Trip Coach: January 22, 2008
Andrew Hempstead, author of "Moon Handbooks New Zealand," answered your questions on New Zealand.
Andrew Hempstead: Hi, all. This is Andrew Hempstead and I look forward to answering your questions over the next hour.
In advance of that a few quick thoughts on traveling to New Zealand that may answer general queries you have:
Air New Zealand has direct flights to Auckland from LA and San Francisco. With this airline, it is often possible to include Australia in your itinerary at little or no extra cost than flying to Auckland. Other specials offered include free stops in South Pacific destinations like Fiji or Tahiti.
All major car rental companies are represented in New Zealand. Often, there are no drop-off charges between cities and unlimited mileage is standard.
January is summer school holidays in New Zealand and everywhere is very busy. If you're planning on traveling during this month, make reservations well in advance.
Commercial campgrounds in New Zealand are called "Holiday Parks," and for good reason. Rather than offering just campsites, they come with facilities like swimming pools, communal barbeque areas, cafes, and tour booking desks, as well wide ranging of accommodations such as cabins, villas, and motel rooms. For those with their own transportation, they provide excellent value and a great way to meet locals.
Placerville, Calif.: My friend and I will be traveling with a tour group to New Zealand in September 2008. We are in great shape, love to walk, explore public parks, monuments, etc. With one free day on our own to explore in Auckland what would you suggest we NOT miss? Thank you in advance for any advice you could give us. —Denna
Andrew Hempstead: Denna, if your tour includes all the major Auckland highlights, plan on spending your spare day on Waiheke Island, a short boat trip from downtown Auckland.
Cedar Falls, Iowa: My sister and I (ages 22 & 26) have booked a seven day "layover" in New Zealand while on our way to Melbourne, Australia. We arrive in Auckland on March 8 in the early morning and depart Auckland in the late afternoon on March 15. While we do want to hit some of the main New Zealand highlights, we also like to do things and visit places that the locals would so that we can get a better idea of the local culture. What places or tour stops do you recommend? Thank you for your help! —Lynne & Alissa
Andrew Hempstead: Jennifer, if you're traveling extensively through the Pacific, you'll probably enjoy a break from surf and sand. With that in mind, spend a day or two in Auckland; head south to Rotorua for thermal attractions and native culture, then on to Tongariro National Park for volcanic hiking, and back up through Napier to Auckland. Renting a vehicle is your most flexible option for transport, then plan to stay in campgrounds or backpacker lodges.
Goodyear, Ariz.: On Feb. 2, 2008, my husband and I will begin a 14-day cruise from Auckland to Sydney, stopping at several New Zealand ports. My question: what can we expect of the weather, temperature and humidity wise. In the Arizona desert, temperatures of 70's and 80's mean evenings can get quite cool, requiring a light sweater. Should we expect the same in New Zealand, especially with higher humidity? Thank you.
Andrew Hempstead: Temperatures in New Zealand vary greatly from one end of the country to the other. In February, you should pack a light sweater regardless of where you are stopping. If the cruise is heading to the South Island and Milford Sound, something even warmer is required. More importantly, waterproof, breathable raingear is a must.
Ft. Collins, Colo.: Our 25-year-old son will be visiting NZ for about 6 months beginning in April. Other than a visa for a more than 3-month stay, are there any work permits or other requirements for employment?
Andrew Hempstead: All questions regarding visas and working in New Zealand are answered at: immigration.govt.nz.
Vancouver, Wash.: My husband and I are teachers in our 30's and this summer we are traveling around the Pacific for 8 weeks. Our second stop is Auckland from July 7th -12th. We enjoy the outdoors and adventure. We need suggestions on places to visit, things to do, where to eat and a place to stay. Considering we are traveling 8 weeks, we are trying to stay within a reasonable budget. No luxury resorts required. If you could help us out that would be great. —Jennifer
Andrew Hempstead: Jennifer, it's hard to recommend specific destinations without knowing your interests, but Rotorua and nearby Tongariro are two unique places near to Auckland.