So you’ve decided to go to New Zealand? Congratulations! You’re on your way to the other side of the world (probably) to see one of the most beautiful countries there is – I should know, I grew up there! Here’s a few tips to help you hit the ground running in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Coffees come as double shots. I forgot this the first time I went home after moving to Australia (and adjusting to aussie coffees) and I was pinging off the walls! Make sure to specify that you want a ‘weak’ or ‘single shot’ coffee with your order if you want to avoid this. While you’re at it, it’s called ‘trim’ milk (not skinny, low-fat, or skim)
You’re probably going to want a car. New Zealand may seem like a tiny country to most of you other sprawling land masses, but it’s also a very sparsely populated one. Having a set of wheels will mean that you can follow wherever the road leads you without relying on sporadic (and sometimes non-existent) public transport
The Sun. The SUN. Seriously – sun safety is not something you want to take lightly in Aotearoa. From a young age, Kiwis are drilled to Slip, Slop, Slap, and you’re going to want to make like the locals if you want to leave NZ unscathed. Our beautiful islands are located right under a hole in the ozone layer which leaves them highly vulnerable to harsh UV light, even on a cloudy day. Grab some SPF 50+ when you land, and make sure to stay sun-smart
Public wifi isn’t really a thing. (although this is slowly changing in the larger centers). Fortunately, SIM cards are cheap, so the easiest thing to do is grab a booster pack at the airport arrivals. The team there will normally be happy to set it up for you, and then you’ll never be stuck on a road to nowhere without GPS. I choose to use Spark when I’m home, but all of the data deals are pretty similar.
This ain’t no thriving international metropolis. Don’t get me wrong – I love New Zealand, but it’s a long way from London or LA (in every sense of the word!). The biggest city in New Zealand is Auckland (1.5 million), but the capital city (Wellington) hasn’t even hit 500k yet. Don’t let that fool you though, it hasn’t been dubbed ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ without good reason. In my experience, towns in NZ are either a tourist hot-spot, or (to quote the lingo of my childhood) ‘a hole’. Only in NZ can a short drive take you from a thriving cultural hub to eating fish’n’chips (or a Lasagna Topper) on the bonnet of your car with nothing but breathtaking scenery as far as the eye can see!
Embrace the wilderness! New Zealand has some thriving cultural centers but if there’s one thing that we’ve got the rest of the world beat at, it’s the breathtaking natural beauty around every corner. A little research will go a long way, but don’t hesitate to ask a local either! There are some treasures that don’t always make it into the travel guides.
-The emergency number in New Zealand is 111–
(make sure to program this into your phone before you set foot outside the airport!)