New Zealand is one of my absolute favourite places, it’s so unique, diverse and interesting – and the landscapes are probably the most beautiful in the world (in my opinion!). Before we visited, because it was such a long way to travel, I was doing tons of research to make sure we were prepared and would have everything we needed.

I figured it’d be good to write about a few things you definitely want to know before heading there, if you have a holiday to New Zealand planned!

It’s FAR away and JETLAG is real

The biggest shock when travelling to New Zealand, was realising just how far it is. Your body will feel a bit ‘muddled’ when you first land, and it may take a few days to adjust to your new timezone. The timezone is literally the opposite to the UK (if it’s 9am here, it’s 9pm there) so you’re whole routine flips. Before we jumped into the adventure of road trips, we made sure we had a couple of nights in a really comfortable hotel where we could just take it easy and recover from the jetlag. I can’t recommend this enough.

The North and South Islands have different climates

The North and South islands might not look too far apart, but the climates and temperatures do really differ. If you’re visiting in winter, then the temperature will be much milder in the North islands, but more ‘ski resort’ vibes in the South. If you’re visiting in the summer, then expect fresher temperatures in the South (maybe still a bit chilly at times) and more tropical heat (humidity) in the North.

(mountains in the south) 

(beaches in the north)

Remember if you’re planning to visit a lot of the country, you might need to be packing for multiple temperatures and different weather conditions! So pack smart!

Drive don’t Fly

If you’re planning on exploring lots of the country and visiting both islands, I’d recommend driving between locations (not flying). Flying is quicker (so if time is against you, then maybe it’s the better option) – but driving is SO much more scenic and you’ll get to see so many more landscapes. We stumbled across mountains and lakes we hadn’t even planned on visiting when we were driving – and some of them turned out to be my favourite locations.

The time of year will matter, as New Zealand has distinct seasons

The weather and activities you can do in New Zealand will vary depending on the time of year you visit. This is a good rough guide to go on:

  • Summer – December, January, February
    • Peak season, perfect time for adventure, hiking, scenic drives, picking fruit, wine tasting, beach activities, kayaking.
  • Autumn – March, April, May
    • Mild temperatures, good for summer activities (but for those who aren’t keen on hot weather). Weather might be more unpredictable but still good for hiking, picnics, kayaking, etc.
  • Winter – June, July, August
    • Skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities.
  • Spring – September, October, November
    • Day tours, sight seeing, hiking, kayaking.

You sunburn easier

Apparently, the ozone layer in New Zealand isn’t as thick as in other areas of the world – which means that you catch the sun easier. I always thought this was a load of crap, until we visited and I discovered just how quickly you burn and tan. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’re using sun protection and SPF. Just a little thing, but getting burnt can ruin a holiday – so just a heads up!