Questions about travelling in New Zealand


When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand is beautiful no matter what time of the year so the best time to visit is when it suits you best. While Spring and Summer are the most popular times, other seasons also offer advantages for travel. 
New Zealand has four distinct seasons – Spring (September – November), Summer (December – February), Autumn/Fall (March – May) and Winter (June – August). 
Spring - is a beautiful time to visit – the countryside is flush with green grass, daffodils and other spring flowers, blooming trees and baby lambs. The weather is still varied and changeable so come prepared for all sorts of weather – both cool and warm temperatures, sunny and rainy weather and even snow in the southern alpine areas!
Summer - the most popular season for both overseas and domestic travelers. Summer generally offers long hours of sunshine, warm weather and perfect opportunities for activities in and around the water – including swimming, kayaking, snorkelling and rafting. New Zealander’s take their main annual vacation during late December – February so beach and resort areas can be busy. We recommend booking early to avoid disappointment. 
Autumn/Fall - offers mild and often settled weather with the benefit of fewer visitors plus the beauty of the autumn colours – found particularly in Queenstown, Central Otago and Christchurch. 
Winter - while the days are shorter, alpine areas offer great opportunities for snow-based activities including skiing and snow-boarding. Away from the mountains, New Zealand winters are mild and temperatures generally do not fall below freezing but you should be prepared for cool weather. 

Entry Requirements – Passports & Visas:
Visitors to New Zealand require a passport which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date you intend to leave New Zealand. As there are different Visa rules and regulations for different countries we advise that it is essential for you to check with a New Zealand Embassy to ensure that you have the appropriate Passports and Visas before departing your home country.
For more information about visitor regulations, visa exemptions and visa waivers visit the New Zealand immigration service website -
Travelplanz is not responsible for the obtaining of travel visas or any classification of visas required for travel arrangements provided by Travelplanz.  

Agricultural Regulations and Quarantine:
New Zealand relies heavily on agricultural and horticultural trade and there are stringent regulations governing the import of animals, and the import of animal and fruit/vegetable matter. If you are planning to bring in any material of this sort, you should make detailed inquiries at
All passengers are required to complete an agricultural declaration before arrival in New Zealand. Heavy fines are payable for passengers who do not make a true declaration of items they are bringing into New Zealand. We strongly advise that you declare all items that you are unsure about – a false or incorrect declaration may result in fines or in serious cases, imprisonment.

All passengers arriving into New Zealand must complete a Passenger Arrival Card. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand however every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.
Further information on customs formalities can be found at


What is a ‘Kiwi’?

The term ‘Kiwi’ may refer to one of three things: 

  • The Kiwi; New Zealand’s national emblem, is a flightless bird found only in New Zealand.  The Kiwi has hair-like feathers and a long, slender bill which is uses to pull insects and worms from the ground. Found in wilderness areas of New Zealand, Kiwi are nocturnal creatures and active only at night. Visitors to New Zealand may see Kiwi birds at Kiwi-houses in special nocturnal enclosures. 
  • New Zealander’s often refer to themselves as ‘Kiwis’.
  • Kiwi can be a shortened name for the famous Kiwifruit. In New Zealand, the fruit is known as Kiwifruit but in the US and Europe, it is known as Kiwi.  


What is the drinking age in New Zealand?

The legal age to buy alcohol in New Zealand is 18 years. Children are permitted in pubs with their parents.


What are some Maori words that I will hear in New Zealand?

While travelling in New Zealand you are sure to hear a number of Maori words, particularly because a vast majority of place names are of Maori origin. 
Here is a selection of other words that you are likely to hear either in everyday life, at a Maori culture performance or if you visit a Marae (Maori meeting grounds):

Kia ora - hello, hi, gidday, good morning, good afternoon, good evening
Haere mai - welcome
Haere ra - farewell
Kai - food
Kumara - sweet potato
Hangi - Maori feast cooked underground
Ka pai - good, well done!
Wai - water
Whanau - family
Whare - house
Aotearoa - New Zealand


What is New Zealand food like?

Fresh and vibrant, New Zealand's wine and food is amongst the best in the world. New Zealand’s ‘Pacific Rim’ cuisine style draws inspiration from regions and countries such as Europe, the Mediterranean, Thailand, Malaysia, Polynesia, and Vietnam. An island nation with a primarily agricultural economy, New Zealand enjoys excellent local produce from the land and sea. This unique blend of influences and excellent produce has created a mouth-watering range of flavours and food available from cafés and restaurants throughout the country. 
For cuisine that has a distinctly New Zealand flavour – try Canterbury lamb; South Island venison/cervena; crayfish; Bluff oysters; paua (abalone); West Coast whitebait; Akaroa salmon; green-lipped mussels; kumara (sweet potato); Stewart Island blue cod; Central Otago stone fruit especially apricots and cherries; and kiwifruit. 
No visit to New Zealand is complete without sampling our national dessert, Pavlova – made from meringue and served with whipped cream and usually topped with kiwifruit or berries. For a truly New Zealand experience, you cannot miss the distinctive flavour of the Maori hangi (pronounced hung-ee). Cooked underground, a deep hole is dug, lined with heated river stones and covered with vegetation. The food including chicken, pork, lamb, potatoes, kumara (sweet potato), and corn is placed on top and then sprinkled with water before being sealed with more vegetation. The hole is then filled with earth and left to steam for several hours. The result is delicious steamed food with a unique smoky flavour. In Rotorua, some hangi’s take advantage of the natural geothermal activity and use natural steam to cook the food. There are a variety of tourism operators in Rotorua who provide hangi food along with a Maori cultural performance – a not to be missed experience! 
No delicious meal is complete without a perfectly matched wine or beer and there is no better place than New Zealand to find that perfect match. New Zealand is a premier new-world wine country, producing award-winning wines that reflect New Zealand’s characteristic clean air and sunshine. Leading wine regions include West Auckland, Waiheke Island, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Martinborough in the North Island and Marlborough, Canterbury and Central Otago in the South Island. New Zealand wine is readily available in cafés, restaurants, bars, wineries and available for purchase at supermarkets. 
For beer lovers, New Zealand offers a variety of small breweries and brew-pubs as well as larger breweries producing a varied range of brew styles. Keep an eye out for Monteiths, Macs, Speights, Tui and Steinlager – all popular brands. 
Smokers should note that all restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs are now smoke-free – you may only smoke outdoors. 


Can I take my rental car on the Interislander Ferry?

The Interislander Ferry travels between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island. The journey takes around 3-hours and there are several departures from both Wellington and Picton throughout the day. Rental vehicle companies require you to drop your rental vehicle before travelling on the ferry then collect another vehicle upon arrival at the new port (either Wellington or Picton). The rental car that you will receive will be in the same class but may not be the same make or model as the previous vehicle. There are rental vehicle depots at both the Wellington and the Picton Interislander Terminals. Once you have delivered your rental vehicle to the depot, check your luggage at the ferry terminal and collect your ferry boarding passes (similar procedure to check in at an airport). 
Travelplanz will book passenger ferry tickets for you and will make all arrangements with the rental vehicle company for you. 


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