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Visiting New Zealand

When are the school holidays in New Zealand?

Dates may vary by a few days from school to school but most New Zealand schools are on holiday on these dates.


21 December 2022 - 6 February 2023
07 April 2023 - 23 April 2023
01 July 2023 - 16 July 2023
23 September 2023 - 08 October 2023
20 December 2023 - 7 February 2023


21 December 2023 - 7 February 2024
13 April 2024 - 28 April 2024
6 July 2024 - 21 July 2024
28 September 2024 - 13 October 2024
20 December 2024 -  6 February 2025

What highlights should every traveller include on their trip?

Fiordland National Park (whether that be a nature cruise, overnight cruise or multi-day expedition)
A marine life experience with penguins, whales or dolphins (NZ is home to 3 different penguin species, 5 different species of whales, and the world's rarest and smallest dolphins)
The TranzAlpine Train
A geothermal experience in Rotorua
A visit to the west coast to see the glaciers - while they are still around.

Our personal favourite is getting off the beaten trail and being rewarded by vast open spaces - you may be familiar with these from the latest 'The Power of the Dog' movie. No matter your preferred views - diversity will leave you very rewarded here in New Zealand.

What does anyone planning a visit to New Zealand need to know?

It requires more than just a few days; we recommend at least 2 weeks if you can. The country may be small but it is vast and the journey is just as important as the destination. Each travel leg holds some of the most stunning scenery. The roads take longer than expected when driving between destinations - give yourselves time so that the driving days are relaxed and enjoyable, with the ability to stop and enjoy the beautiful sights along the way.
It seems obvious, but New Zealand is a long way from most visitors' homes! Factor this into the planning process. Give yourselves 1-2 days on arrival in the country to catch your breath, stretch your legs and get over the jetlag.
There is something for everyone! Splurge a little you will be rewarded, splurge a lot and you will have a trip of a lifetime at little extra expense.

What dates are the Public Holidays in New Zealand?

It is important to be aware of New Zealand’s public holidays so you can plan ahead for the closures of banks and some businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants. Businesses that do trade on these days may add a 15% surcharge to their services. We have listed the dates below for 2023 and 2024 to make sure you are prepared and get no surprises!

There are four restricted trading days which are Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and before 1 pm on ANZAC Day. Almost all shops are required to be closed. There are some exclusions due to the nature of their trade e.g. petrol stations, cafes, restaurants, fast food outlets and dairies (small convenience stores), however, in smaller towns they will often opt to close as well. Check out in advance what will be open near you on the following days! Small towns and villages are less likely to have places open, so if you are travelling around New Zealand during any of these periods, make sure you plan ahead.

Our New Zealand Travel Specialists can assist you with further information, see our Contact Us page.

2023 New Zealand National Public Holidays

1   Jan: New Year's Day
2   Jan: Day after New Year's Day
3   Jan: New Year Holiday
6   Feb: Waitangi Day
7   Apr: Good Friday
10 Apr: Easter Monday
25 Apr: Anzac Day
5   Jun: King's Birthday
14 Jul: Matariki
23 Oct: Labour Day
25 Dec: Christmas Day
26 Dec: Boxing Day

2023 New Zealand Regional Anniversary Dates (Please note that these holidays are only celebrated within each province, and not nationwide)

23 Jan: Wellington Anniversary Day
30 Jan: Auckland Anniversary Day
30 Jan: Nelson Anniversary Day
13 Mar: Taranaki Anniversary Day
20 Mar: Otago Anniversary Day
11 Apr: Southland Anniversary Day
25 Sep: South Canterbury Anniversary Day
20 Oct: Hawkes' Bay Anniversary Day
30 Oct: Marlborough Anniversary Day
17 Nov: Canterbury Anniversary Day
27 Nov: Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
4 Dec: Westland Anniversary Day

2024 New Zealand National Public Holidays

1 Jan: New Year's Day
2 Jan: Day after New Year's Day
6 Feb: Waitangi Day
29 Mar: Good Friday
1 Apr: Easter Monday
25 Apr: Anzac Day
3 Jun: King's Birthday
28 Jun: Matariki
28 Oct: Labour Day
25 Dec: Christmas Day
26 Dec: Boxing Day

2024 New Zealand Regional Anniversary Dates (Please note that these holidays are only celebrated within each province, and not nationwide)

22 Jan: Wellington Anniversary Day
29 Jan: Auckland Anniversary Day
29 Jan: Nelson Anniversary Day
11 Mar: Taranaki Anniversary Day
25 Mar: Otago Anniversary Day
2 Apr: Southland Anniversary Day
23 Sep: South Canterbury Anniversary Day
25 Oct: Hawkes' Bay Anniversary Day
4 Nov: Marlborough Anniversary Day
15 Nov: Canterbury Anniversary Day
2 Dec: Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
2 Dec: Westland Anniversary Day

Which island should I visit? The North, South or both?

Whether you should visit the North or South Island in New Zealand entirely depends on your travel times. Ideally, you would do both! Mutually stunning, each island has unique, individual attractions. However, if you have limited time we recommend choosing one island to thoroughly explore as opposed to trying to rush them both. There's always next time! So to help you decide here's a quick overview of what you can expect:

North Island:

If you're more of a sun and sand kind of person, then the North is for you. Significantly warmer with many accessible surf beaches, coves and sheltered bays - the North is also home to geothermal Rotorua, all of New Zealand's active volcanoes, and the country’s capital city Wellington. It boasts the longest beach in New Zealand (Ninety Mile Beach) and its sub-tropical Bay of Island region is renowned for its white sand and crystal clear waters.

The South Island

If you love mountains, vineyards and dramatic scenery, then the South is the island you'll enjoy the most. With the Southern Alps running the length of the country you’re never far from some of the most remarkable views in the country. Renowned for it’s hiking, the South has five of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks,’ multiple award-winning wineries, glaciers, rainforest, lakes and dusty plains. It is also home to the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand is beautiful in every season - but the best time to come really depends on what you would like to do.

New Zealand in Spring is a great time to visit as the days are beginning to warm up, but the nights are still crisp and cool. Flowers begin to bloom, and lambs are born all across the country, making for a lively and vibrant atmosphere.

If you're headed here in the Summer expect long warm days perfect for swimming, kayaking, biking, and hiking. You’ll get plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors because it doesn't get dark until 10pm.

Have your camera ready if you're visiting in Autumn, because the changing of the leaves is really something. If you’re into hiking, this is the best time to come for you. Slightly cool but not too cold, the trails will be virtually empty and the days (mostly) clear and crisp. The new season brings spectacular colour to every New Zealand region, but a must-see at this time of year is  Arrowtown, where the hillside is burnished with every shade of red and gold.

If skiing is your thing, Winter is the time for you. Think bluebird days and powdery snow followed by mulled wine and a crackling fire. If skiing isn't your thing, hiking is still great at this time of year, and many of the trails have natural hot springs to relax in.

What are the styles of accommodation available in New Zealand?

New Zealand has a wide range of accommodation to suit any budget. There are six distinct styles including: Motels, three star hotels, four star hotels, luxury lodges and five star hotels, bed and breakfasts, and premium bed and breakfasts.

The motels we recommend are of a very high standard and many have facilities on-par with hotels. Costs can also be comparative of hotels, especially in smaller locations such as Kaikoura and the West Coast where other accommodation types are limited. All motels offer self-contained facilities including cooking utensils, a hot plate and microwave, kettle, crockery and cutlery.  Some also offer facilities such as hot-tubs, swimming pools and saunas. Motes usually have bedrooms separate to the living area, making them ideal for families.

Three-star hotels
In New Zealand, the star rating of a hotel applies to the facilities and services on offer, and not necessarily the value or quality of these services. Throughout  the country there are many three star hotels that offer exceptional service and accommodations. All the three star hotels that we book offer restaurant and room service facilities.

Four-star hotels
Four star hotels are prevalent in New Zealand and are generally very high quality. Most have a range or room types including standard, deluxe, superior or lake/mountain view suites etc.  Many also have two and three bedroom suites which are great when travelling in a large group or with family.  Most have swimming pools, gyms, a choice of restaurants and room service and most will occupy premium positions within a town network.

Luxury lodges and hotels
New Zealand is internationally renowned for its luxury lodges and upmarket hotels. From cool cosmopolitan properties to premium lodges in scenic locations these accommodations are five star and provide just about anything you can ask for including private in-house chefs, helicopter tours, fishing and hunting guides and spa treatments.

Bed and Breakfast homestays
Bed and Breakfast homestays are often the highlight of our guest’s tours. Beyond just a bedroom in a house, staying at these properties are like going on holiday to a friends place. Owners and operators are enthusiastic kiwi ambassadors and are situated in scenic or central locations. All the bed and breakfast properties we recommend have en suite bathrooms and comfortable bedrooms.

Premium bed and breakfast homestays
Premium homestays are simply the luxurious end of B&B accommodation. Properties are generally historically listed, contemporary or unique homes converted into high-end guest houses.


What are the cost of things in New Zealand?

In New Zealand the cost of things will vary according to the location. In more remote places you should factor in paying a lot more for everyday items such as groceries and petrol. If you have children, tourist attractions usually offer a family rate which will give you the best value for money.

To give you an indication of what things will cost in New Zealand here is general price guide:

  • Cup of coffee (flat white) NZ$4 to NZ$5
  • Glass of beer or wine NZ$7 to $NZ15
  • 2 Litres of Milk NZ$4 to NZ$5
  • Jet Boat Ride for 2 children and 2 adults NZ$299
  • Milford Sound Scenic Cruise NZ$70 per adult
  • 30 minute Scenic Helicopter Flight NZ$300 per adult

Petrol prices vary but you can expect to pay the following in petrol for your entire holiday:

  • 10 day South Island tour in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$400 on fuel
  • 14 day tour of both islands in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$550 on fuel
  • 23 day tour of both islands in mid-size car - expect to spend around NZ$900 on fuel


What can I expect to pay for food in New Zealand?

New Zealand food is internationally renowned. A wide range of cuisine and styles are available to suit every budget. Dining out in the larger cities you will have a plethora of options while in the smaller towns you may only have one or two choices.

There is a far more extensive range of cuisine in our larger cities. Typically international eateries and fusion restaurants are the go-to fare. Most New Zealand fusion restaurants will offer at several ‘typical’ Kiwi dishes such as lamb or salmon. As a guide, you can expect to pay between NZ$30 and NZ$40 for a main dinner course at most restaurants. However, at a high-end restaurant, you can expect to pay between NZ$40 - NZ$100 for a main dinner course. For lunch, prices range between NZ$15-NZ$29 at most cafes. Tipping is optional in New Zealand. Hospitality staff are not reliant on tips.  

Take-away/ fast food
If you're in need of a quick fix, New Zealand has an abundance of fast food options. Again, in the larger cities, there is more choice. In New Zealand ‘take-away’ or ‘fast food’ goes beyond the general ‘burgers and fries’ and includes all manner of cuisines including Indian, Thai, Japanese, Mediterranean and classic Kiwi fare, fish and chips. A take-away dinner  for two people costs anywhere between NZ$30-NZ$40, and a breakfast is anywhere between NZ$30- $NZ60 depending on the style and location  

Self catering
When travelling New Zealand, the most cost effective way to dine is to self-cater - particularly if you are staying in motel or apartment style accommodations that contain a kitchenette or kitchen so you can prepare your own meals. Most towns will have a main supermarket or a general grocery store. New Zealand grows much of its own produce - and local farmers markets are a great source of fresh fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs.

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Looking for more help planning your New Zealand tour?

Our team of New Zealand specialists can help you with your questions. We can create a holiday to suit your interests, accommodation requirements, self drive or by coach & bus. Whatever you want we can arrange. Just get in touch with us today.

About Discover New Zealand

Discover New Zealand is part of the New Zealand Fine Touring Group of companies. It specialises in self drive, seat in coach and guided coach touring holidays across New Zealand's North & South Islands. We have hundreds of tour ideas listed to inspire you or give you an indication of what is possible to achieve on your New Zealand adventure. Whether it is a luxury fully guided coach tour or a self driven off the beaten track adventure, we have something suitable for everyone. Our wide range of tour lengths and tour prices give you options and are tailor-made so we can build the itinerary to suit your interests and needs.
Our team of consultants are all 100% Pure New Zealand Certified specialists and are passionate about designing your New Zealand holiday. Our consultation service is free and our quotes are provided with no obligation. Based in the heart of Wanaka you can be assured you will get the best local advice when planning your dream holiday to New Zealand. Contact one of our experienced team today.
Discover New Zealand is also Qualmark Gold Certified. This is Tourism New Zealand's official measure of how our business impacts the environment and our team are proud to have achieved the highest level of quality.