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New Zealand Travel Guide

The New Zealand Traveler's Guide to Make The Most Out of Your Trip

By The Non Fiction Author

Published by The Non Fiction Author

Smashwords Edition

Copyright ©2017 The Non Fiction Author

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why You Will Fall In Love With New Zealand

Chapter 1: Welcome to New Zealand!

Chapter 2: Planning Your Trip Ahead (Travel Routes, Itineraries, Etc)

Chapter 3: Immersing Yourself in New Zealand

Chapter 4: An Overview of the Upcoming Chapters

Chapter 5: Auckland and the North

Chapter 6: Rotorua to Wellington

Chapter 7: Christchurch and the Upper South

Chapter 8: South of Christchurch Including Queenstown and Around

Conclusion: Aren't You Excited? Your Trip Is About to Begin!

Why You Will Fall In Love With New Zealand

New Zealand revels in its role as nature's amphitheater, the country redefining notions of the sub-lime and the surreal. Every turn seems to unveil a new panorama, a new aesthetic seemingly lost in time. New Zealand is unspoiled and untamed. Its status as home of fictionalized Middle Earth is well publicized, but there's far more to the landscape than hobbit holes and orcas hiding in trees. There is bounty to be discovered everywhere and almost every visitor is won over with fresh impressions of natural splendor. With more sheep than people and more solitude than city, New Zealand is a place for getting lost in the midst of the planet's most spectacular landscapes.

New Zealand essentially consists of a series of islands in the Pacific, each distinct and celebrating its difference. Two large islands dominate this definition. The volcanic North Island, full of rolling green pastures and kaleidoscopic color. And the mountainous South Island, home to glaciers, fjords, and dramatic geological features. While the land provides an omnipresent highlight, there's more to New Zealand than a journey through lakes, mountains, ocean, and forests dancing with phantasmal intrigue.

The country runs on an indelibly laid-back rhythm, one that negates the use of a watch and helps you easily slip into the natural spell. You could travel a hundred miles without seeing another per-son and most settlements still retain the unpopulated charm of yesteryear. Such rurality inevitably supports a famed local friendliness. Everyone has time to say hello and greet a stranger and rushing around is a serious no. Stress, it seems, disappears the moment you land in the country. Even a journey that traverses the whole of New Zealand will be defined by serenity.

This guidebook has a very New Zealand approach at heart. It likes to keep things simple and tranquil, preferring not to dampen the journey with layer after layer of purposeless information. This is a country that must be discovered. We would prefer to leave enough for you to discover when you arrive. At the same time, the helping hand of a local guide is essential for navigating the best the country has to offer. So think of this guidebook as the friendly locals you meet in New Zealand, full of tips and ideas but always leaving the final decision to you. In this guidebook we detail all the iconic and unmissable experience, as well as all the hidden and off the beaten track ideas that should be considered.

This complete planning guide presents destinations from a visitor's perspective. Rather than use local administrative regions, the guidebook is split into key routes and regions that are easy to explore from a single base. Using this approach enables a clear overview of what's possible when you visit New Zealand, and which destinations are effortlessly combined in an itinerary.

What this guidebook doesn't do, is fill two pages with hotels and restaurants with less than complimentary descriptions. If it's good and worth experiencing then it's in this guidebook. If it's not then it didn't make the cut. There's more than enough enchantment and quality to find in New Zealand, why dilute it with the mundane? So jump forward and jump in to a country that captures the imagination and stirs the intrepidness in every soul. Welcome to New Zealand and welcome to a country that always leaves a lasting impression.

Chapter 1:
Welcome to New Zealand!

New Zealand at a glance

A few hidden islands aside, New Zealand can be thought about as a North and South Island. Cast adrift in the South Pacific, both these islands imbue impressions of trademark natural beauty and tranquility. They're similarly sized, small enough to cross in a single day (albeit a long one) yet big enough to spend two months exploring and not get close to experiencing it all. Both are equally attractive for slightly different reasons. Some visitors prefer to concentrate on one or the other, exploring in more depth and fully soaking up the experience on offer. Other visitors will find additional beauty in the contrast, choosing instead to pick a handful of destinations across both islands.

The North Island has a volcanic history and the lava still spills out of its active domes. It's a green and peculiar landscape, marked by rolls and curves and pastures. Nothing is flat until you reach the coast and dozens of miles of beach roll into the Pacific. The South Island geology is more dramatic; mountains rise in rugged triangles, fjords and glaciers are dappled by white, and there's even less flat space. Naturally, it's colder here and less green. But that's compensated by panoramas that are difficult to rival anywhere else on the planet.

While the atmosphere is one of quaint backwater, this is a developed Western nation with a sophisticated tourist infrastructure. Moving between islands and destinations is easy and straight-forward. Roads are in excellent condition (and almost completely devoid of traffic), airlines connect major destinations and towns, and hundreds of tour companies can provide a safe adventure into ethereal landscapes. Hotels harmoniously blend with their surroundings and always provide space (no cramped hovels here) and medical facilities are amongst the best in the world. In short, there's no limit to the adventure on offer, other than your own spirit. Here are a few experiences to get you excited...

Iconic Experiences

• Most journeys will have your eyes lost in a mystical haze and this feeling of incredulity is epitomized by Milford Sound, a narrow fjord surrounded by dramatic mountains that empties into the Tasman Sea. It's part of the Fjordland National Park, which in turn is one of seven national parks that cover the West Coast of the South Island.

• New Zealand is Middle Earth and parts of the whole country formed part of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie themed reverie is showcased at Hobbiton and hundreds of other sites across the country. However, it's also easy to discover your own Middle Earth, especially with one of the country's three cross island rail journeys.

• Indigenous Maoris staunchly defended their land and helped preserve the country from colonial pillagers. Their culture is best found on the North Island and Rotorua, a place of exploding geysers, authentic war dances, and effervescent traditions.

• All across New Zealand you'll find lakes, each of them fringed by bucolic landscapes and providing the base for both relaxing and adventure. Losing a few days on the lakeshore is part of the local experience, as is kayaking or jet boating across one.

• Mountains inevitably play a strong role in most New Zealand experiences. The South Island has a winter ski season as well as some of the planet's most evocative multi-day mountain hiking trails (in particular the Milford and Healy tracks). On the North Island you'll find dozens of destinations for a day in the hills or on top of a peak. In fact, with literally dozens of national parks and forest reserves, it's difficult to go a day without finding a new set of hiking and mountain bike trails.

• Queenstown loves its self-made reputation as adrenalin capital of the world. This is where the world's first commercial bungee jump was swung up and it's added to by swings, zip lining, parasailing, and just about anything else to get the heart racing. The mood is infectious, and it's al-so fun just to watch the ecstatic faces.

Unique Experiences

• Travel to the very north of the North Island and your eyes begin to cry in happiness at the sight of Ninety Mile Beach. Yes, it's pretty much this long, and a wonderful journey that seems to take you to the edge of the world.

• Glaciers are normally reserved for serious climbers but irrevocable shapes of ice are open to the lay tourist on the west of the South Island. Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier flow through rainforest and tumble into the ocean, and they offer very unique opportunities to explore.

• Traveling by helicopter is normally an indulgence too costly to even consider. New Zealand isn't any cheaper than elsewhere in the world, but the aerial visual rewards mean that it's an experience than even the poorest traveler will consider.

• Take a boat to White Island, an active volcano that's still bubbling with primitive majesty. Put on a gas mask and you can trek to the very edge of the crater, where the hissing and bubbling always leaves goosebumps.

• New Zealand wine is slowly emerging on the international scale, spearheaded by the Marlborough and Central Otago regions. A sensual journey through the vineries provides another excuse to indulge in the landscapes.

How To Use This Guide

This guide is split into three distinct sections, each building on the last and ensuring you're fully prepped for a trip to New Zealand. As previously mentioned, this isn't a guidebook that's choked by endless listings of restaurants, bars, and hotels. New Zealand is an easy country to travel in. The locals speak English, tourist establishments are everywhere, and you're often left in one of two situations: there's only one choice, or there's so much choice your mind bristles with delight. This guidebook sticks to the essential information, providing what you need to effectively plan and travel to New Zealand. It's not going to hold your hand and recommend ordering the lamb chops because the burger sometimes comes with too much sauce. It is going to fully prepare you for the country and ensure you can maximize your time and enjoyment here.

By providing a broad overview of everything on offer, this guidebook is designed with the every visitor in mind. Idiosyncratic attractions are included as are the experiences that make New Zealand absolutely unique. But it doesn't linger on the details of 40 different hiking trails. Likewise, rather than list all the different hotels and guesthouses, the guidebook prefers to direct you to the best up to date sources of information.

Chapter 2 is all about planning your trip. It discusses potential routes and itineraries, when to go, how much money you're going to need, how to get there, and the basic travel requirements. You'll find a whole section on getting around and planning your transport, as well as a section on getting the best value and managing your costs. Chapter 2 is also where to come for information about where you're going to sleep and the different accommodation to find in New Zealand.

Chapter 3 is about maximizing your experience in the country and ensuring you don't miss out. What's the local food like, what will you order in a bar, which manners are essentially to know, and how do you ensure you're always safe? This chapter is about immersing yourself in New Zealand and squeezing every last piece of charm from the country.

The rest of the chapters provide detailed information about destinations in New Zealand. They're divided geographically, starting with the north of the North Island and continuing to the...well, it's kind of obvious where you're going to end up by the end of the guidebook. New Zealand doesn't have many roads. Visitors are generally restricted to a series of routes along the country's state highways. Each destination chapter lists destinations geographically along these routes, enabling a clear picture of which destinations can be combined.

With each destination you're introduced to the place and the experiences on offer, enabling you to make a succinct and informed decision about whether it's somewhere for your itinerary. Then the guide goes into more detailed practical information that turn a dreamy visit into firm reality; if you need to know about it, it will be covered in our travel essentials.

Chapter 2:
Planning Your Trip Ahead (Travel Routes, Itineraries, Etc)

The biggest consideration when planning a New Zealand trip is whether to explore one or both islands. Both offer a distinct experience although both imbue the same impressions of New Zealand's laid-back atmosphere. This chapter is split into North and South Island ideas to give a picture of what is on offer.

Classic Routes at a Glance

One Week North: A week is long enough to cross the North Island from Auckland to Wellington or vise versa. There's three main available, the most popular being traversing through the center of the island. A week is long enough to also take in a day trip to the attractions north of Auckland.

One Week South: Either land in Queenstown and spend a week in the south of the island, exploring the West Coast national parks and a rugged landscape of mountains and lakes. From here there's a loop back to Queenstown via Christchurch. Another option is to travel from Queenstown up to Christchurch, passing through Mt Cook National Park.

One Week North and South: Fly between destinations and get a flavor of the diversity by exploring Queenstown, Rotorua, and then your choice of city.

Two Weeks North: With two weeks you can really explore. Head north from Auckland to the Bay of Islands and Ninety Mile Beach, cross the volcanic center and its national parks, and check out hidden beaches on one of the coastlines. There's also the opportunity to complete a loop from Auckland to Wellington and back.

Two Weeks South: There's enough time to experience most of the island, from the fjords and national parks around Queenstown all the way up to Abel Tasman National Park and the vineyards of Marlborough. However, you'll still need to be selective and perhaps use flights to minimize travel time.

Two Weeks North and South: Divide your time equally and look at the classic routes above for one week on each island.

Three Weeks North and South: Three weeks ensures a true impression of the country's diversity. The above routes should provide ideas and then there's the off the beaten track places to discover, like outlying islands, remote national parks, and lazing away a few days on a beach or lakeside.

Creating Your Itinerary

Every visitor to New Zealand is likely to forge their own itinerary. This isn't a country for following a set must-see list of destinations and attractions. The second greatest consideration when traveling here is how to find more time. Almost everyone leaves New Zealand wishing they had more time to spend, and that's true regardless if you have a week or three months. This isn't a country for rushing around and trying to tick off as much as possible. If time is short then it's far easier to absorb the country's beauty by limiting the destinations.

It wouldn't fit the New Zealand style to thickly detail an exact itinerary. In a country of discovery, there are dozens of different places to stop. However, the limited number of roads means there's only a few possible routes, especially when heading through the mountains. The destination sections are presented along the lines of these major routes. There are some overarching considerations when planning any itinerary.

• Winding roads and travel time: Picture an ultra straight American desert highway. Now picture its opposite. That's a New Zealand road, winding, rolling, turning, meandering, and never allowing the speedometer to wobble very high. So a 120 mile journey between destinations will probably take at least three hours, and that's not including the numerous photo stops on route. If you're going by road, try not to over-estimate how fast you can travel.

• Domestic flights: A well-established network of local flights now connect much of the country, effortlessly minimizing travel time and always providing great views from the window. They're also cheap. Just utilizing a couple of these can really expand your options.

• New Zealand's diversity: Many people arrive in New Zealand and, thanks to a mix of clever marketing and global preconceptions, think that they've found Middle Earth. But they could all be looking at a different view. The country offers a mix of mountain, forest, beach, city, volcano, green hills, lakes, glacier, and a dozen other ecosystems. You can't see it all. But consider combining a range of these backdrops regardless of how short your visit is.

• Think about the weather: It's a long way from north to south and the climatical variations are huge. Thinking about the weather when you visit should form a strong part of your itinerary planning.

When To Go and Understanding Different Seasons

New Zealand's weather has a terrible reputation, especially if you ask anyone from Australia. While this isn't a country for endless days sunbathing, myths about continual rain are far off the mark. The country's weather reputation usually stems from a few isolated destinations. These are remote Pacific Islands after all, so you should expect a few crazy anomalies. For example, there are parts of the South Island's West Coast that receive a whopping ten meters of rainfall a year. But head 200 miles east and the annual precipitation is more like one meter a year.

The natural geography forges a remarkable climatical diversity and there's often the need to pack for all eventualities. This diversity means there is no bad time to go. It's not like you'll miss the main attraction if you can only travel in summer. Regardless of the month, there will be some-where in prime visiting season. Despite this talk of weather superlatives, New Zealand officially has a mellow climate, rarely reaching searing temperatures or plunging to sub-zero lows. Here's a rough guide to the weather and what's happening when you want to go.

Summer (December to February)

Warmest and clearest weather across most of the country but this peak season sees prices rise and quiet retreats get busy.

This is easily the hottest time of year and unquestionably peak season for tourism in New Zealand. In particular, mid-December to the end of January is the local school holiday period so expect an increase in prices and remote idyllic retreats to be buzzing with families. Arrive in summer and the beaches also become great to visit, temperatures are consistently between 65 and 85°F and there's nowhere that isn't accessible.

Fall (March to May)

Great time to visit all of New Zealand, just remember to pack for all seasons.

Fall brings just about every type of weather to the country. Expect sun, wind, rain, cloud, and everything in between. As the country heads out of summer the landscapes are imbued with shimmer-ing new shades of color – a further dimension to your Middle Earth portrait. It's a good time of year to visit both islands but bring a good jumper.

Winter (June to August)

Snow in the south and wet in the north. Off peak season so cheaper prices and few other people around.

Queenstown's ski slopes provide another reason to visit New Zealand and you'll find the snow during the winter months. The skies are usually clear and crisp on the South Island but the tempera-ture goes sub-zero and parts of the island become inaccessible. The North Island isn't as cold although the weather isn't always that pleasant. Still, bring a good coat and the country is virtually yours, outside the ski slopes. Winter is low season in New Zealand and this is also the cheapest time to travel.

Spring (September to November)

The wettest season but also the most diverse and a chance to combine everything on offer.

The regular rain in spring is offset by the blossoming landscapes. All countries look better in the spring bloom, and that's magnified in New Zealand. While rain can be off putting, this is the best season to completely explore the country's diversity. While the last days of snow are enjoyed in the South, the beaches of the North start to welcome back sunbathers (albeit brave ones).

Travel Costs and Organizing Your Money

New Zealand isn't a budget country. For starters, wherever you call home is thousands of miles from this forgotten corner of the world map. So flights are going to be pricey. With so many tours and activities to cover it's unsurprising that New Zealand becomes a destination to really save for and experience once in a lifetime. Having said that, New Zealand doesn't need to be overly expensive. It's easy to eat and travel relatively cheaply if you're prepared to cook your own meals and stick to what is excellent quality budget accommodation. Here is a brief overview.

Example Budgets for a New Zealand Trip

The information here is a very rough guide and designed to be used purely for planning purposes. Further consideration must be placed on how much time you have. If you're cramming a lot into a week or two then plan on at least an additional 25% to the figures below. If you're taking it slow and moving about less then subtract 25%.

• Budget traveler (US$ 70 - 90 a day) – You can achieve this by sleeping in hostels, cooking most of your meals, being selective over tours, and not hammering the bars. The hardest part of staying within budget is turning down some of the tours and activities on offer. You can live off $40 a day. But a Milford Sound day tour will then cost over $100. So check for the free activities in national parks, like the innumerable hiking trails.

• Conscientious traveler ($90 - 120 a day) – Extra money in the budget is usually spent on doing a few more tours and activities, as well as eating out more often. With the quality of budget ac-commodation being so high, it's not necessarily worth splashing the cash on more expensive hotels.

• Standard traveler ($120 - 150 a day) – With a budget in this range you can afford to really enjoy yourself. It should allow a good mid-range hotel, eating out one or two times a day, having a few drinks, and going on most of the tours.

• Upmarket traveler ($150 - 250) – Start spending more and New Zealand is unveiled in increasingly boutique style. There should be nothing on your bucketlist that can't be achieved and the higher range hotels add extra charm to the trip.

• Luxury traveler ($250+) - Traveling in style can mean the country's most expensive hotels. In New Zealand it also means the country's most unique experiences. Think helicopter rides, private islands, white water rafting down secluded rivers, and all the other things that come from the annals of adventure travel reverie.

Example Costs in New Zealand

• Here's an idea of what day to day New Zealand is going to cost you (all prices in US$).

• Dorm bed / private double room in a good hostel - $20 / 60

• Double room in a mid-range hotel - $60 – 100

• Meal for two at a good but not gourmet restaurant - $50 – 80

• Journey of 200 miles by public transport - $20 – 30

• Full day tour of famous natural attraction – anywhere from $70 – 150

• Pint of beer in a local bar - $7 – 10

• Takeaway sandwich lunch from a cafe - $10 - 15

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Costs When Traveling in New Zealand

New Zealand is often a once in a lifetime vacation so everybody will want enough money to do it properly. Traveling all the way to the south of the South Island and then being unable to afford a trip to the West Coast National Parks really sucks. So here are a few easy tips for cutting the costs and ensuring you don't miss out.

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