1. New Zealand is the ultimate honeymoon destination for you adventurers and thrillseekers. Not only is it the birthplace of bungee jumping, but skiing, white water rafting, skydiving, and cycling are all popular activities for locals and tourists alike.
2. Spectacular views are abundant in New Zealand, which has 15,000 kilometers of coastline varying from sandy beaches, mountains, and rugged, rocky shores. Remember the epic scenery in “Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit?” That’s all New Zealand.
3. New Zealand consists of two large islands, named conveniently, North and South. And although it may look small on a map surrounded by ocean and dwarfed by Australia, New Zealand is roughly the size of Colorado in square miles and about as long as California.
4. Because of this size, and because New Zealand has such varied landscape and experiences to offer, it would be a shame to stay in just one place on your honeymoon. We recommend renting a car and basing yourselves for a few days in a few or all of New Zealand’s main cities mentioned in tip No. 5.
5. The North Island is known for stunning landscapes, Maori culture and experiencing volcanic and geothermal sites. It is home to the cities of Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington. The South Island is known for its wine regions, ski resorts and glaciers, and is home to the cities of Christchurch and Queenstown.
6. There are two ways to go between islands. Flying from one of the domestic airports is an option, or if you do rent a car, you can jump from North to South by boarding the Interislander Ferry across the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton.
7. If you do plan on hitting the road, you’ll be fine to rent a car and drive on an American driver’s license. Just remember that they drive on the other side of the road in New Zealand!
8. December to February (southern hemisphere summer) are the hottest months, reaching 30ºC (90°F). This is the busiest and most expensive time for visiting. June to September is also peak season in the ski resorts of Wanaka, Canterbury and Mount Cook Mackenzie. Winter temperatures at sea level average around 10-15ºC (50-60°F).
9. Thanks to the hole in the ozone layer over Australia, the sun is far more dangerous in this part of the world. Make sure you wear plenty of 30+ SPF sunblock and a hat if you’re outdoors for any length of time. Kiwis are sticklers for sun protection, so any local supermarket will stock sunscreen. Don’t bother taking up precious suitcase space bringing it from home.
10. The local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD$). Expect to pay about $4-5 for a beer, $20 per plate for a meal in a mid-range restaurant, and upwards of $30 a plate in an upmarket one. Outdoor activities will cost anywhere between $80-$500USD each. These experiences are often the most expensive part of your trip so leave plenty of room in your budget for them. We recommend downloading the XE.com app before you go, as it’s an easy way to quickly make currency conversions.
11. Tipping is not expected in New Zealand, but in the more touristy areas it is welcome. No service charge is added to bills in restaurants; it is left to the guest’s discretion. Generally, locals add a 10-percent tip or round up in restaurants, and leave their small change at the bar and in taxis. Small tips of $1-5 are welcome for bellboys and room service at hotels. No tip is required for hair and beauty services.
12. People from New Zealand are affectionately known as Kiwis, and one of the things most visitors remember is how friendly and laid back they are. Expect service with a smile and locals happy to point you in the right direction or share stories with you. On that note, though, don’t make the mistake of confusing Kiwis with their Australian neighbors. This is the only time you’ll probably be greeted with hostility.