If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, there are a few things you’ll need to organise before you hop on the plane. As with any country, you’ll need a valid passport that doesn’t expire for more than 3 months after your intended departure date.
Do I need a visa?
It depends where you’re from. You do not need a visa if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Australian or New Zealand citizen or resident
- UK citizen or passport holder (you can stay without a visa for up to six months)
- Citizen of a country included in our visa waiver agreement (you can stay without a visa for up to three months)
- See if your country is on the list here.
I need a visa! That’s okay, too! If you’re from a country that isn’t listed above, you’ll need to apply for a visitor visa. This lets you travel through New Zealand for up to nine months. The best way to apply is online. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to secure your visa before you depart! TRAVELLER’S TIP: If you’re passing through an Australian airport to reach New Zealand, you may also need an Australian visa. Check with your travel agent or airline.
New Zealand is lush as – please help us keep it that way!
To help protect our environment and biodiversity, there are certain quarantine rules about what you can and can’t bring into New Zealand. This includes things like plants, food, animal products and even sporting equipment such as ski’s or snowboards. You may need to declare certain items before leaving the airport, so make sure you’re familiar with the regulations – or you may find yourself receiving a hefty fine. Read the guidelines here.
Best time to visit
Any time! Seriously though, there is something for everyone year-round in New Zealand. Keep in mind that the temperature drops as you head towards the South Island. Summer (December – February) If you’re looking for the best weather to see more of both islands, summer is the perfect time of the year. Whether you’re looking for a scenic escape through cities, markets, rainforests or beaches, summer is a great time of year to get the most out of New Zealand. Keep in mind that this is tourist season, so roads will be busy. Summer temperature: 20 – 30ºC (50 – 86ºF) Autumn (March – May) Autumn is a beautiful time of year to watch New Zealand’s landscape change, particularly in Hawke’s Bay, Wanaka and Otago. It does get a little chilly, with the average temperature on the South Island dropping to 10ºC (50ºF) during the day. As it gets cooler, it’s easier to get around – especially if you’re driving. Autumn temperature: 10 – 16ºC (50 – 61ºF) Winter (June – August) Love the snow? Come for ski season! Both the North and South Island have great skiing options, including Tongariro National Park and Turoa Ski Areas; and there’s great skiing in Queenstown and Wanaka on the South Island. It’s also a great time to go for a winery tour to explore one of our favourite (and highly awarded) exports. Winter temperature: 10 – 16ºC (53 – 61ºF) Snow ranges dip below freezing. Spring (September – November) If you’re looking for an adventure holiday, spring is a great time of year to go white water rafting as the mountain snow begins to melt. There’s also beautiful gardens and parks to visit as flowers begin to bloom, and the annual spring festival in Alexandra. Spring temperature: 16 – 19ºC (61 – 66ºF)
Driving in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand is easy. As long as you have a valid driver’s licence from your home country, you can legally drive and explore for up to 12 months. This applies if you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) too, as long as you also bring the driver’s licence that the permit is based on. Make sure that you also carry an English translation of your driver’s licence if it’s in a different language. You’ll only be able to drive the types of vehicles that you can drive back home. Left is right Keep in mind that as with most Commonwealth countries, in New Zealand, we drive on the left. Some of the roads – particularly in the South Island – can be quite winding, which combined with new driving experiences, can lead to accidents. Intersections In New Zealand, we also have a saying when it comes to intersections: Hard Left, Easy Right. This means that if you’re turning left, you must give way to a vehicle that is turning right across an intersection. http://slightlyodd.com/2010/03/new-zealands-stupid-right-hand-turn-rule TRAVELLER’S TIP: Make sure you carry your licence and/or permit with you at all times. If you’re caught driving without a valid licence, IDP or English translation, you could be fined up to NZ$1,000. You may also need to cancel your travel plans as you can’t drive a valid licence and will need to arrange one quick smart – so make sure to plan ahead! Is there a minimum age to rent a vehicle in New Zealand? Yes! You must be at least 21 to rent a car.
Alright – I’m gonna hire or buy a van and travel for a few months! What do I need to know?
If you want to freedom camp and see every inch of New Zealand, you’ll need to make sure you comply with the latest laws and regulations by ensuring you’ve got a fully certified, self-contained campervan. You’ll also need to keep up-to-date on where you can (and cannot) park your vehicle. Wait – what’s freedom camping? We’re glad you asked! It’s the best way to experience the real New Zealand. Essentially, freedom camping is where you can park your vehicle overnight on public land that isn’t a recognised camping ground or holiday park. But you need to make sure you follow the rules based on each council district you visit. You must be fully certified as self-contained to freedom camp, and the locations you’re allowed to park in each council zone differ. What is a self-contained campervan? A self-contained campervan must meet the Caravan Self Containment Certification, which includes the following strict requirements:
- You’re able to live in it for three days without getting more water or dumping waste.
- It has a toilet
- It has fresh water storage
- It has wastewater storage
- You have a rubbish bin with a lid
Although these may seem like simple requirements, there are some specifics that must be adhered to pass certification, particularly related to an onboard toilet. The portable toilet must be adequately restrained or secured when travelling. It must be usable within the motor caravan or caravan, including sufficient head and elbow room whenever required, even with the bed made up. Where permanent toilets are installed, this shall be in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and comply with the sanitary requirements in section 3 of the Standard (plumbing requirements). TRAVELLER’S TIP: The key thing to note here is that not all vans with a compliance sticker actually meet this regulation, as they were certified pre-February 2018. Make sure your van meets the full criteria, or you may face a fine or penalty.
Ready to start planning? Take a look at our range of campervans.