New Zealand: Queenstown to Auckland
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Travel Documents: In order to enter New Zealand, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry, as well as a visa.
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group as soon as it opens! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
A Visa is required for all U.S. Travelers going to or traveling through New Zealand. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents before you board your flight from the United States. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:
- New Zealand: Travelers need an e-visa starting October 1, 2019. Visas are multi-entry and valid up to 2 years. You can obtain this visa online and pay with a credit card (visa + processing fee is around 30 USD). ***Link and more information here***.
- If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Vaccinations and Health Precautions
Consult your primary care physician or local travel clinic at least 60 days prior to departure for the most up-to-date recommendations or requirements by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). While you're in the South Pacific, keep these additional tips in mind to stay healthy:
- Travelers prone to seasickness may want to take special precautions for the squeeze boat ride in Rotorua, or the trip to the Waiheke Islands
- Take particular care of sun exposure and drink plenty of liquids.
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered
Pack Like a Pro
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (recommended 27" x 21" x 14”), but note that years of customer feedback tells us the lighter you pack, the better. Aim for one piece of luggage no more than 30lbs, plus a smaller backpack or purse for carry-on. Pro tip: You should feel comfortable managing your own luggage without assistance. See more packing tips below:
- A light jacket or rain-wear, or a warmer jacket for winter
- A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers for long days of sightseeing
- Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen
- 1-2 pairs pants, shorts, or skirt
- 2-3 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 dressier outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Passport, Visa
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “I” plug; three flat pins set on an angle. Or, a staff favorite is the universal adapter
Note: The sun in New Zealand is very hot. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Bug repellent is also useful.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Pro Tip: Travel from the U.S. to New Zealand is a long process (30+ hours travel time total), so prepare for your flight. Download movies ahead of time, bring a book (or three), and get some sleep!
Arriving in Queenstown
Congratulations! You’ve landed in Queenstown, a coastal town on New Zealand’s southern island, known for adventure, vineyards, and history. We can’t wait for you to dive in! Before you arrive, your Tour Director or Trip Consultant will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group!
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend purchasing an international data plan from your cell phone provider for this trip. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or use a personal hot spot with your carrier. See more details about connectivity:
- Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
- For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter
- Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
Slow Internet: New Zealand is notorious for slow internet. So much so, that the director of The Hobbit commented on the struggle. WiFi will be available in certain areas, but prepare for slow connection!
Adapters / Converters: For an adapter/converter you’ll need a type “I” plug; three flat pins set on an angle. Or, a staff favorite is the universal adapter, found on Amazon for $20, or at your local department store.
On The Ground
Money and Tipping
The local currency in New Zealand it’s the New Zealand dollar. Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip!
- When exchanging money before the trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- New Zealand is expensive. Prepare for higher rates of food, taxis, drinks, and more.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but be wary of fees
- Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- Tipping is not customary in New Zealand, but if you feel inclined it’s okay to leave 10%. or a few dollars.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $60 - $90 at the end of the trip. For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
Note: Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
Transportation in the South Pacific
Transfers between cities and countries are via private bus or internal flights, and these transfers can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
Note: Remember that New Zealand is a large country, so it takes time to get from place to place. Pack light and bring books, music, and more to entertain yourself on travel days!
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
New Zealand is a bucket-list destination for a reason. It’s adventurous, laid-back, natural, and modern all in one. Here are more expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of the South Pacific and feel like a true Kiwi:
- Māori: Māori culture is the customs and practices of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand that still is a part of Eastern Polynesian culture today! You’ll witness glimpses of it in the language, TV, hangi feasts, or performances in NZ.
- Island Prices: New Zealand is expensive. For example, a McDonald’s value meal may be $8 NZD, versus a $4 USD in the U.S. Okay here’s another one: $10 NZD for a bag of grapes.
- Sheep: They’re everywhere.
- The Sun: The sun is extremely strong in New Zealand. Think you’re stronger than the sun? Think again and go re-apply that sunscreen, bring a hat, and stay hydrated.
- Kiwis: Kiwis, or locals in New Zealand, are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to help you, expecting nothing in return. Take this opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the culture!
- Opposite Weather: New Zealand’s winter is our summer, and their summer is our winter. From December to March it’s hot and tropical, and from April to November it’s a bit cooler.
- Slow Internet: Connection isn’t always reliable in the South Pacific, and while WiFi may be available in hotels or restaurants, it may come at a price. Take this opportunity to go off the grid!
- LOTR: After the LOTR trilogy, tourism boomed in NZ. You’ll find LOTR-branded items everywhere and articles about why NZ is a top destination. Once you see the scenery (and maybe a LOTR film), you’ll understand why.
Wine and Dine
Get ready for some of the world’s best lamb, steak, and seafood. We’re not sure what more you could want… but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try while in the South Pacific!
- Hāngi: A staple of Māori culture, it starts by digging a hole in the ground then lowering in baskets of food on top of hot rocks. After filling the hole (and burying the food in the ground), after the course of the day the food is brought out and you enjoy a Hāngi feast of chicken, pork, potatoes, pumpkin, and vegetables.
- The Kiwi Burger: Basically New Zealand’s take on the Lot Burger. Maybe compare the two and see which pans out best?!
- Lamb: Yes, there are a lot of sheep in New Zealand, and yes, they are part of the Kiwi diet. Try lamb chops, lamb steaks, lamb racks, and lamb burgers.
- TuaTua: Not found anywhere else in the world, tuatua are an indigenous NZ shellfish with a softer, creamier texture.
- Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls: Both essential staples of the post-bar-hopping diet, these are usually served from food trucks or bakeries and best enjoyed way-too-late at night.
- Seafood: Oysters, mussels, tuatua, fish, try it all! You’re on an island, you know.
- Marmite: Similar to vegemite, Marmite is a yeast extract combined with herbs and spices. Best served thinly spread on a slice of toast! Or, in a sandwich with chips.
- Spaghetti on Toast: Yes, it’s a thing.
- Pāua: Feelin’ fancy? Pāua is a rare Māori dish unique to New Zealand that can go for upwards of $100 USD.
- New Zealand Dairy: The dairy scene in NZ is said to rival even Italy’s best gelato. Visit a dairy (corner store) to get artisan ice cream by the scoop that’s sure to satisfy your instagram and your taste buds!
Note: If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify your Tour Director or Trip Consultant prior to your departure. You can reach out team at 800-766-2645.
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.