New Zealand consists of two main islands, located in the South Pacific ocean, to the southeast of Australia.

This year I travelled there for the second time. I went from Auckland to Wellington, stopping on Waiheke Island, and in Napier, then I did a loop on the South Island, visiting Christchurch, Wanaka, and the West Coast. See also this article for more places you should visit in New Zealand.

Here are 10 things I learned in New Zealand

  1. Killing possums gives you brownie points (they’re considered a pest)
  2. Eating eggs from a caged chicken is frowned upon by many locals
  3. 14C is warm enough to wear short shorts and flip flops (and 22C is “hot”)
  4. When humans settled in NZ 800 years ago, it was 85% forests. Now it’s only 25%.
  5. NZ is at the juncture of two tectonic plates that split it lengthwise (causing volcanoes and earthquakes)
  6. Kiwis (the people, not the birds) walk around barefoot on city streets, even inside stores!
  7. You eat Fish & Chips with your fingers
  8. Scrambled eggs on toast is a favourite breakfast dish
  9. Coffee shops close at 4 PM
  10. Maori is an official language and you often see signs in both English and Maori
Lake Wanaka (New Zealand)

Lake Wanaka

Have I made you curious about New Zealand?

Despite being a small country, with only 4.6 millions inhabitants, new Zealand offers a staggering variety of landscapes, from forests, to lakes, to mountains, fjords, glaciers and volcanoes. It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts where you can practice an almost endless variety of sports and activities, from multi-day hikes to jet-boating and tandem skydiving.

I’s easy to travel around, either with your own car, or by using public transit. There are only three train lines, but buses and shuttles go to every town. The main bus companies are Intercity and Naked Bus. Note that, like in the UK, people drive on the left. Most roads are two-lanes, including highways.

Since no place is very far from the ocean, fish and seafood are easy to find, especially the ubiquitous Fish & Chips. Lamb is also present on many menus, often in the form of kebabs or burgers. New Zealanders (called “Kiwis”) are also fond of meat pies and pizza. You’ll find good coffee pretty much everywhere. Several regions produce wine, the largest being Marlborough, known for its Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand is no stranger to quality beer and cider either, being home to Monteith Brewery (among others).

Who should visit New Zealand

Everyone really. New Zealand is a developed country and part of the British Commonwealth (along with Australia and Canada). It is a friendly and safe country, so families and women travelling solo will feel comfortable. It also helps that the main language spoken is English, although with its own accent and peculiarities.

The currency is the New Zealand dollar. It is valued lower than the Canadian dollar, and considerably lower than the US dollar and Euro at the moment. Add to this the fact that tips are not expected, and this makes the country fairly affordable. Being so far from everywhere else though, it is better suited to longer holidays. To give you an idea, direct flights from Los Angeles to Auckland take 13 hours and flights from London (with a stopover) take at least 24 hours.

Other than getting there, there aren’t any particular challenges to travelling in New Zealand.

Best time to visit

The seasons in New Zealand are reversed from those in North America and Europe. November to April is the best time to visit. Even though New Zealand has a temperate maritime climate and never get really hot, these months correspond to late spring, summer, and early fall and provide the best temperatures and the most sun.

The East coast tends to be drier, and the West coast (especially on the South Island) gets more precipitation. The towns with the most hours of sunshine are Napier, Tauranga, Nelson and Blenheim, in that order. Wellington, the capital, can have glorious sunny days in summer, but also windy, rainy cold days. Pack for three seasons.

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