New Zealand Journals

New Zealand Essentials

Best of IgoUgo

A January 2008 trip to New Zealand by stomps

Keep your eye on the horizon... Photo, Marlborough, New Zealand More Photos
Quote: A collection of tips & tricks for making your working holiday/vacation in New Zealand easier!

Hostels & Loyalty Cards

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Coachman Backpackers Photo, Christchurch, New Zealand
Quote:
New Zealand is very much a backpacker's country; this is obvious by the sheer number of hostels throughout the country. Even in some of the most remote areas, there are often one or two hostels catering to the travelers passing through. Because there are so many hostels--most of which have an average price range of $20-25 for a dorm bed--figuring out where to stay in NZ isn't nearly as easy as in other countries where you don't have much of a selection.There are three different hostel "loyalty programs" in New Zealand. The first, and most well-known outside the two islands, is YHA, or Youth Hostelling Association (and known as Hostelling International wor...Read More

Sun Protection

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Everyone has heard, since the advent of sunscreen, that you need to cover up from the sun or else you'll get skin cancer. Nowhere is this more true than New Zealand, which receives some of the most direct sunlight in the world due to the convenient hole in the ozone above the country.When arrived in Kaikoura (which will be reviewed in another journal), I decided to take a walk along the peninsula walkway, so I lathered on the sunscreen and wore a jacket and long pants. I figured I was good to go, so I took off on the four-hour walk. It was a brilliant day, meaning the sun was out in full force, and I quickly had to take off my jacket…but forgot to put on sunscreen on my now-exposed arms. Fou...Read More

Tramping & The DOC

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Kaikoura Walkway Vista Photo, Kaikoura, New Zealand
Quote:
I spent nearly three of my ten weeks in New Zealand tramping in the backcountry. To me, this felt like the best way to see the scenery that the country is renowned for; how could there be a better feeling than getting to the top of a long, grueling climb to find a superb vista at the top that only those who make the effort to walk there get to see? Sure, there's scenic views everywhere you look in NZ, but I felt like I would appreciate it so much more if I had put in a serious physical effort to see them.The NZ Department of Conservation owns and takes care of all of the trails that I tramped on. They have a network of hundreds of tracks that range from "Great Walks" status (the biggest an...Read More

Weather

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Shiels Creek: Before Photo, West Coast, New Zealand
Quote:
It's hard to write an entry about weather across the entirety of New Zealand, so please don't expect this to be a detailed analysis of weather patterns for the whole country (that can probably be found here, along with day-to-day forecasts and any other weather information you may need). Instead, I will highlight a few regions that have weather patterns that will greatly impact your trip and also point out some of the extreme hazards that weather creates for travelers.Some areas of New Zealand seem to have fantastic weather year-round, like the Nelson and Marlborough regions. Others seem to be constantly under a pall of rain--espe...Read More

Bank Accounts

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
One of the first orders of business for the working holiday maker is to open a local bank account. However, even for someone that is staying for a shorter period of time and not planning to work very often, a New Zealand bank account can be very handy…and, even though the banks claim you need a permanent address, they will often let you use the address of the hostel where you are currently staying, or even the address of the bank where you are applying. I spent about a month in New Zealand without a local bank account before I got sick of the fluctuating exchange rate (the US dollar had, at this point, lost 6c per NZ dollar since I'd arrived) and the excessive bank fees. Unfortunately, these days it i...Read More

Internet Access

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Internet access in New Zealand is definitely not hard to come by. Even the smallest towns--those towns with hostels but no other amenities like food or petrol that I have mentioned in other reviews--will generally have at least one establishment that offers internet, whether it be a dedicated internet cafe, a restaurant, or your hostel itself.The quality of these computers & internet connections and the price you will pay for them varies greatly throughout the country. In the bigger cities, like Christchurch, Nelson, and Queenstown, you will easily find internet cafes that offer prices as low as $3/hour (either post-pay or by buying a pre-paid card for a set number of hours). These cafes are...Read More

Sandflies

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

The Giant Sandfly Photo, West Coast, New Zealand
Quote:
Even New Zealand isn't perfect. Sure, the landscape is stunning and the crazy Kiwis offer you pretty much every adventure sport you could ever want to do in the aforementioned remarkable scenery, but there is one large problem. This problem is the evil creature known as the sandfly. This little creature and his swarms of buddies will find you anywhere (especially on the West Coast and in Fiordland--they live anywhere where there is a decent source of water) and will leave you looking like a pincushion.Maori legend even explains the existence of the sandflies. It says that when the god Tu-te-raki-whanoa finished creating the landscape of Fiordland, it was absolutely stunning...so stunning tha...Read More

Transport, Part 1 (Air and Bus Travel)

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Inside an Intercity Bus Photo, Hokitika, New Zealand
Quote:
The plethora of transport options available in New Zealand is almost overwhelming to the person that has just begun researching a trip there. In fact, there are no less than eight categories that these options can fall under. These categories are listed and described below.Air TravelThis is by far the quickest way to get around New Zealand, but it is also one of the more expensive options. The worst part of air travel, in my opinion, is the fact that you completely miss large portions of the country that you would at least get to see fleetingly on other modes of transport. That said, air travel definitely has its benefits. My international flight (like most not originating in ...Read More
Keep your eye on the horizon... Photo, Marlborough, New Zealand
Quote:
This entry is a continuation of my Transport, Part 1 entry, which described air and bus travel within New Zealand. There are quite a few more options for transport within New Zealand described below.Organized Bus TravelBy "organized bus travel," I mean buying tickets on a bus line that organizes all transport, accommodation, and activities for the duration of your stay in New Zealand. There are three major companies that do this in New Zealand: Kiwi Experience, Magic Bus, and Stray Bus. If you have limited time in the country or don't want to bother wi...Read More
The Ninja Turtles in Fox Glacier Photo, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Quote:
This entry is a continuation of my Transport entries, which have described air, bus, ferry, and train travel within New Zealand. This last entry describes modes of transport which give you much more freedom, namely having your own car or bike.Car RentalRenting a car in New Zealand, just like in any other part of the world, is expensive. However, if you need the flexibility that only a car offers and you don't have enough time in the country to justify buying a car, this quickly becomes your only option. I found that while some companies do offer rates as low as $25/day, you often won't be eligible for these special deals, since they are for rentals on the second Sunday after t...Read More

Phone Cards & Mobile Phones

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Phone calls in New Zealand are not cheap. Unlike in America, where cell phones with unlimited night minutes and free national calls are ubiquitous, you pay for every minute in NZ. This applies to both phone cards, which I used to call internationally, and mobile phones, which I used for domestic calls and the occasional international call when I could not find a landline.Phone CardsThere are a plethora of choices greeting the weary traveller in the international airport who just wants to call home and tell her family she arrived safely. Asking about phone cards and having a stack of pamphlets forced at you can be overwhelming; I just gave up thumbing through them and asked the...Read More

Visas

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not make all travelers apply for a visa before arrival in the country. If you plan on staying for three months or less and will not be working (which includes WWOOFing or any other schemes where you receive something in exchange for work), and you are from one of the visa-free countries, you can simply arrive in the country and have your passport stamped with a three-month visa. If you intend on working or staying for an extended period of time, you must consider other options.I chose to apply under the United States ...Read More