Think New Zealand looks awesome but not sure how to go about planning your trip here? See below for some basic info on how to turn your dream into a reality.
If you can swing a month, that would be ideal at minimum. But if you can only do a week or two, you’re still going to have an amazing time and see some of the hidden-away wee gems that make New Zealand so special.
Yes, New Zealand does seem pretty small on a map, but there's so much stuff going on you're going to need a bit of time if you want to experience both the North and South Islands. As a good reference, NZ is the length of California and Oregon combined (with scenery that changes around every corner).
Okay so New Zealand may sound kind of far from home (that’s usually the point of travelling isn’t it?!) But it’s easy to get down here and only a 12 hour non-stop overnight flight from Los Angeles. It's actually two hours closer than our neighbors in Australia. (Surpised, right?!)
And just a reminder about the time change: if you leave for NZ on a Friday night from the west coast, you'll arrive Auckland early Sunday morning because you cross the International Date Line. Then on your return, if you leave Auckland on a Sunday night, you'll arrive back stateside the same day that morning. So, you gain the time back. Not to mention from the west coast it's actually easier to get to NZ than most places in Europe, and without the jetlag due to the flight schedules.
There are a number of travel agents that specialize in organizing trips for the youth (or youthful) traveler, and flights can be surprisingly cheap (especially if you visit out of peak-season).
Travel agents and flight info
Okay time for the paper work. If you want to get into the place (and stay here), then there are a few options, and for most people it’s actually pretty easy. If you're a US citizen and just want to come for a quick visit (under 3 months) and don’t intend to work, then you're totally sweet without a visa. No action required.
If you want to stay longer (up to 3 years for some people), or want to work while you’re here, then you’ll need a Working Holiday Visa. The Visa thing is actually pretty straight forward and our friends at Department of Immigration have all the details.
The great thing about New Zealand is that everything’s fairly close together, so getting around is easy and it doesn’t take a day traveling to get to the next cool thing (and the journey itself is amazing as well). The main options are: a hop-on/hop-off bus, coach tour, campervan, rental car, private car, skateboard, roller blade or ride a rented kiwi. (OK those last three options aren't really great suggestions)
Here are some transport options to help get your wheels sorted:
Self-drive (rental cars and campervans)
Kiwi land has some amazing accommodation options, and they're all pretty cheap (so you can save more cash for the fun stuff!) There's a whole lot of awesome hostels around the place, which are a really good place to meet other travelers, as it's usually where the party is at. Alternatively if you want to impress that special someone from the bar then there are a few people that offer cheap deals on quality hotels/motels.
There’s also the option of camping, with holiday parks, DOC (Department of Conservation- which is like our National Park Service) camping grounds and other designated areas spread right around the country. These are usually in super-beautiful spots, and most of them have facilities to save you from huddling over your gas-cooker during the (occasional) rain.
Ooooh good question! All the traditional backpacker hot-spots and activities you've probably heard of are good fun. The really cool thing about NZ is that you can get in amongst the beautiful scenery and actually do cool stuff within it! But backpacking is also more about those random little moments/experiences (like waving to passing tourists from a paddock dressed up as a sheep, but that’s another story).
Anyway, to truly get the most out of your NZ trip then go and get 'off the beaten track' as well - go and experience the real New Zealand. Check out this awesome map for a whole lot of sweet stuff to do.
It's a bit cheaper than Australia and it's similar to traveling in mainland Europe. Compared to the likes of Thailand...yes, New Zealand is a bit more spendy. But remember the age-old saying; 'you get what you pay for’? New Zealand is definitely worth it. If you're smart about it then you can make your money go a long way.
Read more about the money side of things on this New Zealand Currency page.
Most definitely! Tourism New Zealand's fancy visitor satisfaction surveys show a ridiculously high satisfaction rate for youth/backpacker visitors (around 9/10). If you’re not convinced then check out our Facebook page, or better yet ask a mate who's been here...they'll tell you!