Summary of content of this post
You’re thinking of organizing a trip to New Zealand on your own but you have no idea where to start? Don’t worry! That’s what we’re here for. In this post we are going to tell you absolutely EVERYTHING you need to know to prepare the perfect trip to New Zealand without dying in the attempt: visas, necessary documentation, where to rent the camper, where to sleep with it…
So here we are going to collect all the useful and necessary information to organize a trip to New Zealand by caravan/camper/car on your own. If you are thinking of travelling to New Zealand, be sure to check out our COMPLETE GUIDE TO NEW ZEALAND.
NEW ZEALAND GUIDE
Because it is true that preparing a trip of this magnitude is a super challenge and we want to make it MUCH easier for you 😉 And really, it may seem like a world when you start, but you’ll see how as we move forward you’ll realize that it’s a piece of cake.
And also, at the end we will leave you our travel template for New Zealand, in case you want to use it too. We are sure that it will help you plan everything much better and… it’s FREE!
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💰 Organize a trip to New Zealand: budget
Normally when we write this type of organizational post we don’t include this section, but in the case of New Zealand, we thought it was important.
Because New Zealand is an expensive trip, and you have to be clear about that before you start organizing so you don’t get any surprises when it’s already late. We did a 21-day camper route and spent about 4,600 euros per person.
You have to bear in mind that organizing a trip to New Zealand is quite expensive
It’s true that we flew with only one stopover (something that made the flights quite expensive), but still, it’s an expensive trip.
🗓️ Organising a trip to New Zealand: how many days do I need?
Our advice is to book at least 3 weeks for this trip. With less time, you’ll be halfway across both islands.
We think the ideal time would be between 4 and 5 weeks, but as we know that is only within the reach of a lucky few, you will need at least one week for the North Island and 2 for the South Island.
To organize a trip to New Zealand you need at least 3 weeks
Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time travelling because although they are in good condition, most of them are secondary roads and the journeys are not fast.
✈️ Organising a trip to New Zealand: the flights
Before you start organizing a trip to New Zealand you have to be SUPER clear that flights will be one of the most important items in the travel budget.
You have to think that you are going to fly to the antipodes of Spain, so it is going to be difficult to find cheap flights.
And the only way to cut costs is to increase stopovers or travel outside the high season, which in the case of New Zealand is from December to February (their summer is our winter).
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: the flights
So the time you choose for your trip also has a very significant influence on the budget.
We fly in the mid-season (October-November, which for them is mid-spring) and pay around 1,400 euros per person. But you have to keep in mind that we only made one stopover (in Dubai) and we flew with Emirates, which is one of the most expensive companies.
In our opinion, and taking into account Spain as a departure country which is where we travel from, a return flight to Auckland for less than 750-800 euros, can already be considered cheap.
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: our flight with Emirates
The normal price is between 900 and 1,100 euros, depending, as always, on stopovers, the time of year in which you travel, city of departure and arrival, etc.
It is important that you look at the flights well in advance, because then it will be much easier to find good prices.
In this post we tell you our tricks to find cheap flights, but in any case, the best trick we can give you, is that you COMPARE all you can, play with dates, with scales, with companies… We always do it in Skyscanner.
🏥 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: the travel insurance
If there is one thing we have learned while traveling, it is that trying to save on some aspects of your travel budget, such as health, can be very, very expensive. Healthcare in New Zealand is not particularly cheap, so I wouldn’t put it past you because you can ruin your holiday.
Organising a trip to New Zealand: it is important that you take out travel insurance
One thing we are very clear about after we have bought the plane tickets for a new trip is to take out our travel medical insurance. But not just any insurance. We hire the best and the cheapest. Because it will be complicated, if not impossible, to find an insurance with the same coverage as IATI at that price. (If you need more reasons why IATI is the best insurance to travel to New Zealand, we leave them here).
And we also have a 5% discount for Comiviajero readers:
Get the best travel insurance for New Zealand
So in addition to protection, you travel cheaply and also help us keep Comiviajeros alive 😉
*We put the insurance so above in this list of preparations to travel to New Zealand, because if you want to hire it with cancellation in case you have to cancel the trip for any reason, is the next thing you have to hire after buying the flights 😉
📄 Preparing for a trip to New Zealand: the necessary travel documents
Basically to travel to New Zealand and do a route by car or caravan you need three documents:
1. A valid passport with a validity of more than 6 months
This is quite common so if you are a regular traveler you will know that it is something super normal and that it is needed to travel to almost any country. It is the most common and also the easiest procedure of all.
Organize a trip to New Zealand: Passport
2. NZeta approved and printed
From summer 2019, to enter New Zealand you need a travel permit and they will ask for it if or when you check in at the airport. So… Print it!
The NZeta, which is what it is called, costs about 27 euros per person and you can order it here. It is not a visa as such, but a document very similar to the US ESTA, with which you also pay a retention fee.
Organize a trip to New Zealand: NZeta issued
If it has been less than two years since you travelled to New Zealand and you have the NZeta approved at that time, you do not need to make a new application as it is valid for two years.
3. International Driving License
If you are going to rent a car or a camper like us, remember that you will have to carry your international driving license because you will be asked for it at the rental office.
Don’t forget to bring your Spanish driver’s license either, because without it, the international one is worthless.
Organising a trip to New Zealand: international driving licence
We didn’t find any control, we just had to show it at the rental agency of the caravan, but obviously it is necessary that you take it.
🚍 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: renting the caravan or camper
It is important to keep in mind that a very large part of your budget will go towards renting the caravan or camper.
You have to be super clear about that before you go on this big adventure. In our case, a total of 2,319 euros, with all-risk insurance included for 22 full days.
It’s not cheap, but she thinks that we were carrying the accommodation on our backs and that thanks to Justina we were able to spend the night in really impressive places.
Organize a trip to New Zealand: Justina, our Jucy camper
If you saw our Instagram Stories from the trip to New Zealand you will know that we rented our camper with Jucy, but there are a lot of companies you can do it with: Britz, Road Runner Rentals, Mad Campers, Travellers Autobarn, Apollo Camper, Maui…
We chose Jucy because we wanted a camper (not a motorhome) that had a shower so we didn’t have to look for public showers or campsites. And we took the Jucy Chaser, which turned out to be a complete success.
Some tips related to the rental of the camper:
Gasoline. It’s important for you to know that campers consume a lot of gas. If you do a route like ours you’ll spend around 50 euros a day. We spend a total of just under 1,000 euros on gasoline alone.
Sure. The all-risk insurance will cost you quite a bit of money (350 euros in our case), but you can be sure that you will be safe, especially if it is your first time renting a camper.
Make sure that the jacket you want has everything you’re going to need. You’re going to invest a lot of money in the rent so it’s best not to get any surprises once you get there.
Compare and do the math. Does it pay to travel with a camper? Does it pay for the money you will spend or would it be better to rent a car and book hotels? We chose this option because it was what we wanted to do, but maybe the car + hotel option is cheaper.
Remember to check the ferry in advance if you’re crossing between islands
The inter-island ferry is quite expensive, about 300 euros if you take it round trip. There are two ferry companies: Bluebridge and Interislander. We used Bluebridge and it was great.
Organise a trip to New Zealand: Picton to Wellington
If you’re going to use it, it’s best to get it as far in advance as possible. Normally you will be asked for the registration number of the vehicle when you make the reservation, so our advice is to buy it the first day you have the camper in New Zealand.
In case you can travel with a slightly more open route than ours, take a look to see which days are cheaper.
🧳 Organize a trip to New Zealand: the suitcases/backpacks
One of the best tips we can give you if you are going to make a trip to New Zealand like ours is to take backpacks instead of suitcases.
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: the backpacks
Empty backpacks can be stored anywhere, but not so much.
In this video-post we already tell you how we made our backpacks, what we put in, what we did wrong, etc… But the most important thing is that you pack your suitcase with clothes that you can dress in layers like an onion.
🔌 Organising a trip to New Zealand: the outlets
Electricity in New Zealand uses a voltage of 230V and operates at a frequency of 50 Hz.
The type of plug used in New Zealand is the same as in Australia or Argentina, Type I. It’s like the American one but with the pins on a diagonal instead of straight.
We take our usual adapters with us (we buy them from Amazon). You can find them here and here.
💵 Preparing a trip to New Zealand: money and cards
The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar or NZD. Normally, for a one-way ticket, a New Zealand dollar is worth about 0.60 euros.
Just as you’ve looked ahead to airplane tickets, accommodation, and other activities, with money abroad you also have to be proactive. Before travelling to a destination where they do not pay with euros, we recommend that you pay attention to exchange rates so that you know when it is best to change currency to save more.
Organising a trip to New Zealand: the money
If you want to gain time, convenience and save on currency exchange, the best option for exchanging Euros to NZD is to buy currency online with Exact Change. The good thing is that they send you the money home (delivery is free if you exchange more than 500 euros), or if you prefer, you can pick it up at one of their exchange offices. If you’re thinking of making the change at your bank, think about it a couple of times, because they’re going to make a terrible change and charge you a commission as well.
If you are more of a card holder, we recommend that you use a specific card for travel, because they offer much better conditions than the normal ones at your bank. The ones we usually recommend, which are Bnext, Revolut and N26, work perfectly in New Zealand.
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⛅ Organising a trip to New Zealand: choosing the best time to travel
Something you have to be very clear about before organizing a trip to New Zealand is that being in the southern hemisphere, your summer is our winter and vice versa. That is, from June to September in New Zealand is winter and from December to March is summer.
Organising a trip to New Zealand: When is the best time to travel?
We travel between mid-October and mid-November and at that time of year (which is more or less the middle of spring) in the morning and at night it is cold, but usually during the day it is fine, between 14 and 18 degrees.
But let’s see what your options are:
High season (from December to February) As I mentioned above, this is the summer season in New Zealand so prices are higher and there are more tourists. The temperature is perfect for outdoor activities and hiking.
Medium season (March, April, September and October). These months coincide with New Zealand’s autumn and spring and are in our opinion the best months to travel. You will find fewer tourists and without being too hot, you will generally have a good temperature. In the higher areas you are very likely to find snow.
Low season (from May to August) At this time it is cold all over the country and you will find snow in many places especially between mid-June and August. If you’re going on a trip like ours, maybe this time of year is too cold to sleep and shower in the camper.
As always, this is a question that does not have a universal answer, as it depends on your tastes and your budget.
📱 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: how to have internet on the go
Let’s be clear, I think we’re already unable to travel without the Internet.
There are so many things it’s extremely useful for: checking Google Maps, booking last-minute accommodation, finding a place nearby with good reviews for food, making sure you’re following the right itinerary you set for a certain day, finding out how to get from one place to another… And it could stay that way until tomorrow. And New Zealand is no less.
Well, one of the best ways to have internet in New Zealand is to use a travel specialized SIM card.
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: how to have internet
We recommend this one from Holafly (you get a 5% discount if you buy it through our link). Your New Zealand cards are great value, and they work great too. We tried them out during our trip and were delighted.
You activate it as soon as you set foot in New Zealand and you will have unlimited data internet from the first minute of your trip. They also have 24-hour customer service in Spanish in case you have any problems activating the card (although it’s SUPER easy).
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However, keep in mind that there are many areas in New Zealand where you will not have coverage. Also, outside the cities it is difficult to find free WiFis.
🌐 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: interesting websites to prepare the trip
As I mentioned above, this trip requires a lot of organization, so I want to talk about some websites that were very useful to us at the time:
The New Zealand tourism page is super comprehensive and can be very useful for planning your trip.
At BookMe it is easy to find discounts for some activities such as the Shotover Jet.
In NZ Pocket there is a lot of info about trips to New Zealand.
Organize a trip to New Zealand: map of our route
📱 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: useful applications during the trip
What a good ally technology is in travel! The truth is, we have no idea what we’d do without her. For this trip to New Zealand, there are several applications that we would like to recommend:
Google Maps. This is one of our essential applications for travelling, because we carry all our maps with all the points of interest we want to visit and the itineraries we must do every day. Our recommendation is that you take our maps and do the same, because it helps a lot when you are traveling around the country.
TripAdvisor and Yelp. Do you have doubts about places to go to eat? So you can use these two apps to find cool places near you.
Apps to search for campsites. We use CamperMate a lot and recommend it without a doubt, but there are also others like WikiCamps NZ or Rankers.
If you travel in times when there may still be snow in some areas, on this website you can check the state of the roads almost in real time. It was great for us when we were going to cross the road into Milford Sound.
And finally, this is not an app, but it is a recommendation that can be very useful 😉 When you arrive at Auckland airport remember to take the ARRIVAL guide (you will find it in several exhibitors on your way to immigration control) because it is free and has very good info and discounts.
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: Arrival Magazine
📍 Preparing a trip to New Zealand: deciding on the itinerary and stages of the trip
If you’re one of those who likes to improvise, I have to tell you that on this trip our advice is to at least plan the daily itinerary, because if not you might find it difficult. Although if you have time to spare, you can also afford to watch as you go. I’m telling you this because if we could have, we would have done the route in 2 months, since there are many places we would have been much longer than we were.
There are as many itineraries as there are people and travelers, so this is something VERY personal. We tell you about ours and based on that you can organize yours with your own preferences, because you might like different things or you just have more or less time. Here are the most important points we visited in New Zealand:
Route through New Zealand: map with the most important points of interest
If you want to check the maps with our exact route by stages and the points of interest of each stage, you can do it in our New Zealand guide.
📸 Organizing a trip to New Zealand: what to see in each site
When preparing a trip to New Zealand you have to be very clear about what you want to see in each place and establish priorities. For that the best recommendation we can make is that you read all the posts in our New Zealand guide and draw your own conclusions 😉
🛏️ Organizing a trip to New Zealand: where to sleep with the camper
We spent 21 days travelling around New Zealand and only slept at the campsite for 3 nights, because we had no choice. New Zealand is a country super prepared for caravans and campers, so, especially if you travel with a self-contained (a caravan with toilet and grey water tank, usually identified with an information sticker) you can sleep almost anywhere for free or for very little money.
Organizing a trip to New Zealand: where to sleep with the camper
In addition to Campermate, you can use our super map to find places to spend the night with the caravan. You will find it in our New Zealand guide.
If you intend to sleep at DOC campsites (or New Zealand government conservation department), there are one, two or three week vouchers to help you save. You can find more info here.
⛵ Organize a trip to New Zealand: interesting excursions and activities
We will write about this at length, but it is important that while you are preparing your trip to New Zealand you book those activities and excursions that you most want to do so that you don’t run out of room (especially if you are travelling in high season).
Below you will find all the activities that we booked in advance when we prepared our trip to New Zealand:
📝 Organising a trip to New Zealand: other useful information
Well, after this bible about how to organize a trip to New Zealand and not die trying, I want to leave you something very valuable for us, our travel organization staff, in which you will find much of our planning, schedules, budget, etc… And FREE! We only ask you to leave a Like on Facebook, which costs you nothing 😉
*Remember that in order to use it you have to create a copy of it in your Google Drive 😉
I’m sure there will be questions that I haven’t answered in this super post about how to organize a trip to New Zealand. If you have further questions, please feel free to leave us a comment or visit our New Zealand Facebook group 😉
IATI DISCOUNT: Get the best travel insurance for New Zealand
Do you want to organize a trip to New Zealand like this?
Find cheap flights to New Zealand here.
The best accommodation in New Zealand here.
Get 25 euros for your apartment with Airbnb here.
Book your New Zealand caravan/camper here.
The best excursions and tours in New Zealand here and here.
What are the best travel cards?
Change money at the best price here.
Take out your travel insurance with a 5% discount here.
The best New Zealand guides here.
Other content that you are probably interested in:
If this one on how to organize a trip to New Zealand has known you a little, you should know that we have a group on Facebook about trips to New Zealand in which travelers from all over the world participate with their questions and answers related to their trips to this wonderful country. So if you have any questions that we haven’t answered in this post, feel free to stop by and ask your questions – we’ll be happy to help!
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