Considering… New Zealand

We’re ramping up our planning, so we need to bust out some more country profiles to help us decide where to go!

New Zealand invokes images of sprawling landscapes and stunningly beautiful mountain ranges thwarting hobbits’ journeys to Mordor.  It is known as an adventure mecca and a photographer’s paradise.

new-zealand_bernard -spragg2

Why do we want to go?

I’ve actually visited New Zealand once before, when I was much younger.  My family spent a couple weeks there on our way back from living in Australia for two years.  I remember the pervasive sulfur smell, riding in the back of our rented camper van (and my brief foray into flight when it unexpectedly stopped) down two-lane country highways, and glowworms.

But we did not see the most beautiful areas New Zealand has to offer.

Now armed with a camera, I wish to see the sweeping vistas firsthand and photograph everything.  Given Aaron has never been, and that it’s a quick hop from Australia (for which he has a strong fascination and to which I would love to return), it’s an obvious choice.

What are some bucket list contenders?

new-zealand_bernard -spragg1

Country Profile

COUNTRY | New Zealand
Region SW Pacific / Austrailia
Best Season Fall / Spring – moderate temperatures and lower tourist crowds
Average Temp / Weather Conditions Very temperate and mild with moderate rainfall; snow only in the higher elevations (seasons are opposite America’s)
Key Attractions Hiking, backpacking, outdoor adventures, national parks, skiing
Entry / Visa Requirements No visa required on trips shorter than 3 months; as an island nation, goods brought in are highly regulated (avoid bringing produce, dirty hiking boots, unfinished wood, and pets). One blank page required for entry stamp.
CURRENCY | New Zealand Dollar (~$1.40 NZD = $1 USD)
Daily Budget $100 NZD ($71 USD)
Frugal Tips Book activities, etc. in advance; cook your own food; WWOOF
THE STAY | Possible duration: a month
Lodging Types Hotels, hostels, Airbnb, couchsurfing, camping, WWOOF
Food Similar to American – hamburgers, steaks, seafood, variety of cuisines from other countries
Transportation Options Buses, bike rentals, car shares, hitchhiking, car rentals (roads are smaller and go through more rugged terrain)
Driving Requirements Drive on the left side of the road; brush up on the New Zealand Road Code
Connectivity Free wifi available intermittently; angled outlets (will need an adaptor for American plugs); buy a local SIM card or have a phone plan that includes international data
CULTURE | Language: English
Customs Smoking is not permitted in most public buildings, and it is expected to ask permission of those around you before lighting up; kiwis are friendly and love to socialize over food and drinks (much like the States); avoid personal questions in conversation; walk on the left side of sidewalks; take shoes off when going indoors
Local Laws Possession of illegal drugs is punished severely; sobriety checks are common
English Availability English is spoken natively, though British slang is used
Attitudes Toward Americans Generally friendly, though harboring some annoyances at US politics and world views
Photography Concerns Photography in public places is perfectly acceptable
General Safety Crime rates are low, though petty theft is possible, particularly in areas heavy with tourists; seismic activity is not uncommon; pedestrians only have right of way in crosswalks
Emergency Number 111
Location of U.S. Embassy / Phone Wellington (29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Phone +(64)(4) 462-6000)
Medical Facilities Modern medical care is readily available, though American insurance may not cover expenses; many services require cash payments at the time of treatment
Vaccinations Needed None
Health Concerns No major concerns; the giardia parasite is common in natural waterways, so it is not recommended to drink untreated water
Water Quality There are strict water regulations throughout the entire country, so tap water is generally quite safe to drink

Additional Resources

Have you been to New Zealand?  What activities do we have to try out?  What other countries should we consider?

Photos by Bernard Spragg, public domain

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