The weather in New Zealand varies a lot per region, per season and sometimes even on one day, so it is very important to keep this in mind when planning your trip. In the north there is a sub-tropical climate, while in the south it can reach -10 ° C in winter. In general, it is warmest in the north and coldest in the south. The hottest months are January and February and the coldest are July and August.
Spring runs from September to November. The average temperature is between 16 ° C and 19 ° C. Spring is also called the waterfall season, the waterfalls are larger and more impressive, so it is a great time for a walking holiday. The flowers are also in bloom and therefore it is a good time to go to Hobbiton, for example. In the spring there are also several food and wine festivals that are worth checking out.
December till February are the summer months, when the average temperature is 20 ° C to 25 ° C. Summer is a wonderful time to visit New Zealand. New Zealand consists of islands, so you are never far from the sea. That’s why it’s a great time to camp, go to the beach, go for walks, take boat trips, learn to surf, kayak, snorkel, swim with dolphins and much more! Most events are also in the summer months. New Zealand has many different types of events, so there is something for everyone.
Autumn runs from March to May and the average temperature is 17 ° C to 21 ° C. The temperature is still high in the fall, but you will see a lot less tourists. The beautiful autumn colours will come out and it is therefore also a perfect time for a walking holiday. During autumn it is also warm enough in most places for swimming, for example with dolphins in Akaroa. March is also a time when many events take place, such as Homegrown Music Festival, Dunedin Fringe festival or Balloons over Waikato.
June till August are the winter months, when the average is 12 ° C to 16 ° C. In winter, temperatures vary greatly between the North and South Island. In the north it is a very mild winter, while the south sees a lot of snow. Which means you can go skiing, read more about skiing in New Zealand here. If you don’t like skiing, the North Island is a good choice. In Coromandel and Rotorua, for example, there are many natural hot springs, perfect for a cool day. If you are a fan of the NZ rugby team “The All Blacks” winter is a good time to come, this is when you can see them play live, make sure to book this early in advance though!
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New Zealand is a big country and there is a lot to see, so think carefully about how you want to travel around. Most people rent a car or campervan themselves, but there are also many bus options and a few trains. There are also boat connections and it is possible to take domestic flights. You can even walk from the northernmost point to the southernmost point!
Most people will fly to New Zealand, it is of course quite out of way. There are four international airports in New Zealand: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. There are also dozens of local airports, which makes it very easy if you want to see a lot in little time. For the best deals look at Skyscanner, here you can easily compare flights.
Driving yourself is the most popular way to travel in New Zealand and with good reason! This way you can stop where you want, for how long you want and you can go to places where public transport cannot go. Many people decide to rent a campervan or car in which they can sleep, in order to travel through the country camping. Camping spots can be found all over New Zealand, from free and cheap to more expensive campsites with more amenities, everything is possible. If you are going to drive yourself, take a look at the recommended apps, which make traveling a lot easier.
Driving in New Zealand can be different from your home country. Most importantly, New Zealanders drive on the left, which is why your steering wheel is on the right side of the car. If you are not used to this, it will always takes some getting used to, so keep this in mind! Furthermore, the weather can change very quickly and there are many small winding roads, so always keep a close eye on the recommended speed, which is indicated for most sharp turns. If you plan to drive in the south in winter, make sure your car has winter tires and snow chains. Check your route in advance as some roads will close in bad weather. Most people will have to get an international license in order to drive in New Zealand. This is valid for 12 months as long as it’s together with your original license.
If you prefer not to drive yourself, buses are a great option. There are many long distance buses and there are hop-on, hop-off buses. Intercity is one of the largest bus companies in New Zealand. You can go for all types of bus tickets with them, tickets for shuttle buses to the airport, for long distance buses or for “hop-on, hop-off” buses. They even recently introduced a sleeper bus between Auckland and Wellington. The Kiwi Experience is very popular among backpackers who like to travel with other young people. This is a hop-on, hop-off system where you determine the start and end destination and can get on and off wherever you want. You can also book activities directly through them and they have deals for accommodation. Another hop-on hop-off bus company is StrayTravel. This works in the same way as Kiwi Experience but with fewer young people and they are more focused on discovering the “real” NZ. This is the one I would recommend!
Since you are never far from water in New Zealand, there are many options for taking the boat. The best known option is the ferry that connects the North and South Island, you can get on it by foot or by car. It is a wonderful journey, make sure to keep your eyes open for dolphins, whales and seals on the way! In addition, there are many islands that are worth seeing, such as Waiheke Island near Auckland or Urupukapuku Island in the north. There are also many boat tours to see marine life and the best way to see Milford Sound is definitely by boat. Find here more excursions.
Traveling by train is not often done in New Zealand, but it is certainly possible! There are three beautiful routes, also known as the Kiwirail Scenic Journeys. The first goes from Auckland to Wellington on the North Island, the second goes from Picton to Christchurch on the South Island and the third connects Christchurch to Greymouth on the South Island. All three trains reach places where you cannot reach by car, so it’s a unique experience! You can buy a one-way ticket for these trains or you can buy a “hop-on, hop-off” ticket that allows you to get on and off wherever you want.
New Zealanders are very active people and there are therefore many possibilities for cycling, whether you want to go on a proper cycling holiday or just go around for a day. In all major cities you can find good bicycle shops where you can buy or rent a bicycle. Some shops even buy the bicycles back at the end of your trip for half the price if it is still in good condition. There are also several cycling races through the country every year. Visit www.nzcycletrail.com for more information about routes.
There are many hiking trails in New Zealand, but the most spectacular is the Te Aroaroa, which stands for “the long path”. This is a walking route that takes you from the north of the North Island to the south of the South Island. This route is 3000 km long and it takes about 4 months to walk. The route passes beautiful coasts, national parks, mountain areas, local villages, towns and everything in between. This is the best way to see the real New Zealand. You can also walk certain parts of this route, such as the more famous Queen Charlotte Track or the Tongariro Crossing. For more information about the walk, see www.teararoa.org.nz. Other spectacular hikes are the 10 Great Walks or read here about my 5 favourite day hikes in New Zealand.
English is the primary language in New Zealand, but Maori and sign language are also official languages of the country. There is no need to learn Maori words to travel around New Zealand.
No vaccinations are recommended for New Zealand.
If you need a tourist visa all depends on the country you are form. People from certain countries need a tourist visa before coming to New Zealand, while other countries are exempt. A tourist visa is valid for 9 months while people from visa exempt countries can stay for 3 months. Read below about the “visa” procedure for exempt countries.
From October 1st, 2019, everyone that is from a visa exempt country needs to apply for a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) and IVL (International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy) before going to New Zealand. The costs are NZD17 via the app and NZD23 via the form on the website. The IVL costs NZD35 per person and both amounts must be paid upon request. Both the NZeTA and the IVL are valid indefinitely for 2 years. Please note that processing these applications can take up to 72 hours. In addition, you must ensure that your passport is valid for more than 3 months upon arrival. Once you have the NZeTA and IVL you are allowed to stay in New Zealand for 3 month, except for people from the UK, they are allowed to stay for 6 months.
Use this link to find out if you need a tourist visa and what the conditions are.
Would you like to work while traveling in New Zealand and are you between 18 and 30 years old? Then you may be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa.
New Zealand uses type I plugs, which are angular plugs with two or three pins (the same as in Australia and parts of Asia). The mains voltage is 230/240 volts and the frequency is 50 Hz. If this is not the one you use at home I recommend buying an adapter in advance (can also be bought there) or buy a world adapter. These adapters can be transformed for any plug you might need.
Calling & Wifi
Would you like to be reachable at all times in New Zealand? Then make sure you buy a New Zealand SIM card. This is possible with one of the four major providers: Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees and Skinny. All you have to do is walk into one of their stores. I personally recommend Spark, because they have free Wifi hotspots throughout the country. Keep in mind that you will not always have coverage in the countryside and in remote areas.
If you have decided to go on holiday to New Zealand (or to work there), it is important that you have the following information available.
National emergency number: 111
The New Zealand Police: 555
With this app you can use detailed maps offline for free. Download the areas you will be visiting in advance and without further use of the internet, you can simply look up new locations offline, plan routes and find places of interest.
If you are not sure how to convert New Zealand dollars to Euros, download the XE currency app. This allows you to convert up to 10 currencies offline, after adding the rate. As soon as you have internet, the app will automatically update the exchange rate so that it is completely up-to-date.
If you are going camping in New Zealand, you must have this app. With this app you can find campsites, read reviews, find interesting sights and activities and much more. Do you have to drive a long distance and you don’t know what to see on the way? This app can show you. Do you have a tight budget? then activate a filter that you only want to stay at free campsites.
New Zealand is known as an amazing place for stargazing, but do you have troubles finding constellations or do you want to learn more about what you are seeing? Then I recommend this app. You just have to point your phone at the stars and the app will tell you what you are looking at.
The weather in New Zealand changes a lot and very fast, this is the best weather app New Zealand has. Use it to prepare for your days.
Not sure where you are going to spend the night? Booking.com has a wide range of accommodations everywhere. In the app you can easily see what is available, how expensive it is and what facilities they have. Once you booked something, you can easily find this back with all the information you need for your stay.
Cairn is an app that helps you hike safely on your own. Through this app you can easily plan your hike with offline detailed walking routes, automatically calculated distances and walking times. The app also indicates where you have telephone coverage. Once you have planned your route, you can pass it on to your friends and family and easily send them updates while walking..
NZ’s Great Walks
If you are interested in walking one or more of the New Zealand “Great Walks”, then this app is recommended. On this app you can find information about all Great Walks, such as: the route, length, duration, facilities along the way, sleeping places, costs and much more. They also have information about New Zealand birds that you can see along the way, including sound material.
Would you like to see Auckland on foot? Then this app is perfect for you. This app has more than 20 hiking trails that you can download for free. The app provides information about how long the route is, which places you will pass and information about the sights you encounter along the way.
If you like to discover Wellington on foot, this is a great app for you. This app has walking routes through the city, nature and along the coast. The app provides information about how long the route is, which places you will pass and information about the sights you encounter along the way.
Blogs that can help you prepare for you holiday
Renting cars and campers in New Zealand