Top Tips for Visiting New Zealand

February 22, 2022

Throughout the pandemic, there have been quite a few countries that have closed their borders down to tourists, and have made it almost impossible for even the locals to head home. New Zealand is one of those countries, and over the past two years their borders have been mostly closed. If you’ve been wanting to visit New Zealand because it’s part of your Ultimate Travel Bucket List or had to postpone a trip there due to the pandemic, then chances are you’re going to want to start planning your trip. As someone who’s spent a lot of time in New Zealand, I’ve got a few great tips for you.

1. Rent or Buy a Car

New Zealand is very spread out and it’s one of those places that are perfect for road trips because there’s lots of great places to see, the roads are in good condition, and a car gives you extra flexibility in your travels. If you’re just going to be in New Zealand for a few weeks, then the best choice is probably just to rent a car. But it’s also somewhat common that people buy a car for the duration of their trip – especially if they’re visiting on a working holiday visa – and then sell it before they leave. Be sure to get car insurance too, while it’s not required in New Zealand having it will allow you extra peace of mind. In New Zealand they drive on the left side of the road and have a few different rules, so get yourself educated before you head out.

2. It’s Great in Winter or Summer
There are a few places around the world where you can really enjoy the country in both seasons and New Zealand is one of them. The winters there are quite mild, most places around the country rarely dip below freezing during the day and there’s only snow in select areas of the country. There’s a handful of excellent ski fields scattered across the country too, which make for a great winter escape. The winters in New Zealand simply do not compare to those in Europe, Canada and the United States and you could even find yourself at the beach in the middle of winter! Summer can be a great time to visit as well, as there’s plenty of outdoor activities and beaches to enjoy.

3. Don’t Forget Your ID
While the drinking age in New Zealand is 18, which is relatively young compared to say the United States, you’ll be required to show ID everywhere you’ll be purchasing alcohol probably if you’re under the age of 40 or 50. This includes in bars, restaurants and even in supermarkets. In New Zealand, if the entire group in the supermarket does not have ID proving that they’re over 18, you won’t be able to purchase it. In the instance someone forgets their ID, it’s better that only people holding IDs go into the supermarket to buy. This does mean if you’re going out for a dinner or drinks, you’ll have to carry your passport with you to prove your age.

4. The Weather Changes Quickly
When traveling New Zealand, you want to be prepared for all seasons. It’s possible you could see wind, rain, hail and even sunshine all in the same day. For that reason it’s a good idea to travel with layers, so you can adjust according to the weather. Auckland, for example, is quite raining, Wellington is known as the “windy city” and Christchurch tends to be sunnier but cooler especially in winter. Preparing for a variety of seasons will ensure that you’re able to stay warm and dry no matter what’s going on outside.

5. Table Service Isn’t Standard
It’s quite common in New Zealand to go up to the ’till’ to order and pay at the same time, and then your food will be brought to your table. Of course, it depends on the restaurant, cafe or bar, but you’ll find this is more common than table service. Often you’ll be given some kind of order number, flag, or something to take to the table and your food and drinks will be brought over when ready. This can be kind of confusing if you come from a country where table service is the standard. Likewise, tipping is not really required in New Zealand. It is, however, appreciated, but wait and restaurant staff are paid a fair wage so don’t rely on tips to make up their salary like in some countries.

New Zealand is a bucket list destination for so many of us, and with the borders reopening to tourists later this year, I’m sure there’s never been a better time to visit.