purpose.
We were asked the following questions:
- if we are employed and what professions we have;
- which countries we have visited in the last month;
- what we will visit in New Zealand;
- when we leave the country and if we have the departure tickets;
- if we continue our journey or return home from New Zealand;
- with which airlines we will go back home.
How can you travel through New Zealand?
There are lots of ways to discover the island, but the most recommended of them is to go by car/campervan because the country has a perfect natural beauty and you will often see landscapes that will convince you to deviate from your route to discover them.
In New Zealand, you will be driving on the left side of the road and the roads are well-maintained. Most roads have a single band on a direction, which is why it may take longer than you expected to reach your destination.
International driving license:
If your driving license is not in English, you will need an international permit or an accepted translation to be allowed to drive in New Zealand.
On the North Island, there are 3 toll roads (Northern Gateway Toll Road, Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road, and Takitimu Drive Toll Road), but these roads can be avoided if you choose an alternative route.
The road toll can be paid online, by phone calling 0800 40 20 20 or at the gas stations near the toll roads.
If you are traveling by a rented car, you may be able to pay the tax directly to the company you rented the car from.
Which company did we rent the cars from?
Given that our stay in New Zealand was very short, we chose to fly from South Island to North Island.
You can get from one island to the other by ferry, a choice to consider if you want to rent the car/campervan on an island and drop it off to the other island.
We rented the cars from Jucy (one car on each island) – and took them from the airports. The cars were new, and they worked impeccably. We paid 60 NZD / day including insurance.
From Jucy, you can rent campervans too. Renting a campervan in New Zealand is a very popular choice among tourists and is the option we will also opt for on the next visit.
By bus or by train:
If you want to travel by bus, you can choose between 2 companies: InterCity and Skip Bus.
Travel by train is not very popular in New Zealand, but it can be a good alternative in combination with classic buses.
Hop on, hop off buses:
Like bus tours in major cities, these buses will take you through New Zealand and you can stop to visit an area and continue your journey with the next bus.
There are 3 companies you can choose from:
- Kiwi Experience
- Flying Kiwi (it’s the only tour which offers camping accommodation and meals included).
On foot – The Te Araroa Trail:
This route stretches over 3000 kilometers from the North of the North Island to the South of the South Island.
If you are interested in starting this adventure, you can find here more information about the trail and a guide.
Weather in New Zealand:
There is no unsuitable period to visit New Zealand. Every season, you can enjoy different activities.
Spring is the season when you will see thousands of waterfalls flowing on the rocky walls of the mountains. In summer you can relax on the picturesque beaches of New Zealand. Autumn is the time to enjoy the color show offered by nature and in winter you can practice various winter sports.
On the North Island it tends to be a little warmer than on the South Island.
Seasons in New Zealand:
- Spring: September – November.
- Summer: December – February.
- Autumn: March – May.
- Winter: June – August.
Where did we stay?
In Queenstown, we rented through Airbnb an apartment with separate entry in the house of a young family who moved from Europe to New Zealand, Lili and Stefan.
The apartment is 600 meters away from Queenstown Airport and a few minutes’ walk from the supermarket and restaurants. It offers free parking.
Fiordland National Park:
Since we were about to spend two days in Fiordland National Park, we stayed in a private cottage at the C4 Possum Lodge Motels and Holiday Park. The park is located in the town of Manapouri, very close to the lake of the same name.
In Auckland, we also booked our accommodation through Airbnb.
We have been traveling together for 7 years, and in New Zealand we tried for the first time to book accommodation in someone’s home and not in hotels or private apartments as we did on our holidays.
Accommodation in Auckland was our favorite. The house looked great and we felt sorry that we spent very little time there.
Besides, we had a very warm welcome and we felt like home.
The house is located in a village near Auckland, about 30 minutes from the airport.
Near Rotorua, we stayed in a private cottage on a farm. Unfortunately, the accommodation unit is no longer present on Airbnb.
We wanted to have this experience and it was indeed exceptional to stay in a small cottage located in those emerald green hills.
It is an authentic and unique experience to discover how farmers live here and you will have the chance to interact with different animals (depending on the farm you are going to visit): sheep, alpaca, horses, pony, cows or red deer (our favorites).
There are a lot of such farms in New Zealand and we recommend this type of accommodation especially for those who travel with children. You can engage in various farm activities and it will be very exciting and educational for the little ones.
The two islands of New Zealand are very different, and we invite you to discover each island by reading the following articles: The charming South Island of New Zealand and North Island of New Zealand – a Jewel in the Pacific Ocean.
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