7 New Zealand travel tips you need to know

Last Updated on February 5, 2024

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New Zealand is one of the most rewarding travel destinations in the world. People come from all over the world to experience this amazing country.

With a landscape that will leave you speechless (especially in the South Island!), and people that will leave you smiling from ear to ear, you are bound to leave a piece of your heart there.

But New Zealand can be a bit of an enigma to visitors, who wish they’d had a few helpful New Zealand travel tips before arriving.

New Zealand travel tips to make your next trip a breeze, person in hiking gear walking along wooden board pathway through brown grassy plain with large snow-capped mountains in the distance

So, what should you know before you take a holiday to New Zealand? As a Kiwi myself, below are my top New Zealand travel tips I suggest you read before your visit.

I hope these tips for traveling to New Zealand help you make the most of your holiday and have an extra special visit to this beautiful country.

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. I recommend either SafetyWing or World Nomads.

7 Top New Zealand Travel Tips

1. If you visit in the summer, wear sunscreen

One of the most important New Zealand travel tips to know before you go is that the sun is actually dangerous!

Unfortunately, New Zealand has a hole in the ozone layer meaning the sun’s rays beaming down on New Zealand are extremely harsh.

If you spend more than 10 minutes in the sun you are likely to come out looking like a beetroot. I have been burnt seriously more times than I can count.

Make sure you wear the strongest sunscreen SPF50+ and stay in the shade when you can. I know it’s tempting to sunbake, but you will thank me later, trust me!

2. Jandals or bare feet are the most common footwear

If you want to fit in, make sure you bring a pair of jandals (flip-flops) with you. You will notice nearly the entire population wears jandals.

If you didn’t know already jandals have more than one use. They can be used as a seat for you to sit on if you’re on the sand or concrete and/or weapons.

Yes, that’s right! They make great slapping articles to get rid of those pesky fly’s, mosquitos or just people who are annoying you.

Also, most of the time people don’t even wear jandals. I quite often used to go to the supermarket with no shoes on, don’t judge, it’s more comfortable sometimes – especially if your jandals are broken.

This might seem like one of the weirder New Zealand tips, but investing in some jandals really will help you make friends!

With these travel tips New Zealand will be even more enjoyable, man standing on dock next to rocky coast covered in green foliage above rich turquoise seawater with mountains in the distance under a cloudy blue sky

3. Get used to the sarcasm!

As you may have noticed from the last few sentences, Kiwis are also very sarcastic.

They have a great sense of humour which is normally in the form of extreme sarcasm. It’s part of the Kiwi charm!

Don’t take anything too seriously!

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4. Respect the culture and learn the customs

As a New Zealander, we are generally relaxed and outgoing people, but we also have a few customs you may not be familiar with.

There are quite a few do’s and don’ts but one of my top New Zealand travel tips is to at least learn a few so you don’t commit any major mistakes.

The two most important cultural things to know when visiting New Zealand are:

  1. Never sit somewhere you will place your food
  2. Always take your shoes off before entering a Marae (Maori meeting house).

Some other unwritten rules also include:

Keep to the left when walking on a footpath, smile and maybe say a quick hello to the passer-by’s, respect each other’s bubble (Kiwis are used to open spaces, so we don’t like to get too close to anyone), and always bring a plate to a BBQ!

If you remember these travel tips, New Zealand will make you feel right at home!

Enjoy these New Zealand tips for a perfect vacation, green grassy fields with wooden fences leading down into valley full of patchwork fields of farmland and trees under an impressive blue sky full of huge clouds

5. Learn a little bit of slang!

“Yeah, nah” may be a phrase you might hear quite often when visiting New Zealand. Kiwis surprisingly have a lot of slang words which you may want to familiarize yourself with.

Here are some common ones:

  • Bro – Short for brother, but we call everyone bro
  • She’ll be right – Means everything is going to be okay
  • Chur – Means yes, ok, awesome, cool, cheers and many other meanings!
  • Bugger – This is usually said when something goes wrong
  • Sweet as – Means everything is all good!
  • Yeah right – Usually said when you don’t believe someone

Learning Kiwi slang can be really beneficial and is one of my top New Zealand travel tips if you want to fit in and make local friends.

If you want to learn more slang, then read my post all about New Zealand slang words!

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6. If you’re driving, keep to the left

If you plan on driving or walking anywhere (so existing, really), one of the most important travel tips in New Zealand is that Kiwis drive on the left and walk on the left!

One of the biggest problems that New Zealand has when it comes to driving accidents is from foreigners driving on the wrong side of the road and crashing into oncoming traffic.

It has become a big problem of late, which is why it’s so important to remember to always drive on the left.

New Zealand has some tricky roads, usually windy and steep so always stay within the lines, plus if you are driving slowly and you see someone behind you, then it’s polite to pull over and let them pass.

top tips for traveling to New Zealand, beautiful sandy beach and rocky coastline on a sunny day
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

7. Keep it clean

New Zealand is an extremely clean country and we like to keep it that way! And expect the same of visitors.

This is one of the most important traveling to New Zealand tips as we don’t appreciate visitors who don’t respect our country.

If you decide to go camping (which I highly recommend you do, it’s an amazing experience in NZ!), then make sure you always take everything with you.

If you are hiring a campervan, don’t just dump your waste anywhere. There are special stations for that.

Kiwis are very proud of the fact that they have a clean country so please respect it and take all trash with you!

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Another few extra tips:

In rugby, the All Blacks ARE the best in the world – never doubt that, don’t insult Kiwis by calling them Australians and last of all, spread the word on how beautiful New Zealand is to your family and friends!

If you take all those tips for visiting New Zealand into consideration you will have an even better holiday!

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ What are the top tips for traveling to New Zealand for the first time?

The most important New Zealand travel tips to know are that you should learn about and respect the culture (especially in regard to Maori traditions), keep the country clean by never littering, and remember to drive on the left-hand side!

✅ What is the best month to go to New Zealand?

Most people consider the summer months (late November through mid-March) to be the best time to visit New Zealand. This is true, even though it will be it’s a bit more crowded. However, one of the most important travel tips for New Zealand in the summer is to always bring sunscreen as the sun in New Zealand is dangerous due to a hole in our ozone!

Are there other important New Zealand travel tips that I missed? What are some helpful travel tips for New Zealand you would give, or that helped you before visiting?

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The Comments

  • Marta Kulesza
    February 2, 2018

    Yes!!! Keep it clean. There’s nothing worse than doing some of the most beautiful hikes in New Zealand and stumbling across a cereal bar wrapper, banana skin or apple core. Thanks for raising awareness.

  • Hannah
    February 10, 2018

    Now you’re speaking my language, chur bro! It’s a sweet-as country and you gotta be a tidy kiwi and keep NZ clean! I love the jandals commentary – they truly are a multi-use item. I’ve lived out of NZ for 15 years now, but I carry some of the customs with me – especially the no sitting where you eat off one – I shoo people who sit on my desk at work – ‘oi, that’s tapu, don’t’! Thanks for reminding me of a few more kiwi-isms that I had forgotten 🙂

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Hannah
      February 13, 2018

      Haha yes, it’s funny how those NZ customs stick! It’s even funnier when I go back to New Zealand for a holiday and my slang and accent becomes so thick :p

  • Debbzie Leksono
    February 11, 2018

    What a fun article to read! My most fave part is ‘respect each other’s bubble’! I can really relate to that or maybe I was Kiwi in my previous life, lol! I can’t agree more that New Zealand has one of the most stunning landscape on this planet. I went for 2 weeks holiday around NZ and enjoyed it so much. Planning to visit it again in the near future. I’d better learn the slang now 😀

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Debbzie Leksono
      February 13, 2018

      I’m so happy that you loved New Zealand! Chur bro! 🙂

  • Fairuz
    February 11, 2018

    This cracks me up. Some of the slangs are also used in Oz like bro, sweet as and my favourite, Yeah, nah ? . Thanks for the tips about Maori tradition – take shoes off before entering a Marat. My mum would be very please if I do this at home too.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Fairuz
      February 13, 2018

      Yeah, the Australian and New Zealand slang are very similar! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Kavita Favelle
    February 11, 2018

    Cute bunch of tips for a New Zealand visit. Had no idea they call flip flops jandals!
    But more seriously, good to know about not sitting where you place your food, and taking off shoes before visiting Marae places.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Kavita Favelle
      February 13, 2018

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Medha Verma
    February 12, 2018

    I don’t think I’ve met more chill people than I have in New Zealand, They’re so calm, relaxed and laid back, they’re friendly and amazing! I agree with the sunscreen bit but I think I missed noticing people in ‘jandals’! And I probably didn’t realise their sarcasm because my own sense of humour can be extremely sarcastic LOL. The country is definitely VERY clean and gorgeous and driving on the left is something I struggled with too, since I live in a country with right hand drive and I was driving for 2 weeks in NZ.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Medha Verma
      February 13, 2018

      I’m glad you liked your trip to NZ! I’m surprised you didn’t notice the jandal thing. I wear them all year around!

  • Lydia Smith
    February 13, 2018

    Lol. This is proudly a Kiwi writing. I know New Zealand is hot, so sunscreen is highly recommended. I love flipflops, so I’m going to love jandals. No hassles. I love the slangs, it washed away the foreigners in you. I think I’ll love New Zealand. And yes, clean traveling is to be practised regularly. It’s a way of saying thank you to your host

  • Megan Jerrard
    February 13, 2018

    Fabulous tips, especially on the sunscreen. I’m from Australia and we have a huge national campaigns which run in the country to raise awareness over the dangers of the sun. Also great tip on wearing jandals lol I was in NZ a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t realize it was so common to go barefoot everywhere! Jandals though, if they choose to wear shoes 😀

  • Paige
    February 14, 2018

    These are great tips. Based on these, I think that I’ll fit in a-okay in NZ. I wish that more people would learn about that personal bubble thing. I NEED my personal space. I love that it’s all about flip flops there. I’m all about using those to squish all the bugs! Ha

  • anto
    February 16, 2018

    Yes, the sun is insane here. I’m in NZ for a few months now and keep on getting sunburnt, even when the sun is not out. And I’d add the sandflies, my feet are SO itchy right now haha

  • Nathalie Salcedo
    February 16, 2018

    Yayy!!! Your keypoints and Tips seems really helpful, noted on the sunrays as it would really harm our skin. Also, the driving tip is a must to follow too!
    Great Post 🙂

  • Adam
    May 7, 2018

    Visiting New Zealand is always been a great fun, I really found your travel tips useful to follow in my next trip to this mesmerizing place. Really the bad travel experiences can ruin the whole charm of a well-planned trip always considering the professional’s advice will help you enjoy the best of your trip. Thank you for sharing.

  • carl
    October 8, 2018

    I wonder do you speak also dutch

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > carl
      October 16, 2018

      No unfortunately not! My father is Dutch hence the Dutch name 🙂

  • Eli
    March 12, 2019

    I would love to visit NZ! But it’s so expensive to fly from South Africa!