New Zealand is a must-see and a fantastic holiday whether you’re a family, a couple or going solo! There are amazing destinations all over the North and South Island, from the biggest city Auckland down to stunning Milford Sound near the bottom of the country. Before you head off, read our guide for all the travel information that will help you plan your trip!
Population: 5 million
Religion: Christianity is the predominant religion
Emergency numbers: 111 (police, ambulance and fire service)
- New Zealand was the first country to have its three top positions of power held simultaneously by women: the Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Governor General (Dame Silvia Cartwright), and the Chief Justice (Sian Elias).
- In 1893, New Zealand was the first major nation to have universal suffrage.
- New Zealand has two national anthems: God Save The Queen and God Defend New Zealand.
- Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mount Everest (with climbing partner Tenzing Norgay), was a New Zealander. His face is on the New Zealand $5 bill.
- Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga-horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is the Māori name for a hill in Hawke’s Bay.
- Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world.
- 6 February: Waitangi Day. New Zealand’s national day commemorates the first signing of the country’s founding document, the Treaty at Waitangi, in 1840.
- 9 February: Marlborough Wine & Food Festival. New Zealand’s oldest and premier festival of its kind, in a stunning vineyard location.
- 25 April: Anzac Day. First observed in 1916, Anzac Day commemorates Australians and New Zealanders who lost their lives in war.
Hot spots and itineraries
Popular destinations include Auckland, Lake Taupo, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Kaikoura, Raglan, Marlborough and Stewart Island. Three areas have World Heritage Site status, including New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic islands.
Some itinerary ideas
- South Island: Picton – Marlborough Sounds – Nelson – Kaikoura – Christchurch – Dunedin – Queenstown – Milford Sound
- North Island: Auckland – Bay of Islands – Rotorua – Taupo – Wellington
Staying safe and healthy
If you’re setting out on a hike or to climb a mountain, make sure somebody knows your whereabouts, or contact the Department of Conservation (DOC). Weather can change quickly, making conditions very dangerous for anyone who isn’t adequately prepared. Also, while there are no snakes or other especially dangerous animals in New Zealand, small insects including sandflies can be an annoyance. (The Milford Track in the South Island ends at “Sandfly Point”.) Repellents and longsleeved clothing will help. Finally, be sure to check the latest COVID rules and regulations.
While you’re there, please don’t…
- … try to bring natural products through customs. Biosecurity is treated very seriously in New Zealand.
- … eat or drink when inside a Maori wharenui (meeting house) – the house is considered a sacred area.
Before you go, read …
- The Bone People by Keri Hulme (1984) – one of the country’s most successful novels, the story weaves tales of Maori myths and also European heritage.
- How to Watch a Game of Rugby by Spiro Zavos (2004) – a sport journo’s book about New Zealand’s obsession with rugby.
Before you go, watch …
- The Lord of the Rings – Peter Jackson’s first trilogy of Tolkien films showcases the New Zealand countryside majestically.
- Whale Rider – highly regarded drama about a 12-year-old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of her tribe.
They said it
“New Zealand is not a small country but a large village.” – director Peter Jackson
“Get the whanau together, stay in a bach, crack open the chilly box and slap on your jandals.” – former Prime Minister John Key, joking about reasons to visit NZ
“New Zealand is my favourite country to visit.” – surfer Tom Curren
Do I need a visa?
Most visitors to New Zealand don’t require visas for visits of less than three months. Citizens of countries not on the visa-waiver list can find detailed information about applying for a visa at immigration.govt.nz. However, you do need an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before you travel.
How long will it take me to get there?
Singapore to Auckland is around 10 hours. New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT and 4 hours ahead of Singapore. Between April and September, the country observes daylight time (13 hours ahead).
What’s the money situation?
The New Zealand dollar (NZD) is the national currency. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be changed at most banks or licensed money changers. Credit cards are also widely accepted and ATM withdrawals possible at the many machines across the country.
When’s the best time to visit?
New Zealand has a temperate climate all year round. Regions vary from extremely wet to semi-arid to subtropical, so check your destination beforehand. Most skiers book between June and September.
What’s the lingo?
English, though around 3 to 4 percent of the population speak Maori. Here are a few phrases to get you started:
- Hello: Kia ora
- How are you? Kei te pehea koe?
- What’s your name? Ko wai tou ingoa?
- My name is …: Ko … ahau
- Where are you from? No hea koe?
- Goodbye: E noho ra (said by person leaving); E haere ra (said by person staying)
Last but not least
Is there anything I should know about meeting the locals?
A handshake is the formal way of greeting someone in New Zealand. However, the traditional Maori greeting is the hongi, expressed by the rubbing or touching of noses.
What’s a must-try dish?
Pavlova – a sweet meringue-like crust filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit. (The debate continues as to its country of origin, with Australia and New Zealand both laying claim.)
What should I buy as a souvenir?
Good options included “cryovaced” New Zealand lamb, wine, a kiwi plush toy and also an All Blacks rugby shirt.
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