New Zealand has a special place in my heart. This is NOT only because it’s the set of ‘Middle-earth’ (as per one of my favorite movies of all time: LOTR), but because it just really IS a destination I genuinely love given its rich Māori culture and dramatic landscapes — of which the latter are not limited to majestic national parks, mythical forests, and towering mountain ranges. (Wild Kiwi).
That being said, my first trip to New Zealand was actually short-lived as I spent only 7 days exploring the North Island. Right then and there, I definitely knew that I barely scratched the surface; so, I was more than ready to come back and explore more of the country’s wonders as well as indulge in more epic activities and adventures!
…And as if life heard my plea, I have come to discover the amazing tour company of ‘Wild Kiwi‘ (website). When they asked me if I wanted to join their newest 21-day NZ Discovery tour that explores both of the North and South Island’s best, you bet that I said “YES!” in a heartbeat!
About Wild Kiwi
Wild Kiwi (website) is under ‘Navigate Travel‘, a tour company that is committed to offering high-quality holidays for over 9 years now. This kind of strong dedication has definitely led them to be market leaders in their field, and this is further evidenced by the number of successful brands that they have.
Though it is the newest in their portfolio, Wild Kiwi is actually already becoming a HUGE hit in New Zealand especially with the 7 curated trip circuits they have that are packed with memorable and unique travel experiences!
Why I Love Wild Kiwi
As a travel blogger, it’s a fact that I don’t partner up with just about any brand. Besides, I always make it a point to collaborate with a company that I can wholly trust and align with so that I can share with you — my readers — the BEST provider that there is for your travels.
In fact, for full transparency, I actually had invitations from a few brands before that offered experiences in New Zealand, but I decided to go for Wild Kiwi instead — and below are some of the top reasons why!
- We will be traveling in style: If there is a business class on airplanes, Wild Kiwi will have the road trip version for that. All of their vehicles are luxury tour types that will make you feel like your the “king” of Middle-earth! For starters, it features reclining leather seats for full comfort, enough leg room for stretching out, USB ports to keep your electronics charged, sweet high-qaulity stereos for incredible music, and wide panoramic windows to admire the epic NZ views. Not to mention…
- There will be unlimited WiFi: Which will totally keep you on top of your social media game. Sure enough, you won’t just be riding in a “bus” with Wild Kiwi, but rather in a premium cruiser that’s perfect for road tripping in the 21st century!
- There will also be an amazing range of accommodation: When it’s finally time to bunk down for the night, you’ll be assured of the best accommodation places possible in New Zealand. Plus, even if some places will be hostels, you’ll be ensured that the number of guests per room will be low in order to keep it more personal. (Though, much like what Wild Kiwi said, not a lot of the guests spend as much time in the rooms since most of them are busy enjoying the stunning night sky or checking out the local nightlife!).
- We will have LOCAL expert guides: What better way to explore a destination than to be with expert “local” guides, right? With Wild Kiwi, they really make it a point to not just hire drivers because they rather get people who are passionate and fun in what they do so that every guest on board will have the experience of a lifetime!
- Tours are done in small groups of 18 to 35 year olds: All of the road trip circuits available are limited to small sizes of up to 16 people only in order to make the whole adventure more compact. Besides, we all know how chaotic and horrible it could be to be with such a big bustling group — hence, with Wild Kiwi, you will surely have none of that and you’ll even likely have a new ‘squad’ made up of like-minded people in no time. (FYI: These trips are great for solo travelers too!)
- They have 7 different circuits to choose from: Wild Kiwi only brings the best of the best, that’s why they have hunted out all the epic spots and experiences in New Zealand and packed them in 7 different road trip tours that will have everyone out in the action, exploring incredible lakes, glaciers, mountains, and indulging in adrenaline junkie attractions that New Zealand is famous for!
Road Trip Options
What are the basic inclusions in ALL of these tours? An expert local guide + driver, transportation, accommodation, all breakfasts (sometimes some of the other meals), visits to New Zealand’s best spots, select activities, and flights within New Zealand (for NZ Explorer, NZ Adventurer, and NZ Discovery tours).
DISCLAIMER: All prices stated below may change. To be sure, always check Wild Kiwi’s website.
As for the 7th road trip option that Wild Kiwi has, it will be my upcoming adventure which is called their…
» 21-day NZ Discovery
If you’ve got the time and thirst for adventure, this 21-day road trip adventure of Wild Kiwi is the ultimate New Zealand tour package given how it covers the best of both the North and South Islands! There will certainly be a lot of unforgettable things that we will be doing and below are just some of the itinerary highlights that I can’t wait to experience:
- Kayak Cathedral Cove
- Surf at one of the world’s best surf beaches in Raglan
- Stroll through The Shire and take in the views of Middle-earth in Hobbiton
- Go underground and explore the magical caves of Waitomo
- Discover more of the traditional Maori culture at Te Puia
- Ride a helicopter and hike the natural wonder, Franz Josef Glacier
- Do sky diving over the Southern Alps
- Cruise around the fjord of UNESCO-listed Milford Sound
- Check out the iconic Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, and its surrounding glaciers
Detailed itinerary: See details here.
Cost: Starts from $3,599 NZD per person for this 21-day road trip going all over the North and South Island of New Zealand. This cost already includes the following…
- Expert local guide/driver
- Road transportation
- Unlimited WiFi
- Surf lesson in Raglan
- Wai O Tapu geothermal park admittance
- Exploration of the hit spots in the North and South Island
- Accommodation in the North and South Island
- Flight from Auckland to Christchurch (reversible)
- 3 dinners at some of your guides best spots
- Welcome BBQ dinner
- Daily continental breakfast
Extras: There is a list of optional/additional activities that you can choose from all throughout the itinerary — from river rafting to sky diving, your choices are endless! These can cost between $100 to $600 NZD and I recommend setting a budget for these extra activities as they will be your biggest expense while traveling in NZ. Anyhow, regardless of what you’ll do, you’ll have the best time of your life!
New Zealand Travel Guide
- IMPORTANT: New Zealand has STRICT quarantine laws for undeclared food and other biohazards. This means that you should not bring in any kind of fresh food such as bananas, apples, honey, etc. as you make sure that you dispose of them before going through the baggage claim area. Processed or packaged food can be accepted but you are supposed to declare them on your arrival card. If you’re ever in doubt, ask for clarification — otherwise, you will be charged with a hefty fine.
If you’ve got outdoor equipment like diving gear, hiking boots, etc. you must clean them before you travel to New Zealand in order for the inspection process to go more quickly for you. Be advised that New Zealand is firm about this given how they have sniffer dogs and bio-sensitive X-ray machines to detect any unwanted items.
» Best Time to Visit
Technically, there is NEVER a bad time to go to New Zealand; yet of course, since both the North and South Islands are long and narrow, the weather is not uniform. So as an overview, below are New Zealand’s seasons:
- Winter: (June to August) Queenstown for instance will be your winter wonderland, but there surely are a number of ski areas around the country. If you come in June you can enjoy the Queenstown Winter Festival.
- Spring: (September to November) This is one of the ‘off peak’ seasons as you get to enjoy warmer days and longer daylight hours.
- Summer: (December to February) This is the most popular time; hence, the busiest — but the beaches are great during this time of the year. Take note by the way that January will be the warmest month. Thinking about this, New Zealand is a great escape for these months of the year if you want to get away from harsh winters.
- Autumn: (March to May) This time is gorgeous as the leaves change colors and it’s also one of the best times to plan a getaway or a hiking spree since the summer crowds are mostly gone. To add, rates are on an ‘off peak’ level.
June to Aug
Sep to Nov
Dec to Feb
March to May
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» What should I pack for this Wild Kiwi holiday?
Of course this will depend on what month and what locations you will be visiting as per the road trip circuit you choose with Wild Kiwi, but for a start, take note of the following:
- Bring walking shoes (for those walking + hiking sprees) and a rain jacket (just in case).
- In summer, bring a towel, swimming gear, light summer clothes, flip-flops and a light jacket.
- In winter, make sure to pack a warm jacket and lots of layers since the South Island can get really chilly.
- Don’t worry about bringing fancy dresses because New Zealand has a very casual dress code.
- It’s best to bring a day bag that can hold some of your essentials since it will be important for the road trip stops you’ll be making.
- Get a refillable bottle too. After all, New Zealand tap water tastes better than the bottled stuff.
- Remember to pack sunscreen or a hat because the sun can be quite strong in some places.
- Feel free to bring your own snacks or alcoholic beverages during the road trip.
- Bringing insect repellant is a good idea as well because there are little pests called ‘sandies’.
- Lastly, you must buy travel insurance especially with how you’ll be doing a lot of adrenaline-pumping activities. For this I highly recommend buying from World Nomads. I’ve been buying my travel insurance with them for years and they’re amazing. They have a wide coverage, they service worldwide and they have a fast and easy purchase process online.
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» Getting in to New Zealand
By air. Auckland International Airport (AKL) is New Zealand’s largest airport, followed by Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Dunedin. To search for the best flight deals, I highly recommend scanning through SkyScanner.
Meanwhile, you can reach the city from the airport by Airbus Express (NZ$16), shuttle vans, or taxi (can be NZ$50 to NZ$100). Uber has a flat rate of NZ$70, whereas Zoomy charges between NZ$39 to NZ$66.
On the other hand, Christchurch International Airport is another major transit for international and domestic travelers. From this airport, there are daily bus services to the city center that takes about 30 minutes and costs $8 NZD; whereas taxis are at about $45 to $65 NZD.
By boat. Auckland is a major cruise ship port of call with its main cruise terminal located on Queens Wharf.
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» New Zealand Currency
New Zealand Dollar (NZD) wherein about NZD 1.40~ is equal to USD $1, €0.85~ or Php 50~ (this is as of May 2021).
- How to best exchange your currency? Either exchange it at a bank or at a money exchanger in your home country or in any of New Zealand’s city centers. Better yet, just withdraw from an ATM with your debit/credit card — however, you must do one big withdrawal to minimize fees with your bank. Speaking of cards, a lot of New Zealand’s establishments accept credit cards but it’s always advisable to have cash on hand because a lot of smaller shops do not accept international credit cards.
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» Where to Stay
Since Wild Kiwi mainly has either Auckland or Christchurch as the starting point for their road trip journeys, below are the top accommodations that I recommend. (FYI: It is highly recommended that you take a minimum of 1 pre and post accommodation with your Wild Kiwi road trip journey to allot some time of relaxation before and after your flights.)
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» Visa for New Zealand
You can check this list of countries to see who does NOT need tourist visas to enter New Zealand. Naturally, if you’re NOT a citizen of any of the listed countries, you will then need to apply for a tourist visa in the New Zealand embassy that’s near you. (If you’re a Philippine citizen like me, you can read my guide on ‘How to Apply for a New Zealand Visa‘.)
- Check full visa requirements here as per your nationality.
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» Helpful Māori Phrases
English is the dominant language spoken by most Kiwis (New Zealanders) but the country’s de jure official languages are Māori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Rest assured, Māori people are bilingual and can speak English too, but they’ll be happy to hear you try and speak the Māori language.
If you want to learn a few helpful phrases, make sure that you pronounce the following properly!
- RELATED READ: Best translation apps for travel
Hello (to 1 person, formal): Tēnā koe (Te-na koy)
Hello (to 1 person, informal): Kia ora (Key-oar-rah)
Thank you: Kia ora (Key-oar-rah) ~ pronounced with a rising intonation
Yes: Āe (I)
No: Kāore (Kao-re)
Goodbye (said by person leaving): E noho rā (E-noho ra)
Goodbye (said by person staying): Haere rā (Hayre ra)
I’m sorry: Aroha mai (Ar-ro-ha-mai)
Help!: Āwhina! (Af-fin-nuh!)
Cheers!: Kia ora! (Key-oar-rah!)
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For a country that knows no shortage of breathtaking sceneries, a road trip with Wild Kiwi will be an extremely wise choice! All in all, I just can’t wait to share with you my NZ adventure. If you want to stay tuned, make sure to follow these hashtags on social media: #AileenInNewZealand and #WildKiwiTours.