New Zealand | Frequently Asked Questions

We wanted to create a great FAQ section on our blog covering all the Frequently Asked Questions you may be asking yourself for your move or visit to New Zealand. It covers all your New Zealand questions from the tiny things to the big things!

We plan on adding to this every couple of months with a hope it will be a resource you –  our readers will be able to keep rethings!ferring back to every step of your expat move or whilst you are travelling to NZ. It certainly will answer a lot of your questions about New Zealand and will also cover some interesting facts about New Zealand that are great conversation starters when you are here!

This FAQ section includes:

New Zealand Trivia & Facts;

The Nitty Gritty Details;

Everything to do with money;

Tips before you go;

Travel advise in New Zealand;

 

 

New Zealand Trivia & Facts:

Wellington Beehive

What is the capital of New Zealand?

Wellington! The city of Wellington is physically in the middle of the country, which makes it easier for everyone to travel to. Our parliament building is called The Beehive, (apparently it looks like one but I can’t see it!) you should definitely visit it!

How long does it take to get to NZ?

If you’re coming to New Zealand, you’re definitely in for an adventure! In the future, when you’re friends are trying to impress each other by comparing travel times, you can beat them all by telling them your trip to New Zealand took a whole day! Sometimes it can take more than 24 hours though, depending on how much layover time you want.

Why are New Zealanders are called Kiwi’s?

Kiwis are our national bird! Also, our flag is very similar to Australia’s, so during the second world war, our soldiers included the Kiwi bird as part of their uniform to help distinguish them from the Aussies. The name stuck!

Who is NZ prime minister?

After a recent 2017 election, it is now Jacinda Ardern of the Labour party.

How did NZ get its name?

New Zealand actually has two names – New Zealand and Aotearoa. ‘New Zealand’ comes from a Dutch Navigator called Abel Tasman, who discovered New Zealand in 1642, but unfortunately never actually set foot here. If you’re wondering where Old Zealand is, there isn’t one – Abel Tasman named dubbed our islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

As for Aotearoa, it is a Māori word and is generally interpreted as ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. The word can be broken up as: ao = cloud, dawn, daytime or world, tea = white, clear or bright and roa = long. In Māori legends, this long white cloud is what Māori explorers first saw of New Zealand, so they used Aotearoa to refer to it. Another possible reason for the name Aotearoa is because Aotea was the name of one of the Māori migration waka (canoes), so they named the land Aotea (Cloud), but when they discovered that New Zealand was much larger, instead of Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea).

When was NZ discovered?

If you are thinking in terms of European explorers, Abel Tasman discovered NZ on December 13 1642, although he didn’t make it to the land – which is why English Navigator James Cook, who only came to New Zealand in 1769, is often cited as the ‘discoverer’ or New Zealand.

What is NZ famous for?

For quite a few things that you might not realised! For instance, there are quite a few actors in Hollywood that are Kiwis, like Karl Urban of Star Trek fame, Russell Crowe and Cliff Curtis. We also gave the world Lorde and Flight Of The Conchords – you’re welcome. There’s the Lord Of The Rings and its director Peter Jackson also, not to mention The Hobbit films too.

As for New Zealand itself, well, we’re generally known for having too many sheep (which is accurate, apparently there’s about seven sheep for every one person in New Zealand, but we don’t ride them to work or anything), being good at rugby and our amazing scenery –  seriously, you’ll have to see it to believe it!

Where’s NZ located in the world?

New Zealand is one of the most southern countries in the world (we even have flights to Antarctica). We’re about a 3-hour flight South from Australia – but we’re definitely not part of Australia.

What is the population of NZ?

New Zealand is one of the smallest first world countries, with a population of just 4 million. To put that into perspective, Sydney a city in Australia has a population of 4 million and NZ is certainly bigger than Sydney!

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The Nitty Gritty:

What plug adaptor do you use for NZ?

New Zealand and Australia both use the same plug/socket type, type I. Type I plugs and sockets are characterised by their 3 prongs, 2 slanted and one straight at the bottom. If you buy something in New Zealand that has a power cable, you will not need your adapter to use it, it will already be type I.

What is New Zealand’s voltage?

The standard New Zealand electricity voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

What is the international dialing code for NZ?

+64, then the area code. Like usual, drop the first digit when calling to NZ from overseas. For example, an International caller might dial an Auckland landline as +64 9 1234567, because the area code for Auckland is 09. Calling mobiles is similar, for example, +64 21 1234567, because mobile phone numbers in New Zealand often start with (021) or (027).

What is the exchange rate in NZ?

As exchange rates do, this often changes. At the time of writing this, 1 New Zealand Dollar equals 0.69 US Dollars, but it may change by the time you’re reading this. Make sure to check yourself for more accurate information.

What is the time difference & what time zone is NZ in?

Here’s the thing – and this will blow your mind – New Zealand is so tiny, it doesn’t actually have different time zones, it just has one: NZST (New Zealand Standard Time). NZST is GMT+13 in Summer, starting in September (Daylight Savings time) and GMT+12 in Winter, starting in April.

New Zealand tends to be around 18 hours ahead of the USA (though this depends on what part of the USA you are in) and 12-13 hours ahead of the UK, depending on whether its Daylight Savings time or not.

What are the NZ interest rates?

For banking and saving rates check out this article on our website for more information.

Can I bring my medication into NZ?

If you have prescription medicine and you declare it, you will most likely be able to bring it into the country. Even if your medicine is not prescription, still declare it – otherwise you could be fined. Please note that if your medicine is plant-based or has organic matter, it may not be allowed into the country due to biosecurity restrictions.

Are vaccinations required to visit NZ?

No, they are not required. It is always recommended to get routine vaccinations from your doctor before travelling, but no vaccines are required before visiting New Zealand.

What is the emergency services number for NZ?

If you need emergency services like fire stations, ambulances or police, please dial 111. Please refrain from dialing 111 if you’re not in an emergency, so our emergency services staff can focus on people who need help.

What is the diver’s emergency service number?

0800 4 DES 111. Please go to the New Zealand Underwater Association for more diving emergency help.

How much is fuel in NZ?

The price of fuel changes quite a lot here, most recently it has been $1.92/litre of petrol and $1.22/litre of diesel. Check out our money saving tips on fuel prices on our blog post by clicking around about…here!

What is the driving speed in NZ?

On most suburban roads, it’s 50km/h (which is about 30mph), on rural roads it tends to be around 80km/h (around 50mph) and on open roads and motorways, the speed limit is 100km/h (around 60mph). 100km/h is the highest speed limit in New Zealand.

What is the New Zealand weather and climate like?

Honestly, it depends on what city you’re in. All the major cities have nicknames or phrases related to the weather, for instance, it’s common for people in Auckland to talk about “four seasons in one day” and for people to talk about “Windy Wellington”, whereas Christchurch is known as the “Garden City”. However, compared to other places around the world, the climate is pretty mild. It doesn’t snow in New Zealand except on the mountain tops (great for skiing) and since we are so far South, the summer is quite pleasant instead of too hot.

Can you tip for service in NZ?

You can, but it’s uncommon. It’s not expected of you, but sometimes it’s nice to leave a waiter that you really like a tip for some extra petrol money. It’s considered a nice gesture, but New Zealand minimum wage is a living wage, so it’s not required or culturally frowned upon if you don’t tip – most people don’t.

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Everything Money:

money NZ

How much does it cost to go to NZ?

That depends on where you’re coming from, but you should put aside $3,000 NZD for flights.

How much money do I need to go to NZ?

It’s recommended to have around $150 NZD put aside for each day you’re there, so no matter how long your trip is, you will have enough money to travel (not including any domestic flights you want to take, those will be more expensive) and do all the activities you planned for – and some that you didn’t – while you’re here.

Is NZ expensive?

That really depends on what you define as ‘expensive’, but generally, because we have to get a lot of things imported, the cost of living in New Zealand is slightly more expensive, yes. For a more accurate answer on this matter do check out our highly popular article here on the Cost of Living in New Zealand.

What is GST?

GST is the Goods and services tax (GST) is a 15% tax added to the price of most goods and services in New Zealand. In America, this is generally the difference between the price on the label and the price you actually pay when you get up to the counter. That cost is included in the label price, so you know what you have to pay from the start. In England, we call GST, VAT – same thing!

What are New Zealand working tax rates?

This depends on how much you earn. Please consult the Inland Revenue Department’s (IRD) Income Tax chart for specific information. The IRD is a part of the New Zealand government and functions much the same as the IRS in the United States.

What is the KiwiSaver Scheme?

The KiwiSaver is a voluntary work-based savings initiative in New Zealand that helps residents to set up nicely for retirement. There are lots of different schemes you can join and it’s a hassle-free solution to encourage long-term saving. Basically, your employer puts aside 3% of your wages into your KiwiSaver and you do too. To find out about how all this works, check out our article here!

What does NZ money look like?

Crisp, shiny and colourful, as New Zealand’s money was recently redesigned! We have a mixture of notes and coins – the notes are easy to tell apart because of the different colours: five dollar notes are orange, ten dollars notes are blue, twenty dollars is green, fifty dollars is purple and one hundred dollars is pink. You may find the coins a little harder to tell apart because they are all so light, but you’ll get used to it.

What is NZ minimum wage?

As of April 2017, the minimum wage for a working adult is $15.75 NZD.

Can I bring cash into NZ?

Yes. There’s no restriction on how much foreign currency you can bring into New Zealand. However, if you arrive at an airport carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash you’ll need to complete a Border Cash Report.

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Before you Go:

map-of-new-zealand
Bye Bye England

Do I legally need travel insurance for NZ?

While travel insurance is not legally required, it is highly recommended as the cost of not having travel insurance when coming to New Zealand could be much higher than just getting it in the first place. Read our travel insurance tips for expats here and here for visitors!

Do I need a visa for New Zealand? Will also link to an article

If you are a New Zealand or Australian citizen or resident, you do not need a New Zealand visa to visit New Zealand. If you are not one of these, you will need a visa. Visitor visas are generally issued upon arrival, working visas need to be applied for before you arrive. Click here for a rundown of all the visas.

Is NZ a visa-free country?

Yes, although this only applies to citizens of certain countries. Read the full list of New Zealand’s visa waiver countries.

What is a Working Holiday Visa?

Working Vias allows citizens of certain countries to travel to New Zealand for around a year. We have a lot of different working visas, so it’s best to do your homework and find the one that’s right for you.

Is it easy to work and travel in NZ?

Yes! We have many different work and travel options here, so no matter what your budget, you can get to where you want to go.

How do I bring all my belongings to NZ?

There are many international moving firms you can use to bring your items over to NZ. It pays to do your homework before you arrive. Check out our guide on removal firms for more information and detailed information on what to bring and what not to bring.

Do I need health insurance in NZ?

Like travel insurance, health insurance is not a requirement in New Zealand, however, it is highly recommended. If you decide against getting health insurance and you get injured or need medical attention, treatment could cost you much more than the insurance you forewent.

What is the ACC?

The ACC is New Zealand’s national Accident Compensation Corporation, a part of our government that is responsible for administering universal accidental or injury care. If you get injured while you are in New Zealand and need to go to the Doctor or Hospital, the ACC will be in touch. This is explained further in our article – here!

Is it safe to drive in New Zealand?

It is safe to drive in New Zealand, however, we do drive on the left side of the road, so if you’re not comfortable driving like that, there are alternatives. We have public transport like trains, planes, and buses, or you could take a taxi or Uber – whatever you prefer.

Can I legally drive in New Zealand?

If you have a valid driver’s license in English, or an additional accurate English translation, you are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand. However, this is only valid for twelve months and there are other conditions, so it’s best that you refer to the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) for more information. A guide to who can drive in New Zealand can be found on this link

Will my mobile phone work in New Zealand?

Yes. You will need to visit a New Zealand phone carrier like Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees or Skinny Mobile to be able to connect to New Zealand phone networks, but it will work once you have done so.

Can I find the same foods at home in NZ?

New Zealand generally has Western dishes, as well as our own signature dishes. We also have a very multi-cultural society, so you will find dishes from all over the world here too. Don’t be afraid to try new foods here, you may be surprised at how good they are!

What foods can’t I bring into NZ?

As our nation is made up of islands, we rely very heavily on our environment to live and therefore we have tough biosecurity laws to protect our environment. Don’t be surprised if New Zealand Immigration confiscates anything that is not processed, as it may be a risk. Any food is considered a ‘risk good’ by New Zealand immigration – so if you have any of the following foods, including food for cooking, you will need to declare it when you enter New Zealand, or you could face a fine:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Dried mushrooms and fungi
  • Honey and honey products
  • Seeds for human consumption and for processing into food
  • Nuts, spices, herbs, and un-popped popcorn
  • Sried, cooked, or preserved fruit and vegetables

Does New Zealand have a tourist tax?

No, although at the beginning of 2016 a border clearance levy of $16 NZD for arriving passengers and $6 NZD for departing passengers was introduced, which applies to both international and domestic travellers going overseas. A tourist tax is currently under consideration by the New Zealand government, but nothing has been decided yet.

How do I find a job in NZ?

There are a few ways to find a job in New Zealand, mostly using online tools. If you’re a student or have graduated in the last year, there is 6Student Job Search (sjs.co.nz) for jobs specifically for students and entry-level staff. If you are not a student or recent graduate, there is Seek (seek.co.nz) or Trade Me Jobs. Those are only a few popular ones, we also have put together a handy resource!

When are the New Zealand school holidays?

The exact dates change every year, but you will notice that our holidays/vacations are very different to those in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in terms of timing. We have our biggest holidays at the end of the year, some organisations ending in December or even November, then starting again in January, or sometimes even February or March depending on whether you are studying or not. The New Zealand government has an official list of all 2018 New Zealand public holidays on their website.

What documents do I need to bring with me to NZ?

Please bring with you a valid passport or travel document and your visa papers. If you are moving to New Zealand permanently, you will need the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Your academic qualifications
  • References from previous employers
  • Your CV (Curriculum Vitae/Resume)
  • Credit references
  • An international driver’s license or permit

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Travel in New Zealand:

But first…a few epic photos for a bit of inspiration!

What are the most popular destinations and attractions in NZ?

The most popular attractions are tied – it’s a toss-up between our stunning scenery and anything to do with the Lord Of The Rings filming. Queenstown is quite popular due to its range of activities (sight-seeing, jet boating, bungy jumping, white water rafting and sky diving, you name it they have it!).

When is New Zealand ski season?

Mid-June to Mid-October, in the middle of Winter.

What is the New Zealand Great Walks?

There are a lot of fantastic walking tracks here in New Zealand. The Great Walks are 10 walking tracks that New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) have selected as New Zealand’s best walks. If you’re wanting to hike while you’re in New Zealand, the Great Walks are the best place to start.

When is the best time to go hiking in NZ?

Summer can get pretty hot in New Zealand, especially around hiking spots and it can get boggy in Winter – so the best times to go on a hiking trip would be either in Autumn (March-April-May) or Spring (September-October-November). However, if you’re going on an extended trip or going up a particularly high or difficult mountain, please pay attention to all safety precautions asked of you before you begin your hike. The last thing you want to be when you’re exploring New Zealand terrain is under-prepared. If you’re not sure what precautions you should take, please ask a guide before you set off.

Do I need to pre-book accommodation?

Yes, you will need to pre-book accommodation, particularly in more popular spots around holiday seasons. New Zealand is a very popular vacation spot and you may find yourself sleeping under the stars if you don’t prebook your accommodation.

What is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to go to New Zealand in our opinion is in the warmer months. Anywhere from December to March would be ideal as most activities here involve being outdoors and those months have the best weather. We also think this is the best season to visit New Zealand – who doesn’t love the sunshine?!

Does each town have tourist information centres?

Yes, each major town will have it’s own Information Centre. If you can’t find it, don’t be scared to ask a local. We’ll help you out!

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Got a question? Or have we missed anything? Comment below!

See New Zealand In 30 Days With Our New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary

Continuing on from our ultimate itinerary series we thought we would put together all our favourite spots of New Zealand into one awesome itinerary. You can visit both the north and south islands in 30 Days very easily by following our 30 day New Zealand self drive itinerary which starts and finishes in Auckland.

This truly is a road trip of epic proportions, if you know New Zealand is going to be a  once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to see it all then this self drive, fast paced itinerary is perfect for you.

We have travelled the country in depth which took us 6 months in total to complete, this one-month self drive itinerary for New Zealand does visit quite a few “off the beaten track” destinations and often a first-time traveller to NZ may not have heard of all of them. But if you want to visit the true beauty of NZ we highly recommend these regions! So grab a campervan or a hire car and hit the road as this is our suggested self-drive itinerary including all the destinations within NZ that we think you should not miss!

Not got 30 days? If you are short on time, that is okay, we got you covered – check out our 10 North Island Itinerary and our 10 South Island Itinerary.

Top Tip: If you want more information on each particular region/destination that we mention then do click on the hyperlinks within this article as it will link your through to our much more in-depth articles on that particular region/destination 🙂

The Route:

 

Highlights of this itinerary Include:

  • Sandboarding at Cape Reinga,
  • Exploring Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel
  • A day trip to White Island
  • Discovering Art Deco Napier
  • TheMarlboroughh Sounds
  • Kayaking at the Abel Tasman National Park
  • Heli hike at Franz Josef Glacier
  • Queenstown (nuff said!)
  • Getting away from it all in Stewart Island
  • Penguin watching at Oamaru,
  • Whale Watching in Kaikoura,
  • The Tongariro Alpine Crossing,
  • Surfing in Raglan

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland 

If you have an early morning arrival then you could pick up your hire car or campervan straight away and travel north to Paihia, (2.5 hours’ drive) the home of the Bay of Islands and your gateway to the Northland. Suggestions include: A visit to Waitangi which is close to Paihia and where the treaty between Maori chiefs and the British were signed back in 1840 it is well worth a visit. Or take the car ferry to the historical quaint village of Russell or jump on a boat cruise to explore the bay and its 144 different islands.

An alternative option would be to spend the day in Auckland, relaxing and exploring at your own pace and head up to Paihia the following morning.

Auckland Rainbow

Day 2: Explore Cape Reinga

You could drive to Cape Reinga as it is a great way to explore the Northland region at your own pace. Or you could let Salt Air take you by helicopter to Cape Reinga. Cape Reinga is the most northern point of NZ here your guide will take you along 90 mile beach and you will even have time to go sand tobogganing! All in the name of fun – it really is pretty awesome!

Sand boarding Fun!

Day 3: The Coromandel Peninsula 

Today you will travel south for around 5 hours to reach your next destination – the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a beach lover’s paradise! Stay overnight at Hahei and you will be close to all the highlights, Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and Cooks Beach the region’s best beaches.

hot water beach going nz

Day 4: Beautiful Tauranga

Today make your way further south towards Tauranga (2.5 hours drive), there is plenty to see along the drive. Take a detour via the Karangahape Gorge and explore the walkways that follow the old railway lines along a jaw-dropping Canyon or climb Mount Maunganui for some incredible views of the Bay of Plenty.

Beautiful Tauranga

Day 5: Incredible White Island (Active Volcano)

Up early today to travel to Whakatane (1-hour drive), Whakatane is home to White Island. New Zealand’s only marine volcano. After an hour boat ride to the island, you will get a 2 hour guided tour of the island learning about the history of the miners in the island, the volcanic importance of the island and even get close to the active crater. Something truly and unique and possibly something you will only ever do once!

white island

Day 6: A Days Drive Around East Cape (Rural New Zealand at its best)

The Waioeka Scenic Drive from Whakatane to Gisborne (3.5-hour drive) takes you though the bush clad Waioeka Gorge, this narrow and winding gorge is a beautiful drive, takes your and time enjoy the views. After a spot of lunch in Gisborne, continue to your overnight spot just outside Art Deco Napier (3-hour drive).

An alternative option to this would be to drive straight to Napier and explore the city at your own pace, Napier is a beautiful small city with a stunning waterfront, marvel at the stunning Art Deco buildings, it is like stepping back in time!

East Cape Light House

Day 8: Drive to Wellington

Get up early to drive to longest place name in the world! This a photo opportunity you can’t miss! 85 characters long, but locals just call it Taumata Hill. Continue (4-hour drive) to Wellington where you can recharge your batteries for South Island ferry in the morning.

A great lunch time stop along the route is also the Wairarapa region. Stop for a spot of wine tasting at one of Martinborough’s award winning wineries.

Vineyards in Wairarapa
Vineyards in Wairarapa

Day 9: South Island!

Take the Interislander Ferry to the South Island (around 3 hours) enjoying a journey through the incredible Marlborough Sounds as you approach Picton. Upon arrival to the South Island travel to the Pelorus River. An opportunity to relax in the refreshing forest and river a must see for any Lord of the Rings fan.

picton going nz
Beautiful Picton

Day 10: Explore the Abel Tasman National Park

Today explore the Abel Tasman National Park with a days kayaking trip discovering all the hidden bays of the park. Enjoy a fresh picnic lunch half way through the day, enjoy a swim, snorkel and relax at the end! Find out about our fantastic day in the park here!

abel tasman

Day 11: Bullers Gorge

Travel to the Bullers Gorge Swing Bridge (2-hour drive) 110 metres in length in spans the Buller River and is NZ’s longest swing bridge. Over the other side, you can zip line across the river, take a jet boat ride, go swimming on walk one of the many trails following the earthquake faultline which was the epicentre of the 1929 earthquake that caused the land to rise more than4.5 metres. After, continue your journey to Punakaiki, home of the pancakes rocks and the beginning of the west coast highway.

Day 12: Explore Punakaiki and drive to Fox Glacier

Punakaiki is limestone country and is packed with caves systems that need exploring! The Charleston Glow worm cave tour explores the amazing underworld caving system you will see amazing displays of glow-worms and photogenic stalactites and stalagmite formations. In the afternoon travel to Fox Glacier (3-hour drive) and take in the stunning scenery at Lake Matheson.

pancake rocks goingnz

Day 11: Heli Hike Franz Josef Glacier

In the morning embark on a helicopter trip of a life time. Heli Hike the Franz Josef Glacier with the team at Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Explore spectacular ice caves and arches and access parts of the glacier that many don’t get to discover. In the afternoon travel to the Haast Pass (1.5 hours drive) a good overnight spot.

Exploring the Glaciers is a must.

Day 12: Blue Pool’s Track – Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park features the popular Blue Pool’s Walk. The short and easy walk leads to a viewing platform over the Blue Pools. Walks in these regions shouldn’t be rush bring lunch and enjoy the scenic surroundings. Continue your road trip to Wanaka before reaching your overnight destination in Queenstown.

haast pass

Day 13: Queenstown – Yes it really is incredible!

Queenstown is best known for its adrenaline filled fun! Rafting down the shot over the river has to be one of the exhilarating experiences! Other suggestions include: Stroll along the lakefront and take in the scenery or enjoy some down time in one of Queenstown many cafes and restaurants. You could try the world famous burgers at Ferg Burger for lunch, but go early there will be queues!

Queenstown Going NZ

Day 14: Travel to Te Anau – The Gateway to the Fiordland National Park

Travel to Te Anau (2-hour drive), stop at the visitor centre to learn about the many freedom hikes you can spend your day doing in this region. A section of the Routeburn Track or Kepler Track? You decide.

Day 15: Doubtful or Milford Sound?

Travel to the Doubtful Sound, the second largest fiord in the Fiordland National Park. Take a cruise along Lake Manapouri the wildlife is in abundance here, bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and rare crested Penguins can be seen here.

Another great alternative would be a visit to the Milford Sound, very similar but we personally prefer the Doubtful Sound as it is less visited, meaning fewer tourists!

Road to Fiordland

Day 16: Stewart Island

Travel to Stewart Island via Invercargill (2-hour drive) today. The one-hour car ferry will take you to Stewart Island. The island is well off the beaten track a great escape for a couple of nights.

Day 17: Free day on Stewart Island

Today you will be able to explore Stewart Island in your campervan at your own pace. The island is part of the Rakiura National Park, with its densely forested hills, tiny population, and untouched coastline and golden sandy beaches it is a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy the nature that surrounds you.

stewart island goingnz

Day 18: The Catlins

Heading back to civilization your overnight spot tonight will be in the Catlins (1.5-hour drive from Invercargill). The tranquillity of this region will blow you away, the untouched stunning bush land and rugged coastline is everywhere you turn.

Day 19: Visit and Explore Dunedin

Travel to Dunedin today (2-hour drive). A city renowned for its Maori and Scottish heritage, spend the afternoon exploring the city at your own pace. Suggestions include Visiting NZ’s only castle, Larnach Castle, a trip to Cadbury world, a chocolate lovers delight! Or walk up worlds steepest street!

dunedin goingnz

Day 20: Moeraki Boulders & Oamaru

On the east coach beaches north of Dunedin lies the Moeraki Boulders, this a must see! The huge spherical boulders are scattered along the beach a perfect photo opportunity for that empty photo frame that you have sat at home. Stay overnight in Oamaru just 40 minutes away from there is a – penguin colony. A sunset each night the Penguins come up onto the beach to rest, so close you could almost touch them!

 

Day 21: Mt Cook National Park

The drive inland to Mt Cook National Park (3-hour drive) will take in breathe taking panoramic views of lakes and mountains. There will be plenty of time to stop for photo opportunities. Enjoy an afternoon in Mt Cook Village exploring the serenity of the Southern Alps region at your own pace before resting up for the night under the stars.

Mt Cook Going NZ

Day 22: Tekapo and Travel to Christchurch

Tekapo is just an hour drive’s drive from Mt Cook, giving you plenty of time to relax and slow down the driving pace. Don’t forget to drive to the top of Mt John for non-interruptive views of Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon continue to Christchurch (3-hour drive) for your overnight stop.

goingnz

Day 23: Visit Akaroa

Today you will visit the very best sights of Akaroa (a 2-hour drive). Suggestions include: A cruise of the harbor and peninsula, visit the largest penguin colony on the mainland, swim with dolphins or take one of the many scenic walks in the region. Overnight in Christchurch.

Day 24: Visit Kaikoura – Whale Watching

Travel to Kaikoura (2-hour drive) in the afternoon catch the last cruise to do a spot of whale watching.

kaikoura goingnz

Day 25: Head back to the North Island

Travel north back to Picton (2-hour drive), to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington overnight in Wellington.

Please note: Due to the recent earthquake in November 2016 the coastal road, unfortunately, received some damage. Currently, this road is blocked and you have to drive the longer 7 hour inland route via Blenheim (great wine region!) to reach Picton. We suggest if this still affects you when you visit NZ to maybe remove the Kaikoura or Akaroa day visit and take your time with the drive, some great overnight spots include Hamner Springs (awesome thermal spa) and Blenheim (for the wine of course!)

wellington Going NZ

Day 26: Visit the Tongariro National Park

Travel to Tongariro National Park (4-hour drive) to explore what the volcanic region of NZ has to offer. There are walks ranging from 1-8 hours in this park, visit the visitor centre for maps and advice.

tongariro goingnz

Day 27: Embark on one of New Zealand’s best day walks.

Up early for the shuttle transfer to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, this 7-8 hour walk passes some of the most stunning scenery the North Island has to offer.

Tongariro National Park

Day 28: Visit Waitomo and/or Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings

Depending on your personal interests on this day you could travel north to Waitomo, cave country. (2.5 hours’ drive). Here you can spend the afternoon exploring the glow worm caves but if you already have done some caving on the South Island you may find this very similar.

An alternative option would be to head to Rotorua if exploring some of NZ’s best geothermal spots is more your thing. If you are a huge Lord of the Rings fan then you could also visit Hobbiton on this day as it is very close to Rotorua.

Rotorua GoingNZ

Day 29: Raglan – for the surf of course!

Travel to Raglan (2.5 hours’ drive). A beautiful beach side town where the Kiwis holiday. Hire a surf board and ride the waves!

raglan goingnz
Surf at Raglan

Day 30: Goodbye New Zealand!

Today your road trip ends, return your campervan or car hire at Auckland Airport (2.5-hour drive) in time for your departing flight home – now that is what you call a road trip – make sure you send us a postcard!

Hiring A Rental Car In New Zealand – Kiwi Road Trip!

It’s road trip time for us! We have ten days…to explore the South Island. We have decided to fly down to Queenstown and hire a car upon arrival. We have a time constraint so we decided this would be the best method for us. We are flying out of Nelson to make the most of the time that we have!

Our South Island Road Trip Route
Our South Island Road Trip Route

Finally open roads! Yes, they may not be that smooth but they are scenic and definitely a conversation starter! With a long drive ahead we are prepared for our journey. Below is our check list for hiring a car for your kiwi road trip:

GPS Unit: Who uses maps these days, anyone? You can hire one from the car hire company for around ten dollars a day but Google Maps on your smart phone is more than sufficient these days! *Top Tip* To save money if you are hiring a car for more than 10 days. Why not pop to The Warehouse and buy a GPS?

Mobile Phone: Don’t forget that smart phone which if you have 3G / 4G data signal can doubles ups as a GPS with Google Maps and emergency use! Make sure you also sign up to a network that has good signal…I swear by Vodafone for NZ there coverage here has never let me down!

Fuel: Make sure you know what fuel your rental vehicle requires, a nasty surprise may follow else!

Apex car rentals
Apex car rentals

Insurance: Don’t get caught short, opt for that extra insurance that the car hire company offer. Make sure you reduce your accident excess reduction all the way down to nil.

Cover your ass: Read all the terms and conditions of hire car, things such as returning the hire car late, or with a empty tank will all get you extra charges when you return he car. Protect your wallet and read the small print! Also note down, take pictures of any marks or scratches you see on the car when you first pick it up, if you are extra concerned before you leave talk to someone at the hire company and make them record the mark or scratch you have noticed.

Credit card: The car hire company will take a imprint of your card (usually around 250 dollars if you have purchased the extra AER, don’t forget the credit card else they will have to use your debit card and actually take the money!

Check list and route in tact and we are off, we shall be on social media during our vacation and posting photos as we go just to make you all that little bit more jealous! First stop is Queenstown, my we have missed you!

Queenstown
Queenstown

Car Insurance New Zealand – What you need to know

Quick navigation

Do you need car insurance in New Zealand?
How much does car insurance cost in New Zealand?
Are no claims discounts transferable to New Zealand?
Car insurance comparison in New Zealand
Car insurance companies in New Zealand
Car insurance in Auckland

Do you need car insurance in New Zealand?

In New Zealand car insurance isn’t compulsory like it is in the UK and throughout Europe. That being said, just because you don’t need insurance, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you’re involved in an accident and you are at fault you could find yourself in quite a financial difficulty.

Rego and ACC

The vehicle registration fee (or rego as it is more fondly called here) is like road tax in the UK but a large portion of the fee collected goes towards ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation). ACC provides support and compensation for personal injuries – i.e. a car accident, whether you are at fault or not. To find out more about the ACC check out our article here! It doesn’t cover the cost of vehicle repair for either party or any other costs associated with a car accident – which can get expensive very quickly.

How much does car insurance cost in New Zealand?

Coming from the UK, we’ve found car insurance prices in New Zealand to be very agreeable, cheaper – by about a third. In general it is a lot cheaper to keep a vehicle in NZ. Our fully comprehensive insurance policy with $300 NZD excess, cover for a $7000 NZD car costs $350 NZD per year. Paying for insurance yearly is always going to be cheaper, small administration and interest charges bump up the insurance premiums by as much as 30%. Most banks also charge for direct debit set up cost’s as well, so it is much better to pay it yearly.

Are no claims discounts transferable to New Zealand?

Car insurance companies in general will accept international no claims bonuses earned on cars outside of New Zealand from countries like the UK and USA. It’s strongly recommend that you bring proof of no claims with you.

Getting car insurance in NZ

Insurance quotes are fairly straightforward, insurers don’t tend to ask half as many questions as you might expect if you are from the UK or USA. Most insurance providers give a quick quote via their websites – these are then finalised over e-mail or telephone call with the insurance company.

Car insurance comparison in New Zealand

The thing that surprised us most about car insurance in NZ is the lack of automation, to get a feel for the market and find the cheapest provider I collected 3 online only, 5 partial telephone / online and two telephone only quotes. We’re kind of used to instant online quotes and easy insurance comparison engines. New Zealand doesn’t really have anything like this – yet. If you like a bargain you’ll probably spend a morning filling out forms and phoning around the different providers to get a sensible quote.

Car Insurance in Auckland

Living in Auckland, you should expect to pay more for car insurance than in Wellington or anywhere else in New Zealand. With a third of the Country compacted into a small city – car insurance is strongly recommended when driving in Auckland.

Driving with a UK or international driving license in New Zealand

You are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand for a period of 12 months using your UK or internationally accepted driver’s license. Some insurers however will not insure drivers with international licenses or bump up the premiums – by as much as $100 from our experience.

Travellers Car Insurance

If you are planning to do a tour of New Zealand, buy a van and hit the south island – that sort of thing tends to be more expensive. With our international driver’s license we found a couple of insurers would only offer us temporary cover at a much higher per day rate.

It may be worth your while, depending upon how long you plan to stay in New Zealand converting your license to a New Zealand license – the added benefit here is acceptable forms of ID. If you look under 25 here, well it feels more like if you look under 45 then you may be asked for ID to purchase cigarettes and alcohol everywhere – which really gets tiring after a while!

What types of insurance cover are available?

Just as you would expect, New Zealand insurance providers offer third party, third party fire and theft and fully comprehensive policies. Temporary (short term) and annual policies are available.

A List Of Car insurance companies in New Zealand

The AA

FMG

Tower

State

You I

We’d recommend contacting the company you bank with as well and your local insurance broker.

The NZ Open Road!
The NZ Open Road!

What you need to know about driving in New Zealand

In New Zealand, much like the UK they drive on the left hand side of the road. It is also illegal to park on the right side of the road facing oncoming traffic. We learned this first hand, paid our fine and won’t be doing that again! For more tips about driving in New Zealand check out our article here!

To finish, do shop around and compare insurance, read reviews and find out what others think of their car insurance provider. Remember the cheapest isn’t always the best choice, $50 less for a legal protection or hire car while your vehicle is repaired – in our opinion is no bargain. You might be able to claim these fees back, but may have to upfront the costs., as nobody likes an empty wallet!

Driving in New Zealand

Before you leave it is important to accustom yourself with the local culture, lifestyle, rules and regulations- The rules of the road are one of them! One of the first things on your list of “To Do’s” would be purchasing or renting a car to get around in. Read more for our more tips on where to buy a car and what to out look for!

Driving Need to Know

Here they drive on the left hand side of the road. But after that there are still a few things you need to know!

If you have a driving license obtained in another country you can drive in New Zealand for up to a year. If the international license is issued in language other than English, then the drivers are required to carry their license’s translation while driving in New Zealand. If you are looking to stay more than a year, then you should apply for the Kiwi driving license as soon as you arrive in the country to be on the safe side.

The minimum age in New Zealand to get a Learner’s driving license is 16 years. The full license can be obtained by going through a 3-step graduated driving system of New Zealand. Not got your license? Then click here for the link of how to pass your test in New Zealand. Its a timely process so we suggest passing your test in your home country to save you time and money when you get into NZ.

Drivers without a license are fined in New Zealand. ($55) Therefore, always carry your driving license with you.

The speed limit on the freeways is normally 100 km/hr which goes down to 80 km/hr and also at times to 50 km/hr where the roads are not much wide and/or smooth. Rules have also come into force that you can only go 1km over the speed limit, any more and they will stop you and fine you!

A Brief Insight into Driving Rules and Licensing

If you want to drive after your first 12 months in New Zealand you will need to convert your license to a full New Zealand license, no theory test or practical test is needed. However, don’t leave it too last minute as medical and eye tests may be asked of you! To convert your license to a full New Zealand license you need to have been driving in your previous country for up to 2 years, if you have been driving for less a practical and theory test would be required of you. It is also worth noting if you aren’t driving without a valid driving license, then you can be fined $55. We just converted our licenses to a NZ drivers license – it is now official!

NZ Drivers License's - Check!
NZ Drivers License’s – Check!

Whilst we have been here we have found ourselves coming across the widespread discussion of certain people wanting/petitioning to change the rules for foreigners converting there license in a attempt to make there roads safer. Some petitions have been signed, essentially it seems that some people of NZ want to make it tougher to convert the license. Upon our research we have not found any evidence that the government are going to act upon this any time soon so for now the rules above are still the same.

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand covers all drivers for all the personal injuries which let you drive without buying any road insurance. The road tax paid by the commuters actually covers them from road injuries provided by ACC. Apart from the advantages, one of the major drawbacks of this scheme is that it attracts the youngsters to drive fast as the learner’s license is issued to kids as young as 16 years!

Buying a Car

Buying a car is cost efficient if you are planning a long term stay in NZ, you may be keen to get shopping for a car as soon as possible. Make sure you do your research first on websites like Trade Me, and local newspapers to make sure you know the value of the car you are looking for. Ask a friend or a relatives advice as well they can be really helpful. But if you don’t have someone to help you check out our blog about where and how to shop for a car and our post on car insurance!

When buying a car check that the car was a current Warrant of Fitness (WOF) which is similar to a MOT over in the UK. WOF’s have to be conducted every six months in NZ and the dates are displayed on a sticker on the front of the car. Also check that the car is registered (just like road tax in the UK) this would also be displayed on the window screen. If you don’t have a friend or relative that knows about cars make sure you get the car fully inspected before you buy, (namely by the AA or VTNZ) this may be a extra cost you did not account for but if the car was to break down 2 weeks after purchasing it you would be kicking your self! This includes also checking if the car has not been reported stolen or that no money is owing on it – so make sure you visit Moterweb for car history checks they can be purchased instantly online!

And lastly make sure you register your ownership to the New Zealand Transport Agency (just like with the DVLA) the link is here, and do consider insurance even though insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand if you damage someone elses car you will be expected to pay for it!

Enjoy The Great Open Kiwi Road!
Enjoy The Great Open Kiwi Road!

Renting a Car

Renting a car in New Zealand is probably the most convenient option for you when you first arrive in the country. It is very critically important for the touring drivers to be well familiar with the country’s driving rules. All the information regarding the driving rules can be accessed at the useful links below. For more tips on where to buy a car and where to rent a car and what to look for, please check out our blog post here!

And if you love a good bargain, check out our post on Cheap Fuel and Petrol prices in NZ!

Try a Campervan Relocation in NZ

DSCF0172
Freedom of the great open road!

The wonderful world of campervan relocations means that you can go on an exciting road trip, and benefit from reduced rates by relocating the van on behalf of the rental company. This is a big thing in New Zealand and Australia, and has great appeal for those travelling on a budget.

Costs

Renting a campervan can be an expensive part of your trip, especially when you take into account insurance and fuel costs. The main attraction of campervan relocations is the fact that many companies offer this option at a highly discounted rental rate, or sometimes even free. (And if you’re really lucky then you may even get fuel vouchers too!)

On the flip side, you need to be fully aware of hidden costs that can incur. For example, you may be required to pay a booking fee, or place a deposit (often non-refundable.) Then there’s the necessity for adequate insurance, and often hire fees for the extras, such as bed linen and accessories (i.e.. table and chairs). Make sure you factor these into your budget – you can find more about these great offers on websites dedicated to Campervan relocations such as Transfer Cars  or Imoova.

More often than not, these deals will be for those travelling South to North, so Christchurch to Auckland for example. In this instance the ferry may even be thrown in for free too! (And if it’s not, then it’s worth pushing for.) If you’re looking to take advantage of a campervan relocation deal then you should look into routes available with these companies before booking your flights. You may also be able to find deals around popular destinations such as Queenstown and Wellington.

Accommodation and Transport

It’s not hard to see why a campervan is the most popular form of travel for people visiting New Zealand. With or without rental costs, this option provides you with all your accommodation and transport needs, proving to be a cost effective and efficient way of getting around the country. It will save you buckets of time searching for places to stay and public transport timetables, and, considering the availability of freedom camping (which we’ve explored in more depth here), you can further cut costs by not having to use campsites. Bonus!

Freedom

While many people will have their whole trip planned weeks, or even months, ahead of date, companies offering campervan relocations offer plenty of last minute deals. This is great for residents of NZ who fancy an impromptu adventure, not needing to worry about booking flights etc. It might be that you have a route in mind and you go searching for a deal around this, or that you see what’s available and just go for it!

Having found a campervan relocation deal you will have destination A and B in place and a timescale for delivery, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for spontaneity along the way. Travelling by campervan really does give you an authentic experience of NZ, allowing you to soak up your surroundings at your own pace.

Rather than having accommodation and transport booked in advance, you can manage your own time and journey in a campervan. If you fall in love with a place you can stay on for a few extra days, and make up your time elsewhere. You can also hit the road whenever you feel like covering some miles. (Perhaps that means an early start to reach that beach by sunrise!)

And last but definitely not least, in a campervan you’re so much closer to NZ. This form of travel allows you to explore the nooks of your environment – wandering down unknown roads to see what delight you may stumble across. Just short of pitching up a tent, you’ll benefit from life in the outdoors, being able to cook and eat in the open, or sleep under the stars – only needing to use your van as a base.

All said, travelling by campervan is a very special way to see NZ, and if it’s your priority to do so, then finding a company that offers relocations is highly recommended for those looking to cutting costs. Just remember to look into exactly what you will have to pay for, never assuming at first glance that it’s just one big freebie!

Buy or Renting a Car in New Zealand?

As our moving date got closer we are realizing for our plans needed to be action-ed as soon as we arrive into NZ we need to get some wheels so we can get around quickly!

Luckily we were  be able to borrow a relatives car when we arrived, from there we planned to purchase our own within 2 weeks of being in Auckland.

If you are not fortunate to have relatives or friends in NZ who have a car they can lend you, you may want to rent a car upon arrival. The airport is the best place to start, but you may find cheaper deals elsewhere once you are in Auckland. Click here to find out the companies available within Auckland Airport.

If you hold a driving license in your home country you will be able to drive in NZ when you arrive, most companies require to see your full license this includes the paper part as well as your actual license, they will also want to see another form of I.D (A passport) and they will most certainly require a credit card in case you bash there car up!

We managed to buy a car utilizing an uncle skills who is a ex mechanic. We checked our sites like Trade me (NZ leading online auction site similar to Ebay) before we left to see what we could afford for our budget.

We will also headed to some car fairs when we arrived, Ellerslie Car Fair is  far by the largest in the country and the most popular. We did read whilst doing our research that you should be careful for scams for instance dealers not who they say they are or cars that are on there last legs. But the market has on site prepurchase inspection mechanics so for a fee of $140 you can soon find out if you are buying a piece of crap! This market gave us a lot of leads so it really should be everyone’s first stop, before turning to Trade Me or the classifieds adds in the local news papers.

During our search the more we looked the more we found our budget increasing! It is well known that the kiwi atutude towards there cars are, “run the heap to the ground”, therefore when they come to sell it for $2000 bets are you are not getting a car that has been serviced regularly or well looked after!

We decided we wanted something a bit more reliable seen as we want the wheels to last more than a year! At Ellerslie Car Market we discovered that cars under $2000 were perfect for the backpacker arriving into Auckland and planning on sightseeing or working there way down to Christchurch. This ivedentantly was not us so we upped our budget for $5000-7000 and we found we could get something half decent, fairly new and was a low miler(or Kilometres). However all of these cars seemed to be Japanese imports at the car market and most of the people selling these cars were dealers who had premises on the Great South Road in Auckland.

So although Ellerslie was a very good starting point for us, avoiding dealers (which was our orginal plan!) who ship the cars in from Japan and make a tidy profit just didn’t happen!

Here is our little black Nissan, we called her Matilda!

matilda

To find out more read more and to learn about the rules of the road  read our Driving in New Zealand post!