The Basics Overview
90 days guided travel to lots of New Zealand’s stunning beauty spots in a customised Mercedes Sprinter maxi van, with your own individual leather seat. 89 nights at handpicked campsites across the country (and the odd lodge and hostel here and there) with your very own easy to put up canvas tent, camp stretcher and chair (supplied by ZigZag). A maximum group size of ten passengers per tour, two guides, and all road tolls and ferry crossings. We also include a range of paid attractions and activities in both islands. 97% of your breakfasts and 70% of your dinners are also included.For all your inclusions, and the details for our other ZigZag tours, please refer to the specific ‘Trip’ details page.
Your flights, visas/passport costs, airport transfers, accommodation before and after the tour, travel insurance, meals that are not specified in the itinerary, drinks other than water, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate provided by ZigZag, laundry, phone and internet, and any optional excursions, activities and experiences not included in the itinerary.
There will be up to 10 people per trip
There is no age limit, but we have designed our trips with mature, solo travelers and couples in mind. So, it ain’t a party bus, but we still know how to have fun.
Firstly, our ZigZag tours are unlike any other tours in New Zealand. They range from 16 to 90 days in length, which means you get to completely immerse yourself in a whole lot more of little Aotearoa when you travel with us.
Secondly, we are the most affordable and convenient way to ‘deep dive’ New Zealand. Everything is done for you, pretty much. You could plot your own independent tour for months in advance and eventually fly in and drive our amazing 90-day/8390 kilometre and/or 45-day/4579 kilometre itineraries yourself, but consider the costs of buying or hiring a vehicle for almost 13 weeks, add on the fuel required (the vehicle’s 70-80 litre tank filled about 20 times over the 90 days), add the additional powered camp site costs and all your food, and then throw in all of the additional activities we have included, and our nous and local expertise….. it’ll work out costing you a lot more than £100 per day, we can assure you.
Thirdly, the business owners are your drivers, guides, chief cooks, shoppers, bottle washers, weather reporters, agony aunts, psychics, fixer uppers, first aiders, story tellers, historians and cultural interpreters. We love doing this, we care, and we really cannot wait to make this your best ever travel experience.
Fourthly, we only take small groups around New Zealand. It’s friendly, personal, manageable, and non-threatening to travellers who might otherwise find a large group confronting.And lastly, you get your own tent all to yourself, your own on-board leather chair, and you don’t have to be part of a cook group. Nuff said!
You betcha. We designed our ZigZag tours for those mature independent travellers who enjoy and appreciate the bonhomie and security that small group overland travel brings. We provide you with your own tent, stretcher and camp chair, and your own comfy leather seat in our big van. No single supplement is required.
Rest assured – you may join us as a single traveller, but by the end of the tour, you will have made lots of new friends.
Um, no! Though we’re certainly not adverse to our passengers ‘bending their elbow’ every now and again, the ZigZag team like our early morning walks and sunrises too much to miss out on them. We prefer to describe ourselves rather as an ‘optional adventure’ bus with plenty of coffee and toilet stops.
Absolutely, provided we have enough seats. Our group tours can take a maximum of ten adventurers at a time.
Yes, you can, if there is a spare seat available. But please note that it can be very difficult logistically to rendezvous with us once we are ‘on the road’. Please contact us to discuss your preferred dates and we’ll outline the pricing that will apply. You will need to be responsible for organising your transport to, and accommodation at, the rendezvous point.
Yes, you can, if there is a spare seat available. But please note that it can be very difficult logistically to rendezvous with us once we are ‘on the road’. Please contact us to discuss your preferred dates and we’ll outline the pricing that will apply. You will need to be responsible for organising your transport and accommodation to and from your pickup and drop off points.
Relatively so. Like any overland tour, there are certain activities that are physical and require you to be of moderate fitness – setting up your tent and stretcher, for instance. Rest assured that we are always on hand to help you with this.We also stop at a lot of natural beauty spots throughout the tour. Many of these have car parks that are some distance away and require a walk along a well-maintained path to see them. The walks may include hills and valleys which will require a certain level of fitness to complete. We do stop for as long as we think it is necessary to comfortably view each attraction and will always advise as to how long it took us to undertake the walk there and back.
On The Tour Overview
We really don’t have a preference, in all honesty. It just so happens that we have chosen to start our Spring tours, and finish our Autumn tours, in the North Island where it is typically a little warmer at those times. This then means that the van, trailer and equipment are all in the South Island over the busy Summer period, and it therefore makes sense to run our Summer tours around the South Island then.
The North and the South Islands both have their own unique ‘themes’ (cultural, volcanic and beach-orientated in the North, historical and alpine landscapes in the South) and are both chocka block with things to see and do – that is why we spend the same amount of time in both on our 90-day tour.
The 90-day tour comprises of 4334 South Island kms (2693 miles), 4056 North Island kms (2520 miles) and another 100 kilometres (62 miles) on the ferry between the two islands. So that’s a whopping 8390 kilometres (5213 miles) in total. To give that some perspective, get a world map, and draw a straight line from Bristol in the UK, to Belfast. That’s Belfast in South Africa!
We have a few ‘relocation’ days (as we describe them) in both islands, where the emphasis is on getting from one region to another. In a couple of cases, this does take most of the day (typically 10am – 4pm), but we have scheduled coffee stops and lunch breaks where we can and set aside ample time at beauty spots along the way to break up the journey.
On the other days, we are often stopping in parks and at natural attractions for two-three hours at a time, so time spent in the van is often minimal.And in almost all cases, we have scheduled a ‘day off’ either before or after a ‘relocation’ day, where you don’t need to get in the van at all.
In short, no.
Our ZigZag tours range from 16 days to 90 days across the whole of New Zealand. And with so many fantastic things to see and do, we have to keep the van wheels turning constantly. But we pledged to each other when we began to build our epic itinerary that we would minimise the number of early starts and late arrivals into and out of our campgrounds - travel is exhilarating and, in our experience, the best thing you can do in life, but it can be tiring - we wanted to reduce that as much as possible. To that end, our itinerary requires us to pack down our tents and hit the road before 10am on only sixteen of our 90 days on tour (only four pre 9am starts). Similarly, we arrive at camp before 4:30pm on all but three of our travel days. We want you to relax and enjoy New Zealand as much as you possibly can.
Almost all of our camp sites are within a short walking distance to all the cool stuff that you want to see and do while you are here in New Zealand. But for those few that are a little bit further away, and for any activities and attractions that require transport to and from, we suggest investigating the local bus services and taxis, and having the Uber application loaded on your phone. All are listed and easy to find online, and a combination of these three should get you to everything you want to get to. New Zealand also has a myriad of electric bike and scooter hire services that operate across the country – lots of fun and a lovely way to get around.
Yes, of course it is. We’ll need to get you to sign a document saying that you are leaving the tour temporarily, and ensure you understand that it is your responsibility to manage your accommodation, transport and all your other expenses whilst you are independent of us.
You will need to organise your own transport when you leave the tour, and to the rendezvous point where you will re-join the tour. Please understand that we are unable to change our itinerary in order to accommodate your requirements.
We will not be able to refund or discount your tour cost for the days you are away from the tour.
Depending on which ZigZag tour you choose.
You will be able to organise and walk the Tongariro Crossing on one of the two days that we stay in Whakapapa, weather and bookings permitting. This is one of the world’s great one day walks, and is incredibly beautiful, though requires a good level of fitness.You will also be able to organise a walk along a number of the Abel Tasman Coast Track stages. We stay in Marahau at the southern edge of the Abel Tasman National Park, and water taxis can be used to drop you off at and pick you up from different parts of the track over the two days that we are there.
Similarly, you could organise to do a stage of the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds on your day off in Picton, or part of the Hinewai Track on Banks Peninsula on your day off in Akaroa.
New Zealand’s spectacular world-famous hikes – the Milford Track, the Heaphy Track, the Routeburn Track, the Kepler Track, the Paparoa Track, the Rakiura Track, Lake Waikaremoana Track, to name a few – each take several days to complete and are often in very remote locations around the country. It would be possible to incorporate one or two of these during your ZigZag tour, but they would require you to leave the van and travel independently of us for the period that you would need to get to the walk, complete it, and then return to a rendezvous point where we could pick you up.
Should you choose to do this, we would need to get you to sign a document saying that you were leaving the tour temporarily, and ensure you understood that it would be your responsibility to manage your accommodation, transport and all your other expenses whilst you were independent of us.
We will not be able to refund or discount your tour cost for the days you are away from the tour.
If you are interested in incorporating one of New Zealand’s great walks into your ZigZag tour, be sure to research the walk thoroughly. Many of them require you to book (and possibly pay) up to a year ahead, and you would need to bring very specific equipment to walk them for a number of days. Check our detailed itinerary too to determine where the van will be on the dates that you intend to leave, and the dates you intend to return. Please understand that we are unable to change our itinerary in order to accommodate your requirements.
According to our audit, there is only one campsite that doesn’t provide laundry facilities on our complete 90 day tour. Every other location does have at least one washing machine and dryer on site. These are typically large, industrial Maytag combination washing machines and dryers, and are very reliable. They can generally be rented for between NZD$2-4 each. It is a good idea to carry a small bag of $1 and $2 coins for this reason (and for your showers too).
ZigZag will provide a large bag of washing powder for your convenience (note that some laundries supply their own washing powder).
New Zealand’s electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts, and we use angled 2/3 pin plugs (Click here for more information). These plugs are also used in Australia and parts of Asia. ZigZag have had a USB charger fitted adjacent to each passenger seat for use whilst on the road. Most of the campsites we stay at provide power sockets in the public areas for charging camera batteries etc.
Wi-Fi is available at almost all of the campsites that we are staying at, as well as nearby cafes, and restaurants. It is almost always free, but there are some campgrounds that charge for Wi-Fi usage. Please note that there are some areas where the signal can be a little slow and unreliable.
On our tours that either end in Auckland or Christchurch, for your convenience, we will drop our passengers off at one of two locations on the last day of the tour free of charge –
- A central point near the very centre of the city, and/or
- Out at the airport
Each passenger can nominate which option is most suitable to them.
On our tours that end in Rotorua you will spend the final night at the campsite and depart the tour the following morning. It is your responsibility to find your own transport from the campsite.
On our tours that end in Wellington you will spend the final night at the hostel and depart the tour the following morning. It is your responsibility to find your own transport from the hostel.
On our tours that end in Akaroa you will spend the final night at the campsite and depart the tour the following morning. We do provide a free transfer from Akaroa to Christchurch city centre or airport if required.
Tour Food Overview
We provide almost all of your breakfasts and the majority of your dinners, and you buy and/or prepare the other meals yourself.
For the 90-day Spring and Autumn tours, we provide the following:
- 63 dinners, 4 lunches, 86 breakfasts*
For the 45-day Summer tour, we provide the following:
- 30 Dinners, 45 breakfasts
Please refer to the specific ‘Trip’ details page for meals included on each separate tour.
Breakfasts typically consist of cereal options, milk, soy milk, toasting bread, fresh fruit, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, butter and a range of spreads. We may choose to provide you with a ‘breakfast box’ on the few occasions where we are travelling early. Otherwise, breakfast is served each morning around the ‘trailer’ kitchen (or in the camp kitchen if the weather is poor).
*Breakfast is not provided at the dorm hotel in Wellington. However, guests can purchase their breakfast at the in-house restaurant, and there are also plenty of breakfast options available within a 2-3 minute walk from the hotel.
Dinners typically consist of a nutritious variety of meats, seasonal vegetables and ‘carbs’ (pasta, rice, lentils, cous cous, potatoes and kumara). We endeavour to make them as tasty as possible, and provide our passengers the option to individually ‘spice’ theirs up prior to tucking in.
We stop at shops, cafes and bakeries that we feel offer a good, affordable range of lunch (and coffee) options every day. We also regularly visit supermarkets and convenience stores, where you are welcome to purchase supplies for your own lunches, dinners and snacks.
We also make sure we remind you which nights you need to get your own dinner. On these nights, there is always a range of affordable dinner options nearby. And if you want to cook for yourself, rather than eat out, you can use the campground kitchen facilities and our cooking equipment where required.
Please note that we could never be confused with ‘MasterChef’s’, but we can put some tasty kai together, and will ensure that we are all eating nutritiously and well right throughout the tour.
The ZigZag team can easily cater for those travellers with a vegetarian diet. Those with further specific dietary requirements are catered for to the best of our ability, but it can be a little difficult to buy a range of specialised food in some of the smaller community stores that we visit. Please contact us prior to booking to chat about this further. Similarly, if you are a ‘particular‘ eater or simply do not like certain foods, then please think about bringing alternatives.
No. These are all provided by ZigZag.
Attractions & Activities Overview
There are entire web sites dedicated to providing in depth information and recommendations about the many things to see and do while in New Zealand. Can we suggest that you :
- Check out 'Our Adventures' to see what we did during our four-month ZigZag research tour.
- Check out the official 100% Pure New Zealand tourism web site.
- Check out the New Zealand section of the TripAdvisor web site.
- Rub your hands together with glee, because we are taking you to all the places where your favourite Kiwi adventures and experiences await.
The good news is that our itinerary and timetable enable you to do both, so it just comes down to whether your budget allows you to do so too. We did both as part of a third-party tour operator’s package (overnight Doubtful Sound tour, Milford Sound day trip, and a Glow-worm cruise), and enjoyed it so much that we planned our ZigZag stay in Te Anau in such a way that it allows you to book the very same package, should you wish to.
Both are stunning – which ever one you visit will probably then become one of your absolute NZ highlights. If you have to choose just one though, Milford Sound is a shorter and easier day trip from Te Anau. Doubtful Sound is much larger and is considered more spectacular but is further away and takes longer to get to.
Check out 'Our Adventures' section to see how our time in Te Anau was spent.
Yes. Only bad weather, force majeure, or severe unforeseen circumstances will cause a postponement or cancellation for any of the activities that we include in the tour.
We cannot vouch for all New Zealand tourism operators but believe that most would have a full refund policy if they were unable to operate due to poor weather. It is always best to check their T&C’s at the time that you book. Don’t be surprised if they continue to operate in the rain too – you may not be liable for a refund if you choose to cancel instead.
We are happy to provide suggestions for any additional activities, accommodation upgrades, and other bits and bobs for your stay in New Zealand either before, during or after the tour, but we ask that you take full responsibility for all your booking requirements.
Yes, but only if there is something that you would be terribly disappointed to miss out on if you couldn’t do it.
For example, if a helicopter ride somewhere in the country is top of your ‘to do’ list, then it probably would be a good idea to lock that in before you get to New Zealand. However, if you would prefer to be flexible, not wish to plan so far in advance, and don’t have your heart set on a particular activity or attraction, then there will always be lots of options for you to choose from. You don’t need to book everything in advance – most activities and attractions should be able to accommodate your interest from the time you arrive here.
We are happy to discuss any questions that you might have regarding activities and attractions around the country with you prior to you making any bookings yourself. We suggest that you consult our detailed itinerary too, and the activities that we are including on the ZigZag tour, so that you do not ‘double up’.
Note that we will not make any additional bookings on your behalf.
As well as booking and checking all of the accommodation and activities for the trip, we are also your drivers, ‘cool stuff’ suggesters, chief cooks, shoppers, bottle washers, weather reporters, agony aunts, psychics, fixer uppers, certified first aiders, story tellers, historians and cultural interpreters. At the same time, we’re also organising the next tour, responding to enquiries online, and keeping a sharp eye on the weather.
Money & Payments Overview
We suggest you budget for the following:
- NZD$1-2 for your shower (only valid at about half the campsites – the rest are free)
- NZD$5 for a coffee (our ZigZag coffee is not barista style, but it is free)
- NZD$10-15 for your lunch
- NZD$5 for a bottled water or flavoured soda (we will always provide an option to fill your water bottle up for free)
In addition, dinners out will cost you somewhere between NZD$20-30 each. An alcoholic drink with dinner will range between NZD$8-15 each. Separate attractions and activities incur widely different costs. Refer to the 100% Pure New Zealand tourism web site for specific pricing options.
Yes. They are certainly our preference. We suggest using a credit card for your larger expenses (booking for additional activities, attractions and accommodation), and debit/travel cards for your smaller purchases as it can be less expensive.
Visa and Mastercard (Debit/Credit) are widely accepted across the country and account for 75% of all transactions. ATMs are available in all big cities and almost every town that we will be visiting, but it is also advisable to carry a small amount of cash at all times. Be aware that some credit cards incur an overseas transaction fee - it is therefore worth investigating travel money cards (e.g. Revolut)
It is still possible to exchange traveller’s cheques and your own currency, but it can be a time-consuming process, and the facilities at which to do either are certainly not available in many of the locations we will be visiting on the tours.
Tipping is not normally required or expected in NZ, but will no doubt be appreciated if you have received exceptional service. It is entirely at your own discretion.
To the best of our ability, they are. We have to book, pay a deposit and lock our specific accommodation options in months ahead of schedule in order to secure them, and call ahead to reconfirm availability for us while on the tour.
Note that we do reserve the right to make amends to the campsite/hostel/lodge and/or the type of accommodation provided at any time due to any unforeseen circumstances that may occur, and/or which are out of our control. Should this happen on your tour, we will make alternative arrangements and inform you of these as they happen.
Should you wish to have a night ‘out’ of your tent, you may have a range of different accommodation options to choose from, depending on where we are and what time of the year it is.At many of the campsites that we stay at, shared dorm room beds are typically priced somewhere between NZD$30-60. Private rooms (usually with no ensuite) may start from as low as NZD$80 per night, whilst rooms with a bathroom and basic kitchen facilities average NZD$120-180 per night and normally include all linen and towels. ZigZag are not able to supplement any of the cost should you wish to ‘upgrade’ at any of the accommodations that we provide. Similarly, independent hotel, motel and Airbnb options need to be independently booked and all the costs incurred by yourself.
Though we’d like to suggest that your upgrade options will always be available on tour, there is a good chance that they won’t be at certain times of the year. A lot of New Zealanders tend to travel domestically during the public holiday periods (and especially over the January summer period), and there may be few upgrades left when you want them.
We would suggest that if you know where and when you would like to book alternative accommodation on the tour, and you have cross-checked dates and times with our detailed itinerary, then go ahead and reserve them as soon as you can.
There will generally be more availability during the Spring and Autumn tours but familiarise yourselves with New Zealand’s public holidays as they will be busier in most places.
ZigZag has opted for dorm rooms or shared private rooms in the following locations:
- Taumarunui – 1 night – a combination of mixed 2 bed and 4 bed cabins
- Whakapapa – 3 nights – a combination of mixed bunk bed dorms
- Eastwood (Gisborne) – 2 nights – a combination of mixed bunk bed dorms
- Wellington – 3 nights – a combination of mixed bunk bed dorms
- Dunedin – 3 nights – a combination of mixed bunk bed dorms and cabins
Should you have any concerns, we are happy to discuss these arrangements further with you prior to booking.
Yes, we have to be pretty strict on the weight and size requirements, but we think they are pretty generous. Each passenger can bring the equivalent of a typical 100 litre backpack or holdall bag, with a weight up to 25kgs. This must include your sleeping bag and/or roll mat please.
It is a good question, and the answer probably comes down to whatever your personal preference is. Understand though that whatever you bring, it’s going to bump around in the back of our big trailer for the length of the tour, it may well get dirty and dusty, and you will need to be lifting it in and out fairly frequently. So, we would tend to recommend a backpack ourselves, as opposed to a holdall or suitcase.
Whatever you choose, consider also bringing a smaller day pack as well that you can carry inside the van and that can act as a kind of ‘intermediary’ for your larger luggage. It makes it much easier to have a few days of clothing and your toiletries in that, thus reducing how often you need to access your larger pack in the trailer.
It is completely up to you. We do require at least a 10% deposit at the time of booking, and you can choose to pay the balance at any time up to 6 weeks before the tour starts.
When you book through the ZigZag web site, we provide you with a prompt to pay the deposit required to secure your seat on your tour.
We then send you a log-in to your own specific ‘passengers page’ on our site where we have a lot more information for you, our detailed tour itinerary with all of our dates and timings on it, and some documents that we would like you to read and complete.
We stay in touch with you as the weeks count down, before finally being able to welcome you in person on the first morning.
If you cancel a confirmed booking prior to the Tour Commencement Date, then you will be liable to pay ZigZag immediately on demand as per the following:
- Cancellation more than 42 days prior to the Tour Commencement Date: 10% of the Tour Price
- Cancellation between 42 days and 15 days before the Tour Commencement Date: 50% of the Tour Price
- Cancellation within 14 days of the Tour Commencement Date: 100% Tour Price.
Please refer to our Terms of Trade document.
Before You Fly Overview
Yes, you will. We ask that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that covers both accidents, and illnesses, before you fly to New Zealand.
Please check with your doctor and the relevant ‘vaccination advice for travellers’ web site in your own country. You might also want to read the Vaccination requirements provided by New Zealand Traveller Declaration.
Yes, however, please do your own research to ensure the drugs that you want to bring into the country are permitted. is a useful resource.
If you are carrying prescription medicines or controlled drugs, you must present to Customs New Zealand at the airport on arrival with:
- a prescription or letter from your doctor
- all of the drugs in their original containers
There may also be restrictions on the amount you are permitted to bring in. Please check this carefully before arriving.
If you are contemplating the 90-day tour, you’ll need to consider how long you may have on your New Zealand visitor visa. Most international travellers to NZ need to apply for a visitor visa to stay for longer than 3 months, so do your research carefully.
Refer to the New Zealand Immigration website for more information on how long you can stay in New Zealand, and whether you need to apply for a visitor visa from your own country before you travel.
We are happy to provide you with a detailed itinerary that includes specific dates for the tour that you are interested in, should you require this for your visa application. Make sure that you consider the length of the flights to and from New Zealand. It is not unusual for travellers to New Zealand from afar to experience jet lag symptoms for a couple of days after arrival. And be careful to check the time differences too, particularly when flying from or through the ‘international dateline’ from North America.
Lastly, allow yourself some time in Christchurch and Auckland at the start/end of your trip, as they serve only as our pick-up and drop off points - we do not spend any time in either city as part of our tours.
The International Date Line lies to the east of New Zealand and is the global starting point for each calendar day. Hence, New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sun rise each day.
The International Date Line is also known as the “Line of Demarcation” because it separates two calendar dates, and this is where things can get a bit tricky. As you fly across the date line traveling west to New Zealand, you need to go forward one whole calendar day. This is important to allow for in your itinerary. Similarly, if you fly back across the line traveling east, you go back a full calendar day…. you may even land in your destination before you left New Zealand!!!