New Zealand Overview
New Zealand. Just the name of the country evokes many different thoughts and pictures amongst travelers. For us Americans, it seems like a dream destination, one that is 18 hours away by plane.
But if you can endure the long flight across the world, New Zealand is there to greet you with everything you’ve ever imagined. With a beauty like no other country in the world, in a land that is scarcely populated, any travel lover is crazy not to head to this pristine wonderland.
From the glaciers, lakes, rugged mountains, fjords, and wineries of the South Island to the caves, beaches, geothermal activity, and Maori culture of the North Island, if you want something unique and more beautiful than you’ve ever imagined, then start planning that trip to New Zealand TODAY!
What to Expect
A beauty like no other. Seriously, I’ll write it time and time again as the guides and posts pile up about New Zealand, but this country is just stunning. From the southern reaches of the south island to beaches in upper part of the north island and everywhere in between, it’s impossible not to be blown away by the beauty. It’s around every turn, in every city and town, and across each lake and river. It’s over every mountain, across every vineyard, and along each glacier. New Zealand is a place that can make even the most jaded of travelers appreciate what this world has to offer.
But there’s more to New Zealand than just stunning scenery. The people are amongst the friendliest in the world, with an outgoing, yet laid back demeanor that just makes visitors feel comfortable and welcome. Every person is willing to chat you up, and as a tourist, you’ll have no shortage of suggestions for where to go and what to see.
I know you didn’t think I’d go too much longer without mentioning the food. As you probably know, food is a very important part of how we travel here at World Travel for Couples, and the food in New Zealand is top notch. Influences from all over the world have come to New Zealand to create some amazing culinary delights. I dream of the pies, and the cheese, and the lamb, and the wine, my God, the wine…
How to Get Around
There will be more specific posts regarding transportation around New Zealand, but you have options.
- Camper Van- The most popular way of seeing New Zealand is by camper van. They have them in all different shapes, sizes, and costs, so don’t automatically assume this is out of your price range, particularly if traveling in shoulder or off seasons. (NOTE: This is how we traveled around New Zealand for 5 weeks, so there will plenty more information about seeing New Zealand by camper van.)
- Car Hire/Rental- Renting a car and driving is a fantastic option because it lets you experience New Zealand on your terms. With such beautiful country all around, you’ll find yourself wanting to stop constantly to take in your surroundings. Not exactly cost effective for the budget traveler, but it’s something to look into.
- Bus- The bus network is extensive and pretty well organized in New Zealand, but you are at the mercy of their schedule. While it may save you a few bucks, you won’t have nearly the same type of freedom as with renting a car/camper van. For you younger folk on a more limited budget, look into different companies who offer bus tours. They are tours that have a specific itinerary and cater to the more college-aged crowd who is also interested in a bit of partying along the way. The Kiwi Experience is one of the more popular companies who offer this type of travel. But make sure you look around, first, it may end up being just as inexpensive to hire a camper van.
When talking in terms of our RTW trip, New Zealand was by far the most expensive country we visited. While we did try to limit our spending a bit, we also just kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that this leg of the trip would be a splurge.
We set our budget at $200US/day for the both of us, combined. Compared to the $70/day we spent in South America, this was quite a lot. In hindsight, it was also well worth it. We were coming from an area where we roughed it for the better part of 6 months, and we were heading to areas (SE Asia and India) where we knew we were going to be roughing it again.
I do have to say that I felt we lived VERY comfortably for that $200US/day. We only payed about $30US/day for our Space Ship camper van, which also served as our sleeping arrangements the majority of nights. There are free camp sites throughout New Zealand where you can just pull your camper van up to and stay, but they have little to no amenities. The nice camp sites are also pretty expensive, charging $20-30US/night for a parking/camping spot for the van.
We easily could have gotten by on less while in New Zealand, much less, but we were comfortable, ate and drank what we wanted when we wanted, and we did pretty much every single activity we wanted to do. So don’t let that budget number scare you off, as it can be done for cheaper, and I’ll have plenty of posts along the way with tips for traveling New Zealand on a budget.
As with our South America page, there will tons more information about New Zealand in the coming months. Links will be updated immediately upon publishing, so be on the lookout for information about all the following places (once live, the bold text below will turn to links):
- North Island
- South Island
- Akaroa, Banks Penninsula
- Inland Scenic Route–> Fairlie
- Aoraki/Mt. Cook
- Te Anau
- Haast Beach
- Fox Glacier
- Ice climbing on Franz Josef Glacier
- Hanmer Springs
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Caving in Waitomo