Zealand Travel Guide
New Zealand Traveler's Guide to Make The Most Out of Your Trip
By The Non Fiction
Published by The Non
Copyright ©2017 The
Non Fiction Author
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Table of Contents
Why You Will Fall In Love With New Zealand
1: Welcome to New Zealand!
2: Planning Your Trip Ahead (Travel Routes, Itineraries, Etc)
3: Immersing Yourself in New Zealand
4: An Overview of the Upcoming Chapters
5: Auckland and the North
6: Rotorua to Wellington
7: Christchurch and the Upper South
8: South of Christchurch Including Queenstown and Around
Aren't You Excited? Your Trip Is About to Begin!
Why You Will Fall In Love With New Zealand
New Zealand revels in its role as
nature's amphitheater, the country redefining notions of the sub-lime
and the surreal. Every turn seems to unveil a new panorama, a new
aesthetic seemingly lost in time. New Zealand is unspoiled and
untamed. Its status as home of fictionalized Middle Earth is well
publicized, but there's far more to the landscape than hobbit holes
and orcas hiding in trees. There is bounty to be discovered
everywhere and almost every visitor is won over with fresh
impressions of natural splendor. With more sheep than people and more
solitude than city, New Zealand is a place for getting lost in the
midst of the planet's most spectacular landscapes.
essentially consists of a series of islands in the Pacific, each
distinct and celebrating its difference. Two large islands dominate
this definition. The volcanic North Island, full of rolling green
pastures and kaleidoscopic color. And the mountainous South Island,
home to glaciers, fjords, and dramatic geological features. While the
land provides an omnipresent highlight, there's more to New Zealand
than a journey through lakes, mountains, ocean, and forests dancing
with phantasmal intrigue.
The country runs on
an indelibly laid-back rhythm, one that negates the use of a watch
and helps you easily slip into the natural spell. You could travel a
hundred miles without seeing another per-son and most settlements
still retain the unpopulated charm of yesteryear. Such rurality
inevitably supports a famed local friendliness. Everyone has time to
say hello and greet a stranger and rushing around is a serious no.
Stress, it seems, disappears the moment you land in the country. Even
a journey that traverses the whole of New Zealand will be defined by
This guidebook has a
very New Zealand approach at heart. It likes to keep things simple
and tranquil, preferring not to dampen the journey with layer after
layer of purposeless information. This is a country that must be
discovered. We would prefer to leave enough for you to discover when
you arrive. At the same time, the helping hand of a local guide is
essential for navigating the best the country has to offer. So think
of this guidebook as the friendly locals you meet in New Zealand,
full of tips and ideas but always leaving the final decision to you.
In this guidebook we detail all the iconic and unmissable experience,
as well as all the hidden and off the beaten track ideas that should
planning guide presents destinations from a visitor's perspective.
Rather than use local administrative regions, the guidebook is split
into key routes and regions that are easy to explore from a single
base. Using this approach enables a clear overview of what's possible
when you visit New Zealand, and which destinations are effortlessly
combined in an itinerary.
What this guidebook
doesn't do, is fill two pages with hotels and restaurants with less
than complimentary descriptions. If it's good and worth experiencing
then it's in this guidebook. If it's not then it didn't make the cut.
There's more than enough enchantment and quality to find in New
Zealand, why dilute it with the mundane? So jump forward and jump in
to a country that captures the imagination and stirs the intrepidness
in every soul. Welcome to New Zealand and welcome to a country that
always leaves a lasting impression.
Welcome to New Zealand!
New Zealand at a glance
A few hidden islands
aside, New Zealand can be thought about as a North and South Island.
Cast adrift in the South Pacific, both these islands imbue
impressions of trademark natural beauty and tranquility. They're
similarly sized, small enough to cross in a single day (albeit a long
one) yet big enough to spend two months exploring and not get close
to experiencing it all. Both are equally attractive for slightly
different reasons. Some visitors prefer to concentrate on one or the
other, exploring in more depth and fully soaking up the experience on
offer. Other visitors will find additional beauty in the contrast,
choosing instead to pick a handful of destinations across both
The North Island has
a volcanic history and the lava still spills out of its active domes.
It's a green and peculiar landscape, marked by rolls and curves and
pastures. Nothing is flat until you reach the coast and dozens of
miles of beach roll into the Pacific. The South Island geology is
more dramatic; mountains rise in rugged triangles, fjords and
glaciers are dappled by white, and there's even less flat space.
Naturally, it's colder here and less green. But that's compensated by
panoramas that are difficult to rival anywhere else on the planet.
While the atmosphere
is one of quaint backwater, this is a developed Western nation with a
sophisticated tourist infrastructure. Moving between islands and
destinations is easy and straight-forward. Roads are in excellent
condition (and almost completely devoid of traffic), airlines connect
major destinations and towns, and hundreds of tour companies can
provide a safe adventure into ethereal landscapes. Hotels
harmoniously blend with their surroundings and always provide space
(no cramped hovels here) and medical facilities are amongst the best
in the world. In short, there's no limit to the adventure on offer,
other than your own spirit. Here are a few experiences to get you
• Most journeys
will have your eyes lost in a mystical haze and this feeling of
incredulity is epitomized by Milford Sound, a narrow fjord surrounded
by dramatic mountains that empties into the Tasman Sea. It's part of
the Fjordland National Park, which in turn is one of seven national
parks that cover the West Coast of the South Island.
• New Zealand is
Middle Earth and parts of the whole country formed part of Peter
Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie themed reverie is
showcased at Hobbiton and hundreds of other sites across the country.
However, it's also easy to discover your own Middle Earth, especially
with one of the country's three cross island rail journeys.
Maoris staunchly defended their land and helped preserve the country
from colonial pillagers. Their culture is best found on the North
Island and Rotorua, a place of exploding geysers, authentic war
dances, and effervescent traditions.
• All across New
Zealand you'll find lakes, each of them fringed by bucolic landscapes
and providing the base for both relaxing and adventure. Losing a few
days on the lakeshore is part of the local experience, as is kayaking
or jet boating across one.
inevitably play a strong role in most New Zealand experiences. The
South Island has a winter ski season as well as some of the planet's
most evocative multi-day mountain hiking trails (in particular the
Milford and Healy tracks). On the North Island you'll find dozens of
destinations for a day in the hills or on top of a peak. In fact,
with literally dozens of national parks and forest reserves, it's
difficult to go a day without finding a new set of hiking and
mountain bike trails.
• Queenstown loves
its self-made reputation as adrenalin capital of the world. This is
where the world's first commercial bungee jump was swung up and it's
added to by swings, zip lining, parasailing, and just about anything
else to get the heart racing. The mood is infectious, and it's al-so
fun just to watch the ecstatic faces.
• Travel to the
very north of the North Island and your eyes begin to cry in
happiness at the sight of Ninety Mile Beach. Yes, it's pretty much
this long, and a wonderful journey that seems to take you to the edge
of the world.
• Glaciers are
normally reserved for serious climbers but irrevocable shapes of ice
are open to the lay tourist on the west of the South Island. Franz
Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier flow through rainforest and tumble into
the ocean, and they offer very unique opportunities to explore.
• Traveling by
helicopter is normally an indulgence too costly to even consider. New
Zealand isn't any cheaper than elsewhere in the world, but the aerial
visual rewards mean that it's an experience than even the poorest
traveler will consider.
• Take a boat to
White Island, an active volcano that's still bubbling with primitive
majesty. Put on a gas mask and you can trek to the very edge of the
crater, where the hissing and bubbling always leaves goosebumps.
• New Zealand wine
is slowly emerging on the international scale, spearheaded by the
Marlborough and Central Otago regions. A sensual journey through the
vineries provides another excuse to indulge in the landscapes.
How To Use This
This guide is split
into three distinct sections, each building on the last and ensuring
you're fully prepped for a trip to New Zealand. As previously
mentioned, this isn't a guidebook that's choked by endless listings
of restaurants, bars, and hotels. New Zealand is an easy country to
travel in. The locals speak English, tourist establishments are
everywhere, and you're often left in one of two situations: there's
only one choice, or there's so much choice your mind bristles with
delight. This guidebook sticks to the essential information,
providing what you need to effectively plan and travel to New
Zealand. It's not going to hold your hand and recommend ordering the
lamb chops because the burger sometimes comes with too much sauce. It
is going to fully prepare you for the country and ensure you can
maximize your time and enjoyment here.
By providing a broad
overview of everything on offer, this guidebook is designed with the
every visitor in mind. Idiosyncratic attractions are included as are
the experiences that make New Zealand absolutely unique. But it
doesn't linger on the details of 40 different hiking trails.
Likewise, rather than list all the different hotels and guesthouses,
the guidebook prefers to direct you to the best up to date sources of
Chapter 2 is all
about planning your trip. It discusses potential routes and
itineraries, when to go, how much money you're going to need, how to
get there, and the basic travel requirements. You'll find a whole
section on getting around and planning your transport, as well as a
section on getting the best value and managing your costs. Chapter 2
is also where to come for information about where you're going to
sleep and the different accommodation to find in New Zealand.
Chapter 3 is about
maximizing your experience in the country and ensuring you don't miss
out. What's the local food like, what will you order in a bar, which
manners are essentially to know, and how do you ensure you're always
safe? This chapter is about immersing yourself in New Zealand and
squeezing every last piece of charm from the country.
The rest of the
chapters provide detailed information about destinations in New
Zealand. They're divided geographically, starting with the north of
the North Island and continuing to the...well, it's kind of obvious
where you're going to end up by the end of the guidebook. New Zealand
doesn't have many roads. Visitors are generally restricted to a
series of routes along the country's state highways. Each destination
chapter lists destinations geographically along these routes,
enabling a clear picture of which destinations can be combined.
destination you're introduced to the place and the experiences on
offer, enabling you to make a succinct and informed decision about
whether it's somewhere for your itinerary. Then the guide goes into
more detailed practical information that turn a dreamy visit into
firm reality; if you need to know about it, it will be covered in our
Planning Your Trip Ahead (Travel Routes, Itineraries, Etc)
The biggest consideration when
planning a New Zealand trip is whether to explore one or both
islands. Both offer a distinct experience although both imbue the
same impressions of New Zealand's laid-back atmosphere. This chapter
is split into North and South Island ideas to give a picture of what
is on offer.
Classic Routes at
One Week North: A
week is long enough to cross the North Island from Auckland to
Wellington or vise versa. There's three main available, the most
popular being traversing through the center of the island. A week is
long enough to also take in a day trip to the attractions north of
One Week South:
Either land in Queenstown and spend a week in the south of the
island, exploring the West Coast national parks and a rugged
landscape of mountains and lakes. From here there's a loop back to
Queenstown via Christchurch. Another option is to travel from
Queenstown up to Christchurch, passing through Mt Cook National Park.
One Week North and
South: Fly between destinations and get a flavor of the diversity by
exploring Queenstown, Rotorua, and then your choice of city.
Two Weeks North:
With two weeks you can really explore. Head north from Auckland to
the Bay of Islands and Ninety Mile Beach, cross the volcanic center
and its national parks, and check out hidden beaches on one of the
coastlines. There's also the opportunity to complete a loop from
Auckland to Wellington and back.
Two Weeks South:
There's enough time to experience most of the island, from the fjords
and national parks around Queenstown all the way up to Abel Tasman
National Park and the vineyards of Marlborough. However, you'll still
need to be selective and perhaps use flights to minimize travel time.
Two Weeks North and
South: Divide your time equally and look at the classic routes above
for one week on each island.
Three Weeks North
and South: Three weeks ensures a true impression of the country's
diversity. The above routes should provide ideas and then there's the
off the beaten track places to discover, like outlying islands,
remote national parks, and lazing away a few days on a beach or
Every visitor to New
Zealand is likely to forge their own itinerary. This isn't a country
for following a set must-see list of destinations and attractions.
The second greatest consideration when traveling here is how to find
more time. Almost everyone leaves New Zealand wishing they had more
time to spend, and that's true regardless if you have a week or three
months. This isn't a country for rushing around and trying to tick
off as much as possible. If time is short then it's far easier to
absorb the country's beauty by limiting the destinations.
It wouldn't fit the
New Zealand style to thickly detail an exact itinerary. In a country
of discovery, there are dozens of different places to stop. However,
the limited number of roads means there's only a few possible routes,
especially when heading through the mountains. The destination
sections are presented along the lines of these major routes. There
are some overarching considerations when planning any itinerary.
• Winding roads
and travel time: Picture an ultra straight American desert highway.
Now picture its opposite. That's a New Zealand road, winding,
rolling, turning, meandering, and never allowing the speedometer to
wobble very high. So a 120 mile journey between destinations will
probably take at least three hours, and that's not including the
numerous photo stops on route. If you're going by road, try not to
over-estimate how fast you can travel.
flights: A well-established network of local flights now connect much
of the country, effortlessly minimizing travel time and always
providing great views from the window. They're also cheap. Just
utilizing a couple of these can really expand your options.
• New Zealand's
diversity: Many people arrive in New Zealand and, thanks to a mix of
clever marketing and global preconceptions, think that they've found
Middle Earth. But they could all be looking at a different view. The
country offers a mix of mountain, forest, beach, city, volcano, green
hills, lakes, glacier, and a dozen other ecosystems. You can't see it
all. But consider combining a range of these backdrops regardless of
how short your visit is.
• Think about the
weather: It's a long way from north to south and the climatical
variations are huge. Thinking about the weather when you visit should
form a strong part of your itinerary planning.
When To Go and
Understanding Different Seasons
weather has a terrible reputation, especially if you ask anyone from
Australia. While this isn't a country for endless days sunbathing,
myths about continual rain are far off the mark. The country's
weather reputation usually stems from a few isolated destinations.
These are remote Pacific Islands after all, so you should expect a
few crazy anomalies. For example, there are parts of the South
Island's West Coast that receive a whopping ten meters of rainfall a
year. But head 200 miles east and the annual precipitation is more
like one meter a year.
geography forges a remarkable climatical diversity and there's often
the need to pack for all eventualities. This diversity means there is
no bad time to go. It's not like you'll miss the main attraction if
you can only travel in summer. Regardless of the month, there will be
some-where in prime visiting season. Despite this talk of weather
superlatives, New Zealand officially has a mellow climate, rarely
reaching searing temperatures or plunging to sub-zero lows. Here's a
rough guide to the weather and what's happening when you want to go.
(December to February)
Warmest and clearest
weather across most of the country but this peak season sees prices
rise and quiet retreats get busy.
This is easily the
hottest time of year and unquestionably peak season for tourism in
New Zealand. In particular, mid-December to the end of January is the
local school holiday period so expect an increase in prices and
remote idyllic retreats to be buzzing with families. Arrive in summer
and the beaches also become great to visit, temperatures are
consistently between 65 and 85°F and there's nowhere that isn't
Fall (March to
Great time to visit
all of New Zealand, just remember to pack for all seasons.
Fall brings just
about every type of weather to the country. Expect sun, wind, rain,
cloud, and everything in between. As the country heads out of summer
the landscapes are imbued with shimmer-ing new shades of color – a
further dimension to your Middle Earth portrait. It's a good time of
year to visit both islands but bring a good jumper.
Snow in the south
and wet in the north. Off peak season so cheaper prices and few other
slopes provide another reason to visit New Zealand and you'll find
the snow during the winter months. The skies are usually clear and
crisp on the South Island but the tempera-ture goes sub-zero and
parts of the island become inaccessible. The North Island isn't as
cold although the weather isn't always that pleasant. Still, bring a
good coat and the country is virtually yours, outside the ski slopes.
Winter is low season in New Zealand and this is also the cheapest
time to travel.
(September to November)
The wettest season
but also the most diverse and a chance to combine everything on
The regular rain in
spring is offset by the blossoming landscapes. All countries look
better in the spring bloom, and that's magnified in New Zealand.
While rain can be off putting, this is the best season to completely
explore the country's diversity. While the last days of snow are
enjoyed in the South, the beaches of the North start to welcome back
sunbathers (albeit brave ones).
Travel Costs and
Organizing Your Money
New Zealand isn't a
budget country. For starters, wherever you call home is thousands of
miles from this forgotten corner of the world map. So flights are
going to be pricey. With so many tours and activities to cover it's
unsurprising that New Zealand becomes a destination to really save
for and experience once in a lifetime. Having said that, New Zealand
doesn't need to be overly expensive. It's easy to eat and travel
relatively cheaply if you're prepared to cook your own meals and
stick to what is excellent quality budget accommodation. Here is a
for a New Zealand Trip
The information here
is a very rough guide and designed to be used purely for planning
purposes. Further consideration must be placed on how much time you
have. If you're cramming a lot into a week or two then plan on at
least an additional 25% to the figures below. If you're taking it
slow and moving about less then subtract 25%.
• Budget traveler
(US$ 70 - 90 a day) – You can achieve this by sleeping in hostels,
cooking most of your meals, being selective over tours, and not
hammering the bars. The hardest part of staying within budget is
turning down some of the tours and activities on offer. You can live
off $40 a day. But a Milford Sound day tour will then cost over $100.
So check for the free activities in national parks, like the
innumerable hiking trails.
traveler ($90 - 120 a day) – Extra money in the budget is usually
spent on doing a few more tours and activities, as well as eating out
more often. With the quality of budget ac-commodation being so high,
it's not necessarily worth splashing the cash on more expensive
traveler ($120 - 150 a day) – With a budget in this range you can
afford to really enjoy yourself. It should allow a good mid-range
hotel, eating out one or two times a day, having a few drinks, and
going on most of the tours.
traveler ($150 - 250) – Start spending more and New Zealand is
unveiled in increasingly boutique style. There should be nothing on
your bucketlist that can't be achieved and the higher range hotels
add extra charm to the trip.
• Luxury traveler
($250+) - Traveling in style can mean the country's most expensive
hotels. In New Zealand it also means the country's most unique
experiences. Think helicopter rides, private islands, white water
rafting down secluded rivers, and all the other things that come from
the annals of adventure travel reverie.
Example Costs in
• Here's an idea
of what day to day New Zealand is going to cost you (all prices in
• Dorm bed /
private double room in a good hostel - $20 / 60
• Double room in a
mid-range hotel - $60 – 100
• Meal for two at
a good but not gourmet restaurant - $50 – 80
• Journey of 200
miles by public transport - $20 – 30
• Full day tour of
famous natural attraction – anywhere from $70 – 150
• Pint of beer in
a local bar - $7 – 10
sandwich lunch from a cafe - $10 - 15
Easy Ways to
Reduce Your Costs When Traveling in New Zealand
New Zealand is often
a once in a lifetime vacation so everybody will want enough money to
do it properly. Traveling all the way to the south of the South
Island and then being unable to afford a trip to the West Coast
National Parks really sucks. So here are a few easy tips for cutting
the costs and ensuring you don't miss out.