New Zealand is considered one of the most scenic places on Earth. It consists of two main islands -North Island and South Island. Both of them are characterised by unique beauty and a myriad of tourist highlights.
Cosmopolitan towns, M?ori traditions, and volcanic hills are everything that you can expect from a trip to New Zealand’s North Island. It is a patchwork of beautiful topography where forests, beaches, and mountain tops combine to create unique and scenic landscapes. It is here that you will experience the deepest immersion in the M?ori culture and hear M?ori language most often. It would be a pity to limit yourself to New Zealand’s southern recesses when its northern part is such a treasure trove of highlights!
The main way of moving between the cities is a bus system. It is the most affordable means of transport in New Zealand. Backpackers love the hop-on hop-off buses that are available on the islands; however, when it comes to travellers seeking greater reliability and more organised trips, a rental car will be the best travel option. There is a plethora of car rental companies located in the capital and at international airports.
New Zealand’s North Island offers a plethora of unique attractions. For beautiful views and towering cliffs travel to Cape Reinga located at the very tip of the island. It is here that the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Its main highlight is a beautiful lighthouse that is located against a dramatic panorama. At a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Ninety Mile Beach which is a perfect spot to admire stunning sunsets. The strand is almost 88 km long and is a paradise for nature lovers.
If you are searching for quiet spaces, travel to Matakana. It is a tranquil settlement dwelt by farmers. Here, you’ll get fresh local products and regional specialties. To top that up, Matakana can also boast scenic beaches and vineyards dotting the landscape surrounding the village.
Let’s not forget about the country’s capital, Auckland. This vibrant city is full of great museums, cultural venues, and top-rated dining spots. Among the most exciting attractions, you’ll find Auckland Museum, One Tree Hill, Auckland Art Gallery, and Mt Eden.
For travellers who love a rush of adrenaline Sky Tower is the place to visit. It is the tallest edifice of the southern hemisphere with an observation deck located at an altitude of 328 metres. There’s a possibility to try out the Sky Jump and Sky Walk, considered the biggest local attraction.
Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? You should travel to Hobbiton located in Matamata. It is visited by thousands of tourists on an annual basis. There are plenty of thematic tours and exhibits available on site.
The Waitomo Caves are another top-notch attraction. It is a cave complex and home to Arachnocampa Luminosa which is unique to New Zealand. What’s more, the more adventurous travellers will probably be eager to try water rafting inside the cave.
New Zealand’s South Island is all about breathtaking panoramas and natural jewels. All of that is best to be experienced in one of the country’s natural reserves. Travel to Marlborough Sounds located at the northern end of the island. It is home to thousands of bird, animal, and marine species, including a rare species of king shag. Take a boat and admire the beautiful dolphins swimming in the nearby waters.
The lovers of outdoor activities should travel to the Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. It encompasses sandy coves, arid hills, and green plateaus. It offers a wide choice of options for the lovers of active holidays. These include white-water rafting, sailing, horse trekking, and rock climbing to name a few.
For unforgettable landscapes, it’s best to opt for West Coast with dramatic glaciers, rugged mountain summits, and deep forests. It is one of the only two areas in the world where glaciers give way to a lush jungle.
New Zealand follows left-hand traffic which might cause a problem for European travellers as well as rookie drivers. However, at least the road signs system resembles European standards. Remember that yellow lines on the road indicate that it’s too dangerous to overtake.
The minimum driving age is 16.5; however, the minimum driving age if you want to rent a vehicle is 21. Unfortunately, some car rental companies tend to apply extra charges in case of young drivers. What’s more, if you are older than 70, you may face problems with renting a car in New Zealand.
Interestingly, you are allowed to use speed camera detection equipment and no fees or penalties will be applied if police officers spot such a device in your car.
If you are travelling with children who are younger than 15 years of age, you should take care of their safety and make sure that they are travelling in a special child seat or child restraint. Children under 12 years of age can travel in the front seat, but only if secured by a suitable restraint system.
The documents that you should carry while travelling around the islands are: driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit, certificate of insurance, vehicle registration document, and vehicle technical inspection certificate.
If you are caught without your seatbelts on, you’ll have to face high penalties. Police officers can apply fines that are as high as NZ $150. New Zealand is also extremely strict when it comes to drinking and driving. The blood alcohol level cannot exceed 50 mg per 100 ml of blood. Thus, it’s better to avoid drinking before your trip as even a small amount can take you way beyond the limit. Drivers who are younger than 20 years of age can’t have any alcohol in their bloodstream. It is also illegal to drive and use a mobile phone so equip yourself with a hands-free set.
All motorists must follow speed limits that are indicated on road signs. Outside built-up areas, you can drive at a speed of 100 km/h. When it comes to built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h. Your speed should be also dependent on the weather conditions. Some roads can be located in a limited speed zone so you need to adjust your driving to the limits indicated for a given road section.
In New Zealand, speed cameras are placed immediately after the road sections where speed limits apply. There’re also plenty of mobile speed traps located in vans parked at one of the road sides. Stay extra cautious and follow the speed limits to avoid any unpleasant situations.