New Zealand (or Aotearoa: ‘the land of the long white cloud’), is a volcanic haven of geographical and geological wonder located in the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’.
Offering some of the world’s most jaw-dropping scenery, from wild beaches and forest gorges to snow-peaked ranges and geothermal geysers, the islands leave visitors spellbound. No wonder they were used as the panoramic backdrop to the infamous Lord of the Rings movies.
The distinct identities of the North and South islands mean there’s a New Zealand for everyone, with an enthralling mix of sophisticated cities, sleepy sheep-farming communities, world-class vineyards and wildly beautiful national parks.
To top this off, there is also 1000 years of Maori heritage to explore, with the chance to experience Maori culture, arts, language and food, with their fascinating Polynesian influences.
NZ’s largest city and gateway to the country, this ‘city of sails’ nestled between harbours and volcanoes is a buzzing metropolis of culture and cuisine. Take in the view from the Sky Tower and a short ferry ride to Devonport and Waiheke Island.
Bay of PlentyBay of Plenty
True to its name, the Bay of Plenty is a smorgasbord of surfing, seafood, skydiving, orchards, dolphins and everything in between. Home to Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and White Island, it’s a great base to explore for a few days.
Christchurch & CanterburyChristchurch & Canterbury
Christchurch is reinventing its English heritage with a modern temporary urban vibe after the earthquake that devastated the city. Neighbouring Akaroa, Aoraki Mt Cook, and the Wairapa Valley should not be missed. Home to the TranzAlpine scenic railway.
Dunedin & SouthlandDunedin & Southland
Often described as the Edinburgh of NZ, Dunedin has a Scottish feel in a lively student town that perches on the Otago Peninsula. Southland opens up a vast rugged landscape featuring the Moeraki boulders and stark Catlins Coast.
Eastland & Hawke's BayEastland & Hawke's Bay
Often overlooked, lesser known Eastland is home to some of NZ’s oldest vineyards and wineries. Maori myths and legends alongside great cycle trails, hiking and golf courses make this region well worth a visit. Don’t miss Hastings, Napier and Tolaga Bay.
Nelson & MarlboroughNelson & Marlborough
Drenched in sunshine and tucked away in a sheltered bay, this region has its own microclimate. Home to the infamous Abel Tasman National Park and world-renowned vineyards, craft breweries, beaches, galleries and cycle trails.
Northland & Bay of IslandsNorthland & Bay of Islands
Head north of Auckland following the twin coast discovery highway to the treasures of the ‘Far North’. Endless bays meet sleepy historic settlements, towering native Kauri forests and unsealed roads. Don’t miss Hokianga, Opononi and Cape Reinga.
Queenstown & WanakaQueenstown & Wanaka
Recognised as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is NZ’s Swiss Alps. Snow enthusiasts descend on the Remarkables, Treble Cone and Cardrona for top class ski and snowboarding. But the scenery and thriving scene make it a year round destination.
Rotorua & TaupoRotorua & Taupo
A magnet for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, Rotorua’s dramatic geothermal landscape hosts thermal hot springs, geysers and mud pools. Taupo with its beautiful lake, Huka Falls and the Tongariro National Park make this combination an great base to explore.
Southern LakesSouthern Lakes
Tucked away in the southern last corner of the country ‘Middle Earth’ feels like a magical final frontier. Home to Fiordland, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sounds, Lake Tekapo, and Mt. Aspiring, this is NZs most visited area. Step on the glaciers and see why.
The CoromandelThe Coromandel
This sun-drenched peninsula surrounded by the Coromandel Ranges is home to Cathedral Cove and the infamous ‘Hot Water Beach’. Steeped in history and Victorian architecture, native forests and beautiful beaches, it’s a major draw card.
Waitaki & OtagoWaitaki & Otago
The opening of the Taieri Gorge railway revealed the secrets of the Waitaki region. A photographer’s dream awaits at the Clay Cliffs of Omarama and the penguin colonies along the coast. Whales and dolphins frequent the waters; the bird watching is superb.
West CoastWest Coast
The West Coast of the South Island is often overlooked yet boasts lush rainforests, limestone cave formations and stunning scenery. Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers are most visited, but Kahurangi, Hokitika, Charleston and Punakaiki should not be missed.
Whanganui & TaranakiWhanganui & Taranaki
Home to the Whanganui River and NZ’s only glass art school, these areas are full of art trails and National Parks. Jet boat or river raft down the river or hike Cape Egmont. Visit the Maori Pa at Parihaka and call at New Plymouth for some cafe culture.
We do not have any itineraries at this time.
We don’t have any suggested itineraries uploaded to our website for this destination yet, but we do have some sample itineraries on file that we can email you.
Remember that all our journeys are tailor-made to your specifications so give us a call or email us and we will gladly create a draft itinerary for you from scratch.
There are no direct flights to New Zealand so you will have one or two stops to get there, depending on your starting point. Common stopovers include Singapore, Dubai, Los Angeles or San Francisco. There are many connections so you can make the most of your flight itinerary.
Dependent on the type of trip that you are doing, different modes of transport such as private car, motorhome, train, boat or local airlines will be used to get to your destination.
Self-drive is one of the best ways to explore this great country; the driving is easy and scenic, especially for those of us who have become jaded by UK motorways. Crossing between the two islands can be done by car-ferry although most car hire operators insist that you leave your car on one side and collect a new one on the other.
Quick country facts
- Recommended airline
Air New Zealand (via Asia or the USA), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Emirates (via Dubai).
- Flight time
Minimum journey time is 24 hours, but this depends on whether you travel via Asia or the USA and the length of stop when changing planes.
- Time zone:
GMT +12 April-September GMT +13 October-April (Daylight Saving)
- Visa requirements:
Visa not required (UK passport)
Accommodation and Costs
There are plenty of options across New Zealand with something to suit all types of budgets and itineraries planned. A mix of luxury lodges, boutique hotels and larger hotels with more facilities, motels and apartments for self-catering, backpackers both upscale and budget, hostels, holiday homes (bachs), bed and breakfasts, farmstays, campsites and motorhomes. Due to the isolated location of New Zealand and the strong currency, costs of accommodation, food and fuel (if self-drive), should be considered carefully to ensure your budget and expectations are met. If traveling in peak seasons or particularly the winter snow season you may wish to investigate pre-booking resort accommodation, fly fishing lodges, luxury remote farmstays and boutique properties to avoid disappointment.
How Long to Stay
With the time taken to get there, 12 days would be about the minimum we’d recommend in New Zealand. In two weeks a fairly comprehensive itinerary of the North or the South Island can be achieved, but three to four weeks is needed if combining islands as a taster. To see everything you would need more than one month, but the average itinerary visits either the North or the South, or combines both islands with 1-2 night stays in each chosen location. For longer getaways, New Zealand also makes a great combination with Australia or the Pacific Islands: Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa or French Polynesia.
Weather and when to go
New Zealand can be visited all year round due to the variety of seasons and landscapes on offer, however there are certain times of the year that are warmer and drier than others. New Zealand has mild, subterranean temperatures, which can change unexpectedly. The subtropical North is warmer and drier, often humid in summer and the temperature decreases as you travel south. Inland alpine areas can be cold due to the mountainous snowy cold snaps and wind. On the West Coast high rainfall can be experienced at all times of the year due to the lush rainforest. Regional micro-climates provide stable, sheltered weather and can be found in central areas of the country. For sunshine lovers the best time to go is in summer between December and February. This is peak season for travelers and the Christmas summer break for New Zealanders. Snow and snow sport lovers should head to the mountains in the winter months between June and August. The busiest times to travel to this area is July when the NZ school holiday breaks and International snow fanatics arrive. To get the best prices for peak season, it is advised to book at least 8-12 months in advance. Planning well and for all weather occasions will ensure you don’t get caught unexpectedly in diverse conditions.