A wondrous country, split into two islands, New Zealand has something for any traveler regardless of season. Stunning snow capped mountains cut down the middle of the South Island, endless lakes provide perfect reflections and hot springs can be found in the middle of a town or off a random track. Underground caves are home to glowworms, vineyards provide the grapes for world renowned wines and great tastings, tramping trails can be found covering both islands and some of the best drives are to be had down the coastlines. Of course for any Lord of the Rings fans New Zealand is also home to Hobbiton and many of the filming locations used.
With unpronounceable place names, fascinating Maori culture and a variety of microclimates you are sure to have an adventure here!
The magic of New Zealand is that no matter when you visit the scenery will always blow you away. Winter brings snowboarding, stunning glacier viewings and optimum hot pool weather, whilst Summer allows for adrenaline fueled activities, surfing, wine tasting and hiking, there is an abundant list of things to do here any time of year.
The North Island is the more populated of the two being home to the official Capital, Wellington, and the largest city in NZ, Aukland. The road system is a little more extensive here and most international flights will arrive on the North. There are several small islands accessible by boat here, check out the volcanic crater that influenced the topography of Aukland today, head North for a warmer weather or South to the bulk of the island.
The South Island is the hub of bungee jumping, Queenstown, stunning scenery and an abundance of wildlife. Considerably more rural, there are two main roads running down the East and West sides with three roads running through the mountains, at different levels, to allow access to the opposite side. Be warned these often get blocked by snow in the Winter.
It is very common for visitors to spend time on both Islands, with easy access via ferry or plane, it gives the best overview of New Zealand. However we don’t all have the luxury of time, or unlimited money, so some have to choose between North and South. As regards getting around the most common way to travel around New Zealand is to hire a Juicy van or buy a second hand camper and drive the winding roads at your leisure. With everything you need all in one place this is a very popular and budget friendly option.
On the South Island the TransAlpine train runs right through the middle of the Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth, which is a stunning journey, with a friendly conductor and picture opportunities throughout. Alternatively travel by bus on the limited, but very affordable service that runs from the North to the South of the island. The drivers are incredibly knowledgeable and many routes include stops at small, off the cuff places for lunch breaks and leg stretches. Don’t expect to stick to a strict timetable here, the attitude is laid back and the transport system very much mimics this, so slow down and take everything in.
Despite the focus here being on the outdoors New Zealand isn’t the most budget friendly destination. The cost of living in general is high, add in remote towns that sometimes have to wait weeks for supplies to arrive, plus your activity costs- skydiving isn’t the most cost effective pastime- and you will find that your budget is stretched. Of course there are ways around this, camping is a super cheap option, stocking up on groceries and gas in bigger places and being strategic about which activities you book can all help in extending your trip a little longer.
There is no other place in the world that I have been that even comes close to mimicking New Zealand. Sure there are shared elements, many countries have mountains, or hot springs, or glaciers but where can you find a place that has them ALL? No matter how you travel New Zealand it will be a guaranteed stand out memory and fantastic adventure.
Check out the other blogs and advice pages for more information on New Zealand, places to visit and how to be budget friendly.