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New Zealand Travel Tips

5.0 stars

Insider advice for your New Zealand vacation


Along
Caravan Parking at Farms
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Hi,

Does anyone know about farms stay that allow caravan parking at their property?

Thanks
Alon


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livalittle
Escape to NZ in a Campervan! 5 stars
“Look, Mom, the freedom to sleep around!”

Perhaps not the best way to start a three-week vacation in New Zealand with your mother, but the catchy slogan for Escape Rentals bypassed the traffic signals between my brain and my mouth. Fortunately, my mom was keen for an adventure, and the idea of living out of a campervan decorated with hearts and peace signs and going by the name of “Woodstock” didn’t have her looking for the first shuttle back to the Auckland airport.

Our Escape van came with everything we needed to survive on the road and then some; stove, sink, cooler, double bed, linens, foldable chairs for relaxing on the beach, dishes and cutlery, a bedside lamp and endless add-ons ranging from picnic table to solar shower. Each of the company’s 250 vans has its own unique paint job, decorated at the whim of local artists and giving my mom and me a unique sidekick to feature in snapshots for our family and friends back home. We filled up with petrol, stopped by a Pak N Save, and hit the open road for our tiki tour around New Zealand.

Over the next three weeks, our campervan became a surrogate member of our family. It made friends for us, drawing stares from and then sparking conversations with the locals and fellow travellers, as well as drawing waves and toots on the horn whenever another Escape van passed us going the other way. It opened doors to unique travel experiences, allowing us to sleep just past the sand at Hot Water Beach so we could dig our own spas in the sand, cook dinner and roll into bed, then roll out in the morning and do it all over again. When we’d had enough driving for the day but hadn’t yet reached Kaikoura, or decided on the spur of the moment to cook dinner by Tahunanui beach, no problem – just pull over and you’re home. With public restrooms and campervan parks all over the country, any conveniences we couldn’t carry with us were never too far away – and Woodstock always got us there safe and sound and in style, no less.

I hadn’t seen my mother in over a year when we climbed in and buckled up in our Love Bus on Day 1 of our trip, but the campervan took care of that, too. There is no better way to get to know – and love and fight with – someone than to share the confined space of a Toyota Hiace with them for as long as you dare. My mom’s snoring and tendency to leave wet swim togs on our bed cushions drove me nuts, but mother-daughter pillow talk while listening to the rain on the roof or eyeing the shock spring snowstorm we woke up to in Te Anau, as well as having her make breakfast at the back and deliver it two feet to my bed more than made up for any discomforts.

The best moments of our vacation involved that campervan, and every time I look at the picture of my mom leaning on Woodstock and flashing the peace sign in front of the massive kiwi sculpture in Te Puke I’ll remember our three weeks of “peace, love & kiwis!” and smile.

Escape Rentals
www.escaperentals.co.nz
From NZ: 0800 21 61 71
From Australia 1800 456 272
International: 64 21 2888 372

bookings@escaperentals.co.nz

Escape Rentals Limited
P.O.Box 1573
Shortland Street,
Auckland


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Timsaunders
Getting There Is Half The Fun 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
It was raining in Fiordland, and Pubdy was taking a leak at the side of the road. Cars planed through the inch of water that had already collected on the bitumen, their headlights cutting beams of yellow through the mist like light sabres.
"They were all trying to catch a glimpse," said Pubdy as he clambered back into the car, water dribbling down his shoulders and soaking into the interior of the car.
We were in Fiordland National Park, a green and moist paradise at the bottom of New Zealand's South Island.
"They'd have to be a lot closer than that to see anything," I replied.
We were on our way to do the Milford Track, voted as one of the best walking tracks in the world by people who spend their time voting for things like that.
This is a short account of our journey. I hope it doesn't offend anyone. Pubdy just said that he hopes it does.


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Timsaunders
Nelson Beach 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The beach at Nelson stretches on to infinity. It is long and sandy, flat and hard, and the clear sea kisses the shore with light waves. It is, without a doubt, what I would call a perfect beach. The sun beats down with a regularity that makes the location perfect for sunbathing. To roll out a towel and feel the sun wash over over your skin without the protection of an Ozone layer is... well, all I can advise is to wear sunscreen. But the water is safe for swimming, and the beach is great for walking. On most days you will also be entertained by the kite surfers who pull off stunning aerobatics just off shore.
Nelson really does have it all - walks, parks, gardens, and a healthy arts scene. But it is the glorious weather that will keep me going back there...
Kia Ora.


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Timsaunders
The Art Culture In Nelson 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, Nelson is world renown for having a vibrant arts scene. A walk around the city will take you past art galleries both large and small, and I guarantee you will find something of interest. Glass-blowing is especially good in the region, and about six kilometres out of town you will find Höglund Art Glass, which in my opinion is the best of the bunch. The gallery and shop are exceptional, and there is also the opportunity to go on guided tours to watch the craftspeople at work.
Around the city you will also find workshops creating and selling ceramics, paintings, and more avant-garde works.


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Timsaunders
Christ Church Cathedral 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Not to be confused with Christchurch Cathedral in the city of Christchurch, Christ Church Cathedral lies at the top of Nelson's main street, Trafalgar Street. It is a tall monument to the Christian settlers of the city, and is the third church to be built on the site formerly occupied by a Maori village.
The stone steps that lead up to the church are my favourite spot in the city to sit and enjoy the endless sunshine. There is nothing quite like sipping a cold drink while watching the toing and froing along the main street.
Information panels are set up around the church to explain the site's history, and green trees hang lazily over the scene, their lush green leaves providing a respite from the relentless southern sun.


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Timsaunders
Nelson City, New Zealand 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Aotearoa is the name given to New Zealand by the native Maori people, a title which means "Land of the Long White Cloud". The reason for this is that when Kupe arrived in the first canoe, the entire country lay shrouded under cloud. And there are times, even today, when you feel the same cloud still lingers. A ridge of mountains that runs up the country like a backbone creates some atrocious weather at times, with the West Coast of the South Island attracting some of the highest rainfall levels in the world.
But there are also places where the sun seems to shine unceasingly. And one of my favourite places to catch the rays of the southern sun is Nelson, a city of 44,000 people situated at the top of the South Island.
Nelson was actually the second settlement officially developed by the New Zealand Company, the group of settlers charged with expanding European settlement in the country. Established in 1842, the township struggled for many years before finally getting a grip as a populated area.
As well as the glorious weather, the other reason I enjoy Nelson is the fact that it is a centre for artists, and there are many galleries and shops that prove this.
I will now try to guide you through some of my favourite places in Nelson.


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Timsaunders
Trafalgar Street 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Trafalgar Street is the main shopping street in Nelson, and it is here you will find some of the bigger art galleries, as well as a jumble of shops. The street is also extremely busy, with car parking along the length of it, and a steady stream of cars rushing from one place to another. Unfortunately, Nelson has also attracted a culture of "boy racers", teenagers with nothing better to do than drive their extremely loud cars up and down, past the people who are eating at the roadside cafes.
At the south end of Trafalgar Street is Fairfield Park, which includes a cemetery of early settlers. Spending some time reading the headstones is a great way to learn more about the people who built the city.


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Timsaunders
Queens Gardens 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Although I love to wander the wooded parkland of ANZAC Park and climb its impressive hill, I think the best and most beautiful garden in Nelson is the Queens Gardens. The flower beds are the perfect place to go for a stroll when the hot summer sun is burning down through the hole in the ozone layer, and the trees offer a blessed relief from the heat, their dappled shadows creating natural works of art on the frashly cut grass.
Connected to the gardens is Albion Square, which used to be the centre of Nelson regional politics. A series of restored buildings and relics create a quaint walk through the city's past.


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Timsaunders
ANZAC Park 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
ANZAC Park is dedicated to the soldiers who fought for Australia and New Zealand in World War 1, especially those who died in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. It is a beautiful park, and the hill at the centre provides a good lookout over the city. The tracks to the summit are well graded and not too steep.
As well as its military connections, the park also has a significant local history, and this is spelled out on an information board at the park entrance. It was originally the site of a small Maori village, and the Maoris who lived there used to sell vegetables to the early European settlers. New Zealand's first railway line also ran through the park. A war memorial is held at the park on April 25 every year.


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Timsaunders
The Centre Of New Zealand! 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
As I reclined casually in the hammock outside my backpackers, I overheard some unwashed travellers eagerly chirping on about a walk they had just completed to the geographical centre of New Zealand. It was a challenge I couldn't ignore, and the next day I set off like Livingstone.
The walk began at the Botanical Reserve on Milton Street - which is, incidentally, where the country's first rugby game was played and has now become a Mecca of sorts for rugby nuts. It is a steep walk, always climbing upwards through bush and then grassland. The track is well maintained, and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and the walk takes about 30 minutes.
There are good information panels along the way, telling you the history of the area, and the view from the top is marvelous, with the city and harbour spread out at your feet.
I opted for a slightly different track down that took me past some clear streams that were suitable for swimming, and delivered me back to the Information centre in town.


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Timsaunders
Nelson Markets 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A wander down Montgomery Street during the weekend is a vibrant and colourful affair. Music fills the air as buskers compete with stereos, and stores fill the car park to bursting capacity. Singers strum guitars, mimes bring delight to the faces of childrens, and dancers weave in and out of the crowd.
There is an unparalleled array of crafts on offer, mostly of organic origin. Foods such as homemade cheeses, jams, and freash fish are the most popular items, although you can also pick up a wide range of art, crafts, and plants.
But make sure you get there early, otherwise the good stuff is snapped up by eager buyers.


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Timsaunders
The Suter Art Gallery 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
For fine New Zealand paintings, you cannot go past the Suter Art Gallery on Bridge Street. I fell in love with this place.
The gallery was opened in 1899, making it one of the oldest galleries in the country, and is named after a bishop who lived in the city around that time. Bishop Suter was also an art collector, and his collection of paintings - including works by John Gully - is the centrepiece of the gallery.
Some of New Zealand's most important artists have their works on display in the Suter Gallery, including Colin McCahon, Tosswill Woolaston, and Jane Evans.
The gallery is open from 10:30am til 4:30pm every day, and entry is $3 adults and $1 children.


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Timsaunders
An Eternal Conundrum Of Food 5 stars
When travelling in New Zealand, there is a deep philosophical question many people try to answer. It is a question that has been around for all time (well, since the 1970s, anyway). Many people have followed meaningful quests in the search of an answer, often discovering a path to inner peace on the way.
The question is: Marmite or Vegemite - which tastes better?
For those of you who have yet to experience the delectable delights of Vegemite and Marmite, both are spreads designed to go on bread and toast. They are both delicacies in New Zealand, although Marmite is actually English and Vegemite is actually Australian. Both are black in appearance, and look to have the consistancy of the sort of grease that is best smeared on farm equipment. Both have a strangely salty, sharp taste that is unique. However, if you were to try the two together, their tastes are very similar.
Both can be mixed with lettuce sandwiches and used in cooking stirfries, and are vegetarian friendly and high in Vitamin B.
If ever you find yourself down in the southern land of New Zealand, I urge you to take a spiritual moment to discover the truth for yourself.


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Timsaunders
Danger Danger Danger... Sandflies!! 5 stars
The New Zealand sandfly is the size of a small truck... well, that's what it feels like, anyway! Sandflies are actually about the size of the ball in a ball point pen, but they can cause untold discomfort.
Sandflies are found mostly along the West Coast of the South Island, especially around Milford Sound and Fiordland. Thankfully they only come out during the day... although the night is the domain of mosquitos...
Sandflies are biting insects that suck blood and leave their victims with horrible, itching, red whelts. I have seen many people (I used to take people on tours on the West Coast) have extremely bad allergic reactions to the bites, and their wounds would fester in huge, pus-filled sores.
For some reason, sandflies never really worried me too much, a fact that I put down to a diet high in vitamin B. Sandflies hate vitamin B, so if you are heading down to the West Coast, make sure you eat lots of Vegemite or Marmite (these are very famous bread spreads in New Zealand).
Most pharmacies stock insect repellent, but the best ones contain Deet (although you don't want to smother too much of this highly toxic chemical on your body). The pharmacy in Te Anau, near Milford Sound, has the best advice and products that I have found.


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Timsaunders
Telephones and Internet in New Zealand 5 stars
For a modern country, New Zealand does not really have a good telephone system. Phonelines are often disrupted by the crackle of interference and, in rural areas, the steady tick of electric fence units.
For this reason, internet connections can also be archaic in many regions, and getting a connection anywhere outside of the major cities can be slow and an adventure in itself. An international committee actually tried to look into the problem a few years ago, but couldn't get their computers to work when they got there...
Most public payphones in New Zealand take prepaid cards that can be purchased in many dairies and supermarkets (too bad if you need one in the middle of the night).
Cell phones have good coverage through most of the North Island with Vodafone and Telecom. However, many parts of the West Coast of the South Island have no service, and those that do only have service through Telecom.


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Timsaunders
Money And Banks In New Zealand 5 stars
The local currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar, and ask anyone in the country what it is worth on the world exchange and they will probably tell you "two snails and a kick up the...".
One New Zealand Dollar is divided into 100 cents, and the smallest coin that you can get is 10 cents. $1 and $2 are both coins, and the smallest note is $5. The biggest note is $100.
The main banks in New Zealand are the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), the ANZ, and Westpac, although there are several others. An interesting fact is that if you have a bank card for some German banks, you can withdrawl money from Westpac without paying any fees. You should check with your bank before you leave.
Cashing traveller's cheques in New Zealand can be a bit of a pain, with some banks now refusing to deal with them. BNZ is probably the easiest bank to cash traveller's cheques at.
Bank hours are usually 9:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Credit cards are acepted at most shops in New Zealand.


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Timsaunders
Air Travel In New Zealand 4 stars
The three main cities in New Zealand - Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch - are all linked by very good airlines, namely Air New Zealand and Qantas. Both offer very reasonably cheap flights, with little in the way of refreshments (probably because some executive somewhere read in an in-flight magazine that coffee and tea is bad for you, and he decided that he would do you a favour by not letting you have it).
Most of the smaller centres also have airports, and are serviced by one of Air New Zealand's off-shoots - Air Nelson, Mount Cook Line, and Eagle Air. Some of the airports that you land at can be pretty basic, such as the one at Westport, which is nothing more than a garden shed. Some of the airports are also a long way from the towns they service, and transport is a bit thin on the ground (again I cite Westport).
One good tip to remember is that if your flight passes through Christchurch, you will have to go through strict security controls. I don't know why, but the security offeicers there like to give people a hard time.
There is also a very good air service between Wellington and Picton on Sounds Air, which offers a good alternative to using the Inter Island ferry.


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Timsaunders
Travelling By Train In New Zealand 5 stars
The train system in New Zealand is not really all that good, which is probably why it is underutilised. Long distance trains are generally dirty and uncomfortable, and although commuter trains are not much better, at least people use them. The main line through the North Island from Auckland to Wellington (called the Overlander) was almost shut down in 2006, due to the fact nobody ever uses it. However, somewhat ironically, there was a huge public outcry and the line was saved.
Most major cities, as well as a number of provincial towns, are serviced by trains in New Zealand, and you can get good discount passes from booking offices which give unlimited travel for a week or for a month.
In my opinion, for scenery, the best trainlines are the TranzScenic, which runs between Picton and Christchurch, and the TranzAlpine, which runs between Christchurch and Greymouth.


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Timsaunders
Travelling By Bus In New Zealand 5 stars
There are several bus companies in New Zealand that can be used both for general travel and for country-wide tours.
For getting from city to city with no commentaries or frills, there are two main companies: InterCity Coachlines and Newmans Coach Lines. Between the two of them, these companies service every main town and many minor ones in the country. Both are good, although I must say that the InterCity bus I caught from Westport to Fox Glacier (on the West Coast of the South Island) was especially good, as the driver dropped every passenger off at their accommodation - not something that is generally found with Newmans buses.
For bus tours, the main companies are Kiwi Experience, Stray Travel, Magic Bus, and Flying Kiwi. The first two of these are recommended if you like partying all night and spending your days sleeping off a hangover. Magic Bus is slightly better, with more of an emphasis on activities. Flying Kiwi organizes camping tours, from 3 to 27 days around the country, and also supllies bikes for passengers to explore the countryside.


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