Guide for Newbie Travelers

If you are planning your first trip to Bay of Islands, New Zealand, there are a few things you should know before you go:

1) If this is your first time visiting an exotic location like Bay of Islands, New Zealand be aware that souvenirs may cost more than what they would back home. The reason for this is because many countries use their currency as their form of payment which means that when tourists leave they will have less money than what they started with. 

2) New Zealand has extensive hours of daylight. During the summer months some days can last 24 hours long while during winter months they can last around 15 to 16 hours. Be sure you are aware of what time your flight arrives and departs so you don’t get stuck waiting for 10 or 11 am when stores, restaurants, etc. may not be open.

3) New Zealand has a temperate climate and experiences four seasons: summer (December – February), autumn (March- May), winter (June – August), and spring (September – November). The best time to visit Bay of Islands, New Zealand is during the summer months when you can experience their “Summer Solstice” which is when the days start to get longer and you can experience the “magic hour” before sunset.

4) Travelers should be aware that there are not many tall buildings. There are more tall trees than tall buildings so if you don’t like using stairs or taking the elevator, you will have to get used to either of those things.

5) Remember that cell phones will not work so if you need to call someone try to find a payphone or hotel room. Hotels may have phone lines for use in your room, but these are usually an additional charge.

6) Also remember that internet access is not as readily available as it would be at home so if you want to stay connected then consider purchasing an international data plan before you leave.

7) If you are thinking of traveling to Bay of Islands, New Zealand during the winter season be aware that day time temperatures could drop down to 55 degrees Fahrenheit so keep your sweater, scarf, etc. nearby should you get cold.

8) Because New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, summer months will have summer solstice, winter months will have summer solstice, etc. The best time to visit Bay of Islands, New Zealand is during the summer months when you can experience their “Summer Solstice” which is when the days start to get longer and you can experience the “magic hour” before sunset.

9) Since this is an island country there are not many places you can go to that are landlocked. If you plan on heading out of town make sure you have reservations set up ahead of time because if the weather is bad it will fill up fast.

10) Tourism has become widely popular in New Zealand so make sure to bring extra cash with you because if something catches your eye, it may be hard to say no.

11) Be aware of the local customs and traditions before you go so you can avoid making a fool of yourself. In New Zealand, people exchange greetings by shaking hands or leis instead of hugs or kisses. If you are going to ask for something in public do it with your right hand because that is the polite and respectful way.

12) If you are going to take photos of New Zealanders ask if it is okay first, especially if they are in certain spaces like museums or temples.  They may want you to pay for using their picture but this also depends on what city you’re in because some areas will not allow pictures while others will charge $1 per photo.

13) If you’re planning to go hiking, biking, or camping at any of the national parks be sure to bring with you water purification tablets because even though they have great drinking water, it will not eliminate anything harmful in your system.  If you don’t bring these with you then ask for the purified water at the desk of your hotel.

14) New Zealand is known for its great food so if you are planning to try out some local dishes be sure to eat everything, even the things that look unappetizing because there will be times when you find yourself thinking “this can’t be good” but it’ll turn out to be great.  Their food is known for having a strong taste so if you are not used to that kind of thing then try your best to at least nibble on it or take some home with you as a souvenir.  Also, they have boiled eggs that are available all over the place including supermarkets and convenience stores but make sure you eat them within 24 hours of purchase.

15) If you are planning on purchasing some souvenirs be sure to look around because local retailers will have their own unique items at a better price than what you can find online.

16) They also offer events for people who do not normally shop so if you plan on going to one of these events make sure you are aware of the time restrictions because some events will let you stay until 10 or 11pm while others will close at 9pm.

17) If you are thinking about staying for an extended amount of time, there are other ways to get around New Zealand besides renting a car.  You can rent out scooters or bicycles at a lower cost than what you would have to pay when renting out a car so keep this in mind when planning ahead.

18) If you are thinking of going on a longer trip then be sure that you’ve researched your routes and destinations thoroughly because some roads will not have bus stops beside it meaning that there is no public transportation available there.

19) If you are going to be there during any major holidays like Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s don’t expect it to look like the same holiday or celebration that you know of because there is a very good chance they will celebrate their own.

20) Be aware that if you decide to head out on your own without consulting with the natives then you may find yourself traveling in some areas that can be unsafe especially if it’s at night.  It’s best to hire a local guide for your travels so they can direct you on where you should and shouldn’t go.

If you are looking for a vacation spot that is exotic and has plenty of things to do, New Zealand may be the place for you. From hiking to biking or even camping in one of their state parks, there’s something for everyone in this country.

I hope this blog has been helpful and have fun traveling!