New Zealand Travel

New Zealand For Visitors

Wellington Waterfront

Wellington Waterfront

Hobbits, mountains, volcanoes, good coffee – yup New Zealand has it all. Well don’t ask me – I live here, but I do agree it seems unreasonably difficult to get a good coffee in most of the rest of the world – particularly the US and UK! The Hobbits and Lord of The Rings have created a major film industry around our landscapes – and that bit is justified. Just remember that most of it is remote and you will need to put some serious effort in to see at lot of the high country – though it is worthwhile.

New Zealand is a geologist’s paradise, and as an ex-geo, I can tell you that very few other places in the world (Iceland maybe) does volcanoes quite as well as we do. In terms of remote and prehistoric southern Westland and Fiordland take a lot to beat as well.

Cities – well Wellington is pretty cool in terms of funky cafes, bars and restaraunts and a vibrant art scene. The weather is not great though. We are still waiting for global warming to show up down under – dress for the cold side of temperate and don’t bother with an umbrella, the wind will destroy it in 5 miutes.

New Zealand On A Budget

New Zealand is not cheap. Even buying food in a supermarket will cost you more than buying NZ lamb and cheese in the UK – no we d0n’t know why either. The cheapest option is to bring or buy a tent and buy a car. Actually hitching is probably cheaper but  I really don’t recommend that. Staying indoors will cost you at least $30/night in a hostel dorm, though much of rural, non-touristy New Zealand you will pay $60-$80 for a double and get your own motel and cabin in a camp ground.

If you are under 30 there are options for a working holiday visa. In fact even under 35-year-olds from the UK or the US are covered under the BUNAC scheme. If you own an Australian passport you can live and work freely in New Zealand.

Getting There

Half way around the world – a long way from anywhere. If you ever wondered why NZers are such great travellers? Once you spend 24 hours getting here from Europe you’ll understand that! You don’t want to be taking that flight too many times!

From Australia .

Plenty of connections from AirNZ, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar all of which fly between various combinations of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. There are also lots of flights to Cairns and the Gold Coast, and other direct flights to Adelaide and Perth (7 hours from Auckland – Singapore is only 8!). Most likely you will arrive in Auckland or Christchurch – often worthwhile flying out of the other one to avoid backtracking.

From Asia 

Jetstar and Singapore Air connect to Singapore ex Auckland and Chrstchurch. Air NZ flies to Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Japan.

From North America 

Air New Zealand has direct connection to Vancouver, Canada, but most flights are to LAX non-stop. More interesting options include a stop over in Tahiti (Air Tahiti Nui) or Fiji (Polynesia Air).

Mt Taranaki / Egmont

Mt Taranaki / Egmont

Getting Around

New Zealand isn’t big but it does have some interesting geography which makes road building a challenge. That together with a population of only 4 million in a country with the same land area as the UK or Japan – means that public transport is not brilliant.  The train network is skeletal – and the only line of real interest to tourists is the spectacular Trans-Scenic from Chrstchurch to the West Coast. There are a number of bus services – some are backpacker friendly, others just run normal connections for everyone.

Frankly though if you are staying for more than a few weeks, particularly if there are two of you you are better off renting a car or campervan. If you are staying a month or more you are better off buying a car, even if you have to abandon it at the end of your trip. Its still possible to buy a running car for under $1000 in  NZ and there is no compuslory insurance so the on road costs are low. The law is that it has to a current Warranty of Fitness when you buy – so although it may not be pretty or clean, it will be road-worthy.

Highlights of New Zealand