Our 5 travel tips for New Zealand
New Zealand is this remote island state in the South Pacific that fascinates nearly everyone with its magnificent landscape and unique culture. And so are we. On our month-long tour we travelled across both islands from Queenstown in the South to Auckland in the far North. We have experienced a lot in these few weeks – here are our travel tips:
1. A plague for every traveller
The beaches and watercourses in New Zealand are just magnificent! Lingering in this idyll, nevertheless, gets soon far from, well, idyllic. Reason for this are tiny, black flies. The Māori call them “namu”, in English they are called “sandflies” or “blackflies”. During our time in New Zealand we came up with quite a few not very flattering terms for this small flying insect. At the beginning, we started with a wild smashing-around-ourselves, followed by twinge of resignation and the realization that these pests will somehow always win. Their extremely itching bite injuries are supposed to be harmless but can get infected due to intense scratching and can stay reddened for a couple of days. The tip of a local park ranger: After the bite you shall not itch nor scratch for ten minutes and better not even think about it. The itch will disappear by itself. This really helps; but for us only to an extent…10 minutes can be so long.
2. An (un)expected tide schedule
We like to give you some very valuable advice: If you decide to hike the Abel Coast Track, do inform yourself at the Department of Conservation about the exact tide schedule. And when you have informed yourself about it – stick to it! Because a few miles along the sand beach can sometimes be longer than you think. And the water that had just been flowing around your ankles can literally be up to your throat in no time. Our young knights in shining armor did not come with their horses but with a yellow kayak. But remember, not every time will you be favored by fortune.
3. A simple overnight accommodation
It was clear to us that we wanted to explore the islands along our own route and by car. New Zealand just offers so many amazing places and small towns where you want to stop only for a short time or longer – most of the time only to take yet another picture. Appropriately, we chose our accommodation type: Camping! The Department of Conservation lists over 200 places – starting with simple camping sites free of charge with views on a mountain lake to fully equipped campgrounds with sanitary fittings. You already find cheap tents from 14 New Zealand Dollar on – in wonderful khaki colors, but leaky and not isolated. Tip: A bottle with warm, not boiling water in the sleeping bag works miracles especially in cold nights.
4. An adventure in the free fall
New Zealand is home to fun sports. And Queenstown is its capital. Jet boats and Zip lines, Bungee Jumps and Canyon-Swings: Here you can get your adrenalin flowing. We decided to adventure skydiving with NZONE, one of only two providers in Queenstown. Before the jump we were torn between anticipation and nervousness, after the jump we were sure: When can we go again? More than a mere side effect in New Zealand’s South is the breathtaking landscape. Once you have sorted where is up and down – quite a task after the sudden drop out of the plane at 14.000 feet – you can enjoy the view of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and the snow covered mountain peaks.
5. A unique culture
As early as the 13th century the Māori populated the Pacific state. Their cultural influences can be seen and felt everywhere in New Zealand today. And this goes far beyond the famous Haka of the All Blacks. Since the 1970s, the culture and language of the indigenous people have been taught in some schools. There are radio and TV stations in Te Reo Māori, the language of the Māori and the second official language in New Zealand. Our tip: In one of the show villages in Roturua you can get an insight into the history of the Māori, their art work and crafts. This might get very touristy at some point, but is also very fascinating. It is a sign that the Māori still have a deep connection with their roots today and are an important part of New Zealand.