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Itching to get to NZ? A guide to the best destinations and travelling during Covid

Tristan Strayed29 Mar 2021
HomeBlogTravel tipsItching to get to nz? a guide to the best destinations and travelling during covid

Itching to get to New Zealand? A guide to the best destinations and travelling during Covid

After a long year of closed borders and quarantine, we can now travel to New Zealand, and let’s be honest, we’re just a tiny bit excited. 

With a travel bubble forming New Zealand is now welcoming Aussies into their safety zone, which means it's time to map out your dream holiday.

From travel restrictions and the latest advice, to where to go on holiday in New Zealand, here’s our go to guide. 

  • Travelling to New Zealand
  • Is New Zealand safe?
  • When can I go?
  • What’s the best time to visit?
  • Where can I fly into New Zealand?
  • Most popular destinations.

Travelling to New Zealand

With Australia lifting the travel ban to New Zealand in April, we’re now able to holiday in the land of the long white cloud.

So what does a travel bubble actually mean? With NZ giving the green light it means Aussie travellers will no longer have to quarantine on arrival. 

For the past few months systems have been put in place for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.

Is New Zealand a safe place to visit?

It’s one of the most popular destinations in the world and not just because of its stunning scenery. This small country is known among travellers to be a safe place to visit, with low crime rates, similar to Australia. 

And now they can add COVID-19 safety to their list, it’s one of only a handful of countries that have managed to eliminate community transmission.

The alert level is currently sitting at Level 1 and the NZ govt is determined to keep it that way with its tough travel guidelines for international visitors. 

When can I go to New Zealand?

Now the transtasman bubble has started it’s safe to say you could start planning. 

Firstly, keep a track of available flights, and look out for flash sales. Qantas are planning a significant increase of flights to New Zealand from Australia in the second half of 2021. 

Secondly, in this unpredictable travel environment it pays to plan ahead. If you’re booking for late 2021 or even 2022 you’re giving yourself flexibility to cancel and change dates. 

If you book using Planpay, the small weekly instalments means you can avoid large upfront deposits, enjoy free date changes and flexible cancellation. PLUS you’ve finally got a holiday you can look forward to!

For more on how to book your New Zealand holiday using Planpay, check out our guide.

What's the best time to visit New Zealand?

New Zealand shines in summer so if you love a mild temp (from 16C to 24C) this is going to be your ideal time. It's not too hot to spend long days at the beach and it's perfect weather for exploring Queenstown on mountain bikes.

For adventurers and nature lovers who enjoy cosy outdoor fires after a long day skiing, the South Island is best in the winter. The temperature can drop to below zero in the inland alpine areas, giving you plenty of snowsports options, with nights spent discovering laneway bars and pizza joints.

If you’re planning a family holiday to New Zealand, make sure you check school holiday dates as they vary from Australian school dates. The upside - you can avoid crowds at some of the more popular destinations.

Where can I fly from Australia to New Zealand?

Once Qantas is running its normal NZ schedule, you should be able to fly into all major cities from Australia. Here's where you could fly into before Covid disrupted our lives. Air New Zealand also operate regional flights from these destinations;

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Queenstown
  • Wellington.
Man bungy jumping from Auckland bridge.

Ok so now you’re feeling less nervous about this two-way bubble it's time to get excited about where you can go.

Whether you’re planning a family getaway, a solo adventure or a group ski trip, here’s our top picks.

North Island

Auckland

If time isn’t your friend and you fancy a quick trip across the ditch, Auckland is a great go to. It’s an easy weekend escape and there’s plenty to see and do. 

  • See the world’s largest penguin colony at SEA LIFE Aquarium
  • SkyWalk and SkyJump at the Auckland Sky Tower
  • Feast at the lively city night markets
  • Go kayaking at sunset on Auckland Harbour.

Waiheke Island

Couple toasting red wine on Waiheke Island, New Zealand.

Just a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland, this tiny island is a magical place for a day trip or extended stay. Explore pristine beaches, boutique wineries and coastal hikes. Add these activities to your itinerary;

  • Try NZ’s famous Oysters at The Oyster Inn
  • Visit the famous Cable Bay Winery 
  • Zip-line through lush rainforest
  • Horse ride with spectacular landscapes as your backdrop.

Bay of Islands

Located 4 hours from Auckland you can fly into Keri Keri airport or hire a car and travel north through some of the lushest countryside you’ll ever see. Here's some fun things to do when you get there;

  • Dolphin Cruise to the famous Hole in the Rock
  • Take a helicopter tour for an aerial view of NZ’s most famous islands
  • Explore the historic whaling town of Russell
  • Discover unexplored pristine beaches.
Bout tour going to Hole in the Rock, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

South Island

Queenstown

One of NZ’s most popular destinations, this world-class playground is expecting a post-Covid influx of adventurers looking for non-stop action, families chasing time on the slopes, and travellers craving some "me-time". Here's what we recommend;

  • Try jet boating, paddle boarding or white water rafting
  • Learn to ski in a friendly, fun and beautiful setting
  • Hire bikes and explore wide open trails
  • Check-in to a luxurious day-spa for some pampering.

Already packing for Queenstown? Read our guide on packing for a ski holiday.

Christchurch

Cyclist in Christchurch in front of graffiti art.

From epic street art to a bustling hospitality scene, this city has something to offer every visitor wanting a taste of New Zealand. Here's a few ideas;

  • Make this lively city your base camp to explore the South Island
  • Escape to Hammer Springs for a thermal soak
  • Head out on a day whale watching cruise
  • Visit the International Antarctic Centre.

Ready to start planning?

Now you’ve mapped out your NZ itinerary it’s time to get into full-swing holiday planning mode with our top picks of tours, hotels and holidays.

Tip: Try using our budget search tool to help you find a New Zealand holiday that suits your lifestyle and don’t forget to stay-up-to date with the latest travel travel restrictions at smarttraveller.com.au