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New Zealand travel guide

Famously known as ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’, New Zealand is home to many of our friends and family, and we’ve always shared a special kinship. A warm welcome awaits newcomers who become part of the family too.

Where to go in New Zealand

The Māori word manaakitanga means ‘spirit of welcome’ and that's exactly how you feel when you arrive in New Zealand. Although we push their buttons and claim some of their celebrities as our own, New Zealanders will let us know about it, then let us off. It's a country rich in culture, and the hospitality and generosity of the New Zealand people runs deep.

North Island

Your closest stop from Australia, Auckland is a vibrant city best viewed from the Sky Tower, which – shock! – has a SkyJump. Just off the north coast is the mostly untouched Bay of Islands, which you can sail around for days. Further south, the Bay of Plenty has beautiful beaches, food and wine, and the island's only active marine volcano.

Rotorua sees exploding geysers, sensational hot springs, bubbling mud pools and your chance to soak in a warm stream. Nearby you can sail on the largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Taupo, and stand on a tiny bridge overlooking powerful Huka Falls. If you're game, take a jet boat right into them!

Tongariro National Park has three active volcanoes, and the landscape here is what you viewed of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. Waitomo Caves, eerily lit by glow worms, is a must-visit – abseil in, scoot down into the caves in a tyre, then abseil back out again.

Napier, a seaport city in Hawke’s Bay on the east coast, is a unique tourist destination because of its rich concentration of 1930s Art Deco buildings. Architecture fans flock there every February and August for the two main Art Deco festivals.

At the southern tip of the North Island, the capital, Wellington, has their national museum, Te Papa, where you can learn about the natural environment and New Zealand’s culture. The city is the gateway to the South Island where you can make your way by ferry.

South Island

One of the most memorable sights in New Zealand is the Fox Glacier on the west coast of the South Island – get onto the ice and feel humbled. Further south is the Fjordland and the spectacular cliffs and waterfalls of the Milford Sound.

Inland, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu at the base of the Southern Alps, Queenstown is a place for the adventurous. Go here to ski, bungee jump and to take a scenic gondola trip with a luge back down!

On the east coast, Christchurch is rebuilding – visit for their lush botanical gardens and to support the community. The Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, is a City of Literature and gateway to the Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head, where you can see the Northern Royal Albatross.

We've got you covered for long and short trips – even those on a 4-day adventurous adrenalin rush of a lifetime!

New Zealand tips and travel advice

Being in New Zealand feels like just a hop from Australia, but there are a few differences that are good to know about. Here are some tips and advice for your trip:

Healthcare agreement

If you have a medical mishap while in New Zealand, they do have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia, but you should still take out travel insurance to cover additional accommodation or flight costs. The agreement doesn't cover ongoing medical costs back home or medical evacuation costs either.

Global roaming on your phone

Don't forget that you'll chew through data in New Zealand so set up a deal with your telco before you go. Or if you're there for a longer stay, unlock your phone and buy a local SIM card.

Hiking in New Zealand

The weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable, so if you're going on a hike, check forecasts and let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Take the right equipment and, as advised by the Smart Traveller website, rent a personal locator beacon.

Go to a rugby game

If you're visiting between February and August, the national sport is a must-see – just head to a school field to catch a local game, or plan well ahead and buy a ticket to see the All Blacks play.

New Zealand's weather

Summer sees happy crowds and lovely weather from December through to February, with March to May being a little quieter. Spring (September to November) is a glorious time to be there, with spring lambs and excellent white-water rafting due to melts! If you're going to ski or snowboard, the season runs from June to October.

New Zealand travel risks and warnings

Before you head off, check the government's Smart Traveller website for current travel warnings for New Zealand

Earthquakes and tsunamis

New Zealand lies on a tectonic plate and experiences regular earthquakes, and the threat of a tsunami is real. As recently as 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand's South Island. In 2011, the earthquake in Christchurch sadly claimed 185 lives. Pay attention to what locals and authorities say and check their Get Ready Get Thru website for advice.

Adventurous activities

If you're taking on bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, sailing, canyoning, ziplining, caving, white-water rafting, or zorbing (rolling down a hill in a plastic ball. Yes really.), make sure you're covered with the right level of travel insurance!

Driving around New Zealand

Driving in New Zealand, especially in the mountains during winter, can be hazardous. Roads can be narrow, windy, hilly and icy, so take the necessary precautions with travel insurance that covers you for the excess of any insurance the hire company has on the vehicle!

Choose CGU travel insurance for your trip to New Zealand

It's important to get travel insurance that has you covered for the types of activities you'll enjoy in New Zealand, even if it's just a scenic cruise.

If an emergency happens when you're there you can contact us at anytime on our hotline +61 2 8895 0698. You can even reverse the charges.

If something happens that's not an emergency, give us a call when you get home on 13 24 80, at any time. We'll set you up with your own claims specialist who'll support you throughout your claim.

When you take out travel insurance it'll cover you if your luggage, like that precious snowboard, is damaged while travel. You'll also have peace of mind if there are any flight cancellations due to weather. Most of all, if you do get injured on the slopes or slip and hurt yourself on a cruise, your medical bills will be taken care of.