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New Zealand - Travel Information

In the eyes of many, New Zealand is heaven on earth, and it is easy to agree. Traveling here combines amazing sceneries, hospitable na warm people and endless tranquility. Each traveler has his own New Zealand, whether he is seeking treks or short walks, extreme sports or just peace of mind and relaxation.

New Zealand's Geography

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific Ocean, and is divided into 3 major islands. The country's size is 270,534 sq km and the population is 4 million.

The official language of New Zealand is English, and most of the population is Christian.

When to travel to New Zealand

New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, and so the seasons are inverted to the seasons that Europeans and North American travelers are used to. The recommended season for traveling in New Zealand is the hot and dry season, meaning December to March.

From mid December children are on vacation from school and the country is flooded with travelers. Prices increase significantly and hotels and trails are loaded.

New Zealand can be very pleasant also in the autumn (April-May) and spring (October-November). The advantage of these seasons is low prices, which decrease the cost of the trip significantly. The disadvantage is that some of the trails are closed and the possibility for rain and low tempeture is higher (especially in the south island).

My trip to New Zealand was between September to December.

In and Out

For citizens of most countries, only a valid passport is necessary for entry and a staying in New Zealand for less then 3 months. Note that when you leave New Zealand, you will be required to pay an airport tax of 24 NZ Dollars.

Travel costs in New Zealand

New Zealand is relatively expensive for travelling mainly because of all the attraction it has to offer. When traveling as a backpacker, you can ZN plan on at least 1,000 US Dollar per person per month, and add / subtract the costs according to the following factors:

  • Campervan (Motorhome) - add a lot
  • Car rental- add a lot
  • Bus - add
  • Buying a car - without a change
  • Buying a van- significantly lower

  • Restaurants - add a lot
  • Fast food - add
  • Self cooking - lower

  • Hotels - add a lot
  • Backpackers - add
  • Van - lower
  • Campervan (Motorhome) - lower

Extra for special attractions
  • Skydiving
  • Whale Watching
  • Internal flights
  • Expensive treks

* It is very difficult to do self-cooking without buying a car or a van.

It is advisable to open a New Zealand bank account - all is needed is a passport and 3 months visa. When you open the account, you can wire your money from your account in your home country directly to your new account. It is worthwhile signing a wire form at your bank before leaving home.

When opening a new account you will receive a debit card, which you can use everywhere (e.g. grocery stores, park entrance fees, gas, etc.) and draw money from ATMs. It is impossible to use this bank account in Australia.

Lately some travelers have faced some difficulties in opening new accounts. You shouldn't give up and it always helps to be polite.

Getting around

Traveling with a car or Campervan (Motorhome) is the best way to travel in New Zealand. Read more about traveling in a car in the chapter about New Zealand Caravan (Motorhome).

New Zealand Ferries

There are two companies operating ferries (passengers and vehicles) from Wellington (north island) to Picton (south island). We recommend "Strait Shipping".

Interislander company operates the Lynx and Interislander ferries. The rate structure of this company is slightly complicated. The tickets types are as follows:

Type Flexibility Reservation Price
Ultra Saver no refund upon cancellation only through an agent the cheapest
Saver Change 50% up on cancellation only thorough an agent average
Easy Change Full refund upon cancellation from the company's website full price

The accurate rate depends on the combination of ticket type, travel date, time of travel (hour) and the how much time in advance the ticket was ordered.

Example for full rate (valid until April 2005):

Private car (up to 1.6 meter), not including the driver -185 NZD,
Each passenger - 55 NZD

Ferries operate between 4 to 5 times a day in each direction. The trip lasts about 3 hours in the Interislander and 2 hours and 15 minutes in the Lynx ferry.

Pros: if your crossing date is well known in advance, then you can get the best rate. A change in date or in timing will increase the price significantly.

Strait Shipping operates the Bluebridge ferry. The rates (valid for October 2004, including tax):

Private car (up to 1.6 meter) + driver - 165 NZD
Each additional passenger - 45 NZD

Pros: fix rate throughout the year for all ferries. No addition cost for date changes.
Cons: Non-refundable ticket.

2 ferries operate daily in each direction. The trip lasts 3 hours and 20 minutes.