3 Major Tips To Start Planning Your Trip To New Zealand

Narrow down your options and find the perfect NZ experience for you!

Helena Bay

New Zealand is a popular destination for adventure, culinary and luxury seekers, and there’s a good reason! Summer or Winter – New Zealand’s got the best to offer. It’s the land of rolling hills, breathtaking waterfalls, fine dinning, glacier passes, alpine skiing, luxurious spas, whale watching, and oh so much more.

While that sounds amazing, it can also be very intimidating. So how do you start planning when the only limit is you? Here are a few tips to narrowing down your options and find the perfect New Zealand trip for you!

SEE ALSO: Founder Of Virtas Watches Shares Top 5 Restaurants In Nelson, New Zealand

Maximize Travel Time

Helena Bay

I embarked on a two-week vacation to New Zealand and one of the most frequent responses I heard from New Zealanders and fellow travelers was, “That’s so short! Are you sure you can’t go for longer? At least a month?” Oh, how I wish I could.

With so much space to cover, its difficult to get it all into one trip. The North and South island are radically different, but without endless vacation time there’s no way to see it all in one swoop so its key to maximize your travel time. Our trip was focused on the luscious North Island starting in the most southern tip, the world’s windiest city, Wellington, and drove north to finish in the Bay of Islands at the crystal waters and whale watching heaven of Helena Bay. Driving from the southern end to the northern bays allowed us to see more of the natural country (rolling hills, volcanoes, cliffs, and baby lambs galore) and stop for a few days in different towns (Taupo, Rotorura, Tauranga), while ultimately getting us to our departure location in Auckland. Road tripping north accomplished two separate tasks – getting us to our final departure destination and enabling a country tour that showed off New Zealand’s dramatic surroundings. Win/win.

Note: If you are on a short time table but want to island hop, check out Air New Zealand’s domestic flights for fast stops. The country is long, but the flights are not so you can pass from one peak to the other within a few hours if you prefer to fly. I didn’t find the bus routes to be as efficient, but a ferrys are a fun option that can pass you from one island bay to another.

Vacation Type

Mt Victoria Lookout, Wellington

If you’re considering a trip to New Zealand, chances are you’ve got an adventurous bug in you. It’s impossible not to be seduced by the open skies, glacier walks, volcanic terrain and forest canopies. But some of the best trips are ones that combine a few different elements and allow for a crosshatch of experiences.

A few days in Wellington for the food, music and cocktails around Cuba Street and tourist must-see stops at Mt Victoria Lookout, Te Papa Museum and Weta Cave (for all you Peter Jackson fans out there), is easily balanced out by camping or kayaking at Milford Sound, hiking Mt. Tongariro, Franz Joseph or Fox Glacier. For extreme high altitude seekers, skydiving is a New Zealand standard – weather and bravery depended. And for those that want the falling (to your death) sensation with a bit more safety and control, try the Sky Tower in Auckland – one of the loveliest bay cities ever experienced.

Mt Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Sky Tower, Auckland

Not into the wilderness or city-life? Not to worry, New Zealand’s got you covered. With a world-renowned wine region in Marlborough and Napier, and ample beach resorts in the north for the ultimate R&R, it’s hard to have a bad trip through this region.

Note: Try front-loading your trip with adrenaline pumping activities and end on a quiet note at a secluded beach resort and spa to unwind your body and mind before your return home.

The More Recommendations the Betta!

Kinloch, Lake Taupo

With the tourism rate skyrocketing (and for good reason) there a high chance that you know someone who’s recently been blown away by New Zealand. When there are so many options, gathering recs is key but sorting through them is crucial. If one activity or location is recommended by several different sources, then there’s likely a good reason why. Time to dig a little deeper and explore the options around it. Anchoring your trip around one location or event can help define what the rest of your trip turns into and give some structure to what it will become.

Another reliable resource is the New Zealand tourism website. While some places don’t have the best up keep for their tourism sites, New Zealand’s is awesome. Most of the personal recommendations I came across pointed me back to the national tourism site, which is packed with travel tips, hotels, tours, activities, and recommended itineraries for different types and lengths that can bring it all together. It’s a top resource to get your head around and help qualify what type of trip you really want to take.

Note: Always keep in mind the type of traveler you are getting advice from and if their style matches yours。

New Zealand has it all to offer, now’s the time to figure out what you want to get out of it!

Photos: Nicole Albertson


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Nicole Albertson


Nicole is based in San Francisco and she has amazing recommendations for Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Iceland, and New Zealand.

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