6 Things To Consider When Planning a Trip To New Zealand

Text and Photos by: Ane Urquiola

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an adrenaline addict, or someone that can appreciate beautiful scenery, then a trip to New Zealand should be high on your list. Last April I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand, an incredibly diverse and stunning country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean comprised of two main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. However, besides a logistics standpoint, many people still does not know how to travel there, after visiting New Zealand last Spring and I am happy to share six important tips in helping you plan your next getaway to this incredible country. Let’s start:

Photo Apr 15, 5 20 35 PM (1)1. Currency. NZD is best

New Zealand operates on the New Zealand Dollar (or NZD), and if you’re coming from the US, the UK, or other countries in Europe (that use the euro), enjoy a favorable exchange rate. Most business accept credit cards so I never exchanged or got cash out of the ATM. Carrying cash isn’t necessary. When asked whether I wanted to be charged in NZ dollars or US dollars, I opted for NZ dollars and let my bank figure out the exchange rate—often times you’ll get a better deal that way!

Photo Apr 15, 8 41 36 AM (1)2. Tipping. Should you tip or not?

Tipping is not customary in New Zealand unless you’re receiving exceptional service. Coming from the US, I did think that prices were slightly higher in general (especially for food and drinks), but in the end it all evened out with the favorable exchange rate. Whenever you’re ready to pay your bill at a restaurant or cafe, let your server know that you will be paying with a card. In many places you’ll pay at the front, rather than have your card charged and returned to you, and most often when paying at the table the server will bring the credit card terminal to you to complete the transaction. Nice!

IMG_58543. What to Pack? Layers are better.

New Zealand’s weather can change in an instant. When I went in April the difference in temperature between Auckland and Queenstown was 20 degrees, which is significant and can be a big difference between comfortable and cold. Although the weather is typically nice, make sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho and carry it around with you, and make sure to dress in layers. Don’t forget to pack a pair of hiking boots for the many chances you will have for hiking beautiful landscapes, and of course sandals if you are going to be near the beach. I went during the transition from summer to fall, and I got to experience some of the most beautiful fall foliage I’ve ever seen!

Photo Apr 22, 6 14 28 PM (1)4. Getting around By Car:

I highly recommend it as that is one of the best ways to see the stunning countryside. There are so many opportunities to just pull over, and experience a short but invigorating hike or walk, often to beautiful waterfalls, lakes, or really scenic areas, so you’ll want to budget in some time for that.(there are even signs that give you the heads up that a scenic lookout point is going up). But here are some things to consider if you’re going to be driving:

  • First. Driving takes longer than it looks. New Zealand is a small country with a relatively small population, larger highways exist but are not as common as winding country roads and roadways, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time when planning your route from one place to another
  • Second. Avoid driving at night if possible. It may be stressful when heading off to visit places that are kind of remote, and there is little street lighting and often just one lane going each way. Just think of the challenge when driving through sinewy mountain ranges with no light!. If this is your first time, try to avoid driving at night if possible, unfortunately New Zealand experiences quite a number of motor vehicle accidents especially from tourists that are not used to driving in those night conditions.
  • Third. Observe the signs! One signal that I was not familiar with was one large arrow heading one way and one small arrow heading the other way. This signifies you’re about to come up to a one-way bridge or crossing that only fits one car going one way, so if you see this sign and you have the large arrow that means you have the right of way, and if you have the small arrow then that means you have to yield to cars coming from the other direction. You’ll also see some other fun (but serious) signs relevant only to New Zealand.


5. Getting Around BY AIRPLANE. Convenient & Inexpensive

The longest flight from the north of the North Island to the south of the South Island is just two hours long. If you’re trying efficiently to get around the entire country quickly, then flying with Air New Zealand or Sounds Air will be pretty convenient and relatively inexpensive. You also have many options to travel via helicopter and private plane. Some luxury lodges are accessible only via helicopter or private plane, and you can also charter flights to cut down the time it takes to get to unique destinations like Milford Sound.

Photo Apr 22, 9 40 10 PM (1)
6. Getting around BY FERRY AND TRAIN

There are even more additional forms of transportation within New Zealand, including ferries and trains. Ferries are a great way to get to the tiny islands in the north, as well as a fun and different way to travel from the North Island to the South Island. Taxis are also available, but in my experience I found them to be quite expensive. Thankfully rideshares like Uber was readily available in the large cities like Auckland and Wellington, and when I asked about Queenstown they told me Uber would be arriving there soon this year.

Need more tips about travelling in New Zealand? Please visit http://thehungrychronicles.com and put New Zealand high on your list for discovering more unique and fun things about this country, Chur!, Go to the country where Lord of the Rings was filmed, if the Lord of the Rings can do it, so can you!

Photo Nov 12, 1 32 06 PM (1)ANE URQUIOLA

Ane was recently recognized as one of the top 10 bloggers of Austin of 2018. She is a Luxury Travel Advisor, a certified New Zealand Specialist, and the Creative Director of The Hungry Chronicles, a global luxury travel firm that provides bespoke travel planning services and food & travel inspiration She has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Texas, and in her former life she was a Private Banker in Texas.

You can follow her travel adventures on:

Blog: The Hungry Chronicles www.thehungrychronicles.com
Instagram: @TheHungryChronicles