So as Summer attempts to burst forth through our mottled cloudy UK skies. It has me thinking about winter in New Zealand. Odd I know, but this is the season I like the best in the land of the long white cloud and ski season has just kicked off, for those of you who love that powdery white stuff. It brought to mind the benefits of visiting NZ during our summer months/their winter time.
Also from April 2015, the UK is going to be cutting Air Passenger Duty on long haul flights, which will work out to around £26 per person. Not enough to seriously save you some costs on long haul travel but as the saying goes, “Every little helps!” when travelling to NZ.
The UK is New Zealand’s 4th largest visitor but there are moments as you travel around the country, when you wouldn’t think there is anyone else visiting. There are stretches of beaches you can have completely to yourself, mountain roads which turn and twist-driving you higher into a low hanging mist and forest walks, where you can uncover hidden waterfalls and clear blue pools filled with fish.
So, all this had me thinking – what is the best way to visit NZ.
- is it to build a bespoke holiday independently.
- Is it best to get in contact with a Travel Specialist like myself (who’ll do all the work for you for a small fee. (This is what is known as a relationship special)
- Or the third alternative would be to approach a Luxury travel company, such as:
I don’t know about you but I love research, trawling the web to find the best deals, prices, offers and accommodation available. Planning to me is an important ingredient in my travels but equally important is the freedom of being able to explore independently once landed.
So the first question to ask yourself is:
- What do I want to get from my visit?
I know when I first landed in New Zealand, it was the ease of accessible walks which grabbed my interest. Pinpointed and signposted. We could travel, stop at a location spend some time exploring the area before moving on to our next destination or activity. As we were on a self drive holiday, these walks broke up the day not just for us but the kids. They are essential when travelling long distances.
E.G. In Queenstown, we were able to combine a stay at Shotover Holiday Park – to keep the cost down. Slightly cheaper than accommodation in the centre and located around seven minutes outside of Queenstown itself and offering the most amazing scenic backdrop and drive across the Shotover River. Here you can indulge in some river rafting. The adrenalin rush of riding the Shotover jet boat – as long as all members of the family are over 1 metre, then all can join in.
You can stay here as a family of four, for approximately $414 or £222. The accommodation was of good quality, compact and suitable for our needs. At the time it had a trampoline – which the kids loved even in the snow and a launderette which I loved with the same enthusiasm!
2. How long do I want or can afford to stay?
The Kiwi dollar stands today at $1.873 to the £1 (Post office online) or at Asda online $1.8805. I’ve found Asda to be very good value so far and you can order online and pick up in store where there is a travel money counter.
As most holidays to NZ last anything between 8 days, rising to over 22. New Zealand Tourism statistics show, that the age groups travelling the most to this destination are 25-34 and an increasingly large number of travellers are in the 45 to 65+ age bracket. Getting old doesn’t necessarily have to equal becoming sedentary in England anymore. The number of visitors drops hugely for Wales and Scotland.
3. Which Airline should I use?
I’ve discovered on my research that Air New Zealand, can be more expensive than other carriers. My preference, if the flights are of good value, is always to fly with British Airways or Qantas. They have given us consistently excellent cabin service every time we have flown. As I’ve never flown Air New Zealand, I can’t say if this would surpass the others. This does not mean that I wouldn’t use another carrier, if the prices were cheaper. It would have to be a balance of leg room, customer service and cost.
4. Should I stay in one place or travel around?
As New Zealand is a small country – I would suggest deciding on a visit to one or the other of the islands, depending on the kind of stay you’d like to have. The mountains are never far from the sea, where ever you are. The South Island for me, was glorious – my mind finally found the space it needed. The scenery was stunning. As it was winter time on this visit and in the Kiwi school term, on weekdays it meant nowhere was crowded. At stunning locations like the Milford Sound in the Fjordland National Park, this meant fewer visitors, resulting in a more intimate visit.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the north island – explore the Maori culture. Try out a spot of mountain biking across the Tongariro National Park on the mountain to sea trail. Enjoy the slighter warmer weather and indulge in a more rigorous examination of its geothermal activity.
5. Should I book my Car hire before I leave or when I get there?
I would say, it depends on the amount of time you had. On landing at Queenstown airport, we rocked up to the car hire booths checking out what was on offer and what the prices were and finally went with a smaller independent firm. I would say – get the best you can afford, as some of the older cars do not perform as well on the mountainous roads. You need a car with some oomph behind it. Ask lots of questions to find out if there are any hidden extras.
On our recent visit to Ibiza, Vince and I booked our hire care via Norwegian Air – our flight carrier. This worked out cheaper than booking it ourselves.
One thing I have noticed since the beginning of the internet, when I would always book independently as it was cheaper – now there are some really good deals to be had through the travel companies. Again, it all takes time and if you prefer to just pay that little bit extra to have someone else do the work for you. Then you can sit back and look forward to the tailor made or pre-shaped itinerary booked for you.
One final reminder: Budget for those items on your BucketList (Check out my daughter’s. She’s already ticked off a few and it might give you some inspiration!)
From Skydiving to bungy jumping – scuba diving to snowboarding. New Zealand has it all. This is where getting your fingers wet on the web, researching the opportunities and costs can pay off, or alternatively just wait till you’re there. Winter time – You’re sure to find a space.