New Zealand has a variety of landscapes ranging from glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forest, volcanic plateau and miles of coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches. Lying in the south-west Pacific, it consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. Stewart Island and many smaller islands lie offshore.
The North Island of New Zealand has a ‘spine’ of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area. The majestic Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps are the rolling farmlands of Otago and Southland, as well as the vast, flat Canterbury Plains.
Weather in New Zealand is unpredictable and can change unexpectedly. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C in winter, most of the country generally experiences mild, coastal temperatures. New Zealand’s average temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.
Bring layers, warm jackets, hats and gloves even in the summer to ensure that you do not get caught by a sudden draft. Sunlight is stronger in New Zealand due to its position under the Ozone Layer hole. Bring long sleeved shirts, a wide brim hat, long trousers and sunscreen to prevent yourself from getting sunburnt.
New Zealand’s unit of currency is the dollar (NZ$). All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand, with Visa and MasterCard accepted most widely.
Direct flights from Singapore to New Zealand are available from Changi International Airport. Most international flights arrive into Auckland in the North Island – the average flight time from Singapore is approximately 10 hours. If you are travelling to the South Island, you’ll have the option to fly into Christchurch direct or through connecting flights to Queenstown. Domestic services connect these international airports to the smaller regional airports around the country.
Cruising is another popular way to get to, and explore, the country. Most cruises to New Zealand depart from Australia and the Pacific Islands and some are round-the-world journeys. New Zealand’s main cruise port is in Auckland, though there are numerous other ports of call around the country. Click here more information on cruises with Blue Sky Escapes.
From 1 October 2019, all visitors from visa-waiver countries must request a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) prior to entering New Zealand. This is valid for multiple visits for up to two years. Travellers from all other countries must apply for a Visitor Visa, which is valid for up to nine months. You may also have to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). For more information on the ETA and IVL, visit Immigration New Zealand.
As a significant agricultural exporter with unique bio-diversity, New Zealand has strict biosecurity laws to protect its environment. Certain items are not allowed to be brought into the country, have restrictions for entry or must be declared if they are deemed to present a biosecurity risk. These include food, plants, animal products and outdoor recreational equipment. Your baggage may be sniffed by a detector dog, x-rayed and/or manually searched to identify contraband items. To avoid penalties, it is best to familiarise yourself with these guidelines before travel. For a detailed list of prohibited, restricted or declarable items, please visit Ministry for Primary Industries (biosecurity agency).
New Zealand is a diverse country that is a melting pot for Māori, European, Pacific Island and Asian cultures. Of the 4.4 million Kiwis living in New Zealand today, approximately 69% are of European descent, 14.6% are indigenous Māori, 9.2% Asian and 6.9% non-Māori Pacific Islanders.