NZ Travel Guide | Avis New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Guide

As a small island nation located in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is popular with visitors from around the world. In addition to acting as a filming location for showstoppers such as The Hobbit, its Marlborough region produces delectable wines that are loved worldwide. If the idea of venturing to New Zealand is an enticing prospect, we’re here to help you out. With our New Zealand travel guide, you’ll soon discover which region is right for your adventure.

Why New Zealand?

From adventure travel and hiking through to wine tasting and luxury accommodation, New Zealand has something for everyone. Many people who visit its shores take 24-hour flights to get there, but once they land it’s clear why. The beautiful scenery is practically unsurpassed elsewhere in the world, especially once you reach regions such as Fiordland and Milford Sound.

As New Zealand is so diverse, it’s always worth learning more about what the different regions have to offer before you finalise your travel plans. At Avis, we’re here to help you discover more about it.


Auckland

If you’re ready for a journey into Middle Earth, you’re ready for a trip to Auckland and its surrounding regions. It’s the perfect destination for anybody who wants to blend city living with countryside views.

Things to do

Auckland is all about adventure and breathtaking experiences. At Avis, we recommend:

Auckland Volcanic Field

Explore the monogenetic volcanoes of the Auckland region at the Auckland Volcanic Fields. It features 50 volcanoes within 1,000 square kilometres, but it’s perfectly safe to visit.

A Trip to Waiheke Island

As the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, Waiheke Island blends luxury dining experiences with rugged-yet-beautiful nature.

Venture to Auckland’s West Coast beaches

Auckland’s West Coast beaches feature experiences for everyone. From those who love to surf to those who prefer serenity, they never disappoint.

Luxury accommodation

If you’re looking for luxury accommodation in Auckland, try the following:

  • Sky City Grand Hotel
  • Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
  • Hotel DeBrett
  • Cordis Auckland

Popular events

Auckland is home to popular events throughout the year, including:

The World Buskers Festival

Taking place every January in Auckland, the World Buskers Festival is your one and only opportunity to discover the true hidden gems of the music world.

Festival of Colour

The Festival of Colour is set against the backdrop of the Otago Lakes and it’s one of the world’s biggest celebrations of the arts.

New Zealand International Comedy Festival

If you’re heading to Auckland in May, make sure you stick around for the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

Airport facilities and services

As an airport that’s comfortable enough to sleep in, Auckland Airport provides the following key facilities:

  • VIP lounges, some of which are attached to certain airlines
  • Baggage storage services for a fee
  • Free WiFi throughout
  • Collection points for collecting tax-free goods
  • Bluecoats providing in-person information

Driving distances to popular locations

A stay in Auckland is an ideal opportunity to explore some of New Zealand’s finest attractions. They include:

Rainbow’s End 21.9km KiteKite Falls 35.2km New Zealand Maritime Museum 1.1km North Head 17.6km Piha 39.9km

Day trip ideas

If you’re looking for a day trip from Auckland, try one of the following:

Matakana

At less than a 45-minute drive outside of Auckland, Matakana is a boutique farmer’s market that features locally-sourced and grown food.

Great Barrier Island

At just a short ferry ride away, Great Barrier Island offers some of the most stunning views in New Zealand’s gulf.

Rotoroa Island

As a predator-free wildlife sanctuary, Rotoroa Island combines 82 hectares worth of nature with crisp white beaches.

Auckland Car Hire


Wellington

Although Wellington is famous for its frequent tremors, it’s also a travel destination that’s popular amongst people of all ages. With the wild south coast within easy reach, it’s the type of place you’ll visit if you love amateur photography and challenging hikes.

Things to do

A visit to Wellington means you’re never short of things to do. Here are some of our favourite activities:

Climb Mount Victoria

As a relatively easy mountain to climb, Mount Victoria comes with excellent rewards. Once you’re at the top, you’ll benefit from unbeatable cityscape views of Wellington itself.

Visit Zealandia Sanctuary

A visit to Zealandia Sanctuary will leave you feeling as though you’ve travelled back to the pre-historic period. If you’ve ever wanted to walk alongside dinosaurs, this is the closest you’ll get.

Experience Wizardry at Weta Cave

If films such as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings capture your imagination, head to Weta Cave. While there, you’ll experience the magic behind the movie scenes.

Luxury accommodation

When it comes to luxury accommodation, Wellington is a city that has plenty to offer. Here are some of our top recommendations:

  • Sofitel Wellington
  • Intercontinental Hotel Wellington
  • QT Wellington
  • Wellesley Boutique Hotel

Popular events

No matter what time of year you visit Wellington, you’ll find that there’s something exciting happening in the area. Some of the most popular events for you to prioritise include:

Wellington Cup Day

Don your finest outfit and prepare to win big at Wellington Cup Day. Both the fashion and financial stakes are high, but it’s one of the best people spotting experiences on Earth. Wellington Cup Day typically takes place in January.

CubaDupa

If you’re seeking a street festival with plenty of bohemian appeals, CubaDupa is it. With an eclectic carnival atmosphere, it attracts talented artists from around the world. You can experience CubaDupa in March.

Highball and Wellington Cocktail Week

Get your aspirin at the ready and prepare to sample some of the best cocktails in New Zealand. Taking place every May, Highball and Wellington Cocktail Week is a culinary inspiration all (adults) can enjoy.

Airport facilities and services

As an airport that comes with plenty of conveniences, Wellington Airport’s best facilities include:

  • Special assistance that promotes speedy transport and accessibility
  • Free WiFi
  • Lounges for refuelling or grabbing a nap
  • The stylish Rydges Hotel for brief layovers
  • Conference room rentals for business travellers

Driving distances to popular locations

If you’re ready to drive from Wellington to some of the surrounding popular locations, here are our best suggestions:

Wellington Zoo 4.9km Beehive 1.1km Carter Observatory 2.7km Mount Kaukau 8.4km Pariwhero/Red Rocks 11.4km

Day trip ideas

When you’re ready to venture a little further afield, you’ll find there are plenty of Wellington day trips to enjoy. Here are some of our best recommendations:

The Marlborough Wine Region

As the region that produces most of New Zealand’s wines, Marlborough is well worth visiting if you want to take some home with you. Just make sure you choose your vineyard according to your tastes.

Wairarapa

Wairarapa is one of the finest foodie hubs in New Zealand, making it ideal for a family road day trip. If you’re a countryside fan, choose one of the many food-serving farms that rests above panoramic countryside vistas.

Kapiti Island

Whether you’re into bird spotting or not, we’re confident you’ll fall in love with Kapiti Island. It’s just a short ferry ride away, but make sure you take a picnic to keep everyone happy.Wellington Car Hire


Christchurch

Packed with European heritage and a vibrant community spirit, Christchurch is renowned for its friendly atmosphere. Although the city is still recovering from its earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, it remains an enviably gorgeous place to visit.

Things to do

No visit to Christchurch is complete without seeing the attractions that give it much of its European flair. Here are a few for you to try:

The Christchurch Gondolas

Unlike the gondolas of Venice, the ones in Christchurch come in the form of a cable car. After venturing to the top of Mount Cavendish, you can take in views of Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains, and Lyttleton.

Riccarton House and Bush

Dating back to 1856, Riccarton House and Bush sit neatly alongside the Avon River. It’s also home to Christchurch Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday. If you’re visiting on any other day, don’t forget to head to the ground floor restaurant to try locally sourced food.

Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens rest alongside one another, so you may as well make the most of your time there and see them both. No matter what the weather is like, their combined flora, fauna, and scenery make them a go-to location for a relaxing stroll.

Luxury accommodation

As an elegant city, Christchurch is known throughout New Zealand for its luxury accommodation options. If you’re ready to treat yourself to something special, we have some suggestions:

  • The George
  • The Establishment
  • Peppers Clearwater Resort
  • Hackthorne Gardens

Popular events

As a city that hosts multiple major events each year, Christchurch always has something exciting going on.

Maori New Year

Immerse yourself in authentic native New Zealand culture and head to Christchurch during Maori New Year, which takes place every June. It’s an excellent time to witness Maori dancing and enjoy traditional dishes.

World Buskers Festival

Taking place every January, Christchurch’s World Buskers Festival blends free and paid musical events. This makes it especially popular amongst travellers who are on a budget.

Christchurch Marathon

If you’re ready to put on your running shoes, enter the Christchurch Marathon. Few cities around the world can boast marathon routes that are as scenic or vibrant.

Airport facilities and services

As the biggest airport on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch Airport has plenty of handy facilities. They include:

  • An internationals hall that’s open 24 hours a day
  • Airport lounges that are comfortable enough to sleep in
  • Free WiFi throughout the airport
  • Luggage storage facilities for when you’re day tripping
  • Comfortable airport hotels for layovers

Driving distances to popular locations

When you want to enjoy a South Island adventure, Christchurch is an excellent starting point. Here are some distances to popular nearby locations:

Avon River 4.3km International Antarctic Centre 10.4km Willowbank Wildlife Reserve 11.5km Airforce Museum of New Zealand 8.9km Sumner Beach 12.1km

Day trip ideas

When you want to venture a little further afield from Christchurch, why not try one of the following day trips?

Visit Lyttleton

If you’re looking for a day trip that’s relaxed and unplanned, visit Lyttleton. It provides the perfect combination of harbours and markets.

Akaroa

As a French-British settlement that’s less than 50 miles away from Christchurch, Akaroa will leave you feeling as though you’ve stepped onto another continent.

Arthur’s Pass

Arthur’s Pass is only two hours from Christchurch, yet it packs plenty of other-worldly charm. The Alpine views are a joy for amateur photographers to capture.

Christchurch Car Hire


Hamilton

As an excellent starting point for exploring the Waikato area, Hamilton is a real North Island treasure. Whether you love to relax or try adventurous activities, there are lots of reasons why you may want to visit.

Things to do

A visit to Hamilton is a chance to enjoy nature’s finest offerings. Here are some of our favourites.

Hamilton Gardens

If you don’t want to venture too far from the city itself, try Hamilton Gardens. As immaculate parklands, they’re perfect for enjoying a picnic.

Waikato Museum

Where better to learn about a local culture than Waikato museum? In addition to a litany of permanent exhibitions, it hosts travelling exhibitions throughout the year.

Pukete Farm Park

If you’re ready to put on your helmet, head to Pukete Farm Park and try the mountain biking trail. It has a biking experience for people of all abilities and ages.

Luxury accommodation

When you’re looking for luxury accommodation in Hamilton, try one of the following:

  • Hadleigh Boutique Lodge
  • Atrium on Ulster
  • Lake Domain

Popular events

Many of the events that take place in Hamilton each year are intimate, but still, have an undeniable buzz about them. Here are a few for you to try:

Waikato Show

The Waikato Show usually takes place in April and it’s an excellent chance for you to see what the region is all about.

For Us They Fell

Taking place during May, For Us They Fell is an event where you can learn about the men and women who fought during WW1.

Airport facilities and services

Although Hamilton Airport is small, it still has plenty of facilities for visitors to use:

  • The Air New Zealand regional lounge
  • Car rental kiosks
  • TV screens for entertainment
  • Free WiFi

Driving distances to popular locations

If you’re trying to find something to do near Hamilton, try one of these nearby popular attractions:

Hamilton Gardens 4.1km Waitomo Caves 73.7km Hamilton Zoo 7.5km Zealong Tea Estate 10.6km Parana Park 1.9km

Day trip ideas

Hamilton is the perfect location for making South Island day trips. Here are some of our favourite suggestions:

Waitomo Caves

At just shy of 74km away from Hamilton, Waitomo’s glow worm caves is a day trip opportunity you cannot miss.

Hobbiton

Whether you’re a Tolkien fan or not, Hobbiton is a beautiful experience that’ll leave you feeling as though you’re on another planet.

Raglan

As a surfing experience that isn’t for the faint-hearted, Raglan is less than 50km away from Hamilton.


Tauranga

As the largest city in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is one of New Zealand’s less considered gems. It’s North Island location makes it perfect for exploring beaches, mountains, and more.

Things to do

If you’re looking for a fun-packed adventure in or near Tauranga, we have you covered:

Mount Maunganui

Where else on Earth could you combine volcanoes and beaches? As a truly relaxing setting, Mount Maunganui is also home to restaurants serving deliciously tasty dishes.

Waimarino Adventure Park

As an inflatable adventure park, Waimarino is an ideal setting for letting your hair down.

Swimming with wild dolphins

If you love marine life and want to see dolphins at their finest, scout out one of the Tauranga tour companies offering dolphin swimming activities.

Luxury accommodation

When you want to complement your Tauranga stay with luxury accommodation, we have a few suggestions:

  • The French Country House
  • Trinity Wharf Tauranga
  • Eagle Ridge
  • Beachfront Villas at Papamoa Beach Resort

Popular events

When you’re looking for an exciting event to attend, you won’t have to wait long while you’re in Tauranga. Some of the best ones include:

Downtown Carnival

Taking place in April each year, Tauranga’s Downtown Carnival is perfect for socialising with the locals and enjoying street food.

Tauranga Jazz Festival

As another April event, Tauranga Jazz Festival attracts some of the best jazz musicians from throughout New Zealand and around the world.

Airport facilities and services

Although Tauranga Airport is petite, it has plenty of facilities at your disposal:

  • Car hire desks
  • Air New Zealand lounge
  • Free WiFi
  • Conference and meeting rooms

Driving distances to popular locations

If you’re looking for something to do near Tauranga, here are some of the best attractions:

Wai o Tapu 93.2km Maclaren Falls 23.5km Kaiate Falls 17.7km Te Puna Quarry Park 12.9km The Elms 2km

Day trip ideas

Looking for a day trip from Tauranga? We have some ideas…

Glow Worm Kayak Tours

You won’t need to head far to enjoy a glow worm kayak tour. If you want to make the most of the magic, plan one for the evening.

Port of Call Tours

Whether you go self-guided or use an organised company, a Port of Call tour is excellent for seeing the filming locations that made Tolkien-based movies possible.


FAQs

What is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to visit New Zealand if you prefer warm weather is either January or February. This is when the summer temperatures are at their peak. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to go skiing while you’re in New Zealand, the best time to visit in June.

How long does it take to travel around New Zealand?

Driving from one end of New Zealand to the other straight through would take around 30 hours. However, if you want to spend time exploring both islands, the recommended stay period is two to three weeks.

How long can I stay in New Zealand without a visa?

If you’re a member of a country that has a visa waiver agreement with New Zealand, you can stay for up to three months without a visa. However, those who are from Australia and the UK can stay for up to six months without a visa. Be sure to check with your nearest consulate or high commission for the most up to date information. 

Can you drive from the North to the South Island of New Zealand?

Yes, you can drive from the North to the South Island of New Zealand by taking a ferry. There are two services that run between the islands: Interislander and Bluebridge. Each one takes between three and four hours to move between the North and South Islands. There are around 49 sailings per week combined between the two service providers. You can't take your Avis rental car on the ferry. Read more about multi island hire here.

Which airport is the best airport to fly into in New Zealand?

The airport that’s best for you to fly into will depend on your departure destination and the area you want to explore. If you want to explore the North Island, try Auckland. Otherwise, Queenstown is an international airport that serves the South Island.

Which island is better, North or South New Zealand?

Each island has its own attributes. While the North Island is known for its pristine white beaches, the South Island is larger and considered to have better scenery overall.


Resources:

https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/new-zealand/articles/the-best-time-of-year-to-visit-new-zealand/

https://www.firstlighttravel.com/blog/how-long-should-i-spend-in-new-zealand

https://www.newzealand.com/uk/visas-and-immigration/

https://www.directferries.co.uk/wellington_picton_ferry.htm

https://www.backpackerguide.nz/airport-arrive-new-zealand/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/new-zealand-north-island-south-island/

https://airport.tauranga.govt.nz/services

https://www.hamiltonairport.co.nz/visiting/airport-information/airport-services/

https://www.sleepinginairports.net/guides/christchurch-airport-guide.htm

https://www.wellingtonairport.co.nz/shop-eat/shop/

https://www.aucklandairport.co.nz/information/terminal-services-and-facilities