New Zealand is an easy country to travel around, but there are some mistakes you shouldn't make. Improve your trip by avoiding these pitfalls. Here are the top 10 mistakes tourists make when they visit New Zealand.
Planning Too Much
Although it's good to plan a few things ahead of time, such as accommodation in the major centers, you'll have a lot more fun in New Zealand if you 'go with the flow' for much of your time here. Unlike other popular tourist destinations, there are very few times of the year where hotels or attractions are completely sold out.
Apart from the New Zealand school holidays and the month of January, you will find good availability for most things you want to do in New Zealand. Don't make the mistake of booking everything in advance and then wishing you could change the hotel, city, or other reservation after you get here.
Trying to See Too Much
New Zealand may look like a small country on the map, but the sheer variety of things to see and do in the country is vast. It has some of the most varied scenery of any country in the world. You won't need to cover great distances between sights, as is often the case in Australia, their closest neighbor. Give yourself plenty of time for each destination or attraction.
If you want to see both the North and South Islands, you should allow at least two weeks for each. Anything less than that and you will find that you will spend more time driving than enjoying the sights. Both islands have their unique advantages.
New Zealand is a very safe country to visit. However, (and unfortunately) theft from tourists is a relatively common occurrence. Most theft happens from break-ins of parked vehicles. If you are parking your vehicle, especially in a remote area, hide your important belongings (such as cash and travel documents) well. Better still, take them with you.
If you are robbed, report the incident immediately to the local police.
Not Giving Others a Friendly Wave
New Zealanders are extremely friendly, but can sometimes appear shy. Be outgoing, wave to passersby; you will almost always get a smile and a wave in return. Also, don't be afraid to ask for advice or directions; most kiwis will gladly help.
Not Getting Off the Beaten Track
However, many of your best experiences may well come by getting off the beaten track, to places where tourists don't generally go. Be adventurous and explore parts of New Zealand that you don't find in the guidebooks.
Driving Over the Speed Limit
Familiarize yourself with the driving laws in New Zealand before you go. The speed limit in New Zealand is generally 50 km/hr in urban areas and 100 km on motorways and open roads. Variants to this are clearly signposted. Speed limits are strictly enforced through a network of speed cameras and police.
Although the authorities are generally tolerant of being slightly over the speed limit, don't spoil your holiday by getting a ticket. The chances are that by speeding you're not going to get to your destination a lot more quickly anyway—and of course the slower you travel, the more you get to see along the way.
Buying Wine in a Restaurant
New Zealand is one of the relatively few countries which has a tradition of Bring Your Own (BYO) wine. This means that you can BYO wine to a restaurant and pay only a small 'corkage' fee. In doing this, you can take a wine of your choice, rather than rely on a restaurant's often somewhat limited selection, as well as saving yourself a lot of money by not having to pay the restaurant's high markup.
Not all restaurants offer this, but by seeking out a BYO restaurant, you can often reduce your overall bill by up to a third.
Traveling in High Season
The 'high season' in New Zealand is during the summer months, which are December to February. While the weather is at it's warmest, it is not necessarily at its best. It's also the time when kiwis themselves are often on holiday, and prices can be considerably higher.
Spring, autumn (fall), and even winter weather can be enjoyable in New Zealand. Travel out of season to enjoy fewer crowds and save yourself a lot of money, especially on such tourist items as rental vehicles and accommodation.
Not Taking a Side Trip to a Pacific Island
New Zealand has many neighbors in the South Pacific that offer a wonderful place for a short holiday break and are entirely different. Let's face it, New Zealand is a long way away from most parts of the world. If you're making an effort to get here, use the opportunity to see another country as well. Often your points for your New Zealand trip from an airline frequent flier program may be enough to get you a side trip to somewhere in the Pacific.
Not Allowing for Jet Lag
Getting to New Zealand will often involve crossing several time zones and many hours of air travel. The effects of jet lag should not be underestimated. Drink plenty of water on the journey, avoid or limit your alcohol intake, and try to get as much rest as possible during the flight. Also, allow a few days to adjust when you get here.