The Land of the Long White Cloud is one of Mother Nature's true triumphs. Featuring an organic blend of contemporary culture and tribal tradition, New Zealand’s wondrous wineries, cultured cities and phenomenal peaks will inspire your spirit and stir your soul.
New Zealand Tours & Travel
All our New Zealand trips
Articles on New Zealand
Travelled with Australasia’s leading tour operator?
Posted on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 by Sue Elliot
Intrepid Travel is thrilled to be nominated in the 21st annual World Travel Awards, in the category of Australasia’s Leading Tour Operator. If you’ve travelled with Intrepid, we would be [...]Read more
Natural thrill of New Zealand
Posted on Tue, 4 Sep 2012 by Sue Elliot
"I expected to be impressed with the scenery of New Zealand, but I was still taken aback by the beauty of Mt Cook..."Read more
New Zealand’s frozen wonderland
Posted on Thu, 8 Sep 2011 by Sue Elliot
Sally Everett explains why exploring this 12km (7.5 mile) long glacier is a very cool experience...Read more
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in New Zealand you may find yourself staying in a:
About New Zealand
At a glance
|Capital city:||Wellington (population 370,000)|
|Time zone:||(GMT+12:00) Auckland, Wellington|
|Electricity:||Type I (Australian/New Zealand & Chinese/Argentine 2/3-pin)|
Best time to visit New Zealand
The most pleasant time for travelling throughout New Zealand is summer (December to February); however, this is also the busiest period, especially during school holidays (late December to late January). Winter can get very cold with frequent snowfall - but this is the perfect time to travel if you’re looking to ski or snowboard, particularly in the South Island.
Culture and customs
Maori culture has its origins in Polynesia so some aspects of Maori language, customs and traditions are quite similar to those of neighbouring islands. With strong traditional values based on respect for the family, ancestors and the land, Maori culture is hierarchical and steeped in centuries of tradition. Maori families typically come together for special occasions, celebrations and ceremonies filled with sacred dance, spiritual song and traditional food. Visitors will see traditional Maori art and carving almost everywhere they go in New Zealand, from elaborate tattooing to carved necklaces. Although Maori culture experienced a decline after the arrival of European settlers, it experienced a renaissance of sorts in the 1960s, which continues to grow today.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways of experiencing a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
With award-winning wineries, cool bars, indulgent restaurants and a multitude of farmers' markets, eating in New Zealand is a real treat.
Things to try in New Zealand
1. Wine & Beer
Producing a huge variety of top quality wines, visitors will have fun visiting vineyards and cellar doors all around the country. But it’s not all about the wine in New Zealand - microbreweries are well represented too. So be sure to savour a boutique brew before you leave.
New Zealanders are spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood. Being an island nation has its advantages – fresh prawns, lobster, mussels and oysters are in abundance all year round. For those on a budget, fish and chips on the beach provide a seafood fix at an affordable price.
With sheep playing a huge part in New Zealand’s agricultural economy, it’s no wonder succulent lamb can be found in most restaurants. If you’re a meat lover, don’t leave New Zealand without tasting the lamb.
4. Kiwi Fruit
It comes as no surprise that New Zealand grows a lot of kiwifruit. Try it fresh from a market stall or fruiterer, cut up in fruit salad, in desserts like pavlova or even as a jam.
Even though the creator of this desert is hotly contested by their trans-Tasman cousins, the pavlova - a dessert with a meringue-like base and topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit - was the invention of a Wellington chef to honour Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova's tour of Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. A trip to New Zealand is not complete without indulging in a slice of this national icon.
Geography and environment
History and government
Maori tribes, descended from Polynesia, lived in New Zealand for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the 18th century. Relying on fishing, hunting and foraging, these people were able to live off the land and develop a deep connection with the earth as a result of this. European settlers caused wide-scale disruption and land loss for the Maoris, which resulted in conflict and displacement in the early days of colonisation. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi officially recognised Maori land ownership, of which the British and Maoris were signatories. This historic agreement is viewed as a pivotal moment in New Zealand’s history and the first important step towards reconciliation between the original inhabitants and settlers.
In 1852, New Zealand was granted the right to self-govern and in 1907, independence was granted (although the British monarchy remain as head of state). More recently, New Zealand voted in its first female prime minister in 1997. Jenny Shipley held office for two years, before handing over to another female leader - Helen Clarke, who continued to lead until 2008.
In the last ten years, New Zealand has enjoyed a surge in tourism, partly due to the wealth of wineries, ski fields and nature reserves. The film industry has also been a great champion of New Zealand, with filmmakers enjoying the rugged terrain and relatively cheap costs associated with filming in New Zealand. The Lord of the Rings franchise is probably the most well known film to be shot in New Zealand, and has been largely responsible for putting New Zealand in the international spotlight.
A devastating earthquake hit Christchurch in 2011, resulting in widespread loss of life and infrastructure. Although Christchurch is still rebuilding, visitors are encouraged to visit this spirited city.
Top 10 Wine Regions of New Zealand
New Zealand’s wine capital produces top quality chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris but it’s the sauvignon blanc that has achieved cult status around the world. Also producing first-class seafood and olive oil, Marlborough is a fave with foodies and wine lovers.
With the ideal climate for grape growing, Canterbury produces many internationally acclaimed wine varieties, including pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and Riesling. Pegasus Bay Winery is one of the most popular in this area, and with a restaurant attached to the winery visitors can indulge in the complete culinary experience.
3. Bay of Plenty
This picturesque area may be well known for its pristine beaches, but it’s also got a few small wineries well worth visiting. Surrounding berry farms, orchards and lavender fields add to the charm.
There are many boutique wineries creating note-worthy drops in and around Auckland. Kumeu, Henderson and Waiheke Island are hotspots for wine tourism – with awarded wines coming from many small, up-and-coming estates.
5. Central Otago
Spectacular mountain ranges, azure lakes and rolling rivers combine to create one of the world's most scenic wine regions. The vineyards of Central Otago produce a wide range of grapes, but the pinot noir is considered the best.
Way up north, the vineyards populating the historic Northland area produce a wide range of reds and whites. From iconic chardonnay to the more complex chambourcin and exotic syrah, there are loads of cellar doors waiting to welcome you.
7. Hawke’s Bay
New Zealand’s oldest wine growing region also produces most of New Zealand’s most sustainable wines. This commitment to sustainability in the industry has garnered worldwide attention, as has its bold, full-bodied reds. The Art Deco town of Napier is well worth a visit too.
If you like your wines a little fruity then the Gisborne region will impress. Merlot, gewurztraminer, syrah and chardonnay are among the best on offer in this region, which is on the same parallel as Malaga and Melbourne.
Winemaking is considered an art form in cultured Nelson. With many unique producers in the region, it won’t be hard to find some smooth wines to savour. Local delis, cafes, providores and galleries add to the artistic, gastronomic mix.
This relatively small winemaking region is made up of three sub-regions: Martinborough, Masterton and Gladstone. Although only a small amount of New Zealand's wine is produced here, the quality is superb with a great track record in pumping out world-class pinot noir.
With a nice little mix of malls, boutiques, galleries, fresh produce markets, cellar doors and providores, New Zealand has enough variety to keep most keen shoppers happy. Look beyond the tourist shops selling stuffed toys and flags and dig a little deeper to find unique art, locally-made crafts and gourmet goods.
It’s a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in New Zealand
1. Tasty Treats
New Zealand is home to many producers of fine food. Home grown wine, olive oil, honey, jam and avocado oil are among the best picks.
With a huge sheep population, the quality and variety of wool is superb in New Zealand. From hand knitted jumpers (jerseys to the locals) to sheepskin rugs and top quality knitting yarn, it’s easy to find a warm and woolly souvenir
3. Art & Handicrafts
From ceramic bowls to metal sculptures, woodcarvings to greenstone jewellery, you'll find traditional Maori techniques and influences in many of New Zealand’s art and crafts. Try to find authentic, locally made items rather than imported (and inferior!) goods.
Festivals and Events in New Zealand
This national public holiday celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Featuring Maori ceremonies, public entertainment and a diverse range of food, Waitangi Day is a celebration for all New Zealanders regardless of cultural background.
World Buskers Festival
Hundreds of the world’s best buskers and street performers head to New Zealand each year to juggle, dance, mime, sing and contort in the streets and parks of Christchurch. After the devastating earthquake of 2011, Christchurch is in rebuilding mode - but the festival is still going ahead in 2012. The best thing about this festival? It’s free!
FAQs on New Zealand
Jug of beer = 12 NZD
Lunch at a cafe = 10-15 NZD
Dinner at a restaurant = 30 NZD
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Feb 6 Waitangi Day
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
Apr 25 ANZAC Day
Jun 3 Queen’s Birthday
Oct 28 Labour Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/new-zealand/public-holidays
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
For the most up to date information on visa requirements, we recommend you contact the New Zealand embassy in your country or visit http://www.immigration.govt.nz
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
New Zealand Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for New Zealand
1. Be considerate of New Zealand’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
5. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
6. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
7. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
8. Refuse plastic and choose to bring your own reusable shopping bag.
|The Bone People||Keri Hulme|
|Whale Rider||Witi Ihimaera|
|The Colour: A Novel||Rose Tremain|
|Going West||Maurice Gee|
|Dogside Story||Patricia Grace|