In New Zealand we drive on the left side of the road. Most drivers license are accepted but it is always good to double check with us before. Although the infrastructure is generally good all around the island, some road trips might be a bit tricky. Except around big cities, there are no highways in New Zealand as there is no need for them. Some roads out in the country are quite narrow so driving conditions might be slightly different. You will also find one way bridges in many areas so you need to be very careful. Speed limit is usualy 80 / 100km per hour outside cities while in the cities is mostly 50 km per hour. As weather conditions might change quickly, driving could become dangerous. Always check the weather before hitting the road.
No matter where you are coming from, you certainly haven’t experienced the real “four seasons in one day”, New Zealand way. A calm sunny day could suddenly bring pouring rain and a massive termperature drop. Sun and wind are the two elements which affect dramaticaly the real feel. Even if the thermometer shows a comfortable 25 degrees, the sun could be scorching. Sunscreens, hats and sunglasses are a must in here all the time during summer, even if it’s cloudy!
Being an island in the middle of the ocean, New Zealand is very windy. Some parts are worse than others, but there are some particular types of wind which affect the whole country. The so called southerly (the wind coming from south), for exemple, comes straight from Antarctica (which is not so far away) and is literally freezing.
Our advice? Pack for any type of weather no matter the season. Weather reports in New Zealand always predict the weather saying how many layers of clothing one needs. Take this advice and carry several layers of clothing. And don’t forget the rain jacket and hiking shoes!
Driving a motorhome means you will be mostly camping in holiday parks. There are plenty of them all around the island. You will find a camping ground by the ocean, next to a lake, in a city, or in the middle of the forrest up to the mountain. All camping sites have all the necessary facilities: you will have access to power, fresh water, dumping areas for the used water and toilet tank. While camping, you can always use the toilets and showers in the holiday park rather then the motorhome facilities.
Most camping sites have fully accesorized communal kitchens, laundry, BBQ areas, free wifi, playground and Camping facilities for kids, TV and lounge area etc. Double check www.top10.co.nz to have an idea.
Camping overnight along the road or in parking lots is not recommended. Althought not illegal, there have been issues in the past with the so called “freedom campers” who poorly treated public spots where they camped.
Therefore, some local council have decided to make some public spaces as “No camping” zones. Double check http://freedomcamping.org to find more about freedom camping.
Pick season is early November to early April. Summer school holiday is mid December until early February.
The notions of “traffic”or “crowded” are a bit different in New Zealand but pick season and especially school holidays could be quite crowded under the local standards.
New Zealand has a relatively small population for its size so the accommodation and other facilities are pretty limited in high season. Booking well in advance is the key in getting the best spots and the best deals.
Ok, wifi/data/internet are not at their best in New Zealand… Which may be for a good cause because who
would want to watch youtube while in the middle of this stunning scenery… 🙂
But, if you really need internet connection, most camping sites do have free wifi. While in a town or city, use any
public library, they usualy have the best connection around.
Local currency is New Zealand dollars (NZD), the only currency in the world which features a penguin on one of
its notes 🙂 1 NZD is approximately 0.5/0.6 Euro. Tips and price negotiations are not popular
in New Zealand.
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Cash is not overly popular, most business have a terminal accepting
any major credit cards. Taxes are included in the price. On public holidays, most cafes or restaurants will add a 10% – 20% surcharge fee.
If you come from Europe, you will definitely need a travel adapter for the power sockets. You can find them in any big suppermarket, pharmacy or souvenir stores. Yes, you’ll see lots of people walking around in bare feet.
Not only on the beach, it could be literally anywhere, on the street or down to the mall. Socks are also quite popular. No, without any shoes 🙂 Next on the list are the flip flops or jandals, as Kiwi say it. Don’t you even think about coming on holiday over here without a pair of jandals! Speaking about Kiwi English, we don’t use any bathing or swimming suits in here, we only use “togs” 🙂
Sport outfits and casual clothing are by far the most popular choices in New Zealand. There is no point in carrying your fancy shoes or party gown all the way over here. You will look pretty awkward in them 🙂 Don’t forget that New Zealand has some of the best brands of outdoor clothing and gear. You might want to check them out before your next adventure.
New Zealanders are usualy very friendly and helpful. Ask anything and they will do everything in their power to help. Kiwi English is a bit funny though, as the accent is quite different from the usual English. On top of that, some people use slang.
Tatoos are very popular in New Zealand. You will probably meet people who have real works of art on their bodies.
There are some very strict customs laws in New Zealand. Being an island, NZ biodiversity is threatened by
any outside diseases that could have disastrous effects on the local economy. Check very careful on www.customs.govt.nz what you can and what you cannot bring in New Zealand. If in doubt, it is always
better to declare at the customs on your arrival.
111 is the general number for any emergency. You don’t need any available minutes or credit on your sim card in
order to make an emergency call. New Zealand is generaly a safe country. However, basic common sense is always good in order to keep yourself and your possesions safe.