New Zealand climate
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.
Getting around New Zealand
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.
New Zealand insider information
- Rugby is a religion in New Zealand. The All Blacks are a formidable team, rated No. 1 in the world. The start of every All-Black game is exciting. The team performs a haka (Maori posture dance) before each match. It's enough to strike fear into the hearts of the bravest visiting team.
- Wellington's must-see attraction is the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Permanent exhibitions include "Blood, Earth, Fire" a journey through the changing landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. "Toi Te Papa Art of the Nation" is a celebration of New Zealand's rich and diverse artistic heritage, showcasing more than 300 artworks from Te Papa's collections. "Mountains to Sea" tells of New Zealand's diverse range of creatures and plants in a sweep from its high places to the deep underwater off its shores.
- On The Lord of the Rings trail is Mount Aspiring National Park. Called after one of New Zealand's highest peaks, it is part of Te Wahipounamu, the South West New Zealand Unesco World Heritage Area. The park, to the south of the Southern Alps, is popular with walkers and mountaineers. Several locations around Glenorchy village (Lothlorien, Amon Hen, Orthanc, and Isengard) were used in the films.
- Cape Reinga at the top of the country is a place of great spiritual significance to Maori. The Maori word "Reinga", means "underworld". Another name for the cape is "Te Rerenga Wairua", the leaping-off place of spirits. The Maori believe that the cape is the point at which the spirits of the dead enter the underworld.
- Milford Sound is New Zealand's top tourist attraction. Whatever the weather, it is worth taking a boat trip (one-two hours) to cruise through the sound. The sound runs 15km inland from the Tasman Sea. Rock faces rising to 1,200 metres or more are on either side. Among the notable peaks are The Elephant (1,517m), Lion Mountain, (1,302m) and Mitre Peak (1,692m).
- Visit Rotorua for the geysers, thermal activity and that very distinctive sulphur smell. There's a wealth of activities to enjoy here including hiking, raft trips, boat rides, agrojet, swooping, Rotorua bungy, freefall xtreme body flying and Shweeb.
- Cheap flights to New Zealand take about 12 hours from the West Coast and are nonstop.