When to fly to New Zealand
December (usually from just before Christmas) through January and February are peak season, when most visitors take cheap flights to New Zealand. June to August are peak months for skiers.
There’s no real off season in New Zealand. There’s only about 10 degrees difference between summer and winter temperatures.
New Zealand’s two islands – North and South – are known, by the indigenous Maori population, as The Land of the Long White Cloud. Like an inverted fairytale, the wonders are beneath the clouds.
A land of simmering volcanoes, wide sandy beaches, precipitous fjords, glacial lakes, dense rainforests and towering mountains, the coastline runs to 15,000km and there are more than 25 marine reserves. When filmmakers want to depict otherworldly lands such as Middle Earth, Narnia or Skull Island, they book airline tickets to New Zealand.
New Zealand is a country comparable in size to Japan, but just four million people live there. The major cities – Auckland and Wellington on North Island and Christchurch and Dunedin on South Island – are uncrowded but still busy and diverse with no shortage of things to do and places to party.
New Zealanders are a laidback and outdoorsy lot, their friendliness mixed with a famous Kiwi ruggedness.
The New Zealand climate changes throughout the year. There are mild winters and warm, humid summers on the North Island, while the South Island is colder and has huge glaciers and snowfields. The mountains get snow in the winter and the west coast sees most of the rain. Summer lasts from November to April.
New Zealand has several airports that welcome international and domestic flights. Given the size of the country, if time is short and you want to hit as much of New Zealand as possible, taking domestic flights is the quickest option. Air New Zealand flies domestically as well as internationally. Air Chathams flies between the Chatham Islands, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Air National and Skylink are charter airlines.
Apart from flying, cycling, biking and driving are all good ways to see the sights. Renting a motorhome offers perhaps the greatest freedom.
There are scheduled intercity bus services, luxury coaches, custom tours and taxis to choose from. There are also a number of train services including the Overlander, which connects Auckland and Wellington. On the South Island, the TranzCoastal follows the coastline between Picton and Christchurch. From Christchurch, the TranzAlpine traverses the Southern Alps to Greymouth. Further south, the Taieri Gorge Railway chugs its way from Dunedin and the Kingston Flyer is the famous steam train that is based in Kingston on the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu.
The North and South Islands are connected by passenger and car ferries. In Northland, vehicular ferries operate on the Hokianga Harbour and to historic Russell in the Bay of Islands.
Auckland and Wellington have good commuter bus and train services.