People that travel a lot understand the importance of being prepared. Making sure that you have everything that you need and having some type of plan in place can make any trip a little better. The amount of planning and the depth of what a person does to prepare for a trip will depend on the individual.
Some do not want a trip to be too structured while others need to have every detail taken care of before they leave. Both of these are okay. Here are the top tips to prepare for a Trip to New Zealand.
Related read: Which is The Right Time of Year to Visit New Zealand?
Planning for a trip to an unfamiliar destination is even more important. It may be easier to make mistakes, forget things, or run into problems when you are not familiar with the rules, laws, climate, and activities of an unfamiliar land.
Many people would enjoy taking a trip to New Zealand, but they may not be familiar with the country. It is worth learning what to do when preparing for a trip to New Zealand.
Suggested read: 8 Things that You Must Do When Visiting New Zealand
Table of Contents
Tips to prepare for a Trip to New Zealand
1. Documents that are needed
Before you try to enter New Zealand, make sure that you have the right documents. A passport will be needed. It will have to be valid for at least 3 months past the date planned for your visit. A visa may also be needed depending on the country that you are coming from. If the country has a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand, this is not needed.
When arriving in New Zealand, you will fill out a visitor’s permit. This is good for 3 months or 6 months for British citizens. Visitors from Australia with a current resident Australia return visa do not need the permit.
2. Entering New Zealand
Two international airports service New Zealand. Auckland International Airport and Christchurch International Airport are perfect places to fly into. Before flying into these airports check out what is and what is not allowed to be brought into the country. Many types of food are restricted by the rules and will be held at customs in the airport.
3. What to Pack
The first thing people have to remember is that New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere. That means the winter months run from June to October and the summer months are from November to February. Pack clothes according to the time of year that you are traveling during.
Some of the essentials due to the very diverse climate for a trip to New Zealand include:
- Rain Coats – especially when visiting the rainforests of the country
- Sunglasses – always a necessity
- Comfortable shoes – whether hiking along the trails, spending time at the beach or walking around the city, comfortable shoes are a must
- Hat and Sunscreen – The sun can be brutal and protection of the skin is very important for a trip to New Zealand
- Layers of clothing – If you are traveling to different regions of New Zealand, layer of clothing will keep you as warm as you need to be.
4. Things to Know about New Zealand
1. Practice Sun Safety
Sun is strong in New Zealand especially at high altitudes and on the North Island, so always wear sunblock even if it’s a cloudy day.
While New Zealand is in the deep southern hemisphere, Auckland is on the 36th parallel south of the equator. OR else if you have heat burns
2. Drive on the Correct (Left-hand) Side of the Road
Do look right before crossing the street. In big cities like Auckland, Alexia Nestora Yo will notice that the curb telling tourists that traffic is coming from the opposite direction they’re most used to. But, in case the sign isn’t there to save you, always look to your right!
You will find many one-way bridges on the South Island of New Zealand, which can be very confronting for travelers if you have just hired a car and are still getting used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. As you leave the one-way bridge, remember to stick to the left-hand side if there’s no oncoming traffic.
New Zealand’s roads are often quiet, so exiting these bridges without any cars on the opposite side of the road can be a little daunting for first-timers.
Always stick to the speed limits. The New Zealand police don’t take speeding lightly (and so they shouldn’t), so you can get a fine even if you’re just a few kilometers over the limit.
3. Sand Flies
Sandflies are insects that will swarm on you in the summer, especially on the South Island on the west coast in places like Milford and Doubtful Sound. Make sure to bring plenty of strong bug spray, or purchase some before you leave the city to head out back-country camping and hiking.
It’s a good idea to layer up in the evenings, cover your arms and legs, put socks on, and spray everywhere else with insect repellant. Do not underestimate these tiny pests.
4. Staying Connected
The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111, which is free to call. If you have an emergency and need a quick response from the Police, Fire Service, Ambulance, or Search and Rescue, dial 111.
When it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity, it is not good in remote areas. But, when you’re in the major cities, like Auckland, Queenstown, Wellington, and Christchurch, you’ll find plenty of cafes offering free Wi-Fi to customers, as well as accommodation with Wi-Fi in the bundle.
If you want to get a SIM card when you arrive in New Zealand, check out the phone stores at the airport to see the best deals and find an option that’s right for you. Look out for Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees.
5. Hazards to Be on the Lookout For
Due to New Zealand’s sub-tropical climate, it’s no surprise that New Zealanders like to spend so much of their leisure time in the water. However, water can conceal hazards. We recommend that you visit the Water Safety New Zealand website for advice on how to stay safe on NZ’s beaches and waterways.
There are some rugged mountain roads too. Always check road conditions before you head out on a lengthy road trip – especially during winter months when high passes to ski fields or Milford Sound can freeze over. In these conditions, it’s best to bring tire chains with you to fit onto the wheels when the signs say so.
It’s also not uncommon for landslides or rock-falls to cause road closures. On the road from Glenorchy to Queenstown, there are a few tricky narrow passes where large rocks are often in the way.
Always drive carefully, never drive if you’re tired. Besides, pulling over on the side of the road in New Zealand often means you’ll be treated to some pretty incredible scenery!
6. Time Your Trip Right for an All Blacks Game
If you’re there when an All Blacks game is on, you must get yourself a ticket to see the almighty New Zealand team do the ‘Haka’. This tribal tradition is well-known around the world, but it’s much better in real life than on a 2D screen.
7. Prepare Ahead for Day Walks
What makes New Zealand’s day walks different is how quickly conditions can change. Setting off on a sunny morning, sunblock is the first thing to consider. Within hours the wind might have picked up or there could be freezing horizontal rain, and you might get stuck with no shelter. Casual walks on mountains in Europe might make people believe they are prepared, but this is a completely different place.
8. Respect the Environment
New Zealand is all about recycling. You can even get fines if they don’t recycle properly. On most beaches, you’ll see signs with details on what you can and can’t do.
9. Finding Campsites
Bring camping gear and download CamperMate from the App Store for cheap accommodation alternatives in the outdoors.
On the Department of Conservation’s website, you will get plenty of practical information on campsites that’ll help you find an adventure right near you! The DOC site has thousands of options, and there are plenty of locally-owned campgrounds with tent sides or camper van hook-ups! Don’t miss out on sleeping under the stars!
Also read: What to Do with Kids in New Zealand
10. Learn Some Maori
You can impress the locals if you can learn some of their history and culture before visiting. Plus, who doesn’t love showing off their new language skills?