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Travel in style around New Zealand

A guide on what to wear, how best to get around, where to stay and what pace to set for your trip

When 🎶 you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye, and I got that red-lip classic thing that you like... 🎶, all of Taylor Swift's fans know we are about to talk about 'style'. But what does that even mean?

Everyone has their own travelling style, and New Zealand has something to suit everyone, even 'Swifties'. You might be travelling as a couple, as a family group, with friends, or flying solo, but whoever you are, rest assured knowing that we cater to visitors extremely well here in New Zealand. Our Kiwi Travel Consultants specifically cater to suit your requirements - it makes our job more interesting, but it also means that you don't have to mould yourselves into a trip that's been pre-determined for you.

Why wouldn't I be fussy about a trip to New Zealand? I mean "you see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet."

Exactly. Don't worry, we've got YOU at the forefront of our mind, and we'll put ourselves in your shoes (pardon the pun) while we work with you to design an amazing trip. After all, it is your trip, so let's make sure it suits you in every way that we can.


I'm sorry to say that for the most part, fashion goes out the window in New Zealand, most of us choosing to dress for comfort rather than for style. You're unlikely to feel like you've stepped off a catwalk or from a set of Project Runway any where here, and it's unlikely you'll be envious of another ensemble. There's always an exception to this rule though, and when you're at a special event, or in a fine-dining restaurant, you might want to raise your vacation dress-sense level a tad. Aside from that, wherever you are, you'll never be out of place when you choose to dress comfortably.

New Zealander's will talk about 'wearing layers'. This advice will ensure you're ready for any weather event that could arise. At any time of year, even summer, our islands have changeable weather, so one minute it can be warm and sunny, the very next a chilly wind will pick up, and that can then be followed by a torrential rain shower. Just when you get to shelter, the sun will come back again. Because you never what you're going to get, if you dress in layers, then you're covering all bases, and you won't get caught out by whatever weather you're in for during the day.

One more thing to add here, don't be surprised if you see people walking around barefoot. Us Kiwi's think that it's totally acceptable to not wear shoes, even around the supermarket, up the street, and of course near the beach too. You might have recently heard of 'earthing'? Well we've been doing that for a long time here. I, myself, barely remember wearing shoes at all, until I was 13 years of age and it was part of my school uniform. Before then I only wore shoes with the rest of my 'Sunday best' to keep my grandparents happy at a special occasion or at church! Oh, and don't be surprised if you're on a short hike up a mountain and you see a local in jandals (flip-flops) - that's fairly normal too - and it might be me!


With so many things to do and spectacular places to see, choosing how you travel around New Zealand is as important as choosing where you want to go. But before you get carried away dreaming of road trips in a convertible, or jet setting between places by private helicopter, please keep in mind, New Zealand is not as small as you might think and practicalities and budget considerations should probably come to mind.

Both on the North Island, it will take you over 7 hours to drive the distance between Lake Waikaremoana (near the East) and Mount Taranaki (in the West) - with only 466km (290 miles) of road to travel between these places, you'd expect a quicker journey, but the roads will have you driving on average at a speed of around 65km/h (40mph)

Ultimately it's your trip, so with that in mind, how do you want to spend your time here? We recommend that you travel one day, exploring as you go. Relaxing and enjoying a place the next. Then on day 3, you can either linger a little longer and enjoy your current locale, or continue to another place, exploring as you go. Pace is key, and unless you're on an episode of The Amazing Race, it's best not to rush from place to place trying to fit in 'highlights'. Instead, take time to savour each moment, and really enjoy a place before moving on.

We've done thousands of road trips over the years, and due to the nature of our roads, and the amount of things to see and do while you travel, we'll usually suggest that on any given day of your trip, it's best to limit your time travelling between places to a duration of 4-hours total or less in any given day. That way you won't be rushing, and on days when you are travelling you'll still be able to enjoy the place you're in, before starting your journey for the day, or after you've arrived. You'll not get too fatigued from travelling at this pace. To keep the roadtrip fun, we always let you know of places you can break up the journey with plenty of stops at places of interest along the way pointed out in your trip itinerary.

When your day includes a flight, count the check-in time and flying time as part of your 4-hour travel duration, and limit your travel time when you land accordingly. Obviously, at times you might have to spend slightly more time travelling to reach your next destination. If that's the case, just remember to linger for longer at your next destination, unless you want to be on the road all day every day (and trust me, you don't!)

A road trip is an exciting part of any visit to New Zealand, with an ever changing landscape visible from your window, even over a relatively short period of time. Many of our customers self-drive at some point during their visit. Once you've got over your initial nerves of driving on the left, and our local road rules start to make sense, you'll find road trips are a lot of fun. Roads here are well-maintained and signposted, and spectacular scenery awaits you, so don't even think about falling asleep if you're a passenger or you're likely to miss out on something amazing!

Motorhomes or campervans are sometimes seen as the ultimate accommodation choice for flexibility on a driving holiday, but restrictions are now in place in relation to 'freedom camping' across New Zealand. This means at many of the more popular spots, you'll be paying to stay in a campground in addition to the cost to hire, so keep this in mind.

If you want to sit back, relax and watch the scenery pass by while letting someone else do the driving, buses are the main form of public transport in New Zealand, with only Auckland and Wellington areas served by a train network as well.

Elsewhere in New Zealand rail travel is an exercise in relaxation, not convenience. The main reason to choose a train journey is for the spectacular scenery you simply can't see from the road.

The best way to cut down on the time it takes to travel between places in New Zealand, is to jump on a plane. New Zealand's flight network is comprehensive and very affordable, making it a popular choice for Kiwi's to get around (so why not take our lead and travel like the locals do?)

The car ferry travelling between Wellington and Picton is also very popular, in part because of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, but also because it is the main way to travel between islands without taking to the skies, often seen as a rite of passage for thousands of tourists and New Zealanders every year.

But remember our main point here - New Zealand is not as small as you might think. It often takes longer than you would expect to travel between places of interest, so ensure you allow plenty of time to get between places, even for shorter distances, and consider spending a few more days here, as we'll always be able to fill your time.

Is New Zealand bigger than England? Check out the maps below to get an idea of the true size of New Zealand compared to some popular places our clients call home.


There is a diverse choice of places to stay in New Zealand, so with that in mind, we typically recommend that you experience a range of different styles of accommodation during your trip here. Obviously after arriving off a long flight, you might prefer the convenience of a hotel room, just so you can get yourself out of any jet lag and back into the right timezone. But staying in impersonal hotel rooms your entire trip will have you missing out on some pretty amazing opportunities and great Kiwi experiences.

Every level of comfort and budget is catered to here, so you can choose to be cheap 'n' cheerful in backpackers or hostels, or spend your nights in lavish luxury in a wonderfully remote one-of-a-kind lodge. Here's a little insight into some of the more common categories of accommodation, and how our Kiwi version will differ from what you're used to back home. I'm confident you'll find something that appeals to your own personal travelling style, and if you ever feel overwhelmed by your options, we're happy to help you make that final call or offer a helpful Kiwi perspective.


New Zealand hotels are of a high standard and can provide plenty of personality

Providing a range of facilities, including on-site restaurants, bars, gyms and services like valet car parking. Some of the international hotel chains lack personality, perhaps conforming to their overseas counterparts, so we often provide locally-owned alternatives which represent better-value-for-money, sweetened by some Kiwi hospitality.

There's a large variance in price between hotels depending on their facilities, their character, locale, and level of luxury. Expect a warmer welcome at smaller boutique establishments which are often more memorable for their individuality.

The charming heritage provides a warm welcome to the Rutherford Hotel Nelson

APARTMENTS & MOTELS (Self-Contained Units)Combine the flexibility of self-catering facilities with comfortable quality surroundings

Give yourself the feeling of having your own space by opting to stay in an apartment or motel for some of your stay. Ideal for couples, families or groups, you'll optionally be able to save on the cost of breakfast and other meals, be able to do your own laundry, and many still have daily or regular servicing during your stay just like you'd expect from a hotel.

Oaks Shore in Queenstown provides a home-away-from-home


Delivering on the promise of a complete luxury experience

Expect an exclusive, unforgettable experience in a breathtaking location in New Zealand's highest standard of accommodation. These unique properties offer whatever your heart desires - from fine gourmet cuisine to spa treatments, private golf to wilderness adventures.

When you're after private luxury in Queenstown, you can't go wrong with Matakauri Lodge


Great for those wanting to get insight and advice from locals that live here

Wonderfully eclectic, Bed & Breakfast's in New Zealand come in all shapes and sizes - and by that we are describing not only the houses, but also the hosts! Great for the little personal touches, B&B hosts are like instant friends that you meet along your journey. Unlike British B&B's, you might find yourself being the only guests, and you'll likely have your own room in the host's home. You're also likely to be served breakfast in the morning around the family dining table.

Expect a warm welcome to your room at Chalet Romantica in the Bay of Islands


A friendly, authentic taste of rustic, Kiwi life in unique accommodation

Similar to a Bed & Breakfast, you'll often have the added option to help on the farm if you feel like it; round up the sheep, feed the calves or mend a fence. You'll feel like part of the family, and stay in the home of your hosts.

In Taranaki, be hosted by Jan and André at Tivoli Homestay, New Plymouth


Set in attractive landscaped settings, and equipped to please a wide range of people

Not just for those with tents, caravans and campervans, many also feature cabins and some even offer superb self-contained motel units. For those opting to set up camp or parking a motorhome, there's always easy access to a shared kitchen and shared bathroom facilities. Cabins sometimes share, and sometimes have their own facilities. Glamping is similar, but typically a lot more exclusive and private version of camping.

Note: Our Kiwi Travel Consultants will always place you in places that have private bathrooms, unless you've specifically stated you don't mind a shared bathroom.

Apartments surround the landscaped grounds for tents and motorhomes to park at Shining Star, Hokitika


Cheap and Cheerful, but more importantly clean and comfortable

Representing great value for money, rest your head and share stories with like-minded people. Some are part of a network, others are individually owned and operated. Many offer dormitory rooms (single sex on request), others have a range of double, twin and single rooms. In most cases, the bathroom and kitchen facilities are shared.

Flashpackers are often a little more private offer a modern more comfortable take on the traditional backpacker experience

Note: Our Kiwi Travel Consultants always place you in places that have private bathrooms, unless you've specifically stated you don't mind a shared bathroom.

Share your living space with like-minded travellers at Bumbles Backpackers, Queenstown


The tradition of owning a 'bach' or 'crib' in New Zealand is strong

A fantastic option for those wanting to stay like a local, and be self-sufficient. No two homes are the same, and generally you'll have a lot more living space to enjoy than when in a hotel or motel. You can opt for a luxurious lodge in the mountains, or a simple cottage by the sea, and in some places, they are the only option you'll have.

So with all this in mind, our Kiwi Travel Consultants will tailor your trip to suit not only your travelling style, but also cater to your personal interests, tastes and budget, as well as provide you on-trip support while you travel around our Kiwi paradise.

Simply complete our online survey, book your international flights, and you'll soon be saying New Zealand - it's Time 2 Go!