Travel Tips

1. The Tiaki Promise

Nau Mai, Haere Mai Ki Aotearoa

Welcome to New Zealand

New Zealand is a special place, and everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it.

The Tiaki Promise actively encourages all visitors to experience New Zealand in a way that keeps them safe, protects the natural environment, respects all cultures and preserves the country for future generations.

As children of Papatūānuku (the earth mother), Māori believe they have a duty of care to look after her, Ranginui (the sky father) and all their children. With this deep connection comes respect and reciprocity and the belief that if you look after the land, the land will look after you. While founded in Māori tradition, this concept has become part of New Zealand’s collective culture as a nation and is referred to as kaitiakitanga.

The Tiaki Promise symbol reflects the four core domains that shape New Zealand’s environment: Ranginui is the Sky Father, Tāne Mahuta is the Forest, Papatūānuku is Mother Earth and Tangaroa represents the oceans, rivers and lakes.

Watch the video explaining the meaning of Tiaki here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06-CGGFUQTQ

2. When to go

If you are flexible about when you travel to New Zealand, we would recommend going in late February or March or April. The weather is usually warm and sunny, the sea is still warm, and prices are much cheaper than if you travel during the high season (December to February).

The summer months in New Zealand (December to February) are the warmest months, but also the busiest. New Zealand children have long school holidays during this time (usually from just before Christmas until the end of January) and many New Zealanders use this time to holiday themselves. As a result, accomodation and car rental prices are more expensive during this time. Flights from Europe to New Zealand in this period are also more expensive than at other times of the year.  If you do visit New Zealand during the summer months, you will no doubt see the beautiful New Zealand Christmas flower, the Pohutakawa, blooming on trees along the coast.

Pohutakawa1

We have also traveled to New Zealand during the European summer holidays, and were pleasantly surprised at how warm and lovely it was. Winter in New Zealand (particularly in the North Island) is much milder than winter in Europe.  There is also great snow skiing in the South Island during this time (May to August) and lots of other activities to enjoy and things to see throughout New Zealand that are just as accessible in the winter.  And of course the accommodation costs and car rentals are much lower at this time of year.

There are also several festivals throughout the year that can provide an extra insight into local life and culture, and which can also be a consideration as to when to plan your trip. See Section 7 – Events and Festivals.

3. What to take

It is best to be prepared for all seasons no matter what time of the year you are travelling in New Zealand. Summer can be unexpectedly cold, and winter can be beautifully warm.

We would recommend packing clothes which you can wear in layers, and to pack a fleece jacket and a rain jacket, even if you are travelling in summer. If you are planning on doing any of the wild and wonderful walks in New Zealand, you will need a good pair of hiking boots. We would also recommend a hat or cap, to avoid sunburn.

Depending on how long you will be staying in New Zealand, you can also pack lightly by leaving toiletries (such as shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and sunscreen) at home, and buying them in a supermarket when you arrive in New Zealand. The common European brands like Nivea and Wella are available everywhere. Depending on the season you are travelling, it would also be a good idea to buy sandfly repellant when you arrive in New Zealand, as there can be real problems with sandflies around lakes and rivers and along the coastal regions.

You should also be aware that because New Zealand relies heavily on its worldwide trade in agricultural products, it has a very strict policy about what you are allowed to bring into the country, so as to avoid pests and diseases being introduced into New Zealand. When you arrive in New Zealand, you will be asked at immigration to declare any “risk” items you may be carrying, including fruit, vegetables, animal products (such as honey), and camping equipment. If you fail to declare something which is later found by customs, you will have to pay an on-the-spot fine of $400 NZ dollars. Declare anything you think may be a problem, and a customs official will look at it, and return it to you if it is considered safe, or can be treated.

4. Events and Festivals

FEBRUARY

February 6 – Waitangi Day (Waitangi)
On 6 February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori and the British Crown. It is a public holiday in New Zealand, and in Waitangi (in the Bay of Islands) there are always special concerts and activities taking place to commemorate the day.

Marlborough Wine Festival (Brancott Vineyard, Marlborough)
This Festival usually takes place in early February, and is New Zealand’s original and longest-running wine festival. Visitors to the Festival have the opportunity to taste wine from around 50 world-class Marlborough wineries, as well as sample delicious cuisine and be entertained by live music throughout the day. Visitors particularly interested in wine also have the opportunity to attend a wine tutorial offered by the region’s leading winemakers and viticulturists.

Devonport Wine & Food Festival
This Festival takes place in picturesque Devonport, which can be reached by ferry from down-town Auckland. With over 20 New Zealand and international wineries, a wide variety of scrumptious cuisine, and of course live music to help wash it all down, this is a more relaxed version of the Marlborough Festival, and an essential part of the Auckland summer experience.

MARCH

Pasifika Festival (Western Springs Park, Auckland)
With around 140,000 Maori and large communities of Tongans, Fijians, Samoans, Cook Islanders and other South Pacific Islanders, Auckland has the largest Polynesian community in the world. This festival showcases the vibrant cultures of 11 Pacific Island nations.

APRIL

National Jazz Festival (Tauranga)
Every Easter, Tauranga hosts the National Jazz Festival, which is the longest running Jazz Festival in the southern hemisphere. There are inevitably lots of great jazz artists, as well as plenty of kiwi food and wine to accompany the music.

JUNE

Matariki (Northland)
Once a year, a cluster of tiny stars (the Pleiades), rises on the north-east horizon. These stars are known as Matariki to the Maori, and signals the start of the Māori New Year. Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead, and celebrating new life. These days, heaven-bound kites, hot-air balloons and fireworks help mark the occasion.

JULY

Queenstown Winter Festival (Queenstown)
This Festival to celebrate the arrival of winter is a ten day extravaganza involving around 45,000 participants, with street parties and parades, fireworks, jazz, international and local acts, a Mardi Gras, a masquerade ball and lots of activities on the mountain as well.

SEPTEMBER

World of Wearable Art Award Show (Wellington)
A two-week show featuring incredible hand-crafted garments, “where the human body is a canvas, where fashion, art and theatre collide, where nothing is normal, and everything is extraordinary” (www.worldofwearableart.com/about)

Auckland On Water Boat Show (Auckland Viaduct Harbour)
Held in Auckland’s magnificent Viaduct Harbour over four days, this is New Zealand’s largest boat show. The Show covers sailing, fishing, powerboats, paddle-boarding, water sports and pleasure cruising. The Viaduct Harbour becomes a giant floating boat showroom and the surrounding wharf is packed with all shapes and sizes of powerboats, yachts and personal watercraft.

DECEMBER

Pohutakawa Festival (Coromandel)
This festival celebrates the beginning of summer, and the flowering of New Zealand’s native Pohutakawa trees. The Pohutakawa’s stunning crimson blossoms can be seen at their best in the Coromandel at this time of year, and at the same time you can indulge yourself at the local markets, picnics, golf tournaments, live music, kite-flying, cruises, snorkeling, surfing and skate-boarding competitions that all take place as part of the Festival.

Rhythm & Vines
Wine, music and song in sunny east-coast Gisborne on New Year’s Eve. Top DJs, hip-hop acts, bands and singer-songwriters are all part of this annual New Year’s celebration.

5. General Travel Information

Banks & Cash-withdrawal

Accessing cash is easy throughout New Zealand. ATM’s (“Automatic Teller Machines”) are widely available in most towns. An international ATM card or credit card will work in New Zealand to withdraw cash from an ATM, as long as you have a 4-digit PIN encoded in the card. It is also worth checking with your bank in Germany to find out if they have a partnership with a bank in New Zealand. For example, clients of Deutsche Bank can withdraw cash from Westpac ATM’s in New Zealand without paying any withdrawal fees.

Driving in New Zealand

Vehicles in New Zealand drive on the left-hand side of the road, as they do in Britain, Australia and Japan. There are also very few multi-lane highways or motorways in New Zealand. As a result, it will usually take longer to travel a certain distance than in other countries, such as Germany. Make sure you don’t end up being stuck in the car for long hours each day, by underestimating the time it takes to get somewhere!!

Emergency Number

111 is the Emergency Number in New Zealand for police, fire or ambulance services.

Internet & WiFi

Free WiFi hotspots can be found in the larger cities in New Zealand, as well as in public libraries and i-SITE Visitor Information Centres. Some cafes and restaurants also provide a free WiFi service when you purchase food or drink. Many hotels and lodges will also have internet access available for their guests. However, small towns and rural regions have limited internet options.

Mobile phones

New Zealand has analogue and GSM digital networks. International mobile roaming is available with some providers. It is also easy to purchase a pre-paid SIM card with a New Zealand telephone number (and local rates) to use while traveling in New Zealand.

Passports & eTA

Passports must be valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave New Zealand.

The eTA for New Zealand (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) is an electronic visa waiver which will become obligatory for all citizens of visa waiver countries by October 2019 (this includes all citizens from the European Union). An eTA can be obtained for New Zealand by completing an online application form. Once approved, the New Zealand eTA will be sent to the applicant electronically.

The New Zealand eTA will be valid for 2 years. Applicants will be required to pay a small processing fee and tourist tax, the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, to obtain the NZ eTA. (This is approximately NZD$12, around €7,50). The application form will require applicants to provide information such as their full name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans. There will also be sections on the New Zealand eTA visa form related to health and security.

6. Travel Insurance

We highly recommend having comprehensive travel and medical insurance in place for your holiday. You will have to make sure that you are appropriately covered against cancellation fees in case medical reasons preventing you from travelling. In addition you need to make sure that you have adequate medical cover in place in case you need medical assistance during your holiday.

7. Helpful websites