As you know I live here!…I’m based in Auckland but was born and bred in Christchurch. In this post I’ll be giving you the low down on what you need to know about this gorgeous country.
NZ is small with a population of approximately 4.4 million people. Comprised of three islands, the two main ones are the North and the South and then there’s Stewart Island located at the bottom of the country. You may be wondering which island to visit – One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it really depends on how much time you have and what you want to get out of your visit (see below). NZ is a multicultural melting pot, the indigenous Maori make up about 10% of the population.
You can navigate this country by various modes of transport however, driving through NZ is an experience on its own – The landscape is surreal, boasting some of the world’s most scenic natural beauty. Exploring via road trips is one of the best ways to see the country. The roads are small but well maintained and renting cars/camper vans is reasonably affordable.
Local currently is the New Zealand dollar. All goods & services are subject to a 15% tax (GST – Goods & Services Tax) which is almost always included in the displayed price. Unfortunately visitors can’t claim the tax back. Tipping is not compulsory in NZ even in restaurants and hotels, however it’s at your own discretion if you do wish to tip for good service.
NZ has a temperate climate and because it lies in the southern hemisphere the temperature tends to decrease the further south you go. The temperate is generally mild, with moderate rainfall which will vary between the four seasons. The warmest months are December, January and February with the average temperature between 20 – 30ºc and the coldest June, July and August with the average temperate between 10 – 15ºc. The weather can change unexpectedly – So you should be prepared for sudden changes especially if you’re out in the wilderness.
The North or the South? :
If you only have about a week in NZ, then you should stick to just one island. If you try and do both you’ll be rushing around all over the place trying to cram everything in and may not have the most enjoyable holiday. You’ll have a great time no matter which island you choose! If you have more than a week, definitely do both.
Why you should travel through the North Island –
- Beaches – There are really stunning beaches in the north and as it’s a little warmer than the south, the water temperature is also warmer!
- Big Cities – If you like big cities then the North Island is the place for you. Over 70% of NZ lives here and 30% in Auckland – NZ’s biggest city and of course Wellington, the capital city.
- Maori Culture – The majority of the Maori population live in the north, so if you’d like to experience cultural performances and eat hangi (traditional meal cooked underground) there are more opportunities to do so here.
- Geothermal Activity – Hot bubbling mud pools, thermal spas and geysers are just some of the geothermal wonders in the north. Special mention goes to Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel, where you can dig your very own hot pool!
Why you should travel through the South Island – Growing up here I may be a little biased but the stunning scenery is definitely amplified in the South Island!
- Queenstown AKA the “Adventure capital of the world” – Adventure/adrenaline junkies, this is the place for you, on top of that it’s seriously scenic here!
- The Southern Alps – These gorgeous snow-capped mountains split the south Island through the centre, amazing photo ops!
- World class walks – If you’re into it, these walks will leave you in awe, Routeburn Track, the Milford Track and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
- Relaxed atmosphere – If you’re looking for a laidback slower pace, you’ll find it in the South Island!
There you have it, you can make up your own mind on where you’d prefer to go but hopefully you’ll have time to travel to both the main islands! Hopefully you find this information useful, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about NZ.
Happy travels, Priti x