At the edge of the world, further than China, India, even Australia, stands proud the island nation of New Zealand. Comprised of Te-Ika-a-Maui and Te Wai Pounamu (North and South islands), this astonishing piece of land, surrounded by the Southern Pacific, may be a world away, but is worth every step you take to reach it. With some of the most pristine natural beauty, the most amazing, open, and welcoming people, and a culture truly one-of-a-kind, it should be at the top any serious traveler’s destination bucket list. But before you pack your bags and head off to this amazing land, you need to know the essential Dos and Don’ts of New Zealand.
DO Come During the Summer
As with other countries in this part of the hemisphere, summer begins somewhere around November, and lasts until late February. It’s the perfect time to explore the possibilities of this distant country, as the population comes alive. There are amazing festivals to visit, like the Big Day Out for the pop music lovers, while Rhythm and Vines Festival provides a more laid back atmosphere. Apart from that, summer gives you a chance to visit New Zealand’s best beaches, and dive into some pure pleasure.
DON’T Overpay Your Travel
Since New Zealand is almost at World’s end, cashing out for a flight is the only option you have. Still, keep a close eye on flight deals, especially by Air New Zealand. During certain months of the year they offer discounts, and feature great “grab-a-seat” deals. As for accommodations, there are plenty to choose from, but as a cheaper alternative you might want to skip on the hotels. Instead, go for the family-owned estates, and you can even share accommodations by booking an apartment in Queensland, Wellington, or Auckland, which reduces costs substantially.
DON’T Underestimate the Trip
Wherever you are from (except Australia) New Zealand is worlds away! This means that the flight to the islands can last up at least 10 hours straight. Due to this staggering fact, rest up before your trip, and choose the most comfortable seat you can afford. Despite every effort, once you reach your destination, you will still need a good night’s sleep to shake the trip off, and you can expect a couple days of jet lag.
DO Experience New Zealand’s Natural Wealth
The diversity of New Zealand’s natural setting has been known to enchant cinematography in recent years, and for a good reason. Simply put: it’s awe-inspiring! Taking a tour of New Zealand’s entire length by car will make you want to stop at every turn, and take in the magnificent sites. The country offers some of the strangest and most captivating natural wonders, like Punakaiki Pancake Rock Fortmation, and the even more unusual East Coast’s Moeraki Boulders. A trip to the Southern Alps and Queenstown can introduce you to the simplest, purest form of living and the most breathtaking vistas anywhere in the world, while a true explorer might want hike up the Franz Josef Glacier.
DO Try the Strange yet Enticing Tastes
When visiting a diverse and distant land such as New Zealand, you need to have an open mind about everything especially the food. Kiwis adore the salty-sweet-savory sensation, so you may be awe-struck at first, but keep with it. The most amazing delight comes in the form of hangi, food steamed in an earth oven, while paua fritters will blow your mind. For desert you may go for the local’s favorite Hokey Pokey ice cream, ANZAC biscuits, or Pavlova Cake, while the real adventure-seeker will not miss the chance to try Marmite on toast.
DON’T Tip the Service
Tipping may be customary in your country, but it is not customary in New Zealand. Even if you receive the service of your life, and have the urge to leave a substantial tip to that amazing person, your offer will still be kindly declined. It is not considered rude, Kiwis are just not accustomed to the practice.
DO Try to Experience the Māori Culture
This amazing culture is what makes New Zealand great, and is an integral part of the overall Kiwi experience. From the famous haka dance to national history, the Māori world is deeply embedded in the country’s collective conscience. With so much Māori tours on offer, you need to visit an ancient pa (village stronghold), where you will receive the traditional powhiri welcome, and get a sense of the traditional Māori way of life. The cultural influence extends to art as well, so you might enjoy a kapa haka performance, or an action song concert accompanied by poi dances.
DON’T Bad Mouth Rugby
Rugby is the Kiwi’s sport of choice, and the entire nation takes pride in the All Blacks. Nobody likes making fun of their country’s national team, and with this team, it is not only rude, but can be dangerous, as well. This is especially true during the World Cup, or Commonwealth Games, when expectations are high, and national pride is at stake. Try and go to a match, and you will quickly learn what rugby means to New Zealand.
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And finally, DO embrace the full beauty and magnificence of New Zealand and its people. It might take you a few trips to get a real grip of the entire country and what it has to offer, still, first time’s the only charm, and love at first sight is guaranteed!