New Zealand Vacation Planner – Important information: This guide was written before Covid hit and New Zealand closed its borders to visitors. We do not know exactly what will be required of international visitors when our borders reopen. The guide below is only a guide and will be updated as soon as clear information is available. Thank you!
This true Middle Earth will have everything you could want and will make you want to come back and explore more as soon as possible.
New Zealand Vacation Planner
Although the country is far away, it is actually quite easy to travel to New Zealand and get around. However, there are still some things you should know when planning your trip to New Zealand that may surprise you or you may not know.
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Do you have more questions about your upcoming holidays in New Zealand? Leave a comment below or send me a message and I’ll help you as much as I can.
Here’s your complete guide to what you need to know when planning a trip to New Zealand!
If you have a passport from a country that is on the visa-free list, the answer is no. This counts as long as you don’t plan to stay for more than three months (6 for UK nationals) and don’t work.
Important Update: From 1 October 2019, all visitors from countries on the Visa Waiver List will need to apply to NZETA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) prior to arrival.
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It will be cheaper if you apply through the Immigration New Zealand app than through their website.
For full details and step-by-step instructions on how to apply, please read my NZeTA and IVL guide!
If your country is not on this list or you want to stay in New Zealand for more than 3 months (6 months if you are a British citizen), you will need to apply for a visitor visa. This can take several months, so apply early enough.
Please see the article from The Atlas Heart if you are interested in obtaining a Working Holiday Visa as an American citizen or from another eligible country.
Solo Travel In New Zealand
Since the island is far from everything, the fastest and easiest way is by plane. Air New Zealand is a national airline that is very popular and flies to around 19 countries.
In addition to Air New Zealand, many major airlines fly to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Apart from Europe and South Africa, the furthest New Zealand can be reached with one direct flight, for example, from Los Angeles to Auckland.
Another way to get to New Zealand is by cruise ship. If you have more time to travel, it would be an interesting option from Australia or even Southeast Asia!
Qatar Airlines currently holds the world record for the longest flight from Doha to Auckland, taking just over 18 hours.
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Europe is on the other side of the world and depending on the route you travel, it takes about 24 hours by actual flight time to get to New Zealand.
It takes about 13 hours from the West Coast of the US (plus about 7 hours if flying from the East Coast).
Air New Zealand business class is an amazing experience that will make you feel like time literally flies.
There is no correct answer to this question. It all depends on what you are looking for in your trip. To get the best weather in New Zealand, you have to put up with most of the tourists. Although fewer people travel after the end of the season, the chances of more rain are higher. However, this is New Zealand and just because it’s forecast to rain doesn’t mean it’s going to rain all day. The country is famous for “3 seasons in 1 day”. There are usually rain and sun intervals, and if it’s raining now, wait 10 minutes and check again.
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Here is a small comparison of visitor numbers and weather in New Zealand each season:
Snow is still possible in the mountains and it can be quite cold, especially in the South Island, but the days are getting longer and warmer. Spring is usually quite windy.
Shoulder season, which makes it less crowded and you often don’t need to book in advance for accommodation and activities.
Hot and humid across the country. This is the time of the pohutakava tree (often called the “New Zealand Christmas tree” because it blooms at this time) and the least amount of rain. February is officially considered the best month.
New Zealand Travel Guide (updated 2023)
Summer in New Zealand is a very busy time. Not only does it have the most tourists at this time of year, but the Kiwis themselves are on their big holiday from December to January. Accommodations are very difficult to find and I highly recommend planning ahead and booking! It is also the most expensive season of them all.
Like spring, fall can change depending on the weather. Nature in the North Island remains mostly green, except for a few trees. If you are lucky, you can witness a beautiful Indian summer with a forest of colorful trees in the South Island. The first snow may fall in the mountains.
Winter is the rainiest time of the year. It can also be cold (around 0* C in the North Island and minus in the South Island). It was snowing in the mountains on both islands.
Unsurprisingly, winter is the least popular time to visit New Zealand. But if you love winter sports, you should still consider winter travel. There aren’t many places in the world where you can ski on an active volcano. The North Island of Ruapehu is home to New Zealand’s largest ski area, with Queenstown Ski Area being the most famous.
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Personally, I prefer the shoulder season of Spring and Autumn to travel around New Zealand. And I like to ski, so I don’t like winter too much either. But I try to avoid traveling from mid-December to the end of February because I find it too crowded and expensive.
Unlike most other countries, ACC insurance covers some injuries if you are involved in an accident, even if you are a tourist. However, I still strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for New Zealand before you leave home, as there may be some accidents that are not covered.
World Nomad provides excellent travel insurance. It is made by travelers for travelers. Find your perfect travel policy here
New Zealand electricity runs on 230/240 volts. Angled power plug with two or three contacts. Unless you are visiting from Australia, you will need to use an adapter for your electronic device.
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In the end, it depends on you and the time you have. I would recommend you at least 2 weeks. If you only have this time, the best idea might be to take a tour (so you don’t have to drive) or just visit one of the islands.
But to really see more of New Zealand, you need at least 3 weeks, and 4 or more is even better. You fly very far from most places in the world to get here, so take your time to take everything in. You will not regret it!
I have created some itineraries for you to help you plan your trip to New Zealand. Here are some ideas for 2 weeks in the North Island and 2 weeks in the South Island.
New Zealand is a very peaceful country. While you’ll see some fancy clothing around town, most prefer to dress practically. So unless you’re planning to party on Ponsonby Street in Auckland or you need an Instagrammable outfit, I suggest you leave your fancy dress at home.
The Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide • The Blonde Abroad
Temperatures vary a lot in New Zealand so my best advice is to wear layers. Especially for us women who are often hot and then freezing again at the slightest wind.
And two other essentials you might need: a rain jacket and waterproof shoes! The weather often changes within minutes and it can rain without much warning. Since it’s often windy, you can leave your umbrella at home (unless it’s Blunt, it’s windy) and a rain jacket is better.
Waterproof shoes are essential when walking. As I said, it rains a lot in New Zealand and the not too challenging walk can get very muddy. I’m not talking about hiking boots (although of course they do), but there are some waterproof trail runners on the market that look like shoes.
If you need more details on what to pack for New Zealand, you can find a very useful New Zealand packing list here.
How To Find The Best Adventure Tour In New Zealand
As long as you follow their rules, the immigration officers are really nice and happy to answer your questions if you are unsure about anything.
To protect New Zealand’s fragile environment, there are certain items that are strictly prohibited from being transported
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