holiday in New Zealand?
These islands are activity heaven - especially for hikers and hyperactive backpackers - with a superb variety and splendour of landscapes
from glaciers to subtropical
forests hosting no deadly creatures.
It is also home to some
of the safest, prettiest, best-organized hiking and cycling trails on the planet. The government
has supported eco-friendly track development throughout the country, replacing some rail tracks with cycle routes and focusing on spectacular landscapes - this is, of course, home to Lord of the Rings panoramas.
The views are sensational and the roads mostly free of traffic (including buses!) though not of sheep, so consider a rental car or camper van for a time-saving way to tour New Zealand easily, stopping off for a stroll or drink or b&b whenever the mood takes you.
The place is also terrific for many lunatic adrenalin activities - much loved by young travellers -
but also has many miles of excellent beaches for kayaking, sailing, swimming, fishing, whale watching and more. Beaches on the North Island offer the warmest waters.
New Zealand tourism is easy, safe, inexpensive, English
speaking, there's a lot of budget accommodation available and local people
are relaxed and friendly.
90 Mile Beach, New Zealand's North Island.
- In terms of exotic culture there's not much happening (why do
you think locals started throwing themselves off bridges attached
to a rubber band?), though Rotorua offers varied Maori experiences in addition to geothermal stimulation.
- Public transport is in short supply so most visitors rent their own vehicle (camper vans are popular) or join a tour.
- Getting there is a long haul for just about anyone except Australians.
- Sand flies (wicked bloodsucking midges) are omnipresent, and not
just in sand.
Minimum worthwhile stay, not incl. flights: 1 week - 4 weeks (if
you like walking!)
New Zealand Weather:
December - February (summer).
Generally temperatures are mild with plenty of sunshine and plenty of rain throughout the islands. Mountainous areas of the South Island can drop to -10C (14F) in winter but averages are 10C-15C (50F- 59F) in winter and 20C-30C (68F-86F) in summer. The sunniest region in the country is the wine district in the east of the North Island around Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
Nice: Autumn (March-May), cooler but can be fine; Spring (September-November) a pretty time but temperatures are unpredictable.
Worst: the rest (cold, erratically wet, windy), though June
- October is good for skiing. School holidays are from December 20 to the
end of January, a busy time, so book your vacation or hotel well in advance.
Current Auckland time and temperature.
Bay of Islands, North Island.
***Bay of Islands up in far north New Zealand for superb, sub-tropical sheltered marine activities and panoramic walks.
**90 Mile Beach, for driving, biking, land-yachting, fishing, horse riding, surfing and sand surfing on the monster dunes.
*** Coromandel Peninsula for forest
walks, bird watching and excellent beaches.
** Auckland, New Zealand's largest urban area, 'Sail City',
has two packed and pretty harbours, a couple of fine museums and markets and
some Polynesian influence; it's a good hub for exploring the North Island's Coromandel, walks, and other activities, Hawke's Bay wineries, Rotorua's geothermal weirdness and Maori culture.
***Napier, a stylish art deco town
with Hawke's Bay wineries and tastings in the vicinity.
Rotorua geothermal region, North Island.
*Waitomo glow worm caves and black water rafting (underground on
a rubber ring)
***Rotorua for geysers, mad colours, wispy wafts of steam, traditional Maori shows and villages, thermal spas, mud baths.
***Tongariro National Park is the place to hike around active volcanoes, with sensationally scenic, long or short walks available. The Tongariro Crossing is the most famous trek.
*Wellington, the capital city. Culture
capital too, with festivals, shows, ethnic restaurants, some great
buildings and museums but not home to any classic New Zealand sights.
**Nelson, sunny, pleasant and near
some excellent beaches as well as the superb hiking trails of Abel Tasman Park.
**Kaikoura for penguin or whale watching.
**Christchurch was severely damaged by the February 2011 earthquake and is unlikely to be useable for some time.
***Queenstown lake/mountain region is the tourist
action core of not only the South Island but also the country, with eye-popping panoramas and every mad
***Milford Sound, a magnificent fiord
and the terminus of a world famous Great Walk.
**Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers for ice cliffs and slippery but fascinating glacier walks.
*Otago peninsula for more walks and much wildlife - birds, penguin and seals in particular.
New Zealand regions map
Franz Josef Glacier, South Island.
Things to Do:
Walks/hikes: The country's raison d'etre,
many spectacular tracks and walks, ranging from half a day to a week or longer,
mostly on the South Island but Tongariro and Coromandel in the north are also popular.
Scuba Diving: Poor Knight's Islands
Marine Reserve off the North Island is famously colourful.
Game fishing: around the Bay of Islands (North Island)
Driving: easy, safe, on the left and
a gorgeous place to wander on your own wheels. Camper vans are
popular, rent or buy, along with bikes and cars.
Kayaking, sailing, fishing: Bay of Islands
(North Island) and Milford Sound (South) both offer lovely, protected action, though the first is warmer and the second is more spectacular.
Adrenalin activities especially around Queenstown (South Island): jet boating, white-water rafting,
black water (cave) rafting, river surfing, canyoning, paragliding, bungy (bungee)
jumping, gumboot throwing, horse riding, /mountain cycling,
mountain climbing, sky diving, abseiling and of course great snow
Lake Wanaka, South Island.
New Zealand Visa:
Tourists from many countries including Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, USA, Canada, South Africa, western Europe and more do not require a visa for up to three months, but will need to show a passport and may need to show onward travel tickets and evidence of sufficient funds to support a New Zealand holiday. New Zealand Immigration Information.
Zealand Map | New
Zealand Regions Map | New
Walks | Great Walks | New Zealand Walks Information