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Visiting New Zealand

What highlights should every traveller include on their trip?

Fiordland National Park (whether that be a nature cruise, overnight cruise or multi-day expedition)
A marine life experience with penguins, whales or dolphins (NZ is home to 3 different penguin species, 5 different species of whales, and the world's rarest and smallest dolphins)
The TranzAlpine Train
A geothermal experience in Rotorua
A visit to the west coast to see the glaciers - while they are still around.

Our personal favourite is getting off the beaten trail and being rewarded by vast open spaces - you may be familiar with these from the latest 'The Power of the Dog' movie. No matter your preferred views - diversity will leave you very rewarded here in New Zealand.

What does anyone planning a visit to New Zealand need to know?

It requires more than just a few days; we recommend at least 2 weeks if you can. The country may be small but it is vast and the journey is just as important as the destination. Each travel leg holds some of the most stunning scenery. The roads take longer than expected when driving between destinations - give yourselves time so that the driving days are relaxed and enjoyable, with the ability to stop and enjoy the beautiful sights along the way.
It seems obvious, but New Zealand is a long way from most visitors' homes! Factor this into the planning process. Give yourselves 1-2 days on arrival in the country to catch your breath, stretch your legs and get over the jetlag.
There is something for everyone! Splurge a little you will be rewarded, splurge a lot and you will have a trip of a lifetime at little extra expense.

What dates are the Public Holidays in New Zealand?

It is important to be aware of New Zealand’s public holidays so you can plan ahead for the closures of banks and some businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants. Businesses that do trade on these days may add a 15% surcharge to their services. We have listed the dates below for 2023 and 2024 to make sure you are prepared and get no surprises!

There are four restricted trading days which are Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and before 1 pm on ANZAC Day. Almost all shops are required to be closed. There are some exclusions due to the nature of their trade e.g. petrol stations, cafes, restaurants, fast food outlets and dairies (small convenience stores), however, in smaller towns they will often opt to close as well. Check out in advance what will be open near you on the following days! Small towns and villages are less likely to have places open, so if you are travelling around New Zealand during any of these periods, make sure you plan ahead.

Our New Zealand Travel Specialists can assist you with further information, see our Contact Us page.

2023 New Zealand National Public Holidays

1   Jan: New Year's Day
2   Jan: Day after New Year's Day
3   Jan: New Year Holiday
6   Feb: Waitangi Day
7   Apr: Good Friday
10 Apr: Easter Monday
25 Apr: Anzac Day
5   Jun: King's Birthday
14 Jul: Matariki
23 Oct: Labour Day
25 Dec: Christmas Day
26 Dec: Boxing Day

2023 New Zealand Regional Anniversary Dates (Please note that these holidays are only celebrated within each province, and not nationwide)

23 Jan: Wellington Anniversary Day
30 Jan: Auckland Anniversary Day
30 Jan: Nelson Anniversary Day
13 Mar: Taranaki Anniversary Day
20 Mar: Otago Anniversary Day
11 Apr: Southland Anniversary Day
25 Sep: South Canterbury Anniversary Day
20 Oct: Hawkes' Bay Anniversary Day
30 Oct: Marlborough Anniversary Day
17 Nov: Canterbury Anniversary Day
27 Nov: Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
4 Dec: Westland Anniversary Day

2024 New Zealand National Public Holidays

1 Jan: New Year's Day
2 Jan: Day after New Year's Day
6 Feb: Waitangi Day
29 Mar: Good Friday
1 Apr: Easter Monday
25 Apr: Anzac Day
3 Jun: King's Birthday
28 Jun: Matariki
28 Oct: Labour Day
25 Dec: Christmas Day
26 Dec: Boxing Day

2024 New Zealand Regional Anniversary Dates (Please note that these holidays are only celebrated within each province, and not nationwide)

22 Jan: Wellington Anniversary Day
29 Jan: Auckland Anniversary Day
29 Jan: Nelson Anniversary Day
11 Mar: Taranaki Anniversary Day
25 Mar: Otago Anniversary Day
2 Apr: Southland Anniversary Day
23 Sep: South Canterbury Anniversary Day
25 Oct: Hawkes' Bay Anniversary Day
4 Nov: Marlborough Anniversary Day
15 Nov: Canterbury Anniversary Day
2 Dec: Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
2 Dec: Westland Anniversary Day

Which island should I visit? The North, South or both?

Whether you should visit the North or South Island in New Zealand entirely depends on your travel times. Ideally, you would do both! Mutually stunning, each island has unique, individual attractions. However, if you have limited time we recommend choosing one island to thoroughly explore as opposed to trying to rush them both. There's always next time! So to help you decide here's a quick overview of what you can expect:

North Island:

If you're more of a sun and sand kind of person, then the North is for you. Significantly warmer with many accessible surf beaches, coves and sheltered bays - the North is also home to geothermal Rotorua, all of New Zealand's active volcanoes, and the country’s capital city Wellington. It boasts the longest beach in New Zealand (Ninety Mile Beach) and its sub-tropical Bay of Island region is renowned for its white sand and crystal clear waters.

The South Island

If you love mountains, vineyards and dramatic scenery, then the South is the island you'll enjoy the most. With the Southern Alps running the length of the country you’re never far from some of the most remarkable views in the country. Renowned for it’s hiking, the South has five of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks,’ multiple award-winning wineries, glaciers, rainforest, lakes and dusty plains. It is also home to the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand is beautiful in every season - but the best time to come really depends on what you would like to do!
Our seasons are:
Summer: December, January and February
Autumn: March, April and May
Winter: June, July and August
Spring: September, October and November

If hiking some of our trails are on your list then mid spring to mid autumn is ideal. 
Our busiest months are January and February. Kiwis holiday from Christmas through to mid January.

What are the styles of accommodation available in New Zealand?

Where to stay

New Zealand has a wide range of accommodation styles to suit every taste, budget and requirement from self-contained motels to luxurious lodges, from spacious apartments to 4 star hotels and even the occasional hobbit house!

We carefully select the properties we recommend to ensure they meet our high quality standards and we monitor these standards by actively visiting properties and following up on the feedback we receive from guests.


Location is an important factor when choosing somewhere to stay, especially in larger cities. In Auckland and Wellington many of our competitor's tours use accommodation in the suburbs of Epsom in Auckland or Lower Hutt in Wellington. These locations are far from convenient (Epsom is 10km from Auckland City center and Lower Hutt is 16 km from Wellington City center). Staying in these locations might save a small amount of money but this is quickly swallowed up by the extra driving and inconvenience of traveling and parking in the city - after all its the city you want to experience, not the suburbs. Our itineraries and tours use properties which are in great locations and close proximity to the attractions you want to see.

Value For Money

Value for money should also be a key consideration. The relative price of a property shouldn't be confused with the quality. For example a 4 star city center hotel in a large city might cost the same as a 3 star hotel in a smaller town or even a good motel. The city will have lots of competition to contend with, good occupancy rates and so those elements dictate the price to some extent. A small town with just the one hotel can charge a little more.

Remember we can mix and match any style of accommodation to an itinerary or tour. You could, for instance, stay in motels for the majority of your vacation but add a couple of nights enjoying a more luxurious lodge to experience some variety.


The motels we recommend in New Zealand are of a very high standard. Services and facilities on offer can in most cases be comparable to hotels. Costs can also be comparable with hotels, particularly in the small popular locations such as Kaikoura and the West Coast Glaciers where accommodation options and types are limited. One of the most useful features of motel accommodation is the self-contained facilities. At a minimum studio units will have cooking utensils, a hot plate and or microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery and cutlery. Other room types will have more comprehensive facilities such as a full kitchen. This is great if you prefer to prepare your own meals. Other facilities can include saunas, spas and swimming pools and some also offer a full breakfast service. Motels also have a good choice of room types such as 2 bedroom or family units, making them a very economical choice for a family or larger group. The motels we offer are generally owned and operated by locals who have a genuine interest in their region and are keen to share it with you.

3 Star Hotel

The star rating for hotels generally applies to the facilities and services a hotel may have at your disposal and not necessarily the quality or value of those services. This is where our local first-hand knowledge makes your selection easier. Throughout New Zealand there are some fantastic 3 star hotels that offer great service in great locations. Even within the same hotel room types and hotel wings can vary enormously, our tours only use and recommend the room type that we know is the best for your specific requirements. All our 3 star hotels have restaurant facilities and we can include pre-booked meals in the total tour cost if you prefer. Note that for smaller destinations such as Coromandel, Kaikoura, Akaroa, etc., there may not be any hotel style accommodation; therefore an alternative style will be suggested.

4 Star Hotel

Our 4 star hotel range is immense and each one is selected and recommended for its location and room types. Many of the hotels in this category have a range of room styles such as standard/deluxe/superior, lake view, mountain view, suites etc. Many also have 2 and 3 bedroom suites which can offer great value for a larger family or groups traveling together. 4 star hotels generally have swimming pools, gyms, a choice of restaurants and in most cases are a little closer to town centers or occupy premium positions compared to a 3 star property.


Like motels, our apartments are self-contained accommodation, but they generally have full kitchen facilities, larger living areas and access to laundry facilities.  These are perfect for people wanting to prepare their own meals and the range of apartment size from 1 bedroom up to 3 bedrooms, makes them ideal for families and large groups. 

Luxury Apartments

Luxury apartments offer the same range of facilities as apartments, but with that extra level of luxury and often in premier locations.  Extra facilities might also include a swimming pool, restaurant or even a golf course.

Boutique Lodges and Hotels

Boutique Lodges and Hotels in New Zealand are often quoted by our guests as some of the best they have experienced. You might find yourself in a unique purpose built property, or an historic home that has been thoughtfully converted to accommodate discerning guests in quality surroundings. These premier properties provide intimate accommodation including a delightful breakfast as part of their Bed and Breakfast service.  All the properties we recommend have en suite bathrooms and very comfortable and private bedrooms. Occupying enviable positions or situated in a great suburb close to the action these properties are often owned and hosted by enthusiastic kiwi ambassadors and will definitely be a highlight of your New Zealand experience.

Luxury Lodges and Hotels

New Zealand is world famous for its luxury and exclusive lodges and hotels. Ranging from some of the finest city center cosmopolitan properties to purpose built lodges occupying prime locations in fantastic positions. Luxury Lodges in New Zealand afford guests every comfort and service. Often inclusive of dinner their in house chefs prepare some of the finest cuisine in the country and you dine among some of the finest settings. Lodges also provide services such as local fishing and hunting guides, walking guides, helicopter tours, in house massage and treatment facilities plus much more. Our luxury and 5 star hotels are globally recognized as some of the best.

Still not sure which accommodation option is right for you? Contact us to get the best advice.

What are the cost of things in New Zealand?

In New Zealand the cost of things will vary according to the location. In more remote places you should factor in paying a lot more for everyday items such as groceries and petrol. If you have children, tourist attractions usually offer a family rate which will give you the best value for money.

Price Guide:

  • Cup of coffee (flat white) NZ$5 to NZ$7

  • Glass of beer or wine NZ$10 to NZ$25

  • Dinner in a local cafe or restaurant for 2 (no drinks) NZ$80-$150

Petrol prices vary but as a guide you can budget the following in fuel for your self drive holiday:

10 day South Island tour in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$450 on fuel
14 day tour of both islands in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$600 on fuel
23 day tour of both islands in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$950 on fuel

What can I expect to pay for food in New Zealand?

New Zealand food is internationally renowned. A wide range of cuisine and styles are available to suit every budget. Dining out in the larger cities you will have a plethora of options while in the smaller towns you may only have one or two choices such as a local pub or the hotel you are staying in.

The style of cuisine will also be more extensive in cities, where you’ll find all manner of international eateries and fusion style restaurants. As a guide expect to pay between NZ$30 and NZ$40 per main dinner course for most restaurants and cafes. And remember tipping is optional in New Zealand -- staff are not reliant on tips. 

Takeaway Food
A cheaper option is the abundance of take-away meals available, ranging from Indian to Thai to the Kiwi favorite of fish and chips. A take-away meal for 2 people might cost around NZ$30-50. Breakfast at a local café will cost between NZ$15 and NZ$35 depending on the style and location. 

Bed & Breakfast
Bed and Breakfasts and boutique lodges will often include breakfast in the room rate, which can work out to be a savings.

Self Catering
The most cost effective way to dine as you travel through New Zealand is to self-cater.  We have a fantastic range of motel and apartment style accommodation that contain kitchenettes or kitchens so you can prepare you own meals.  Supermarkets are located near most of the accommodations you’ll stay at, with a few exceptions in remote locations, but we will advise you of these so you buy groceries before arriving.  As well as supermarkets you can also shop at farmers markets on weekends and these are often great places to browse for local produce.

Are you interested in making local food and wine a particular focus of your New Zealand touring experience? We can certainly help you organise this. Here's a selection of our itineraries to inspire you, check them out and get in touch. Together we'll make sure you include all the right dining experiences. 

How Long Will It Take to Fly to New Zealand?

New Zealand is closer than you think. And it's only getting easier to get here with new flights from North America and Asia.

There are a lot of misconceptions about how long it takes to fly to New Zealand and how difficult it is. It won't take you days to fly here unless you want to stopover on your way from the UK and Europe.

From North America's west coast, for instance, New Zealand is closer than Australia. Direct flights from airports like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver will have you in Auckland in 12 hours, which Sydney flight times are closer to 14 hours.

Approximate times to fly to New Zealand:

  • From Australia's East Coast expect your flight to take about 3.5 hours
  • From Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong & Tokyo) expect your flight to take about 10 hours
  • From Hawaii (a popular Pacific stopover) expect your flight to take about 9 hours
  • From North America's West Coast expect your flight to take about 12 hours - add 2-3 hours if you are traveling from the Midwest* or +/-5 hours from the East Coast
  • From Europe expect your flight to take about 24 hours with a short stop in North America or Asia

Talk to your consultant about flight options.

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