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Ultimate Travel Guide: New Zealand Travel Tips

Woman walking in Mount Cook National Park New Zealand

The best New Zealand travel tips to know before you go

New Zealand is a popular holiday destination for many Australians, and it's not hard to see why. From stunning mountain views and glistening lakes to fun adventure sports and an incredible food scene, there's something for all travellers whether you’re seeking an adrenalin rush, road trip, or cosy winter escape.

To help your holiday “across the ditch” go off without a hitch, we’ve collated our best New Zealand travel tips below. You’ll learn about everything from New Zealand’s currency and weather to whether you need a visa to enter and if you can drive in NZ on an Australian licence, and much more.

Plus, don’t forget to consider international travel insurance for New Zealand. If you’re to protect your trip, get a quote online now. 

Skip ahead to find out:

8 essential travel tips for New Zealand holidays

It’s only a short flight from Australia, but New Zealand is a separate country with a unique set of rules and regulations. It also has a different climate to Australia despite its proximity and a history of natural disasters.

Here are our top New Zealand travel tips for a safer, smoother trip:

  • Tip #1. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return home to Australia before you leave for New Zealand.
  • Tip #2. You do not need a visa to visit, live or work in New Zealand if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia.
  • Tip #3. You must contact a High Commission or Consulate of New Zealand for visa requirements before entering the country if you have prior (criminal) convictions or have been deported (or subject to exclusion) from any country. To help avoid entry denial, it is best to make contact well in advance of your trip.
  • Tip #4. You can use your Australian drivers’ licence if you are road tripping around New Zealand for up to 12 months. If you wish to drive for longer than this period, you will need to get a New Zealand licence to legally drive in the country.
  • Tip #5. The water in New Zealand's lakes, rivers, and oceans can be extremely cold. Be smart about what water sports you do – and when you partake in them – and don't mix water sports and alcohol.
  • Tip #6. Hiking is a popular pastime in New Zealand and most travellers will do it to witness spectacular views. However, the weather at these altitudes can change quickly. Make sure you tell someone where you'll be hiking and take warm layers with you. Hiring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is also a good idea and is considered a necessity if you're going off-trail.
  • Tip #7. New Zealand is subject to earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunami warnings. Always watch local alerts and remain aware of changing situations. Be sure to follow instructions from law enforcement and evacuate any areas if you're asked to do so.  
  • Tip #8. Consider travelling with travel insurance. New Zealand is considered an international destination, and the Australian Government’s smartraveller.gov.au recommends Australian travellers get comprehensive travel insurance before travelling to New Zealand. You can get a Cover-More quote online now.

Is there Wi-Fi in New Zealand?

When you're travelling the world, it's likely you’ll want to stay connected. From planning your trip as you go to keeping in touch with friends and family and sharing photos, many activities are made easier with Wi-Fi.

In New Zealand, you will find it quite easy to connect to Wi-Fi while in the cities at cafes, libraries, and information centres. Many New Zealand accommodation providers will also provide Wi-Fi at no extra cost.

Outside of its major towns and cities, Wi-Fi in New Zealand is not readily available. In many parts of the country, you may find you’re without a connection. But why not take this as a good excuse to switch off and enjoy the striking wilderness without any online distractions?

Smartphone apps can also help make your trip a little easier – some are even available for use without an internet connection. Here, our travel blogger Lisa shares her favourite travel apps to use when exploring the globe.

Top New Zealand travel tip

Don’t forget to download what you need before you leave places with Wi-Fi.

This tip is especially helpful when it comes to using offline maps. Many travel apps allow you to use them without an internet connection, but they do require you to download what you need before you head off.

Yes, sometimes it pays to be organised when travelling abroad!

 

Couple laying in car boot on road trip in New Zealand

 

What power adaptor do I need for New Zealand?

If you’re travelling internationally, you may need a power adaptor to use your electronics as power sockets can differ from country to country.

Luckily for Australian travellers, New Zealand has the same angled two or three pin plugs as we do, so there’s no need for an adaptor.

Speaking of power… if you’re planning a road trip or living out your “van life” dreams, consider bringing a portable charger along for days that you might be off the grid. This will help you keep all your much-loved tech items charged.

 

What is the currency in New Zealand?

New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). We recommend you check the exchange rates before you travel to New Zealand from Australia so you have an idea of what things are going to cost while you’re there.

There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency you can bring to or take out of New Zealand. However, if you're carrying more than NZ$10,000 in cash, you will be required to complete a Border Cash Report. Research this before you go to stay informed about any changes.

All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand, but Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. If you want to withdraw money, you can find ATMs almost everywhere.

Just don’t forget to tell your bank about your travel plans… As a precaution against fraud, most banks have a policy to freeze your bank account if it is being used overseas – so let them know where and when your travel plans are so you don’t get caught out.

Top New Zealand travel tip

It’s a good idea to carry both cash and credit/debit card when travelling so you have multiple ways of accessing your money in case something goes wrong.

For example, if you happen to lose your bank card, it’s good to have some backup cash or a different card to help you get by.

If you’re travelling with a travel currency card, the provider may supply you with both a primary and secondary card as a backup. If so, keep them in safe, separate places in case one goes missing.

 

What is the weather like in New Zealand?

New Zealand's North Island experiences moderate weather thanks to its subtropical climate. January and February are the warmest months and temperatures sit around the mid-twenties.

The South Island is not as warm as the North and has a more alpine climate. This is why most of the country's ski resorts are inland on the South Island, as temperatures can be as low as -10°C (14°F) in the winter. However, in the cooler months, both the North and South Islands experience snow in mountainous areas.

The North and South Islands can experience quick shifts in the daily weather. While the day might start as sunny and warm, it can end with a sudden drop in temperature. For this reason, always be prepared with warm layers, especially if you're hiking or spending time outdoors.

Looking for New Zealand holiday ideas across the different seasons? Here, Bailey from Destinationless Travel shares her favourite NZ activities during summer and winter.

Seasons in New Zealand

new zealand weather

 

Can I explore New Zealand on a group tour?

A popular way to see New Zealand is as part of a tour group. Tours can be a great way to meet people, experience the sights, and enjoy a stress-free holiday. After all, with everything planned for you, all you have to do is sit back, relax and have fun…

There are many tour operators throughout New Zealand, with different tours suited for different age groups and budgets.

If you're a backpacker, try looking for tours for people aged 18-31. There are plenty of group tours in New Zealand that incorporate fun nights out with sightseeing in the day so you can experience the nightlife alongside the country’s natural beauty.

 

Is it safe to travel solo in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a great country to explore solo. The wilderness, mountains and hiking trails are the perfect backdrop for your new-found freedom.

As one of the safest countries in the world, you'll find that many travellers choose to go at it alone. By doing so, you'll have the independence to go at your own pace and plan your own itinerary.

The bus network is extensive and quality hostels are found in most major towns. If you're interested in meeting new people, hostel common rooms are a good way to connect.

Before heading off to New Zealand as a solo traveller, don’t forget to check the Australian Government’s smartraveller.gov.au for recent NZ travel advice for Australian travellers, to familiarise yourself with local laws and key contacts, and to understand why they recommend travel insurance cover. To get cover with Cover-More, you can get a quote online now.

 

Man stepping across rocks in a river in New Zealand

 

6 of the best places to visit in New Zealand

Despite New Zealand being much smaller than Australia, travellers often find themselves overwhelmed with choices of what to see and do while on holiday in the country.

If you’re travelling to New Zealand from Australia for a short holiday, it’s vital to narrow down the places where you want to spend your time.

Here, we’ve chosen six of the best spots not to be missed during any trip to NZ:

1. Queenstown

Surrounded by towering mountains and graced by the shores of Lake Wakatipu, on New Zealand’s South Island lies Queenstown. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or mild-mannered person, this resort town offers the best of both worlds. From bungy jumping to winery tours or simply taking in the stunning scenery, Queenstown has something for everyone. Watch as Dan, one of our travel bloggers shows off some of the highlights not to be missed in Queenstown.

2. Auckland

Much like Queenstown, the city of Auckland on the North Island has something to appeal to anyone. From vibrant nightlife to spectacular hikes, Auckland shares its world-class city with surrounding natural wonders. Known as one of the world’s largest Polynesian cities, experience the culture through museums and tours. With lots to see and do, Auckland is one of New Zealand’s largest and most diverse cities that is well worth your time. Check out our guide to Auckland.

3. Christchurch

In the heart of the Canterbury region lies the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch. This city stands out from the rest with its vast array of vibrant and innovative creativity. Urban regeneration flows through the city streets with new restaurants, bars, trendy shops and colourful street art. Despite this energy, the city stays true to its traditional heritage. Christchurch is without a doubt one of the world’s most unique destinations.

4. Wellington

If you’re a ‘foodie’ then Wellington should be at the top of your New Zealand itinerary. Encompassed by nature, the city is one of rich culture and food, perfect for a short stopover. In a day you can explore countless museums, indulge in some of the world’s finest craft beer and wine, relax with a gelato on the city’s gorgeous waterfront or even witness the native animals of New Zealand in their natural habitat.

5. Rotorua

Rotorua is a New Zealand experience like no other. This extraordinary destination is home to countless bubbling mud pools, bursting geysers, natural hot springs and rich Maori history. Experience stunning geothermal activity with your own eyes at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland or take it to the extreme with Skyline Rotorua and race down the thrilling Luge tracks. Want to see more of the Maori culture? Be sure to go to Te Puia for performances and to experience the Maori way of life.

6. Milford Sound

One of New Zealand’s most stunning natural attractions is Milford Sound. Cruising through this natural wonder, deep within Fiordland National Park, is a must-do on every New Zealand itinerary. By boat, kayak or helicopter, you can experience the astonishing aesthetic of the fiord’s cliff face that surrounds the water below. Not only will the countless waterfalls take your breath away but you’ll also see a range of intriguing wildlife. It’s a pure natural beauty just waiting to be seen.

Want more New Zealand travel tips? Check out this New Zealand itinerary for a first-timer, which includes stops in Kaikoura, Abel Tasman National Park, Hokitika Gorge, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, and more.

 

Want more New Zealand travel tips for a safer trip?

Our most important New Zealand travel tip is this: consider protecting your trip with international travel insurance.

If you need extra information on how we can help protect your trip – and help keep you safe should something go wrong – why not:

Or, if you’ve got a question about travel insurance not answered on our FAQs page, feel free to call us on 1300 72 88 22 – we’re happy to help.

 

Want us to protect your trip to New Zealand?

Discover our best international travel insurance plans today.

 

 

 

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