New Zealand Travel Guide

Ask me about my favorite country, and chances are I'll tell you that it's New Zealand. I've been to the country a handful of times, and even studied abroad in Wellington for a semester during university. I love this country for its stunning landscapes, laid-back vibes, and friendly people.

New Zealand quick facts

  • Population: 4.7 million
  • Language: English, Maori, and NZ Sign Language
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  • Capital city: Wellington
  • Country size: 103,483 sq. miles
  • High season: Summer (December through March)

Top 10 things to do in New Zealand

  1. Take a campervan road trip around the country
  2. Visit the Hobbiton movie set
  3. Admire the stunning Milford Sound
  4. Attend a Maori cultural show
  5. Ride the historic Wellington cable car
  6. Go whale watching in Kaikoura
  7. Go bungee jumping in Queenstown
  8. Trek around the impressive Mount Cook
  9. Go lupin spotting in the spring
  10. Witness the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights

Getting around

The best way to get around New Zealand is by car or campervan. Roads are well-maintained, and it's fairly easy to get from one point to another.

If you don't want to rent a car, you can also get to most places by bus or train. NakedBus and InterCity are bus companies that I've used many times – if you book in advance you can often get good deals.

You can also fly between all of New Zealand's major cities. Keep an eye on grabaseat for good domestic deals.

Where to stay

New Zealand has a nice mixture of hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to choose from, depending on your travel style and budget. Camping is also popular in NZ, with tons of campsites dotted all over the country.

Auckland:

Queenstown:

Wellington:

Posts about New Zealand

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  1. […] time, you often leave little room for spontaneity. I’ve said before that studying abroad in New Zealand helped me become a more laid-back person. And it definitely did. But travel in general has made me […]

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    […] been to New Zealand three times now, and yet I’m still constantly learning new things about it. Even though the […]

    […] you follow my blog regularly, you already know that I am in love (okay, a little obsessed with) New Zealand. The Land of the Long White Cloud is “The One” for me — the one country that I […]

    Oh my goodness I have hit the jackpot! I am moving to NZ soon so I am VERY happy to see all of these posts! Thanks for putting them together 🙂

      New Zealand has always been one of my specialties (not to mention one of my favorite countries!). Happy to help! 🙂

    This is amaaaazing! My other half is a Kiwi and we’re (finally) hitting the South Island in August, but he’s totally clueless about what to do. Our homework for the next week: read every single post.

      That should keep you busy! 😉 I’ve written about nearly every cool thing I’ve done in New Zealand, so I definitely hope this gives you some inspiration!

    I have really been enjoying your blog! It’s amazing!! My husband and I will be spending February 2016 in New Zealand and your blog has me even more excited. I just used Airbnb to book a place in Wellington. I do have a question for you. We need to catch a one way flight from Wellington to Christchurch. Air New Zealand flight is $140 and JetStar is $57.97. A big difference. I have never heard of JetStar. They don’t have good reviews. Have you ever flown with them?
    Thanks!!
    Beth
    We live in cloudy Ohio by the way. Gahanna, a suburb of Columbus.

      I’ve never flown JetStar, though I have heard of them (mostly not-good things!). The Air New Zealand flight should include your checked baggage; you’ll have to pay for it on JetStar. I’ve also heard that JetStar can be reeeeeaaallllyyy strict on their carry-on baggage limits.

    Hello there! Thank you for the great posts! I am planning to travel alone to travel alone in Nov and im considering to head to NZ. This is going to be my first solo trip and I can’t drive. I felt more assured that I could rely on the bus transport because the general feedback i got was I wouldn’t be able to access to some places even by bus.

      Hey Sher! You can definitely get around New Zealand by bus. Sure, there are *some* places you can’t get without a car. But if it’s your first trip to New Zealand, you probably will want to see all the major sites/cities anyway – and you can definitely get to those by bus. 🙂

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog site from another traveller’s blog. A great name and idea 🙂 I’m a fellow NZ addict and plan to travel back their next year. It’s been over 10 years since my one and only last trip. I’ll bookmark and be back again to help with my planning. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Hi Amanda. I’m really enjoying your travel blog. I’m an older traveller from Australia & I’m busy travelling around as much as possible. I’m going to the US for the first time in a few months & I’m very excited. We Aussies struggle with tipping since we are not used to it. We only tip for exceptional service & just round up taxi fares as Aussies are paid reasonable hourly rates so really the “tip” is factored into the cost of the meal or haircut or whatever. Something that I really want to know is how to pay for meals & leave the tip at restaurants. We are usually either given the bill at the table & then go to pay at the register or just go to the register & tell the person where we were sitting. My understanding is that in US restaurants the bill is brought to the table then you hand over the cash or card. Our banks always tell us for security reasons to always watch the card (so it’s not skimmed) & our cards have PIN numbers. Do your cards have PIN numbers? Is it safe to hand over the card? Do you leave the cash tip on the table & then walk out? Couldn’t the money be stolen? I’m an introvert like you & get very anxious about these things. Thanks for your great blog & in anticipation of your reply.

      Hi Deb! These are all very good questions, and as someone who has worked as a server in the US in the past, I appreciate you asking! In the US, servers are not paid minimum wage – when I was serving, I made $2.85 an hour and relied on tips for the rest of my wage. So that’s why it’s so important to tip in America!

      The general rule is to tip 15%-20% of your total bill. The bill will indeed be brought to your table at a sit-down restaurant. SOME places are finally accepting chip cards now, however most do not – meaning they’ll take your card away from the table to scan it and then bring it back along with the receipt for you to sign. 99% of the time this is totally safe.

      And yes, if you’re tipping cash, you can just leave it on the table if your server doesn’t come back (if you pay with a credit card, they often won’t come back to the table after they drop off your receipt to sign). This is also safe – I never had anyone steal a tip off a table when I was serving. 🙂

    Hi Amanda,
    My wife and I have been reading alot about your travel blogs especially on New Zealand cos we will be taking a one month self drive tour beginning 1st Nov 2016. Your blogs have provided valuable tips and guides on our upcoming trip. I don’t seem to read about how you do your monetary transactions there and I am unsure whether I should bring cash or just swipe my credit card or open an account that provides me a debit card. Can you advise me on this please? Thank you very much.

      I’m glad you’ve find my posts helpful! So, when I travel, I always have a debit card that lets me take out cash at foreign ATMs (I don’t like carrying tons of cash), as well as one or two credit cards. Most places in NZ will accept major credit cards, though some smaller shops and restaurants will probably only accept cash. If you’re able to get a debit card, I would go that route!

    Hello! I currently stumbled across your blog while doing some research about New Zealand and let me just say I’m glad I found your blog 🙂 NZ is on my bucket-list to visit mainly because of LOTR and the nevis swing (seen on facebook) . Can you tell me which region is the most inexpensive?

      New Zealand isn’t a cheap destination overall, but you can definitely find ways to save money. I would say stay outside of the major cities, and cook some of your own meals if you can – that will save the most money!