Not taking biosecurity laws seriously
The first thing to know about Kiwis is this: they aren’t messing around when it comes to their biosecurity. They know their ecosystem is delicate, and they do their very best to protect it. And while foods and plants are obvious don’t-bring-ins, there are a heap of other items the NZ government deems risky too, including herbal medicines, hiking gear and diving equipment. Avoid a hefty fine and toss or declare them.
Not protecting your skin against sandflies
If there’s one word that makes every Kiwi shudder, it’s ‘sandflies’. They’re, to put it simply, the worst. Particularly those on South Island west coast. Because despite their seemingly innocent small size, they can leave bites that not only make you itch and swell, but also occasionally break out in hives. Some tips: cover up, wear insect repellent and don’t leave any car doors or windows open in sandfly-infested areas.
Only considering hotels and campgrounds
Sure, New Zealand has plenty of options for hotels, Airbnbs and campgrounds, but if you haven’t considered some of its less traditional overnight offerings too, you’re missing out. Because why stay in a plain ol’ hotel when you can stay instead in a luxury treehouse (Hapuku Treehouse), a cottage in the middle of a sheep farm (Shortlands Shed) or a tiny house made entirely of glass (PurePods)?
Trying to do and see too much
From Wellington, Waiheke and the glow-worm caves at Waitomo in the North Island to Milford Sound, Lake Wanaka and Queenstown in the South, there’s so much to see and do in New Zealand. But if you try to cram it all into one trip, you’ll risk losing out on experiencing a quintessential part of Kiwi culture, and that’s their knack for slowing down. Schedule in fewer stops, and you’ll give yourself more time to simply chill out.
Not striking up conversation with locals
On the slow down and live-in-the-now note, not engaging with locals is another mistake many visitors make. But a chat with a local can wind up being the best part of your trip. Kiwis are famously friendly, and for the most part, keen travellers themselves. They’ll no doubt have loads to share about their home country and will likely be curious about yours too.
Not anticipating the time on the road
Even if you’re seeing only one of the two islands, be prepared to drive a lot. The North Island is a 12-hour drive from top to bottom and the South Island 14 hours, which doesn’t sound like long distances, but actually is. Regardless of what’s in your itinerary, you’ll find yourself in a car much more than you’d think. Which, considering the scenery you’ll be passing, isn’t a bad thing. You’ll just want to be prepared for it.
Not being prepared for the driving
Which brings me to the next NZ faux-pas: not downloading apps to make those car trips that much easier. Maps.me is one. It’s a free app that lets you download maps when you’re in Wi-Fi to use when you’re offline. Because even if your phone works, you won’t want to be using it for data-chewing GPS. Pocket, which lets you read articles offline, Audible, which lets you download audiobooks and, of course, Spotify are other good apps to have too.
Not packing the right things
Similar to Melbourne, parts of New Zealand can experience all four seasons in one day. That coupled with the fact you’ll likely be visiting many of those different parts makes for a holiday with some wild, wild weather. Keep that in mind when packing and aim to bring clothes to suit all seasons and scenarios. Think bikinis in winter (hello, hot springs) and thermals in summer.
Not budgeting correctly
New Zealand is expensive. Though it can be done cheap — staying in a campervan or hostels, making all your own meals and skipping out on exxy activities — you’ll still wind up paying way more than you’d think. Petrol will add up. Pub meals when you’re tired of canned beans will too. And you’ll no doubt want to splurge on an at least one adrenaline activity or three. Because why would you come all the way to NZ and miss out?
Underestimating its beauty
And finally, the mistake I still made on my third trip over, and that’s forgetting how absolutely stunning and completely untouched New Zealand really is. It’s a country where you can drive for miles and not see a single other soul. Where every corner of it will make you pause and appreciate nature. And where you’ll feel far, far from anywhere else. Which is the exact point of a holiday, right?
– You haven’t seen NZ until you’ve done this
– Top adventures to do in NZ
HI! I AM DAVID BRAYZ!
I am a highly-skilled IT Specialist with over 12 years of experience in Web Design, Graphic Design, Web Blogging & ITL Management.