10 tips for your trip to New Zealand

A trip to New Zealand is something that has probably been on your bucket list for years! The country, consisting of a North and South Island is fantastic in all its facets. Beautiful fauna and flora, breathtaking vistas and a Maori culture that is still incredibly present. To best prepare your future trip to the land of the Kiwis, we give you our most important tips based on our own experiences! That way you can start the ultimate road trip across New Zealand. Discover our 10 tips for your trip to New Zealand here!

1) Book your ferry between North and South in good time

A ferry will take you from the North Island to the South Island (or vice versa). Specifically, ferries run between the cities of Wellington and Picton. The crossing takes about 3h30 and cannot be avoided if you want to travel on to the other island. Several companies sail several times a day, but it is still important to book this trip well in advance and purchase your tickets. In fact, last minute there is a chance that there is no room for you and that can jeopardize your travel planning. The best-known ferry company is Interislander, but you can also easily book a ticket through a third party (e.g. Direct Ferries).

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2) Get your visa digitally fast and easy

To enter New Zealand, you need a visa. You can easily apply for this online in Dutch via a digital form. Through the NZeTA app, this can be done in minutes. The cost of the visa is €59.95 per person. Once the grant is in order, the visa is valid for two years. This visa allows you to travel to New Zealand an unlimited number of times within those two years. Each stay may last a maximum of 3 consecutive months or 90 days. Other than that, there are no other requirements to enter New Zealand.

3) Book inexpensive activities through digital platforms

Compared to the Netherlands and Belgium, New Zealand is a more expensive country. If you want to plan activities, be prepared that it can cost quite a bit of money. You obviously don’t want to miss out on the experiences, but you can save a lot by booking through digital platforms. Two well-known providers are bookme.co.nz and backpackerdeals. Here you will find a great overview of the coolest activities in New Zealand and can often save a lot on activities! We ourselves very often use Get Your Guide . They have a great overview of activities and we have only had good experiences with this!

4) Consider purchasing a DOC pass for the campsites

If you are considering staying mostly in nature parks, you can either pay per pitch or buy a 30-day pass. You can recognize these campsites in natural parks under the label of DOC (Department of Conservation). Often a DOC campsite costs between 0 and 15 NZD per person. These are often “basic” campsites with a non-flush toilet and covered area for eating.

You have to weigh up for yourself what will be most advantageous to you. In addition to DOC sites, there are vacation parks such as the Holiday Parks, among others, that work with discount codes if you purchase a membership card. So determining in advance which camp sites you will mainly be at can definitely save you some money. Prices for Holiday Parks are often between NZD 15 and 25, but these have better facilities. Here you often have hot showers, nice living spaces and kitchens with all the necessary appliances.

TRAVEL TIP! Some campsites are best booked in advance to be sure of a place. Think about your New Zealand itinerary in time to estimate when it’s best to book campsites! Discover here the ultimate travel itineraries through the South and North Island !

5) Download the map of New Zealand offline

In natural areas and even in the places you don’t expect, you often don’t have phone coverage in New Zealand. Not even with a local SIM card. Therefore, it is recommended that you take a moment to download the map of New Zealand on your phone. This ensures that navigation capabilities are available to you at all times. With Google Maps , offline use of navigation is possible only for highways. Hiking trails will not be included in detail. For this, it’s best to install the app MAPS.ME on your phone.

6) Keep in mind sandflies

The wildlife in New Zealand is fantastic: penguins, dolphins, whales … and kiwis if you’re lucky. In addition, “sandflies” or sand flies are also prominent in several places. These are small flies that resemble fruit flies, but can significantly dominate your trip. When you have been bitten by a sand fly, it can lead to a lot of itching. If you are sensitive to this, it is best to purchase the necessary medication or ointments against itching .

Preventively, there is little you can do about it. Unfortunately, even the better mosquito spray does not work against these persistent flies. The only thing that would help, according to locals, is eating “marmite” daily. This would provide a good amount of vitamin B in the body, making you unattractive to these insects. Marmite is a kind of spice paste found in New Zealand, but it has a very special taste.

7) Keep in mind the varied climate

In one day in New Zealand, you can stand on top of a glacier where it is around 10°C, and a few hours later lie on a golden, sunny sandy beach in the sun. Temperatures can change dramatically in a single day in New Zealand. It is important to prepare for this as well.

So when packing your luggage, you need to be prepared to face the erratic weather conditions in this country. A good raincoat and thermal underwear are as important as swimming trunks and sunscreen. Certainly don’t let this deter you because every weather condition gives the country its own impressive charm.

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8) Keep in mind Kiwis’ healthy work-life balance

New Zealanders like a healthy rhythm between work and home. This translates mainly in the opening hours of tourist centers, stores, bicycle and car rentals (as well as restaurants in the smaller villages). Often after 4 or 5 p.m. you can’t get here. The larger supermarkets located on the outskirts of town do stay open long enough to do your shopping. But inquiring in the evening to discuss your activity for the next day with the locals is often not possible. So book your activities early to avoid unpleasant surprises!

Because of a delayed flight, we ourselves arrived at 5 p.m., two hours later than the scheduled arrival time. Direct consequence was that we were unable to pick up our reserved motorhome because the office was already closed and we had to find alternative lodging last minute.

9) Start your tour with a hotel stay

To save you from unnecessary stress and to start your tour well rested, we recommend spending the first night(s) in town before picking up your motorhome or rental car. Normally you arrive in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington where there is plenty to do. This way you can be sure to pick up your RV or car within the opening hours. But also to digest the possible jet lag, a hotel stay seems appropriate. You will be embarking on an active journey, so starting well rested is a plus.

You should also take this into account on your return trip. Many rental companies only open at 9 a.m. so if you have an early flight, you will have to bring in your rental car or motorhome the day before. So be sure to check your flights, and allow some margin to pick up, or return your motorhome or car on time

10) Install the following apps

As the last of our 10 tips for your next trip to New Zealand, we’d like to give you some handy applications:

  • Airalo: If your phone supports e-sims, you can get a digital mobile subscription (this is often slightly more expensive than buying a local sim). We paid for one sim card with enough data and used a hotspot if multiple devices needed to be online.
  • Booking: The most well-known tool for booking your stay. For different price ranges, you can always find accommodation through this app.
  • Bookme: This is an award-winning application for booking activities and attractions for New Zealand. You can also use this handy app in Australia and Fiji, which often has the best prices for various activities.
  • Campermate or Rankers: This app gives you an overview of all campsites, gas stations, public restrooms, … Very handy if you are on a tour to see where you will spend the nights. Reviews from previous travelers are easy to consult, giving you a good impression of the facilities.
  • All-trails: New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise. The better-known walks are clearly marked, but this app gives you all the walks that can be found near you or in the location of your choice.
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Do you have any questions about the above New Zealand tips? Let us know in a comment below! Be sure to read our ideal travel itinerary through New Zealand’s North Island or South Island! Please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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