Hotels, motels, backpackers, bed and breakfasts, camping grounds, and lodges from unadorned to luxury can be found throughout New Zealand. Booking is essential, especially in the high season October-April.
New Zealand Travel Offers all Types of Accommodation – Backpackers, Bed-and-Breakfasts and Camping Grounds
Most camping grounds are well-equipped with decent kitchens, laundries and clean ablution blocks. Camping grounds are often situated within a short walk of beaches, and may also be found in quite remote regions. There are excellent backpackers in most areas, many situated close to the CBD and near to public transport routes. Bed-and-breakfast facilities may be shared with the resident family, or visitors may have separate quarters. Travelers should clarify arrangements so that expectations are clear for both host and visitor.
New Zealand Food – NZ has Embraced the Cafe Culture
New Zealand has embraced the café culture, with numerous cafes serving diverse food styles. Ethnic outlets are well represented, as are the major fast food chains, e.g. KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks. Traditional New Zealand food may be sampled in restaurants or as part of the tourism experience. An agricultural island-nation, New Zealand produces world-class wines, meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
New Zealanders Drive on the Left Side of the Road
Rental vehicles can be collected at point of arrival, most frequently Auckland International Airport in the North Island, which receives flights daily from all points of the compass. New Zealanders drive on the left. The country has an efficient system of highways and byways with new sights unfolding at the turn of each corner. Visitors are often intrigued and sometimes discomforted by the narrow, winding roads in some areas. When traveling on these roads it is imperative to drive at the speed (or less) indicated by road signs and to keep to the left.
The Geothermal Wonderland: Geysers, Mud Pools, Hot Springs and Silica Deposits
New Zealand’s volcanic hinterland is a major attraction for visitors. Rotorua in the North Island is the tourism centre of thermal activity and is easily accessible by air or road. Geysers, mud pools, silica deposits and hot springs feature throughout the district. Rotorua is also a significant region for Maori culture and heritage, and there are several tourism operators who concentrate on this experience.
New Zealand Adventure Travel Includes Whitewater Rafting, Bungee Jumping and Jet-Boating
With 18,000km of coastline as well as many inland lakes and waterways, New Zealand has water-based activities to please travelers of all ages and abilities. The white-sand beaches of the east coast are perfect for sun-bathing, beach-combing, walking or a spot of fishing off the local wharf. Penguins gannets, whales, dolphins and other marine species can be observed in their natural environment. The more adventurous might choose whitewater rafting, sea or river kayaking, jet-boating, bungee jumping , ‘swooping’, or deep-sea diving. There are many other activities to test the mettle of the most timid or intrepid traveler including glacier or bush walks, golfing, horse treks, caving, or simply enjoying the sights.
Population: Approx 4,300,000 (approx 14 people per sq km)
Main Language: English
Driving: Left side of the road
Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50 hertz, 3-pin appliance plug
Banks: 9:00am – 4:30pm – may vary
Credit cards: Major credit cards accepted
New Zealand’s Climate is Variable: From Sub-Tropical to Below Freezing
New Zealand’s climate ranges from sub-tropical in the north, to temperate and below freezing in central and southern areas. Temperatures in some regions can change swiftly and travelers, especially hikers into bush country or mountainous areas, are strongly advised to be well-informed and well-prepared for sudden changes, even if only venturing on a day’s excursion.
Exploring Southern New Zealand
The Southern Scenic Route, in the south of the South Island of New Zealand, links several coastal highways and takes in some of the country’s most spectacular and unique scenery.
Beginning in the Scottish-influenced city of Dunedin, it takes travellers south along the eastern coast, through the Catlins to the south coast and Southland. From there head west then north to Fiordland where the route ends at Te Anau, gateway to the Fiordland National Park and a two-hour drive from Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations.
Things to See Travelling the Southern Scenic Route in New Zealand
Along the way discover rare birds and mammals at home in their natural habitat:
Fur seals and elephant seals
There’s also some amazing natural attractions including:
- Catlins waterfalls
- Cathedral Caves
- 160 million-year-old fossilised forest at Curio Bay
- Glow worms
- Lake Manapouri
- Lake Te Anau
- Doubtful Sound
- Milford Sound
Things to Do While Travelling the Southern Scenic Route in New Zealand
- Short walks
- Multi-day tramps
- Jet boating
- Boat cruises
- Mountain biking
- Horse trekking
Places to Stay While Travelling the Southern Scenic Route in New Zealand
There’s plenty of accommodation throughout the Southern Scenic Route to suit most travellers and budgets:
- Camping grounds
- Home Stays
- Bed and Breakfasts
- Backpacker lodges
It’s important to note that tourists travelling and sleeping in a van or campervan are not allowed to freedom camp if there are no toilet facilities in the vehicle.
Driving Advice While Travelling in New Zealand
The Southern Scenic Route incorporates sealed highways but in some parts driving conditions can be challenging, especially through the Catlins.
Here are some things you can expect to find when driving:
- Miles of single-lane highways with narrow shoulders
- Hilly, winding routes
- A lot of stock and freight trucks sharing the roads
- Changeable weather, even in summer, which can bring snow especially in the mountain passes
- Gravel roads
- Single lane bridges
- Large farm machinery, such as tractors and balers, travelling slowly on country roads
- Flocks of sheep or herds of cows being moved
Tips for Driving Safely on the Southern Sceneic Route
- One of the best things you can do when planning your road travel is to research the route you intend to take. Travelling times in many areas can take longer than anticipated because of the terrain to be covered and the amount and types of traffic on the roads.
- In some places passing opportunities can be limited and drivers in a hurry often take risks that cause accidents. The open-road speed limit is 100km/h.
- When travelling during the winter especially, keep an eye on the weather forecast and road conditions. If you intend to be in a high-country or alpine area be sure to carry chains. New Zealand does not apply salt to the roads and rain and snow can quickly turn to ice.
- Take advantage of the many public rest areas and lookout spots spread throughout the countryside – they allow drivers to safely pull off the road and rejoin the traffic.
- In some places, particularly the road to Milford Sound, in Fiordland, it is recommended tourists avoid driving and take a bus service instead – the scenery is captivating, the road challenging in the best of weather and in spring, avalanche danger is often high.