New Zealand is one of my favorite countries I have visited so far! The nature is so incredibly diverse, behind every corner is a new amazing landscape, the people are very friendly and always helpful, the country is very rich in culture and it is easy to get around.
New Zealand is one of the British colonies where both languages are equal, the ancient Maori language and English. So, you will be warmly welcomed in NZ in two languages: Haere mai – Welcome!
As I said, New Zealand is rich in beautiful nature and great culture and they know how to preserve it! One of their main sentences is: “Tō tātou taiāo. Tō tātou hītori. He tāonga tūturu nō Aotearoa. Maioha rawatia. Poipoia rawatia. Tukua. –
Our nature. Our history. It’s New Zealand’s unique legacy. Enjoy it. Enrich it. Pass it on.”
I enjoyed this amazing country so much and now want to pass my experiences on to you guys!
You can get a free visa for up to 3 months if your main reason is to travel and you have already bought a ticket out of NZ again. Most countries are free waiver countries including European Union, Brazil and USA.
For other types of visas, visit the very well-structured homepage of the NZ government: https://www.immigration.govt.nz
For the immigration process for a free visa, you need to fulfill a form (which you usually already get on the plane) including the address where you first want to go, the reason why you are coming to NZ and the type of transportation you will use. I had a pretty long immigration process as the young officer didn’t know what Couchsurfing is, neither could she understand how I could be travelling for 6 months as a student – where does the money come from?, where will you stay?, How long do you already know that guy from Couchsurfing?, You met online?! (I have to say if I recall my answers, I also would be curious…^^ I think my German passport saved me though and after a series of questions, I finally got my visa!)
NZ is very strict with products brought into the country: no fruits/ meat/ dairy products, no plants/ seeds (they even wash your shoes and tent and all the camping gear!). They even scan your baggage. So, plan extra time for the control.
How to get there
New Zealand is an island country divided into two main islands: North and South Island. Therefore, you just reach NZ by plane or by boat. Most of the airplane companies fly into Auckland on the North Island or Christchurch on the South Island.
How to get around
New Zealand is great to discover with your own car. It depends on your style of travelling but I prefer to rent or, if you stay for longer than 6 weeks, to buy a car than to rent a caravan. Why I prefer a car, read “Travel around New Zealand or Australia – in a car or a caravan?“. Wherever you decide to fly to: make sure that you book your car early enough because the car rentals can get pretty busy, especially around Christmas and New Year’s!
The cheapest option in Christchurch, that I could find was renting a car for three weeks with Omega Car Rentals in New Zealand for 900,00 NZD including the insurance of zero access cost.
There is the option of travelling around NZ by bus but you will mainly visit the tourist areas as you can’t get to remote places by bus.
Cheapest supermarkets and other important services
– The cheapest supermarket in NZ is Pak ‘n Save. The name already explains the system: You pack your own bags and therefore it is faster and you pay less. This supermarket is perfect for all Europeans who are not used to somebody packing their bags anyway and therefore, don’t get annoyed waiting in the queue. ^^
– A cheap supplier for camping and all kind of things is Kmart (unfortunately we didn’t get that information earlier but found it just by coincidence when we needed a pot and didn’t want to pay 80,00$ for one… our navigation system brought us to one Kmart – thank God Navis exist!)
– A good way to save some money on fuel is to fill your tank on the Pak ‘n Save petrol station at the local Pak ‘n Save you just shopped. You will save 6 cents per liter with a voucher you receive at each purchase.
Plan ahead your stays in New Zealand’s National Parks
If you want to do one or more of the nine Great Walks in New Zealand, I recommend you to book ahead your stay in the huts or on the campgrounds in the beautiful National Parks. Especially during the high season from November to April, the huts are pretty busy. Get an account and book your accommodation in the National Parks on the website of Department of Conservation (DOC): www.doc.govt.nz . In case what you wanted to book isn’t available at the moment, just check regularly as you might get lucky and somebody cancelled a stay. In case you decide to go into the National Parks to camp there without any prior bookings, extra cost penalties in huts or on campgrounds will be expensive.
On the website above you will also get all important information on the National Parks and Great Walks including distances and walking times. All the information they provide there, can get a bit overwhelming. So, in case you need help, don’t hesitate to ask us, we are very happy to help out!
Enjoy this amazing country and come back full of new adventures to tell!