What’s your idea of a top holiday? Perhaps it’s sunning yourself on a beach all day, exploring the great outdoors or discovering the local culture and nightlife. I believe a combination of these experiences makes for a perfect trip, so here’s how I’m planning my dream trip to New Zealand.
When I was younger, I watched a lot of nature and travel programmes with my parents and I remember New Zealand vividly. The country has it all, from beaches, glaciers and mountains to cities, forests and volcanoes. I love the idea of exploring the North and South Island, immersing myself in the incredible landscapes and learning all about the country’s unique history and culture.
The practicalities of visiting New Zealand
From flights to visas, insurance and accommodation costs, there’s so much to plan for a trip to New Zealand, including:
- Getting there – New Zealand is a 24-hour flight and approximately 11,600 miles from England, so I expected flight prices to be pretty expensive. However, after a quick search on Skyscanner, I found it was much more affordable than expected. The cheapest tickets go for around £380 to £400 pounds (I won’t lie, I expected them to be over £1,000).
- Visas – British passport holders are permitted to go to New Zealand as a visitor for anywhere up to six months without a visa.
- Travel insurance – after checking quotes on various insurance sites, I settled on Outbacker insurance, who specialise in backpacker policies. I got a quote for insurance to New Zealand that covers most of the usual troubles on holiday, such as loss of property or injuries. There are more extensive quotes you can get and I recommend taking out more comprehensive insurance if you’re considering partaking in the more high-octane sports New Zealand has to offer.
- Getting around – car hire is common in New Zealand and depending on the season, you can find deals for as little as NZ$9 a day. Remember to factor in additional insurance costs and go with a reputable company. Skyscanner has some great car hire deals for New Zealand.
- Accommodation – If you’re thinking of backpacking or travelling for a longer period of time, you can save money by staying at hostels to help keep you afloat.
- Jobs – if you wish to stay in New Zealand for longer than six months and work, then a work and holiday visa is necessary. A visa will allow you to stay for up to 24 months and work for half of that time, this will cost (at time of writing) £205 pounds.
Top New Zealand activities
Now, the big question is, what type of holiday is for you? The answer will likely dictate which destinations you visit and also how long you stay in the country for. Here are some of New Zealand’s top draws.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then you’ve come to the right place. In New Zealand, you can jump off the Sky Tower, ride the rapids in Rotorua or try your hand at Heli-skiing. If you like hiking there are some great multi-day treks such as the world-famous Milford Track. This covers over 53 km of trails and takes around four days to complete, making it one of the tougher tracks but worth it for the stunning scenery.
New Zealand is also world-famous for its sports, especially rugby, and I believe that any sports fan would enjoy the opportunity to go and watch the All Blacks. I intend to grab a beer and watch the New Zealand cricket team play, or if it is the correct time of year, catch some of the domestic T20 competition. Dunedin and Wellington are some of the most scenic spots to watch any sport in the world.
Combining sport and adventure, it’s worth mentioning that New Zealand is the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping. Thousands flock to Queenstown to take part in the famous AJ Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge bungy jump across the Kawarau river. Queenstown is also home to many adventure sports including: brilliant sky diving hotspots, ziplining and many water-based sports such as jet boat rides and white water rafting.
Wildlife and nature
New Zealand is a dream destination for nature and wildlife lovers, with 14 national parks and over 9,000 miles of coastline, don’t miss:
- Parks and wildlife reserves – you’ll find these protected areas spread across the country. One of the most popular options is the Cape Sanctuary, which is the biggest privately-owned sanctuary in New Zealand. Tiritiri Matengi Island off Auckland also sees around 20,000 thousand visitors by boat every year!
- Whale and dolphin watching – there are many species of whales and dolphins living off the coast of New Zealand, including Orcas, Humpback Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins. The advantage of this particular pursuit is that it isn’t seasonal, so you don’t need to depend on the weather.
- Kiwi spotting – these flightless birds are a national icon, found only in New Zealand. At the Whangarei Kiwi house, you can go and spot them in their preserved habitat and feed them. There is also opportunity to see and feed other native animals including lizards and owls.
- Geothermal attractions – New Zealand has a fascinating geothermal, volcanic landscape which you can experience in places like Rotorua, Wai-O-Tapu and the Polynesian Spa.
New Zealand was the filming location for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Mount Ngauruhoe, for example, is the sight of Mount Doom which you can experience from the Tongariro Crossing trek. There are a number of tours that take in various other famous sights from the Lord of the Rings, these include “Paradise” in Otago which is the sight of Isengard in the films. Don’t miss the famous Hobbiton film set in Matamata, where you can take a tour of the Shire and its cute hobbit homes.
In terms of nightlife, New Zealand’s cities boast a decent number of bars and clubs to keep you entertained. Queenstown, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington are the liveliest hubs, but it’s always interesting to explore more rural towns to find out what the locals there do to keep themselves entertained in the evenings.
Popular heritage attractions in New Zealand include Larnach Castle in Dunedin and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum near the Bay of Islands. New Zealand is mostly renowned for its scenery and beautiful landscapes, and Tupare near New Plymouth in the North Island is no different. You can walk around its beautiful restored gardens for free and take in the rich countryside views.
Something you must experience in New Zealand is the Maori culture and there aren’t many better places to do this than Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua. Once you’ve arrived in the village you’ll hear a welcome ritual given by the descendants of the ancient warriors. As far as native cultural experiences go this is surely the most powerful and enjoyable!
Overall, I believe that whilst a trip to New Zealand will set you back a significant amount of money, it’ll be well worth it if you immerse yourself fully in the culture and scenery. Planning my dream holiday was great fun and I can’t wait to take my trip to New Zealand!