Group of people pose for a photo on a cruise in Milford Sound in New Zealand

20 Tips for Travelling New Zealand

By Ryan Brown published on 11 June 2024

Before you set off on an adventure to the Land of the Long White Cloud, we've compiled a list of tips for travelling to New Zealand that will come in handy. It's always good to do a little planning ahead and to also leave enough plans open for the exciting unknown. After all, New Zealand holds endless possibilities for all types of travellers.

Read on for some tips for travelling on a New Zealand adventure tour to help maximise your time!

1. Organise your travel visa to New Zealand before arrival and pay fees ahead.

All travellers to New Zealand must fill out a traveller declaration before arrival. You may also be required to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand, so take a look here to see if you'll need one. Some passports are required to have blank pages and 6+ months remaining before expiry.

It's also worth checking out the New Zealand entry requirements to learn more about the available visa options and entry requirements into Aotearoa New Zealand.

2. Pack light with all-weather clothes that are versatile.

Given the weather can change at a moment's notice, it's best to pack layers that can adapt to sudden changes. Whether rain or shine and everything in between, it is best to pack prepared.

3. Always bring extra layers with you when out and about.

Even if it's clear skies and sunshine when you head out, you could be stuck on a trail in the rain. Pack a portable poncho in your day pack and a long sleeve just in case it cools off.

4. Bring the proper ID if you want to hit the bars.

The only forms of ID accepted when purchasing alcohol are:

  • Your passport
  • A New Zealand driver's license
  • A Hospitality New Zealand 18+ card

5. Pay in New Zealand dollars to avoid constant conversion fees or utilise your travel credit cards that don't penalise you.

Heaps of bank cards allow you to open a foreign currency to use while travelling, be it Revolut, Monzo, or Wise, among others. This option helps avoid ATM fees, as most have little to no withdrawal fees.

6. One of our favourite tips for travelling to New Zealand is to learn a bit of Kiwi slang!

We love our slang, but some words and phrases can confuse you if you're unfamiliar with them. See the basics below or check out this list of Kiwi slang.

  1. "Chilly bin" is a cooler or ice box.
  2. "Heaps" means a lot of something.
  3. "Sweet as" means awesome.
  4. "Togs" are swimmers, swimming costumes, or swimsuits.
  5. "Jandals" are flip-flops or thongs.

7. Have sunscreen and remember the golden rule: slip, slop, slap, and wrap.

New Zealand has a high UV exposure, and it's especially easy to get burnt to a crisp if you're hiking, swimming, or even if it's a cloudy day. Slip on some lightweight layers, slap on the sunscreen regularly with 50+ SPF, and slap on a good sunhat and sunglasses.

8. Pack bug spray whenever you're out and about and, more importantly, if you're hiking or camping.

One menace of the beaches is sand flies, which love to nibble on your legs if you're along the coast. Bug spray is also essential to fending off pesky mosquitos after dark.

9. Make a list of must-do activities for your trip to New Zealand, so you don't miss out on something you want to do.

Do you want to go to ? Are you an adrenaline junky looking to skydive? You may want to enjoy the views on some great walks. Put them into a list so you can plan accordingly for time and budget.

10. Embrace the freedom of the outdoors and the fact that it's free!

New Zealand has many free trails and outdoor attractions, easily accessible from main destinations. There are many parks, botanical gardens, and hikes nearby major cities such as Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. Plus, so many hidden natural gems are free to visit and can be discovered by driving around the country.

11. Bring reusable mugs and bottles.

New Zealand prides itself on being sustainable and environmentally conscious, encouraging visitors to do so. If you're a coffee lover, bring a portable, reusable cup. A water bottle will go a long way, especially on outdoor excursions.

12. Pack comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

There's no way you'll want to struggle through the trails because you only brought shoes that aren't suited to the outdoors. Make sure you have comfortable hiking footwear so you can keep up!

13. Bring something tactile and offline.

In New Zealand, there is an insane amount of breathtaking scenery. That makes for the perfect time to break out the novel you've meant to read, a journal, a sketchbook, or something else. These items will keep you busy and help you relax when the signal is low.

14. Up your cloud storage!

This tip for travelling to New Zealand is one that many tourists forget. Given the incredible places and activities you might cram in on a trip, it's easy to run out of phone storage. Back up old photos and clear the way for some epic selfies!

15. Pack a small first aid kit.

Nothing fancy is needed, just a handful of plasters (band-aids) and some disinfectant. These will come in handy if you gather some scrapes on the trails or blisters pop up at the worst moment.

16. Don't forget your prescription medications.

While larger towns and cities have pharmacies, you'd hate to get stuck without something vital in a remote area or a place that may not have it. That goes for things like EpiPens, inhalers, and other important prescriptions.

17. Make sure your travel insurance coverage includes the fun stuff!

It's always good to travel with travel insurance. However, given the number of adventure activities in New Zealand, it's best to check what your insurance covers and if you need to expand the coverage.

18. Think about grabbing an action camera.

If you're fixing to get active on land and the water, your phone might not be the best bet to bring. Plus, you'll be stuck without a phone if it gets broken or lost!

19. Bring an open and outgoing attitude.

New Zealand embraces everything exhilarating about life and is a stellar destination for getting out of your comfort zone with activities. This opportunity is perfect for socialising. Given it's a top backpacking destination, there'll be plenty of other travellers to meet along the journey.

Book a group tour!

Even though you might not be a 'tour person', group tours help figure out the annoying and nitty-gritty details like transport and accommodation. New Zealand adventure tour groups sort the details for you, leaving you stress-free. If you take a road trip around New Zealand on a Wild Kiwi adventure, you'll have a small group and a knowledgeable guide, ideal for hitting all the hotspots and hidden secrets.

BONUS: Book Peak Season EARLY!

Summer months from November to March are extra busy, with travellers like yourself wanting to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. Make sure to book your tours, activities, and accommodations well in advance so you don't arrive scrambling. Securing your New Zealand tour booking ahead of the rush will save you money!

With these top tips for travelling to New Zealand, you have all you need to get the best out of your time around the country. Hop aboard one of our Wild Kiwi routes for one week up to 21 days, sit back and explore the best of both islands!

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