♦Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($) (NZD)
♦Zone: +12 GMT
♦Phone Code: +64
♦Best time to visit: November-March
♦Must eat: Local Kiwi (fruit)
♦Must drink: Merlot Wine
♦Don't miss:Franz Joseph Glacier
♦Number of times visited: 2
Getting there and transportation: New Zealand is one of the furtherest destinations you can travel to from Europe. It's location in the Pacific Ocean,means that when arriving in New Zealand you will have traveled quite ahead in time. For example travelling from the USA to New Zealand, you will leave on day 1 and arrive on day 3! This is very important to take into account when making bookings, Hotels and reservations as you don't want to find yourself spending any extra money unnecessary.
New Zealand is a very developed country and fortunately, despite the distance, there a plenty of ways to get there. Naturally by air is the only option. The national airline Air New Zealand, links Asia, America and Europe with a modern and advanced fleet.
Coming from Europe it takes at least 24 hours of flying. With at least one stop over, going eastwards or westwards. Air New Zealand, flies to London via Los Angeles which is the best route offered.
Other airlines offer flights to Auckland, via its main hub. Emirates via Dubai, Singapore Airlines via Singapore, LATAM via Santiago de Chile or from the USA from the west coast main hubs. (San Francisco or Los Angeles).
Other options if travelling already within the area are to travel with other Asian carriers, or low cost airlines such as Jetstar or Virgin Australia.
Once in New Zealand transportation is still relying heavily on aircraft, as to travel from one island to the other requires long drives plus a 3 hour ferry to cross the channel to the south Island and vice-versa. Domestic airlines which fly most routes are Air New Zealand and Jetstar.
If you are connecting domestically in New Zealand, remember to always clear customs at the first port of entry into the country, even if your luggage is tagged to final destination. You will then need to take luggage to a drop of zone to proceed to the domestic flight.
Public transport in New Zealand is good within main cities, like Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. However if you travelling around its probably better to rent a car or sleeper van (motor-home) which is a popular option in New Zealand.
Attention!: Customs regulations in New Zealand are very strict. Anything which is coming from a live source, natural or organic must be declared as you enter the country. (Food, natural animal produce, skins, or plants should be declared or face a fine).
Be aware than even clean shoes are required to enter, as they may contain trashes of dirt or seeds from plants in other countries.
Weather and temperature: New Zealand has opposite seasons than Europe, these being quite extreme as well in certain parts of the country. Take always appropriate clothing as it can get very cold specially in the colder months. (June to September).
generally the weather changes quite drastically from one Island to the other. Summer's are warm in the North Island, less rain and less windy as not so mountainous. Temperatures can reach 25-30C in the Summer and 10C during Winter.
In the South Island can be often cooler, more cloudy and rainy due to the landscape, being very hilly, abundant mountain ranges and glaciers. Summer's can still reach 20-25C and Winter's 0-12C. (but specially colder in the mountains). The best time to visit New Zealand is from late Spring to the end of Summer. (November to March).
Attention!: The location of New Zealand also means that the islands are more likely to be hit by earthquakes. New Zealand lies on the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. Most earthquakes occur at faults, which are breaks extending deep within the earth. If this was to happen always remain calm. Getting ready before an earthquake strikes will help reduce any harm and help you survive. Follow these simple steps.: Drop, Cover and Hold. (get down on your hands and legs, cover yourself and hold on to a firm surface or handle).
- If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.
- If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold.
What to eat and drink: New Zealand boasts some superb cuisine, most of which are influenced by the Pacific Rim style, drawing from the heritage of the cultures in the region. New Zealand has a reputation as a leading producer of meat and dairy produce with lamb, beef and pork on most menus. Venison is also widely available. A variety of fish, including snapper, grouper and John Dory can be found. The kumara, a native sweet potato, is a common accompaniment, while kiwi fruit, feijoa and tamarillo are celebrated fruits. Those with a sweet tooth should try hokey pokey ice cream and the national desert, pavlova, a rich concoction of meringue, cream and fresh fruit. New Zealand is also establishing a reputation for French-type cheeses: bleu de Bresse, brie, camembert and montagne bleu.
Specialities include: Kumara (native sweet potato). Feijoa (local fruit) and golden-fleshed Zespri Gold kiwi fruit from the Bay of Plenty. Battered fish and chips from Gisbourne. Salmon and green-lipped mussels from Marlborough. Paua (abalone) from Stewart Island. Toheroa (clam) from Ninety Mile Beach. Oysters from Bluff. Hangi in Rotorua: Maori-style feast cooked in an earth oven under heated river rocks, which often includes chicken, wild boar and lamb, as well as vegetables.
A for drinks, you can find these regional drinks: New Zealand boasts world-class domestic wines and beers, many of which have won international awards.Merlot (Auckland and Wairarapa), Chardonnay (Bay of Plenty, Gisbourne, Wairarapa and Canterbury), Pinot Gris and Noir (Auckland, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Central Otago) and Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough and Wairarapa) are all locally produced, as well as New Zealand draught beers and lager.
Introduction: Although Auckland is not the capital of New Zealand, (being Wellington) it is the main gateway to the country and is a great starting or ending point to any trip. It's a city which has many modern facilities, Hotels for all budgets, tourists attractions and a great variation in places to eat.(due to its great mix of cultures).
Auckland is a very international city, you will find a very strong Asian influence, with many Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian nationals walking,living and visiting the city.
For many visitors Auckland is only a stopover city whilst they take up the rent car or motor-home as they travel within the country. However as you will see there is much more you can do in the capital. In the city you're never far from breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, invigorating walks, idyllic holiday islands, outstanding food and wine, great shopping and exciting nightlife.
Transportation: The city has a well developed public transport system comprising of trains, busses and ferry's. From the airport there is an express service run by SkyBus. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service operates two bus routes between the Airport and the city, one via Mt Eden Road and one via Dominion Road so there are plenty of convenient places you can catch the service. Airport to city transfers take approximately 40-60 min. Tickets are available at the airport ticket kiosks (located by the SkyBus bus stops at the airport), from the bus driver (cash only), SkyBus Hub/Lounge (396 Queen Street) selected city hostels, hotels, Auckland i-Sites, and online at Skybus. Fares are NZ $18 adult one way and NZ $32 adult return.
Alternatively, a cheaper option is available from the airport, taking a bit longer. Get the local bus to Papatoetoe station for only $3. Take the bus number 380 in direction to Manukau. (you will recognise the busses by their distinctive orange colour). Get off at Papatoetoe station and continue the journey by train to the centre, costing another $3-5.
To ride the transportation in Auckland is cheaper to get a AT HOP card, which gives 20% discount over single cash fares. Get the card at selected stores, valid on trains, ferries and busses around Auckland. (excludes NiteRider, SkyBus and Waiheke ferry services). Below is the train map for Auckland.
What to see and do: In Auckland you will find plenty of activities to do, explore the city and visit it's highlights, both it's buildings and natural wonders like wine regions, stunning beaches, pristine rainforest as well as sports and harbour adventures right on your doorstep.Popular highlights in the city include:
Tip: When staying in Auckland, don't miss Mission Bay, it's only a short ride on the bus (767, 757, 745 or 769) from Britomart station, and get off at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium, where the city's aquarium is located. Not only there are some incredible views from the city from this point, but as you walk along you will find more attractions. Continuing the road along the coast line, you will see the entrance to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial. (was the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand). As well from here there are great views to the city and beyond. Specially if you see it in the evening dusk light. Afterwards head down to Mission Bay, where you can discover beautiful white-sand beaches and a vibrant beachfront promenade lined with stylish but relaxed eateries, it's Auckland’s most urban beach. From Mission Bay you can then catch the same busses back to downtown.
Suggestion, visit Waiheke Island: The popular island is suited to visit year around, located 21.5 km from the Harbour at Auckland. It's just a 40-minute ferry ride away. Waiheke is home to a number of wineries and vineyards nestled into the landscape. There are loads of activities for adventure seekers too (horse riding, archery and laser clay pigeon shooting, hire a scooter, take a scenic flight or zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zip line). Waiheke is not only about nature, it also has a thriving arts scene, from local galleries and studios to an inspiring sculpture park. You can also go there with your car if you are renting and drive along the coast line. There are many tours which give a good insight and a whole day of sights and activities. You can check prices and details at the information hut next to the Harbour Port Entrance. Usually for the basic tour it's $55 NZD and up to $155 NZD for more in depth tours.
Accommodation: In Auckland you can find Hotels to suit every pocket and taste. It's important to compare and contrast websites for the best deals and book early to grab best prices. Staying further away from the centre will also bring the price down. Hostels and Airbnb is also a good idea to save money. Average Hotels can cost €40 per night per room.
One recommended Hotel is Kiwi International Street Hotel, a 3 star Hotel, at 411 Queen St. Quiet yet centrally located in Auckland. All of the city's major attractions are within walking distance, including the Viaduct Basin, the central business district, theatres and the flamboyant nightclub area of 'K' Road. Rooms are fully equipped single, double or twin ensuite rooms with, Free WIFI, TV, telephone, clock radio, tea and coffee making facilities and hair dryer. The House Bar, has a pool table, and offers a snack menu of light meals.On the ground floor there is a travel desk.The entire building is smoke-free.
Recommended duration: Staying in Auckland after coming back to civilisation from the nature will be a relaxing experience and probably many of you will just want to catch up with their social life and sending updates online. The city is very well prepared with many cafes and WiFi connections. If you still have the energy however to explore the city, then 2 to 3 nights would be enough.
Suggested itinerary: With a motor-home it's fun to take advantage of the facilities it offers, you can see more or fewer places depending how you want to plan your visits. For the suggested trip covering both islands then 4 days can be enough, but if want to maximise the use then a week to 10 days would be a good idea, sleeping all the time in the motor-home.
The following planner covers most of the country, highlighting the most important tourist stops and landmarks. It covers a 4 day tour with a caravan or motor-home and 3 days exploring by other means of transportation.
Day 1: Arrival at Auckland Airport - Rotorua. Collect the Motor-home by the dedicated Free transport to the Office. Please note that the office for collection closes at 17:00, so make sure your flights arrive within good time. In the office need to pay off the balance for the deposit and after singing a few papers your Motor-home will be ready to drive away!
Start the trip towards Rotorua, but first it’s advisable to stock up in some supermarket with food and supplies for the journey ahead! Once in Rotorua, find somewhere quiet to overnight. Journey time approximately 3 hour.
Introduction: Dunedin is a the second largest city in New Zealand by size, located at the head of Otago Harbour. Dunedin is best known for its picturesque harbour setting, lively student population and Scottish heritage. It's considered one of the country's four main centres for its colonial history and it's home to some rare flora and fauna like the Royal Albatross breeding grounds and Yellow-Eyed & Little Blue Penguin colonies.
Weather and temperature: The Summer months are from November to April, peak season is December, February and March. This is not only because of foreign tourists but also domestic travellers who have holidays. If you visit in this season, book in advance because it’s not so easy to find accommodation.
January and February are the best times to visit Dunedin, as temperatures are more pleasant. Due to the location of Dunedin, it's temperatures rarely go up from 20C. Winters are colder, (June to September) with temperatures below 10C on most days but can get to as little as 1 C, thankfully being by the ocean it prevents it reaching subzero figures.If you visit during the Winter, take into account that day light hours are very limited, as it gets dark by 5-6 pm when most tours end and shops close.Temperatures go down during the evening making it much colder and often can be windy.Take plenty of warm clothes, gloves, water-proof gear, hats, coats etc
Transportation: Unless you are renting a car, motor-home or van, the location of Dunedin, means it's quite isolated from major towns and getting to it, requires to fly into the airport, the main getaway, specially if you are coming from the north. The airport of Dunedin is located 30km away from the city and it does not have any public transportation options. Therefore we advise you to always book your private transfer online, in order to save money and time. There are a few companies which offer direct door-to-door transfer service, which is handy if you have luggage. Supershuttle, Airport Shuttle Dunedin and Kiwishuttles. Fares are around $20 NZD per person one way. (if you book directly at the airport they will be $30 NZD).
Alternatively you can get a taxi, if you are sharing with many others to bring the price down.
Once in the city, Dunedin's public transport consists of entirely busses. The times are not very frequent, due to most people driving. It's advised to check the timetables before you get the bus. Specially at the weekend, busses run only every hour and stop about 6 pm on some routes. However getting to some places, might be useful taking the busses as walking can be long and up hills. There are several busses which can take you to nice locations around Dunedin. Check out on what to see and do for more information on which busses to take around the city.
If you want to travel out of Dunedin to other cities in the South Island of New Zealand, the only option by public transport is by bus. Services are quite limited, so it's always best to check the times before you travel. The company which offer these services is Atomic Travel.
What to see and do: The region is famed for it's natural scenery, beauty and free wildlife. It's the ideal destination for those seeking nature, and animal lovers who want to see rare and endemic species, natural to New Zealand. The city as well is full of culture, from the beautiful Train Station and the Clock Tower to the Chinese Gardens and residential houses resembling the construction style of the early European conquers. Within the city you have free museums, gardens, parks and the main shopping street, George street, packed with shopping malls and restaurants.
However to make the most of your time in Dunedin, it's recommend you join some of the many tours, which operate from the city centre and take you to some of the incredible picturesque scenery and nature wonders waiting to be explored. The best idea is to head to the Dunedin i-site information centre, located at 50 The Octagon. They will provide you with plenty of information and arrange the tours.
Below are the highlights of Dunedin with some of the tours available which we took.
The timetables for the trains are always changing depending on the season. The Pukerangi tour costs $96 NZD and to Middlemarch its $120 NZD per adult. To book your seats and type of tour, better visit the following page for more information: Dunedinrailways
Accommodation: Staying in Dunedin is not as cheap as other cities in New Zealand. The location and the nature wonders nearby make it a high sought destination and this is noticed on the nightly prices. Near the city centre, Hotels can be found which resemble classic styles, yet elegant and chic. These are expensive Hotels, costing from €50-80 per night. However, moving north on George street you will find plenty of Motels, which are a more typical accommodation type in New Zealand. They are usually self-catering and can be cheaper than hotels at €40-60 per night. If you are on a budget then there are plenty of Hostels and backpacker style places spread around the city. Also it's popular to seek private accommodation, shared and stay in local houses thanks to Airbnb.
Recommend duration: When coming to Dunedin, there might not be as much to see at first glance, but as you begin to discover your way around, you will soon realise you might need more time. If you coming for nature, fauna and scenery then you will be impressed and stay a little longer, up to 3 nights would be enough. The city centre can be seen easily within a day, as it's all in walking distance. However, it's important to analyse which time of the year you're coming to visit. Winter's can make your day finish about 5 pm as shops and tours usually end at this time. Summer's are more pleasant to stay out in the evening and day light lasts longer. Staying also the weekend, is better for more activity in the city, but for tours make sure you book in advance. In total 3 to 4 nights over the weekend would be the best recommendation.