Originally posted to Colorful Roads, reprinted here with permission.
Being a frequent traveller, deciding on my Honeymoon was at least as important as organizing my wedding
I’m sure everybody wants to have a memorable honeymoon, something very special and unusual. Choosing an island resort such as Bahamas or Maldives (where we went recently), was definitely not an option for us. Don’t take me wrong, we love to just get lost in the ocean waves, but in our opinion, a road trip is a tons more fun.
Here are a few things that I recommend to consider before booking your trip to New Zealand:
1. Book well in advance
When booking a trip to New Zealand, you have two options: you plan every single day or you just go with the flow. I’m sure going with the flow can be fun, but when your time is limited, you must plan ahead. New Zealand has a population of less than 5 million people, which is one of the reason why there’s a limited supply on tourism. We booked our accommodation and all cool activities 5 months in advance and it was already 90% fully booked. I am sure that Chinese New Year also had some influence in that, but in general there is much more demand than supply.
2. Decide which island to focus on
Opinions are quite divided on this one. Some people say you need to decide if you want to visit the North or South Island. I found both places so interesting, that I couldn’t make a choice. In general, you must need at least one week for each island, if you don’t have at least two weeks, you might better focus on one island. However, I seriously recommend to spend at least two weeks in New Zealand, I think three to four weeks are ideal.
3. Decide on your mode of transportation
If you can drive and you are not too demanding on comfort, traveling with campervan is definitely the best option. If you rent a self contained (meaning it has toilet and shower) campervan, basically you can stay anywhere in the country. However, we never stayed in mother nature, we always opted for camping sites, where we could access shower facilities, water and meet other cool people. We often used the application “Campermate” which shows you all camping sites, so you can call them to reserve as well as restaurants, gas stations, etc. These camp sites can be quite costly, but we came across camping sites with great facilities including swimming pools.
If driving or camper van traveling is not your thing, you can also just rent a regular car and stay in hotels or lodges, there is quite plenty of that too. Moreover, many camping places also had proper hotel rooms.
If you can’t drive or you are a single traveller, you can use the bus services! There are many companies who provide open tickets which allows you flexibility on your traveling plans. If you travel with any of the bus companies you will quickly meet other guys and can continue the travels together.
I opted for one week campervan in camping sites and one week car rental option
4. Be ready to get your plans cancelled
Due to the weather changes, it can easily happen that your trip or activity gets cancelled. In such event you will be informed and receive a refund, but of course you might be unhappy about that. In my case the Glacier Helicopter Hike got cancelled due to bad weather condition (btw 60% of this helicopter hiking the glacier trips are cancelled due to bad weather condition!), so I just had to let it go.
5. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions
We went to New Zealand in its summer season, yet we faced severe weather more than once. Literally, within one day you could experience summer and winter. On Monday we were swimming in the ocean and on Thursday freezing to death during a hike, my fingers became double their original size due to the cold weather, wind and rain…
You better get a good rain coat, a warm jacket and just carry on
6. Get the right equipment
If you go road tripping around New Zealand, you will experience all conditions, which you must be prepared for. The best and most important is proper clothing, especially waterproof hiking boots. You also need windproof and waterproof clothing, as well as first aid, headlamps, swimming clothing, suncream etc. If you decide to rent a campervan, you might need to prepare more personal things for extended comfort.
7. Avoid the “big cities”
Honestly, I quite regret spending time in Auckland and Wellington. Those “big” cities were nice, but really, we didn’t find anything special there. In my opinion New Zealand is all about that amazing nature, that is truly unique.
8. Spend more time in Queenstown
Queenstown is definitely the best city around. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes, we could even see the snow in the summer season. This city is also known as the ADRENALINE CAPITAL. I can easily call it the playground for adults. It’s crazy! You don’t need to do too much rebooking here. You can just walk around the cute city center and get into any tourist agency and book whatever interest you. They have a full line of activities for each category such as driving, flying, water sports and the list goes on. Typically prices are very similair, however you can get great discount if you book a lots of activities at the same place.
9. Bring a thick wallet
Yes, you can make your vacation cheap too. However, there are so many extreme sports and unique places that you can ONLY experience in New Zealand, that it’s a pity to miss those out. Car rental and accommodation might be cheaper in the winter season, but you might miss on activities. I found that Queenstown was the most expensive, but the choice of activities are so wide, there is something for everyone.
10. Search New Zealand groups on Facebook
This is really useful, you can ask people about their travel plans, campervan rental company, etc. People are really helpful and they often sell things for cheap New Zealanders are the coolest people ever. If you get in trouble, feel free to ask for help, they are more than happy to
+11: Get ready to disconnect!
We travelled through the country and even tough we bought internet SIM card, we still often didn’t have any reception and internet. As you drive with a car, you often experience that there is no radio frequency connection either This was the first time in the last 10 years that I had this experience many times during these two weeks, that there was no reception, no wifi, no nothing. Wi-fi in general is like gold, even if you find a public wifi it is super slow and has a low data usage limit.
Make sure to charge your batteries, download an offline map and get ready to disconnect
Thank you to Niki at Colorful Roads for permission to repost this. Please check out her blog for more of her travels.