New Zealand is an insanely beautiful country with so much to do and see, it can be a challenge to try and fit everything in! Here are some things to consider when planning your adventure.
Depending on where you are driving, but about 80% of the highways in New Zealand are single lane and windy. It makes for a great driving experience and stunning scenery. But means that when planning travel times do allow yourself more time just in case.
The New Zealand sun is as strong as the All Blacks! Always wear sunscreen in the spring and summer months, even when it’s cloudy as the sun will burn. Also, have a hat and sunglasses with you for those hot days.
As much as the sun is strong, the weather is temperamental. It can change very quickly, with rain and clouds sweeping in and out within a matter of minutes. When it rains, it pours (not like the London drizzle I get here!). Being aware of this is especially if you are going hiking and be prepared.
Time of Year
When visiting in the summer months remember this is the NZ school holidays so some areas (Rotorua and Queenstown for example) will be busier than normal. Also, do you want to be driving a lot if it’s that hot? But in the winter months, especially in the South Island there can be snow and some roads will be closed or you need to know how to fit snow chains to your vehicle in order to drive them. This was the case for Milford Sound with something similar to a police checkpoint! My favourite months were October/November for the spring and the schools go back in Mid-Feb for the summer/autumn seasons.
A lot of experiences you will need to book in advance, such as Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves and Kaikoura. This is also handy for saving a few cents as you can normally get a few discounts too!
This gorgeous native bird is a bloody menace to rubber on your car and will pick the rubber off windscreen wipers, tires and around windows. If you head to areas around Milford Sound and Te Anua take something to wrap window wipers with (plastic bags or cloth) and they can’t get to them, protecting your hire car and their species. If you are staying for longer speak to your host (hotel, Airbnb) about what they do to protect their car.
A lot of hire car companies prohibit taking their cars on the Inter-Island ferry. It’s worth checking when booking as you may have to change your plans slightly.
There are a few quirky New Zealand driving rules (which we will discuss in another post later) but when hiring a car check that you are permitted an unlimited amount of kilometres to drive. Some companies have limits on how much mileage you add to the car. The speed limit on the highways is generally 100kmph and the police are hot on speeders and drive drivers.
Traps and Poisons
The amount of native wildlife in New Zealand and livestock that is threatened by pests in big. So when you travel in rural areas be aware that you will see traps for stoats and possums to protect the wildlife. You may also see signs for poisons on the area. If you do, be careful if you have pets and children with you that they don’t ingest anything.
I lived in New Zealand for three years and don’t think I even scratched the surface of things to do and see, so enjoy the time you have there.