NZ Roads

With a country the size of Great Britain, but a population of only 5 million, it can sometimes feel like we’re the only vehicle on the road, especially in some of the more off the beaten track areas that we visit. But where a lack of traffic is the upside, New Zealand’s rugged landscape means that we do have a lot of small, windy, narrow and sometimes bumpy roads to navigate. So, if you are prone to feeling a wee bit nauseous whilst being driven, make sure you bring your wristbands and tablets along.

The good news is that we don’t drive fast – we drive slowly and steadily so you can see every bit of our beautiful scenery as we zigzag through the countryside. And don’t be fooled, there are a few areas where we’ll find ourselves bumper to bumper in traffic (ahem… stand up Auckland and Wellington) but we’ll make sure we keep these to a minimum – luckily, our seats are all very comfy!!

Plus, it's also not uncommon to come across a herd of sheep on NZ roads!


New Zealand has many lakes, rivers and beaches. Each provide wonderful swimming opportunities, but each must also be carefully scrutinised before you dive in. Rip tides, swift currents and underwater reeds may not be obvious at first glance, so ensure you look carefully at where you are about to swim and don’t be afraid to ask any locals if it is safe. Many beaches have lifeguards during the summer months.

Always abide by the lifeguards’ instructions and do not swim when red flags are raised. If you do happen to get swept in a rip tide, try to swim parallel to the beach until you feel the current reduce. Never try to swim against the current.


New Zealand offers lots of wonderful opportunities to get out amongst nature. However, if you do intend to go walking in the bush or in the mountains, always check the weather and pack some warmer clothing, even if it looks sunny. You may not be able to get any signal on the many nature trails we visit, so familiarise yourself before you go. It is also advised to make yourself aware of the Department of Conservation’s information and outdoor safety code. We’ll always be on hand to provide advice too.  


Nobody can predict what the weather is going to be like, especially for three months at a time during this period of extreme global climate change. But the good news is that New Zealand is a temperate country, and though we do have spells of cold, and/or very wet weather, these are not common and do not last for long. But be warned, though our trips are titled Spring, Summer and Autumn, we are likely to experience all four seasons at some stage on the tour, so it is best to come prepared for all climactic eventualities.

Have a look at our ‘Kit List’ section for our suggestions, and remember, layers, layers, layers. We travel in all weathers (unless we feel it is too dangerous to do so), and we will all get wet at times, but we will try to avoid predicted storms where we can and will look to offer ‘rainy day alternatives’ if an activity is cancelled due to inclement weather.


The combination of New Zealand’s significantly depleted ozone layer and a considerably lower level of pollution in the atmosphere means that the Kiwi sun can be very powerful indeed. Even over a relatively short period of time (15 minutes), exposure during the day can leave fair skin feeling burnt.

It is best to be proactive and protect yourself as often as possible from our harmful UV rays. Suntan lotion in New Zealand is plentiful and relatively cheap in comparison to other parts of the world, so look to purchase some on arrival into the country, and make sure you have it handy at all times. We recommend as a minimum a cover of 30-50+ SPF.

Time difference

The North and South Islands of New Zealand are in the same time zone and are one of the first places in the world to see the new day. Across the warmer months of the year (September til April), NZ uses daylight savings with the time being GMT +13. In the cooler months (April til September), NZ clocks are set to GMT+12. Daylight saving begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday in April.


New Zealand’s electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts, and we use angled 2/3 pin plugs.

These plugs are also used in Australia and parts of Asia. ZigZag provide a USB charger fitted adjacent to each passenger seat in our van 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.


Tourists visiting New Zealand are covered for most medical care that results from accidental injuries that they might sustain whilst in the country. Should you suffer a mishap while in NZ and need to visit a doctor or hospital for treatment, you will be asked to fill out a form so that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) can assist with some, or all, of your bill. You will however have to pay for the treatment of any illnesses that you might incur whilst on tour. We ask that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that covers both accidents, and illnesses, before you fly to New Zealand. 


Tap water across New Zealand is generally safe to drink, but water from streams and rivers may contain parasites like giardia that can cause stomach illness, so we recommend using iodine tablets if drinking from these. It is also recommended that you do not dip your head in any hot pools that you visit. Please seek advice from your doctor regarding other vaccinations that they may recommend. 

Cultural Etiquette

New Zealanders pride ourselves on ‘being kind’. Indeed, ‘being kind’ has become a sort of national ‘catchphrase’ during the recent Covid outbreaks. We ask that our visitors embrace the concept of ‘being kind’ whilst travelling with us, and show understanding to the different peoples, cultures and beliefs that are woven into the patchwork of New Zealand’s contemporary society. We ask too that our guests show respect when visiting Māori areas and activities. New Zealanders are very proud of our Māori heritage, and we all want to share it with you while you are here. To show respect for Māori culture, particularly when visiting a marae (Māori meeting house), there are some dos and don’ts that are important to be aware of – 

  • Take off your shoes before entering. Shoes are not permitted inside a marae
  • Do not sit anywhere where food might be placed
  • Follow local regulations – campfires, litter, free camping, etc

We also suggest learning some Māori words…. here’s a few to get you started:

Hello - Kia ora (kee-a or-a)
Please - Tēnā koa (te-na ko-a)
Thank you - Mihi ki a koe (me-he ke aa kwee)
Goodbye – Haere ra (hai-ree ra)
Food – Kai (kii)

Emergency Services

NZ in general is very safe. But don’t forget to pack your common sense – accidents can always happen, especially on long trips overseas.

We are committed to making sure that your tour is as safe as possible, and should a serious mishap occur, always follow our advice. If we are not around, or are incapacitated ourselves, then dial 111. This will connect you to the emergency services operator who will assist in alerting the most appropriate responder – police, ambulance or fire.  

natural disasters

New Zealand is known as the ‘Shakey Isles’, and for good reason. Much of the country is centred on an active earthquake fault line, and this results in regular tremors, and areas of volcanic activity as well. However, the vast majority of the faults that New Zealand experiences are deep, and relatively weak. Very few are significant enough to be felt, and even less cause damage. It would not be uncommon to visit New Zealand for 2-3 months and not feel an earthquake at all. Fortunately, modern communications and technology enables all of us to be warned very quickly of any heightened volcanic or tsunamic risk, and should an occasion arise, we will quickly amend our planned route accordingly.

We suggest you download the Red Cross NZ ‘Hazards’ application for your phone. It is free and will send out warnings and advice regarding any heightened threat of natural disasters across all New Zealand regions. Your safety will always be our number one priority, and where a disaster might occur, we will follow all guidance from the relevant government authorities and apply the recommendations from our independently assessed Health and Safety Management Plan to ensure we minimise risk as much as we possibly can.  


NZ uses the NZ Dollar ($). Check this link for current exchange rates 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 debit cards and travel money cards (e.g. Revolut)


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.

New Zealand retailers are not accustomed to bartering. Prices on goods show the full amount that you are required to pay, including taxes.


All goods and services in New Zealand incur a Goods and Services Tax of 15%. Restaurants and shops typically include the tax in the prices that they display. GST is non-refundable on any goods on departure.


Customs - New Zealand maintains strict Customs regulations, and limits what can and can’t come in to the country. It may be a good idea to familiarise yourself with these restrictions prior to your arrival. Check out New Zealand’s Customs Service’s website for more information.

Creepy crawlies

New Zealand has been isolated at the bottom of the world for many millions of years and has some unique and fascinating little critters that cannot be found anywhere else (Do a Google search on Tuatara and Giant Weta). We do not have any snakes or scorpions though, and indeed, there are only two insects that could be considered ‘poisonous’. Both the White-Tailed Spider and the Katipo Spider have nasty bites, but both are very rare and seldom cause injuries. Though simply annoying, sandflies, and to a lesser extent mosquitoes, are relatively common in NZ, especially in summer, so we recommend that you bring a good bug spray with you.

What to bring...

Wondering what to bring with you on your trip? We've created a multi-seasonal clothing 'Kit List' to help you get organised.
Check out our 'Kit List'