March 13, 2014
If you are pondering a visit to New Zealand, consider a visit during the off-season. Not only will you be rewarded by quiet beaches and walking tracks, campgrounds will be blissfully serene, and highway travel will be (almost) worry-free.
Although New Zealand has a relatively small population, international visitors boost the population to nearly 5 million (that’s and extra 20%) during the peak summer period. And, although the summer is warmer than other times of the year, competing with locals (not to mention other international visitors) for space at the country’s hot-spots can be a bit unnerving.
Autumn and spring both have their advantages, particularly for those interested in the outdoors.
- Daytime temperatures are more forgiving, allowing for comfortable long-distance tramping and mountain biking. Some campervan companies have bikes and gear available for hire (no need to find another provider), so make sure you ask when researching your campervan rental.
- Bookings for popular walking tracks, huts and backcountry campgrounds are less likely to be full. Most Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites and walking tracks (with overnight facilities) require booking. This is to manage demand over peak periods, as well as a visitor register for emergencies. Always remember to to sign in and sign out of walking tracks in New Zealand.
- Discounts on activities and accommodation are often available during the quieter visitor seasons. When reserving your campervan, ask the company what ‘extra value’ components are included if you hire over the shoulder and off seasons: you might be surprised at what is available.
How much time do you need to visit New Zealand?
When visiting any country, allowing plenty of time to ‘get to know ‘ the place is always better than rushing around.
Here are a few pointers in your New Zealand trip planning:
- 10 days – 2 weeks: Visit One Island (North or South), unless you have plans to fly between them
- 3 weeks: Just enough time to do a quick tour of both islands
- 4 weeks: Allows enough time for a break of a couple of days at your favourite spots on a two island tour
- 5-6 weeks: Enough time to experience the hidden gems New Zealand has to offer
Planning a visit outside normal peak season is an excellent option for those able to do it. Not only will you get to see more of the country, you’ll be able to meet more of the locals and experience more of what “real life” in New Zealand is really like.