document.write(''); 19 Things to Know Before You Plan a Trip to New Zealand - Simo Baha

19 Things to Know Before You Plan a Trip to New Zealand

So you want to plan a trip to New Zealand? Well, I can’t blame you! I just spent three weeks in New Zealand (and countless weeks before that researching and planning our trip) and couldn’t recommend it more. Our trip was incredible and I can’t wait to go back!

But before you start to plan a trip to New Zealand, I want to share my top New Zealand travel tips with you. Everything from what to pack and what visa to get to how to save money and the deal on public toilets is included in the must-read guide below. Curious about how much a trip to New Zealand costs? I’ve got you covered there too!

Check out 19 things you’ll want to know about Aotearoa (the te reo Maori word for “New Zealand” which means long, white cloud) ahead of your trip!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

1. You probably need an NZeTA

Fiji Airways plane wing flying over Fiji on the way to New Zealand

Unless you have a New Zealand passport or are an Australian citizen with an Australian passport, you will probably need an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) or another visa to travel to New Zealand. If you’re eligible for the NZeTA, you can get yours through the official website or app before you leave home. Note: There are many companies that offer to assist with these documents for a high fee. They’re a scam! It’s very simple and straightforward to do it by yourself.

At the time of writing, an NZeTA costs $23 NZD on the website (or $17 NZD through the app), plus the $35 NZD tourism levy, and can take up to 72 hours to process.

NZeTA visa waiver for New Zealand screenshot

Wanting to save a few bucks, Colin and I both downloaded the app. Unfortunately, it’s extremely faulty (just read the reviews in the app store!). It crashed multiple times before we both gave up and did it through the website. It still took multiple tries until our photos were accepted (double check their instructions for acceptable photos, ours were too large and too dark at first) but finally the applications went through. Mine was approved in six minutes and Colin’s was approved the next day.

My advice here is to start looking into your NZeTA (if you’re eligible) early in your New Zealand trip planning process. They are valid for two years, but I would suggest getting started 2-4 weeks before you plan to travel. While processing time says up to 72 hours, I’ve heard stories of people not getting their approval in that timeframe. Plus with the faulty app and strict photo guidelines, you may want some more time to get your NZeTA sorted out.

For the most accurate and up to date information about visas for visiting New Zealand, please visit the official government website.

2. New Zealand uses Type I plugs

different plug and outlet types from around the world
Image source

Like Australia and other Pacific Island countries, Aotearoa uses Type I plugs. These look similar to the Type A plugs used in North America, but instead of two parallel pins, the pins are inverted forming a triangle (or a sad face). If you’re coming from North America, Europe or anywhere outside of Oceania, you’ll need an adapter in order to charge your electronics.

I strongly recommend picking up a universal adapter (we have this one) so you can take your electronics around the world with different plug types. Note that adapters like this work for smaller electronics (phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) but cannot change the voltage that’s often necessary to operate larger or heated electronics (hairdryers, curling irons, vacuums, etc.).

I always recommend leaving larger or heated appliances at home and relying on what’s available in-country; every place we stayed had a hairdryer, for example. If you’re really committed to your own appliance, make sure it’s dual voltage and understand you still run the risk of frying it and rendering it unusable.

Pro tip: Bring a universal adapter that has multiple USB outlets, allowing you to charge many devices at once!

3. Tourism is back in New Zealand, so book early!

Riana and Colin in a Hobbit Hole at Hobbiton, New Zealand
If you want to go to Hobbiton, you need to book early!

In my experience planning a trip to New Zealand and travelling there in 2023, things are busy! Accommodation and activities book up quickly and in advance. We travelled in April 2023, during Aotearoa’s shoulder season, and still saw multiple people get turned away from full tours and “no vacancy” signs at almost every place we stayed. After two years of lockdown, New Zealand tourism is once again booming.

If you are travelling during New Zealand’s summer (Dec-Feb) or during school holidays (generally mid April, early July, late September and all of January), expect crowds to be even heavier. In an online travel group I’m a part of, many travellers complained of fully booked restaurants and absolutely no car or camper rentals available during January 2023 trips.

Lady Knox Geyser at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua, New Zealand, tourism in New Zealand

We booked most of the activities and accommodation for our April 2023 trip, which overlapped with NZ school holidays, in November 2022. That far out, there was still good availability and we were able to guarantee spots, shop around for best prices and book refundable rates.

As someone who loves travel planning, I would much rather spend my time researching and booking ahead of time than miss out on something, like a once-in-a-lifetime cruise on Doubtful Sound or staying at the one motel in Eglinton Valley.

Get ahead of the crowds and book your activities, accommodation and car rental for New Zealand now!

4. The service industry was hit hard by covid

Eat Streat in Rotorua, New Zealand

Like many industries that relied on tourism, the service industry was hit hard by the loss of tourism during Aotearoa’s covid lockdowns. Unfortunately, staffing levels are still not up to where you might expect them to be for busy towns and cities. It’s not uncommon to see restaurants working short-staffed or even closing early due to staff shortages.

My best advice: Be patient. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat in a restaurant (more on that below), understand that service may be slower. Especially if you’re used to dining in North America where our tip-based service industry is overly accommodating, you may be shocked by the contrast in New Zealand.

That’s not to say that Kiwi servers are rude – far from it! They’re just busy and would appreciate your patience during the busy dinner rush.

5. You need to budget for parking and gas in New Zealand

cost of fuel in New Zealand, gas pump in Rotorua in April 2023

As you may have heard, if you plan a trip to New Zealand you should plan to spend a lot of money! (Check out our actual New Zealand trip budget breakdown here.) Two big parts of that are parking and fuel costs. If you’re renting a car or camper, you need to factor both of these into your budget.

For parking, I highly recommend booking accommodation with free parking included. We managed to do this the entire time we had a rental car, meaning we only had to pay for parking twice (at a stop in Hamilton for lunch and at Milford Sound). We also conveniently picked up our rental cars on our way out of big cities where cars are unnecessary and parking is expensive; we picked up our first rental after two nights in Auckland and our second after two nights in Queenstown.

car rental in New Zealand, car parked in Arrowtown in Autumn

For gas, you’ll want to download the app Gaspy. This free app uses crowd-sourced, real time information to show you where you can get the cheapest fuel. You can search by city or just find the cheapest gas station near you. Often gas stations within 20km of each other would be $0.20-0.40/litre different, so it pays to take a look. It’s also helpful to know where the closest gas station is when you’re low on fuel (and important to check before you head to an area with no gas stations, like Mount Cook Village).

Lastly, I highly recommend booking your car rental through Discover Cars. We saved up to 75% compared to some of the big name rental agencies and had an amazing experience booking through them. Insurance was comprehensive and affordable, customer service was available, and we had no problem picking up our cars from the local agencies on the ground.

6. You won’t be able to see and do it all in a week or two

Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, South Island, plan a trip to New Zealand

In a perfect world, you’d plan a trip to New Zealand with endless amounts of time to spend there. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for most travellers. But even with limited vacation days, it’s worth visiting Aotearoa.

The trouble comes when people try to pack the entire country into 10 or 14 days of travel (and remember that you lose 1-3 days just on your way there!). So many people try to drive the length of New Zealand in a week or two, racking up thousands of kilometres by driving to new cities every night.

Trust me, I get the urge to want to see and do it all. For most people, myself included, New Zealand is a bucket list destination. It takes a lot of time, money and planning to get to New Zealand. You may never make it back, so of course you want to see and do as much as you can.

selife on the road to Milford Sound, Milford Sound lookout, New Zealand

While I completely understand the desire to see everything you can, I would advise slowing down. The best part of New Zealand is the natural beauty, which you’ll completely miss if you spend five hours a day in the car, whipping past viewpoints and arriving exhausted to a new hotel each night.

I’m not saying you have to slow travel through Aotearoa but I do encourage you to be realistic with your time. Make the most of the time you have by thoroughly enjoying a smaller area rather than burning out by trying to cram it all in. Accept that you can’t cover every corner of New Zealand in two weeks – and more importantly, that you wouldn’t want to rush to do that anyhow.

7. Kiwis drive on the left (+ New Zealand driving tips)

Our rental car on the road to Milford Sound in New Zealand

In New Zealand, drivers sit on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road – the same as the UK, Australia, Japan and 73 other countries but opposite to Canada, the US and 161 other countries, at least according to Statista.

As Canadians, we were a bit worried about this but Colin picked it up quickly. His biggest mistake was turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal (a mistake he hilarious kept making when we returned to Canada and he had to drive back on the right side!). We took our time and I added reminders to my navigation such as “tight left turn” and “faaaaaar right turn.”

While planning our trip, everyone in the New Zealand Travel Tips Facebook group said to add time to whatever Google Maps estimated it would take you to get from Point A to B. But in our experience, Google Maps was quite accurate. However, this is something to keep in mind as it seems to affect a lot of people.

driving on the left hand side of the road and renting a car when you plan a trip to New Zealand

New Zealand is home to many roundabouts (aka traffic circles) which we actually found very easy to use and much more efficient than stop lights or stop signs. There are also many two-lane roads in New Zealand, especially in more rural or mountainous terrain. As traffic can back up on these roads, be aware of the regular passing lanes that pop up to pass or let others pass. Fun tip: We learned that it’s polite to flash your blinkers when you pass someone as a thank you, particularly if they pull off to the side to let you pass.

My last driving in New Zealand travel tip is to watch your speed. While some drivers race around tight turns and curved roads, don’t be an idiot. Drive safe. We were advised that you could go 5-10 km over the speed limit and not get in trouble, but 5-10 can easily creep up to 15-20 (such as when we got a speeding ticket!). It’s easy to mindlessly speed when you’re on an empty country road but it’s a dangerous (and expensive) mistake.

At the same time, driving way under the speed limit is also extremely dangerous. It can cause accidents and, of course, really irritates other drivers who get stuck behind you. If you don’t feel confident driving, consider day tours or spend some time practicing before you start on a New Zealand road trip. I even heard of some travellers taking a driving lesson when they first arrived in Aotearoa, which I think is a brilliant idea.

8. You should learn about Māori history and culture

Mitai Maori Village cultural performance in Rotorua, a must do when you plan a trip to New Zealand

Māori history and culture are alive and well in Aotearoa, which is not something you hear often in colonized countries. While far from perfect, the respect and integration of Māori history, culture and language in everyday Kiwi life is really cool to see and inspiring for me being from Canada, where we don’t have the same respect or integration of our Indigenous Peoples.

Taking the time to learn a bit about Māori history and culture, and even a few words of te reo Māori, both before and during our trip made our travels through Aotearoa that much richer. Before we arrived, I started listening to The Aotearoa History Show podcast, which I highly recommend. It’s an informative and engaging show that will give you a great primer on New Zealand.

Once in Aotearoa, Colin and I enhanced our learning with an incredible visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and a cultural show, dinner and Q&A session at a Māori village in Rotorua. Both of these experiences taught us a lot and gave us a greater appreciation for the diverse Māori culture present in New Zealand.

9. Don’t forget to pack for all seasons

Selfie on Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, dressed for New Zealand weather
Staying warm on our Doubtful Sound cruise!

As everyone will tell you, you will experience all four seasons in a day on a trip to New Zealand. It’s not uncommon to get a sunburn in the winter, need a jacket in the summer, or go from torrential rainstorm to blue skies between lunch and dinner. So regardless of when you visit Aotearoa, you’ll want to pack and dress in layers. 

New Zealand is also a very long country, meaning the climate in Cape Reinga (up north) is going to be very different from the climate on Stewart Island (down south) – a similar distance as if you were travelling from New York to Orlando, or London to Seville. If you’re planning to travel around both the North and South Islands, as most visitors do, understand that you’ll be packing for a few different climates.

summer weather in Auckland, New Zealand
Sunglasses & summer weather in Auckland!

Many of New Zealand’s best activities are weather-dependent. For some, like heli-hikes on glaciers, you may not be allowed to complete the activity if the weather takes a turn. And for others, like regular hikes, you might just get wet doing it! My advice is to give yourself some buffer days for weather-dependent activities when you plan a trip to New Zealand. By that, I mean plan to spend a couple of days in the area and book the big weather-dependent activity for day one. If the weather on day one is terrible, you can reschedule to day two or three and hope your luck changes.

Speaking of luck, we were extremely lucky on our April 2023 trip to Aotearoa. Despite getting into shoulder season, we had beautiful weather the entire time. It only rained twice in our three weeks there and both times we were in cars with no outdoor activities planned. But we did come prepared; I had a rain jacket, toque, gloves and a thermal shirt ready to go!

10. Set your watch to New Zealand Standard Time

Glenorchy, South Island, plan a trip to New Zealand

The entire country of New Zealand follows New Zealand Standard Time, which is GMT+12. They also practice daylight savings each year, starting on the last Sunday in September and ending on the first Sunday in April.

If you’re coming from North America, Europe or somewhere else quite far away, this is a massive time zone change. For example, if it’s 7:30am Sunday morning in New Zealand, that’s 12:30pm Saturday for me here in Vancouver (which is 8:30pm Saturday night in London). The easiest way to think about this is to forget the day and only focus on the time. For example, instead of thinking that New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of Vancouver and trying to do that math, I just think it’s five hours behind (and one day ahead).

Because Aotearoa is a big time zone jump away for many travellers, and because it takes so long to get there, you may end up losing a full calendar day during your travels. For example, we left Vancouver at 10:00pm Monday night and arrived in Auckland (after a couple of hours in Fiji on a layover) at 12:00pm on Wednesday. Tuesday didn’t exist for us! Even when we landed in Fiji for our layover, it was already Wednesday morning. This is important to keep in mind because it cuts into your travel time in New Zealand. If you only have 10 days of vacation, keep in mind that you might spend three days just getting to New Zealand.

View of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Gardens, New Zealand

My last point here is to factor the time change and long travel days into your arrival plans. Many people who are short on vacation time want to hit the ground running. They’ve heard Auckland is boring (not true!) so plan to pick up a rental car from the airport as soon as they land and drive a few hours to somewhere more exciting.

And while I said above how much I understand the desire to make the most of your time in Aotearoa, I strongly advise against this. If you’ve been travelling for three days across many time zones, the last thing you need to do is get behind the wheel of a car in a foreign country – especially if that wheel is on the opposite side of the car as you’re used to! Stay safe, give your body and brain time to adjust, and enjoy a night or two in Auckland before you take off.

11. New Zealand restaurant etiquette

Lunch at Atticus Finch in Rotorua, eating out at restaurants in New Zealand

As a fairly well-travelled Canadian, there were a few Kiwi dining quirks I observed in New Zealand. While eating out in Aotearoa is pretty similar to other Western countries, here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan a trip to New Zealand:

  • Reservations are important. As I mentioned above, tourism is booming in New Zealand and the service industry was hit hard. Lots of tourists and staff shortages mean reservations are essential for popular restaurants or busy times of year. But if you’re mostly eating at pie shops and Asian takeaways like us, you may be able to skip them.
  • Free water is readily available. Unlike in Europe, free drinking water is readily available in Kiwi restaurants, bars and cafes. In fact, it’s usually set up as a self-serve station in more casual places, which is very convenient.
  • You may have to get up to pay. Depending on the restaurant you may pay when you order at the counter or be expected to pay at the counter on your way out. While some restaurants do bring the bill to your table and allow you to pay it there, it seems most Kiwis are used to standing up and paying when they’re ready to leave.
  • Tipping is not required/expected. Unlike in North America, tipping is not an expected part of dining out in New Zealand. That being said, it is appreciated and you’re welcome to tip for great service at a restaurant. One thing to look out for on your bill is a service fee; a cheeky ~15% fee that is added to bills similar to an auto-gratuity in North America. This is seen more commonly in touristed or busy areas, like Queenstown, and does have some Kiwis and foreigners outraged. Needless to say if the service fee is added to your bill, you don’t need to tip on top of that.
  • Tax is included. Another thing that is different in Aotearoa than in North America is tax. Tax is already included in the final price displayed on menus, sign boards, price tags, etc. at all restaurants, shops and stores.

12. You’ll need offline maps if you plan a trip to New Zealand

Mirror Lakes on the way to Milford Sound in New Zealand

If you’re heading out of the cities, you’ll want to download offline maps to help you get where you want to go. We found many parts of New Zealand, particularly on the South Island, had no cell service for a long time. And with so many long roads, you’ll want to make sure you have accurate maps so you don’t miss a turn. (We missed one once and the time to get to our destination jumped from 6 mins to 27 mins! Luckily, we found a place to turn around before that.)

It’s super easy to download offline maps with Google Maps (just open the app, click your face in the upper right corner, then click “Offline Maps”). You may also want to download other offline maps, like All Trails for hiking, which I’ve heard is more accurate and detailed than Google Maps.

13. Respect for nature in New Zealand is important

Tasman Lake Glacier in Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand

From the moment you enter Aotearoa, you’re aware of just how important the natural environment is. In fact, many airlines play a video about this as your flight lands! Before you’re even allowed into the country, you’ll need to clean off dirty boots and declare any items that could impact the environment. (Many visitors get nervous about this but just follow instructions and if you’re unsure, declare!)

New Zealand is a fragile ecosystem and is not able to support the introduction of invasive species. It’s also a place heralded for its natural beauty, which Kiwis understand they need to protect if they want to enjoy it for generations to come. So follow their lead and be respectful of the natural environment all around you.

This includes practicing principles of leave no trace (such as packing out everything you bring and not taking anything extra with you, like a souvenir rock), properly disposing of your litter, and respecting rules around wildlife. If signs (and common sense!) tell you not to feed the birds, don’t do it! You’ll also want to obey the rules around freedom camping, which is only allowed in certain places for fully self-contained vehicles (i.e. vehicles with a toilet).

14. There are lots of ways to save money in New Zealand

Red Wood forest in Rotorua, New Zealand; free to visit when you plan a trip to New Zealand

While it can be expensive to plan a trip to New Zealand, there are ways to save money. How expensive? Check out my trip budget breakdown and the real cost of a trip to New Zealand in 2023! One of the best parts of New Zealand is its natural beauty, most of which is free to discover. Even areas that are paid often have a similar and free alternatives, like a public park or hiking trail (such as the Red Woods Forest in Rotorua above!).

Food can be another big expense in New Zealand but there are ways to save money. Drink water instead of pricy cocktails, visit a grocery store and cook some of your own meals, and stick to more budget-friendly cafes and restaurants over fine dining. New Zealand savoury pies, a new favourite of mine, are filling, delicious and usually available for $5-8 NZD! Lastly, save big bucks on accommodation by booking early and securing the best rate.

Sweet Painted Lady pies in New Zealand

Here are a few more budget hacks for your Aotearoa trip:

  • Get a Skinny mobile SIM card and 4 GB of free data. Check out this post by Sarah Chant of NZTT for more details!
  • Book your activities through BookMe or Klook for discounts.
  • Download Gaspy to find the cheapest gas near you.
  • Reserve the first or last table at participating restaurants for 50% off dining through First Table.
  • Book your car rental through Discover Cars for huge savings – seriously we saved over 75% by doing this!

15. Checkout time is 10:00 AM!

Room in Eglinton Valley Camp, New Zealand
Eglinton Valley Camp, New Zealand

Depending on where you usually travel, this might seem completely normal or might shock you, but regular checkout time in New Zealand is 10:00am. I like to consider myself fairly well travelled, so was shocked by 10:00am. Most places I’ve stayed at in North America, Europe and Asia had checkout times of 11:00am or 12:00pm. I know 10 is only an hour earlier, but it felt really early to me!

Luckily, they also let you check in earlier in Aotearoa; check-in time was usually 2:00pm. By contrast, most hotels I’ve stayed at in North America and Europe have 3:00 or 4:00pm check-ins. To be honest, I don’t mind checking out a bit earlier if it means I get to check in earlier. We were usually awake by 8:00am and ready to go by 9:00am, so the 10am checkout really wasn’t too bad. It’s just something to be aware of when you plan a trip to New Zealand, especially if you like to sleep in.

16. Plan a trip to New Zealand grocery stores

Whitakers chocolate in New Zealand
Whittaker’s chocolate – one of our favourite grocery store buys!

If you’re planning to cook any of your own meals in Aotearoa, you’ll want some information about their grocery stores. And even if you aren’t planning to cook, it’s worth stopping in a grocery store to pick up some snacks for the road!

The cheapest grocery store chain in New Zealand is Pak n Save. This is a more no frills grocery store, set up to look a little bit like a Costco warehouse. We shopped at two Pak n Saves during our trip and found both clean, easy to navigate and more affordable than the alternatives.

I’ve been told the next cheapest large grocery store chain is Countdown and then New World. We also visited a Fresh Choices in Te Anau, which seemed like a mid-range option. There are also independent grocery stores, international grocers (like Asian supermarkets) and more high-end, gourmet ones. For regular shopping, I’d first try to find a Pak n Save. If there isn’t one near you, I’d go to the next most convenient big box grocery store. In a pinch, dairies (aka convenience stores) will also sell a few essentials.

Don’t forget to bring your own reusable grocery bags! New Zealand banned single-use plastic shopping bags in 2019, so Kiwi grocery stores no longer give out plastic bags for groceries. We did notice that quite a few have cardboard boxes you can use to pack your groceries into if you don’t have bags.

17. New Zealand’s playgrounds are incredible

Playground in Taupo, New Zealand; plan a trip to New Zealand playgrounds

For two people who don’t have children, it’s not often that Colin or I notice a playground. But in New Zealand, we couldn’t stop pointing them out. Each playground was cooler than the last! They had interesting equipment that we don’t usually see at parks in Canada and were beautifully designed for both parents and kids. Even in small towns the playgrounds were really well equipped.

From dinosaur slides to spinning trampolines, we joked that we’d have to come back after all the kids left to try out the playgrounds for ourselves! But seriously if you plan a trip to New Zealand with kids, they are going to love the parks and playgrounds.

18. Don’t forget your sunscreen & bug repellant when you plan a trip to New Zealand

Selfie at the Hooker Valley Track in Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand

When you plan a trip to New Zealand, sunscreen is essential, even if you’re travelling in the fall or winter. That’s because the ozone layer is very thin over Oceania, making the sun’s rays especially strong and dangerous. This can catch many visitors off guard who are used to having more sun protection in their home country.

We travelled to New Zealand in their fall – which is actually when the ozone layer is at its thinnest – and bought a bottle of sunscreen on our second day. We used it throughout our trip on both islands whenever we were spending time outside. I think we both may have gotten a little red at times when we were lax with our sunscreening, but it definitely helped prevent any major burns.

Omarama Clay Cliffs in New Zealand
Hoping long sleeves keep the sandflies away!

Bug repellant is something else you may need in Aotearoa to ward off the dreaded sandfly! Sandflies are more common on the South Island, particularly along the west coast. They like areas by water and are most active at dawn and dusk. Similar to mosquitos, sandflies bite to suck blood and leave you with red, itchy bumps. Luckily, they don’t carry disease.

Still, sandfly bites can be quite annoying. To try and avoid them, wear long sleeves and pants, keep moving and load up on bug repellant. Your best bet is to buy some bug repellant in New Zealand where they have local brands dedicated to warding off sandflies. But even with the best protection, you may still get bitten. The day I got the most bites was when I was wearing long sleeves, pants and lots of bug spray. They just like me, I guess!

19. Bathrooms in New Zealand are (almost) always clean and free

Super Loo toilet in Taupo, New Zealand Aotearoa, plan a trip to New Zealand bathrooms (free and clean)

Unlike in Europe where you need to have cash on you for public bathrooms (aka toilets) or North America where free bathrooms are rarely found and even more rarely clean, bathrooms in Aotearoa are plentiful, clean and almost always free!

Colin and I were amazed at how many public toilets were available, both in big cities and remote areas, and how clean they were. Even the outhouses we stopped in on hiking trails were decently clean and always had toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

There was a place called the Super Loo in Taupo, a giant complex that not only had bathrooms but showers and lockers too. We also experienced a high-tech washroom in Arrowtown: You had to press a button to enter and another button to get toilet paper. Upon entry, a voice welcomed you to the bathroom and informed you that you had a 10 minute limit. And the toilet would only flush when you washed your hands!

Button inside futuristic toilet in New Zealand
At least they give you a warning before your bathroom time is up!

For the most part, you’ll find that these clean, readily available and possibly futuristic public toilets are free to use. The only time we had to pay to use a public toilet was in Te Anau, the little town most people stop in on their way to Milford Sound. It was $1 each, which seemed steep, and as is always the case, dirtier and stinkier than the free toilets (though still an acceptable level of clean). Inexplicably, this public toilet also shut down for a few hours in the middle of the day and closed at 5:30pm – so not only do you have to pay to pee but you have to do it on a tight schedule!

From visas and parking to playgrounds and bathrooms, I think I’ve covered all of the important things you need to know before you plan a trip to New Zealand.

If you’ve been to Aotearoa and think I’ve missed something, please share it in the comments below. And if you haven’t been, I hope this post has inspired you to plan a trip to New Zealand soon!

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