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  You are here : Home | World | Asia Pacific | New Zealand
 
 

See

New Zealand scenery has long been a major tourist attraction, so spectacular it leaves many lost for words. You need to see it to understand, just describing it is not enough. Mind you, if you have seen some recent movies that were made in New Zealand, you probably have seen it and not realized. Those spectacular landscapes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are based on New Zealand scenery. Sure they were computer enhanced, but only in places, and the real scenery is still there to be visited. Selected highlights are:

  • Fiordland and Milford Sound - they built the road here, including a tunnel under the mountains, just for the tourists.
  • Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and with the other Southern Lakes in easy reach.
  • Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers - in the Westland region.
  • Mount Cook - New Zealand's highest mountain, in the heart of the Southern Alps.
  • The Canterbury plains.
  • Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo - volcanoes with lakes in them.
  • White Island, one of New Zealand's more active volcanoes.
  • Bay of Islands, where the Waitangi treaty house can be found and the place where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. The copies are now held by the Archives New Zealand in Wellington.
  • Ninety Mile Beach
  • New Zealand Webcam

Do

Outdoor and adventure activities include:

  • Abseiling Waitomo
  • Aerial sightseeing (helicopter and fixed-wing)
  • Base jumping (Cable-controlled) [Skytower in Auckland]
  • Birdwatching
  • Black water rafting (cave rafting)
  • Boat Tours
  • Bungy Jump Queenstown, Auckland, Lake Taupo - the modern bungy jump was invented here by New Zealander A.J. Hackett.
  • Canoeing and kayaking on rivers and lakes
  • Canyoning
  • Caving Waitomo, Nelson, South Island West Coast, Te Anau
  • Climbing
  • Creative Tourism: Nelson. Christchurch and Waikato: Interactive workshops in Art, Maori Culture, Taste or Nature
  • Cricket Tours: The company Crictours organizes tours in New Zealand to discover or re-discover this amazing sport.
  • Cycle touring
  • Diving
  • Fishing - trout (some of the finest trout-fishing in the world), salmon, marlin, broadbill, sharks and many other salt-water species
  • Fly by wire (invented here)
  • Four-wheel driving
  • Gliding - Omarama is one of the best places in the world for gliding
  • Golf - New Zealand has over 400 registered golf courses, from local clubs to internationally renowned resorts, offering uncrowded golfing & superb scenery. Customised golfing tours for golfers & non playing partners
  • Hang-gliding
  • Heli-hiking at Fox Glacier
  • Hiking - New Zealand has a number of national parks and other wilderness and forested areas, much of which is managed by the Department of Conservation . The activity known in other countries as hiking, trekking or bushwalking is known as tramping in New Zealand and is a very popular activity for visitors and locals.
  • Horse trekking
  • Hot-air ballooning
  • Hunting - several species of deer, wild pig (wild boar), tahr, chamois, goat, wallabies (they are protected in Australia but a pest here), gamebirds
  • Ice-climbing
  • Jetskiing
  • Kite surfing
  • Luge (on concrete not ice) Queenstown, Rotorua.
  • Mountaineering - this was the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to climb Mt Everest.
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums
  • Nature tours
  • Paragliding/Parapenting
  • Quad biking
  • Rafting
  • Rap jumping
  • River jetboating - the Hamilton jet was invented by New Zealander William Hamilton.
  • Rockclimbing
  • Rugby - the national game. New Zealand is hosting the next Rugby World Cup in Sep - Oct 2011
  • Sailing - New Zealand has produced many world-champion yachties and is the only country apart from the US to have won and successfully defended yachting's ultimate prize, the America's Cup.
  • Scuba diving and snorkeling, especially down to the sunken Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay, not far from Kerikeri.
  • Sea kayaking [Abel Tasman Marine Reserve]

Time zones

New Zealand Standard Time is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). New Zealand utilises daylight saving in summer. From 30 September 2007, daylight saving hours will be changed to extend the period to 27 weeks. It commences at 2am on the last Sunday in September when clocks go forward an hour, and ends at 2am on the first Sunday in April when clocks go back an hour of the following year. During daylight savings time New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of GMT. The Chatham Islands have their own time zone, 45 minutes ahead of the rest of New Zealand.

Sports

The national sports in New Zealand are rugby union and netball in winter, and cricket in summer. The Super 14 season runs from February to May, and the National Provincial Championship runs later in the year. The national team, the All Blacks, generally play matches at home during June through to September, mainly in the Tri Nations.

Talk

English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. English is universal, and is written with Commonwealth (British) spelling.

New Zealand English is one of the major varieties of English and is different enough from other forms to justify the publication of the Oxford New Zealand English dictionary. A seldom-used expression for New Zealand English is Newzild.

Word usage may also differ occasionally, in potentially embarrassing ways for the traveller. Several words that Americans may consider offensive, or have euphemisms for, are considered acceptable usage. For example: A New Zealand bathroom refers to a room containing a bath while the other facilities that an American might refer to as a bathroom or washroom are known as a toilet. The American habit of "bleeping" swear words from broadcasts is considered quaint and rarely done in local programming. The New Zealand broadcasting media are unusually tolerant of swear words when used in context.

The New Zealand accent is somewhat nasalised with flattened vowel sounds and vowel shifting. New Zealanders consider their accent to be markedly different from the Australian one and are often mildly offended when mistaken for or confused with Australians. New Zealand terminology and slang are also different from Australian usage. Americans find New Zealand accents easy to understand, so do Australians and British. Some European dialects find it slightly harder and Asians may find it rather hard to understand; New Zealanders are quite happy however to repeat what they just said if necessary.

Maori is actively spoken by a minority of both Maori and language learners. Maori is available as a language to study in, instead of English, at many educational institutes. The Maori language is spoken by some, but not all, Maori and a few non-Maori, especially in the far north and east of the North Island. Many place names are in Maori and for the traveller some knowledge of Maori pronunciation is very useful.

New Zealand Sign language was given status in 2005 as an official language of the country.

 

 

 

New Zealand

New Zealand, also known in the native Maori language as Aotearoa, is a temperate to sub-tropical island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. A former British colony, it has a population mainly of European descent, with a sizeable indigenous Maori minority and smaller minorities of various Polynesian and other groups.

A modern but sparsely populated country, it boasts natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor and adventure activities.

New Zealand has been called God's own country and the "Paradise of the Pacific" since the early 1800s. Travellers generally agree New Zealand deserves this description.

A common mistake is not allowing sufficient time to travel New Zealand. Many travellers spending nearly all of their holiday time in Australia, then wishing that they had spent an equal or longer time in this variegated archipelago.

Relax and allow at least three or four weeks for each island!

Lonely Planet named New Zealand the world's top travel destination for the second year running (2003/2004), and it was voted best long-haul travel destination in the 2004 Guardian and Observer’s People’s Choice award. It has won the award in three out of the past four years. At the 2005 Condé Nast Traveller Awards, readers voted New Zealand as the best holiday destination in the world. New Zealand is also known by the Maori name of Aotearoa, which is usually translated as "(Land of the) long white cloud".

Regions

New Zealand is a very diverse country with many regions that are worth seeing, but at a high level it's easiest to break it down according to its two main islands and the smaller offshore islands.

North Island
Warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks with bubbling mud pools.
South Island
Spectacular mountains and fjords, large beech forests, beautiful beaches, large glaciers.
Offshore Islands (Stewart Island, Chatham Islands, Sub-Antarctic Islands)
The other, more wild, islands of New Zealand, ranging from the nearby and accessible Stewart Island to the remote and windswept Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Cities

It's the country that's magnificent in New Zealand and we only list nine of the most prominent settlements. Here they are from north to south:

North Island:

  • Regions, major cities and other destinations in NZAuckland - "The City of Sails" - largest and most populated conurbation, with over a million in the metropolitan area, making it the largest in Polynesia by far
  • Hamilton - 128km south of Auckland, capital of the Waikato, home to the Chiefs (super 14 rugby) and the Magic ( ANZ cup netball). On the banks of the mighty Waikato River. Leafy.
  • Tauranga - known for its great weather, sun and beach Tauranga is a great holiday spot.
  • Rotorua - famous for Maori culture, geysers and beautiful hot pools
  • Wellington - the national capital, also known as "The Windy City" - Parliament and the Beehive and the wonderful, free Te Papa museum

South Island:

  • Nelson - safe and friendly, with New Zealand's highest sunshine hours. Nelson is the geographic centre of the country and surrounded by three stunning national parks, vineyards and orchards
  • Christchurch - The Garden City and the Air Gateway to Antarctica
  • Queenstown - adrenalin and adventure capital of the world, where you can skydive, bungy jump, jet-boat, thrill yourself to your hearts content
  • Dunedin - the Edinburgh of the South, proud of its Scots heritage, chocolate factory, Southern Albatross colony and its wonderful tramping tracks within a short drive from the CBD
  • Invercargill - the southernmost city and one of the very few places to see a living Tuatara

Other destinations

New Zealand has a wealth of national parks, rural areas and other out-of-the-way places that are worth a visit. Nine of the best are listed below from north to south, but there are many more in the various regions of the country.

  • Cable Car above Wellington.Bay of Islands - Pretty spot in the North Island with historical significance.
  • Coromandel Peninsula - Rugged coastline with plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities just two hours from Auckland.
  • Taupo - Trout fishing and adventure activities in the central North Island.
  • Tongariro National Park - Three volcanoes, two skifields and one of the most popular hikes in the country.
  • Hawkes Bay - Wineries in the hills and art deco architecture in Napier.
  • Abel Tasman National Park - Golden sand beaches, kayaking and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
  • Westland National Park - Home of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
  • Aoraki Mount Cook National Park - Lots of hiking opportunities and New Zealand's highest mountain.
  • Milford Sound - Beautiful fiord in Fiordland National Park.

Get in

Arrivals are by plane or occasionally by boat (typically cruise ships through Auckland).

By plane

There are international airports at Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. The main gateways are Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland servicing more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Due to its large Polynesian and Melanesian expatriate communities, New Zealand has extensive direct flight options to South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Passports, Visas and documentation

All visitors who are not citizens of New Zealand need a passport to enter. Australian passport holders may enter New Zealand without a visa and stay as long as they wish without restrictions including on employment. British passport holders can be granted a visa-free Visitor's Permit for up to six months on arrival. Citizens of a large number of other countries can be granted a visa-free visitor's entry for up to three months on arrival, check the list of Visa Free Countries [1]. All these waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with New Zealand immigration about whether they need to apply for a visa.

Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality, will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check the Immigration New Zealand web page for details.

Climate

New Zealand has a temperate climate in the south island and sub-tropical climate in the North Island and the nature of the terrain, the prevailing winds and the length of the country lead to sharp regional contrasts. Temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C and fall below 0°C only in the elevated inland regions. Generally speaking, rainfall and humidity is higher in the west than the east of the country due to the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges and the prevailing westerly/north westerly winds.

Part situated in the Roaring Forties, unsheltered areas of the country can get a bit breezy, especially in the centre, through Cook Strait and around Wellington. The winds seem to be stronger around the equinoxes. In the winter, southerly gales can be severe but they also bring snow to the ski-fields and are usually followed by calm clear days.

Temperatures in (°C) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
North Island 23 24 23 20 17 15 14 15 17 18 20 22
South Island 22 22 19 17 14 11 11 12 15 17 19 21

New Zealand is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to forecast the weather. Although the weather is changeable, there is certainly more sunshine and warm temperate temperatures to enjoy in summer. It is not uncommon, especially on the South Island, to experience four seasons in one day.

New Zealand is a small country surrounded by ocean. A complicating, but often beneficial factor on the day to day weather, is the steep mountain range running down the spine of New Zealand orientated in a southwest-northeast direction. These mountains often shelter eastern parts of the country from an onslaught of westerly winds and rain.

The weather is mostly influenced by fast moving weather systems in the strong westerly winds, which are often referred to as the Roaring forties, that predominate over southern parts of the country and seas to the south. There tends to be a seven day cycle associated with these westerlies as a cold front sweeps over the country associated with a couple of days rain, somewhere over the country. Often though these westerlies are disrupted by large high pressure systems or by storm systems.

During the summer and early autumn months from about December to April, the westerlies tend to move south giving more settled weather. Always be prepared for a change though. Also, during this time, random weather systems from the tropics can make their presence felt, mainly over the North Island, with a period of warm wet windy weather.

In the Winter, May to August, the weather tends to be more changeable. Cold fronts often bring a period of rain to western areas followed by a cold wind from the south bringing snow to the mountains and sometimes to near sea level over eastern parts of the South Island. When the weather turns cold and wet in the east, to the west of the mountains it will be fantastic. At this time of the year it is not uncommon for high pressure systems and clear skies to park over the whole country for long periods bringing crisp frosty nights and mornings followed by cool sunny days.

In spring, from August to November, the westerly winds are typically at their strongest – these are called the equinoctial westerlies. It tends to rain more in western areas, and especially on the South Island, at this time, while in the east, warm dry winds can give great cycling weather. Once again though, a cold front and its accompanying south winds can give you a taste of winter at any stage.

Buy

One thing of note is that the smallest coin is 10c, since New Zealand reduced the size of its silver (cent) coins in 2006, and eliminated the 5c piece. The 10c piece is a coppery colour similar to a US or UK penny. The 20c piece is silver with a Maori carving depicted, as is the 50c piece with captain James Cook's ship the Endeavour. The gold $1 features a kiwi, whilst the $2 features a heron. There are notes for $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

On Christmas day, Easter Sunday and Anzac day morning on 25th April all but a few essential businesses must be closed. While many traders flout this regulation, the matter has for many years been being reviewed by the government. If you are in New Zealand on one of these days, ensure you have all your needs met prior to the date.

Electronic banking/purchasing

New Zealanders are amongst the highest users of electronic banking services in the world. Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town, even those without a bank. Most shops have Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) terminals for debit and credit cards, so most purchases can be made electronically. Credit cards are not accepted by some merchants with Eftpos, especially smaller food retailers such as dairies, takeaways and cafes that do not serve alcohol. Also smaller retailers may often set a minimum purchase of around $10 when obtaining cash, if they agree to provide cash. Banks offer a wide range of telephone and Internet banking services. If you are going to be in New Zealand for a while it may be convenient to open a New Zealand bank account and set up a local debit card, to avoid carrying a lot of cash around.

 
             
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