New Zealand has stunning natural beauty and amazing diversity. This archipelago afloat in the South Pacific Ocean, has long been known as the “Paradise of the Pacific”. From active volcanoes to extensive glaciers, from steep fiords to raging rivers, from delightful beaches to trout-filled lakes, every step leaves you enchanted.
Divided into South Island and North Island, even remote places in New Zealand are well-connected with smooth roads and a range of transport options, making getting around the country easy. The modern facilities and gleaming cities only add to the allure of this land. Also, an adventure lover’s paradise, New Zealand offers scenic road-trips, jet-boating, bungy jumping, canyoning, caving and sky-diving experiences, not to mention amazing water sports from rafting to snorkelling and more. New Zealand will charm you with its beauty and surprise you with its many facets.
However, before you head out, here are the basics of the when and how to get to New Zealand.
Flights to New Zealand
Though there are no direct flights from India to New Zealand, there is a range of one-stop flight options to choose from. You can get flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Kochi, Vishakapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram for New Zealand. Many of these are operated by airlines like Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines among others. These flights generally have a stopover at Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
There are regular Mumbai and Delhi flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, the key cities of New Zealand. The lowest round fares can start from as low as Rs 40,000, however, to get the low fares you need to book well in advance. Else prices generally range from Rs 55,000 to 80,000 and higher.
New Zealand Visitor Visa For Indians
If you are an Indian passport holder, you will need to apply for the New Zealand Visitor Visa prior to your visit. You can apply for the visa online at www.immigration.govt.NZ, which is the fastest and easiest way to apply. You can also keep track of your visa updates if you have applied online.
It is good to apply for the visa well in advance of your intended departure date and you can apply as much as 6 months in advance. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months post your departure date.
New Zealand Weather and Seasons
Most of New Zealand lies near the coast endowing it with mild temperatures through the year. However, in the far north regions, you will experience subtropical weather during summer and in the inland alpine region of South Island, winter temperatures can be as cold as minus 10 degree Celsius. The average temperatures increase as you move from the South to the North of the country.
New Zealand seasons are different from ours as it lies in the southern hemisphere. The summer season is from December to February, during which time the average daily temperatures range from 20 to 25 degree Celsius. The autumn season is from March to May during which time the average daily temperatures range from 17 to 21 degree Celsius.
The winter season that lasts from June to August sees an average daytime temperature of between 12 to 16 degree Celsius. Spring lasts from September to November and the average daytime temperature during this time is between 16 to 19 degrees Celsius.
New Zealand receives snowfall between June to October, usually around the mountain regions, and a few inland areas as Canterbury and Otago. It rains through most of the year, with central and north areas getting mostly winter rains, and the south getting heavier summer rains.
The country receives plenty of sunshine throughout the year and certain areas like Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Nelson/Marlborough are even more blessed. However, UV rays of the sun are strong here, as there is relatively no pollution in the air. Especially during the months from September to April, you need to take certain precautions when outside:
– Be well covered and wear a hat and sunglasses.
– Stay in the shade as much as possible.
– Apply an SPF 30+ sunscreen lotion every two hours.
Best time to visit New Zealand
New Zealand is an all-year-round destination as every season has something special to offer. During the winters (June to September) New Zealand becomes a world-class ski destination. Places like Ruapehu, Canterbury, Queenstown or Lake Wanaka offer the best of snow sporting action. From the thrill of heli-skiing, to snowboarding, cross country skiing or sledging, snow enthusiasts will love it all. This is also the perfect time to soak yourself in the warm thermal hot springs, after a day of walking or cycling in the crisp outdoors air.
Spring is the best time to take a tour to Hobbiton Film Set as the Middle earth gardens and charming bluebells are in full bloom then. The countryside is also delightful with flowers and beautiful gushing waterfalls at this time. So exploring vineyards or the great outdoors makes for a pleasurable activity.
Summer is the peak season for New Zealand as tourists as well as locals travel around at this time, especially during the X-mas break. The seas are warm and snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, sailing, swimming and beach picnics are very popular. From walking coastal trails or taking on mountain biking trails to swimming with the dolphins, there is plenty to do. The countryside is very scenic too with the native Pohutukawa tree abloom with vibrant red flowers at this time.
During autumn the temperatures are still warm, and at most places, the sea is still good for swimming and other water sport activities. You can enjoy all the outdoor trails; and the countryside is coloured in hues of yellow, gold and orange of Deciduous trees. This many may consider as the best time to visit New Zealand as you have almost all the advantages of the summer season, but minus the crowds and high prices.
Getting around New Zealand
New Zealand has excellent infrastructure and getting around the country is easy. Daily flights ply between most of the cities with major airports at Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Wellington as well as 23 regional airports. Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the main domestic operators, while chartered flights and regional airlines also offer their services.
Passenger, as well as vehicle ferries, are available between North, South and the other islands. One of the most popular ferry routes is from Wellington to Picton as it takes you through the famous Marlborough Sounds. Water taxis are available for short distances and scenic tours too. New Zealand also has a handful of rail routes that are worth exploring. It has three long-distance train links and a few shorter scenic rail journeys.
New Zealand roads are smooth and well-connected, and travelling by bus or car makes for a great experience. You can even self-drive a rented car and enjoy some scenic road trips. Taking the road is very popular among young couples. The good part is that New Zealand has the same side drive as India
However, if you plan to self-drive, it is recommended you prepare yourself beforehand by familiarizing yourself with the driving rules and regulations in New Zealand. Go through the Visiting Driver Training Programme available on www.aa.co.NZ/visiting-drivers, and take the online self-assessment quiz.
New Zealand Currency
The New Zealand currency is the New Zealand Dollar – NZ$. One New Zealand Dollar is approximately equivalent to INR 48. The denominations are $100, $20, $10, $50 and $5. Most credit cards are acceptable in New Zealand with Visa and Mastercard being the most preferred.
New Zealand Time
New Zealand Standard Time is six and a half hours ahead of India, which means when it is 12 AM in India it would be 6.30 AM in New Zealand. However, during daylight savings period New Zealand is seven and a half hours ahead of India. Daylight savings start from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April.
New Zealand Food
New Zealand is known for its innovative recipes, its expert Kiwi chefs, and high-class wines. The traditional New Zealand cuisine of barbeques, and fish and chips, has evolved a long way with Kiwi culinary experts developing a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine. Savour its rich variety of seafood from delicious crayfish to green-lipped mussels, bluff oysters to fresh fish; relish its award-winning cheeses, and of course, try its famous lamb roast.
From fine dining options amid a scenic backdrop, to one of its many remote luxury lodges, there is much to indulge the gourmet lover. If you are one for street food and urban eats you have many choices. Head for one of its waterfront restaurants in Auckland or try a bohemian ethnic café in the Cuba Quarters of Wellington. And if you are touring during the summer months there will be wine and food festivals galore. Try out the West Coast’s Wildfoods Festival or the Kawhia Kai Festival for something really adventurous. If you are vegetarian or vegan too, New Zealand offers a number of restaurants that have a range of veg/vegan dishes.
However if you love your Indian food, fret not, as most of the big cities have Indian restaurants. Auckland and Wellington have 6 – 7 good Indian restaurants each. Some of the popular ones in Auckland are Raviz, Bollywood and Oh Calcutta to name a few. There is also the award-winning Cassia, a favourite among locals that serves Indian with a modern twist to it. In Wellington, you will find Dawaat, Little India, Masala, among other Indian restaurants. Christchurch, Rotorua, Queenstown and Dunedin all have 4 – 5 authentic Indian restaurants.
For a taste of the local try out Maori cooking. Else attend one of the Kiwi cooking classes and take home some interesting recipes. Drop by at a Farmer’s market and discover local seasonal delicacies. The outdoors is an intrinsic part of Kiwis. So from picking your own fruit, to enjoying barbeques at campsites, parks, and beaches, there is much to indulge in.
New Zealand Wines And More
New Zealand is well famed for its fine wines and your trip is incomplete without going on a wine tour. Get to experience three of the best wine regions, namely Marlborough, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay. And do taste the local favourite – Pinot Noir.
Craft beer too is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand. Microbreweries have mushroomed especially in cities as Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and West Coast. The many foods, wine and beer festivals across the country are a place for some lively entertainment and plenty of appetising food and drinks. Attending one of these is an absolute must-do when here.
Another beverage that New Zealanders absolutely love is their coffee. From mini mobile outlets to lavish lounges, coffee cafes can be found everywhere. In fact, New Zealand is said to have more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world. And arguably it has the world’s best coffee!