Before stepping into an airplane to New Zealand, there are a few facts you should know:
What will the weather be like?
The weather in New Zealand is less predictable than in the States or Europe. The South Island is only 240km (150 miles) wide, divided by a chain of large mountains, so there are all sorts of local weather patterns. Generally though, you can expect the daytime temperatures to be 10-20 degrees celcius (mid 60s fahrenheit) and up in the off season and 15-25 degrees celcius (mid 70s fahrenheit) and up in the middle of summer. It can get very hot at times and it can rain at any time of year. So long as you bring the gear we recommend, we'll have lots of fun - whatever the weather!
Do I need a visa? What about shots?
People from the US, Canada, Britain, Germany and most other Western countries will be issued a 90 day visitors permit upon arrival in New Zealand. Provided your passport is up to date, you won't need anything else to get into the country. As for immunization, New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world. No shots are required to come to New Zealand and none are currently recommended by the World Heath Organization.
Can you recommend a travel insurer?
We usually suggest people go to their travel agent or to World Nomads Insurance
How big is New Zealand?
New Zealand is 1600 km (1000 miles) north to south with an area of 268,000 sq kms (166,527 sq miles). It comprises two major islands: the North Island and the South Island, and a number of small islands.
Where is New Zealand?
New Zealand lies southeast of Australia. Approximate flight times are:
From Los Angeles to Auckland 12 hours.
From Auckland to Christchurch 1.5 hours.
From Auckland to Sydney 3 hours.
From Christchurch to Sydney 3 hours.
Can you recommend any movies/videos to watch?
New Zealand has featured in several big budget movie productions. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit which were filmed in New Zealand. Many of our tours travel through areas that doubled as Middle Earth during the production of the three films. Here is a list of some other movies you might have seen that feature New Zealand's famous scenery.
In My Father's Den
Once Were Warriors
What types of plugs do they use in New Zealand?
New Zealand voltage is 240 AC. We have a three prong plug that is different from North America and Europe, but the same as Australia. Adapters are available in travel and outdoor shops in the major centres.
Do I need to bring anything to purify water for drinking?
No, it's always okay to drink the tap water and just about always OK to drink from streams and rivers when you're hiking. There will be signs posted if the water is not safe to drink.
Do I need dress clothing for going out to dinner or to a club?
Not really. New Zealand is a very casual country and you would be comfortable and appropriately dressed for almost any dining establishment or club in jeans or khakis.
Is tipping expected in New Zealand?
Tipping is neither required nor routinely expected in New Zealand, but it is appropriate for very good service. So in New Zealand you don't usually tip in restaurants, or if you take a taxi, or get a haircut. Many of our clients do choose to tip our guides, at the end of an awesome trip. We've found our clients typically tip our guides somewhere between NZ$30 and $40. This of course is totally at your discretion.
How much cash will I need?
We have plenty of ATMs and banks in New Zealand though most of the places we're going a pretty small and may not have either. Best to carry a reasonable stash of cash, though credit cards are accepted in most places.
Where can I get New Zealand dollars?
You can change some money at the airport, when you arrive. The exchange rate isn't very good, but for small amounts of cash it doesn't make much difference. Credit cards generally have the best rate of exchange. Travelers' cheques are nearly as good, and US cash is the worst.
Will my cell phone work in New Zealand?
Your cell phone may or may not work in NZ full stop - a lot of cell phone companies say they will but they're wrong - but there's certainly very little coverage on our trip routes. And if I were you, I'd put the thing in a suitcase and not look at it for two weeks! You may like to bear in mind that a lot of our clients have come to NZ on one of our trips to ESCAPE call phones, emails, faxes, etc!
Will I have access to wifi?
Some cafes, restaurants and accommodation providers offer free wifi as do all libraries. Mobile coverage is well established in all the main centres but is intermittent in rural areas and the wilderness.