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AMA - I live in NZ!

Ever wanted to travel here? Ever wondered what it's like living here? Ever wondered what's it's like loving travel and living far away from everywhere?

Ask me anything!

The weekend has started here - it's Saturday morning - I'm going for a run shortly. If there are no questions, I'll delete this post with embarrassment later :)

Posted by
61 posts

I have a question! We've been watching The Brokenwood Mysteries, also 800 Words, both NZ TV series, and both take place in small towns. Are those towns at all realistic? If we were to visit NZ would it be easy to find someplace like the fictional Brokenwood? Thanks!

Posted by
74 posts

My first question!

Unfortunately I haven't seen The Brokenwood Mysteries, but I've just googled and it tells me that it's filmed in Helensville and Warkworth - which are both small towns north of Auckland. Of the two, Warkworth is cuter and is near Matakana which has a very popular market -

I have seen 800 words, and I'm guessing that it's probably filmed somewhere similar - it looks like any number of small towns north of Auckland.

Are they realistic...well...the landscape...yes....the people...kind of!

Neither of these places are near Hobbiton!

Posted by
1865 posts

Don't be embarrassed and please don't delete. I would love to know everything you are willing to share here. My son and new wife honeymooned in New Zealand and thought they'd died and gone to Paradise. They talked a lot about moving there but didn't. I encouraged them, anticipating visits for me! So, I'll ask: what's it like living in New Zealand? I have met several Australians while traveling in Europe and know they have much, much longer vacation times than we do. Do you, too? But then, to get to either Europe or even to come visit us you have really long flights, don't you? How do you manage that? I will rely on those more knowledgeable than me to ask the meaningful questions!

Posted by
74 posts

I get 4 weeks holiday entitlement a year - which is the minimum and is typical.
There are 11 additional public holidays scattered throughout the year.
I also get 5 days sick leave per year, which can accumulate to up to 60 days. This can vary a lot more between companies.

The flights are long and usually pretty expensive. NZ to Australia (normally) has a lot of competition and frequency so the flights are cheaper (about 3 hours to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane). Flights to west coast USA are 12 hours, but much less competition, so you're looking at around $NZD1000 each way. It can be a bit cheaper if you fly to Australia first (more airlines fly from Sydney for example), but that's adding additional flying time in the wrong direction plus transit.

If flying to EU I have flown via USA, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Dubai, Qatar. They all take pretty much 24 hours, and you'd usually be looking at something around $1000 each way (funny how it costs the same to fly to the US as it does to EU...).

Posted by
116 posts

Thanks for writing. Yes would love to hear about NZ. Have a RT ticket to Auckland next Nov.

Started planning a trip with 14 full days on the ground. First on the North Island then the South Island. Have some of the days booked with reservations that I can cancel 3 days prior.

What are the must sees for the Islands?

Posted by
136 posts

We spent three weeks in NZ last September. We did a self driving tour of both islands. Other than driving on the opposite side of the road for a Canadian from Vancouver , it was easy to drive. Once out of the big cities mostly one lane in each direction. We used a company called Fine Tours. Highly recommend them. We went to the northern most point of the north island to almost the end of the South Island.

We loved the country. People are friendly and helpful. Cost is similar to at home. So I would encourage anyone to travel to NZ.

Posted by
74 posts

I'm fortunate that my work has meant that I've travelled to all sorts of out of the way places in NZ.

Must sees in the North Island...hmmm..

Most people will arrive into Auckland. There are a few fun day trips from Auckland - Waiheke Island for wineries, Rangitoto Island for walking and city views, previously mentioned Warkworth for small town life not far from the city. Devonport is short ferry ride from the downtown city. Lots of great places for eating out in the inner city (not necessarily downtown though).

From there...well most people tend to come to NZ for the natural beauty, so you could either head north for the Bay of Islands, or head south for Rotorua, Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Taupo. Less typical for a short stay tourist but where the locals go would be the Coromandel Peninsula.

If you have more time Napier is unique for it's post 1931 earthquake build - more wineries. If you like remote north of Napier towards Gisborne (and beyond if you have time) is empty of people.

The Central NI has vast areas (relatively speaking!) of volcanic plateau. If you're energetic the Tongariro Crossing is a popular day hike up a volcano - but be prepared!

Wellington is our hipster capital and where the government is based. It's has a fun, walkable city centre and often overlooked. Te Papa the museum of NZ has some interesting exhibitions always on the go.

Highlights of the South Island.

Ideally, you'd arrive by ferry from Wellington and travel through the flooded valleys of the Marlborough Sounds (lots of little bays accessible by boat only, native forest/bush, interesting history, dolphins).

Blenheim is a winery hot spot. Home of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Otherwise a bit of a sleepy town.

Nelson is the gateway to the beautiful Abel Tasman national park - to really appreciate this you need to take a boat up the coast to take a walk in the park - longer if you can. If you have time, heading further north into Takaka is less visited but has more amazing beaches and not a lot of people. Pupu Springs are amazing clear blue water.

Then the choice is either West or East... (or both). The west is green and bush covered and remote and rugged. The east is dry and farmed and more populated. There are lots of walks short and long on both coasts and through the passes that connect the two coasts.

Kaikoura on the way south is where you can do whale spotting tours. It's a sleepy town, but can be quite beautiful in winter when there's snow on the mountains that almost meet the sea. I've always wanted to stay at the treehouses at Hapuku lodge.

Christchurch is awesome (my home town), but is probably more of an interesting stop off point than a destination in it's own right. Unfortunately still famous for being a post devastating earthquake rebuild zone. Riverside market is a new popular hot spot in the town centre. Akaroa is my favourite day trip - the french history is interesting and the views on the drive over the hill are beautiful.

Heading further south on the way to Queenstown you'll drive through the Mackenzie basin - no people, lots of sheep and cows. Lake Tekapo and Pukaki are beautiful on a sunny day - reflecting the southern alps in the seriously blue water. If you're there on a grey day you'll wonder what the fuss is about. Fairlie is a small town with a world famous in NZ pie shop.

Queenstown and Wanaka are where all the best and worst things of tourism happen. Lots of adventure tourism at both places, plus wineries. Those that know best will tell you that Qtown isn't what it used to be...but it's still pretty damn beautiful any time of year. Wanaka is less populated, so considered a bit of secret by some people, but honestly it's not a secret.

I'm about to run out of text...but Te Anau, Milford and Doubtful sound are the next big tourist spots. The hype is deserved.

Good planning website:

Posted by
24162 posts

AMA - I live in NZ!

About your title… What do you mean by AMA?

It is another acronym that I do not know

Posted by
116 posts

Thanks Kiwi!
We are hitting alot of the places you recommended.
Being a group of 3 senior citizens we aren't into the bungee jumping, hang gliding, or long treks. Coromandel was on our list!
Thanks for all the good info!

Posted by
7817 posts

I'm bookmarking this thread, as New Zealand is high on my places I want to travel. If I can just tear myself away from Europe!

How has it been there with COVID-19? Are things closed down or open for business? What are the best months to travel there? I was thinking around March or April? Is the weather still good but things less crowded by then?

Posted by
74 posts

Our lockdown (we were told it would be 4 weeks) started on the 26th March and everything is closed except essential services - which are basically supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and healthcare. No schools or kindergartens, no butchers or bakeries, no Uber eats, no online businesses continuing to do deliveries (only if they are also essential services). The rules around what is 'essential' are constantly being reviewed.

Everyone that can work from home is doing so. Businesses that can't open due to the restrictions have been given government support to help keep their staff paid.

We were given the analogy of 'keep in your bubble'. So whoever was in your bubble when lockdown started is who you stay with for 4 weeks, and you do not do anything that will burst your bubble!

We are allowed to exercise locally and to travel locally to the supermarket. We are not allowed to drive across town to the beach for a walk or surf or to our favourite supermarket.

I think we're so lucky in that a) we locked down early when we had no deaths and less than 200 cases nationally, b) we're a small country and an island, so easier to close borders c) our government has been very clear, data/science driven and empathetic in their communication and are supported by the opposition parties to create a united front. There a four alert levels, and we were at level two when we had some cases but no community transmission. We are now at level four. There is no level five.

But...we're battening down for the effects of this to last long past the lockdown, as tourism is a huge contributor to our GDP. So, that's a massive problem that won't have a quick fix.

Of course, we're not perfect. There are plenty of people that don't want the rules to apply to their situation. People will lose their jobs because the government support won't be able to keep all businesses going beyond the lockdown. Some think we should have closed the borders sooner (allowing NZers to travel home meant that a lot of people brought CV19 home with them). Some are trying to get home from NZ and aren't able to because their aren't the flights (a lot of Brits apparently).

I'm quietly confident though that we are in good hands - a Quote from our PM yesterday 'Ardern has also hit back at criticisms the lockdown was too harsh on the economy - saying a good health outcome from the crisis was crucial to a good economic one.'

It's quite strange to think that it could be a year before I can flex my passport again.

Posted by
74 posts

Best months for travel...any month can be good. The weather is changeable. Mountains and water make things different everyday! North of the NI is generally more humid/sub tropical than other part of the country. So more frequent rain, but warmer. The east is generally drier and hotter in summer and cooler in winter. The west of the SI is generally wetter. The sea is warm enough to swim in the NI from Nov - March/april, but in the SI your generally pretty brave to go in anytime.

My improvised calendar:

Jan- School summer holidays. Busy, but nice weather, apart from when it's not.
Feb - Schools are back. Chinese New Year tourists. Busy, but nice weather, apart from when it's not.
March - Can be settled, can be cooler mornings and nice warm days.
April - Cooler mornings, shorter days, Autumn leaves.
May - Cooler mornings, shorter days, Autumn leaves, some wet/cool spells
June - Cold, apart from when it's not. Short days. Some early skiing!
July - Winter. Crispy, frosty mornings with clear days. Some wet/windy spells (Southerlies from the antarctic). Skiing!
August - Winter. Can vary from cold to not so bad...spring is coming. Skiing!
September - Spring is here! Cold mornings, days are starting to get longer and the odd warmer day.
October - Spring has flung! Apart from when it's cold again.
November - Days are longer, flowers are out, cooler mornings and evenings apart from when it's hot
December - Christmas and summer holidays are coming! Why is it still so changeable! Summer is never coming! Why is it so hot! Why is it so cold!

Posted by
7817 posts

Thank you Kiwi. You've been very informative.

Posted by
122 posts

@Kiwi 1.20pm Thurs

Just noticed you had a bit of a shaker there this morning, hope you are fine.

Excellent post and descriptions. (IAB) I am back in 2022.

Last June some members of my family and me spent a 6-day long weekend in the SI.

Flew into Queenstown to enjoy the beauty and pristine environment. Refreshing.

Left from Christchurch. Particularly for me to see Hagley CG and Sir Richard’s bronze. Enjoyed watching his exploits on the field. Even when we were on the receiving end. High on the agenda was to spend some time in contemplation outside the Al Noor Mosque. Hard to believe that an ignorant, bigoted, fellow country man could manifest such hate. I had tears in my eyes.

Will be remembering Gallipoli on 25th April.

Regards Ron

Posted by
74 posts

The 4.3M this morning was acknowledged with a brief sigh (seriously? An earthquake?? now?!), but no action required as all bark and no bite. Thanks for your thoughts though.

Great news from our PM today at the daily briefing - only 29 new cases of CV19 today and we're 2 weeks into our 4 week lockdown.

Now it's the start of a four day weekend with nowhere to go :(