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Frequently asked questions for friends

We understand that you probably have many questions about your dream journey to New Zealand. Below you can find answers to frequently asked questions for friends travelling to New Zealand. Have a read and get in touch with our travel specialists to answer any further questions you may have.


What type of accommodation do you recommend for friends?

New Zealand is best experienced when you stay with the locals. Imagine a cottage on a rural vineyard. A charming bed and breakfast. A beachfront house. A modern holiday house perched on a hill. A lakeside lodge. Glamping in the midst of nature.

Our carefully selected down-to-earth hosts will make you feel at home with their welcoming Kiwi hospitality. Get to know them over dinner. Or join them for a tour of the farm or vineyard. Sometimes dinner is included and breakfast is often supplied. We can also recommend the best restaurants and cafes in each region or organise accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen or barbecue.

What sort of comfort levels can we choose from?

We have a range of accommodation available from comfortable to pure luxury. Choose from a quirky bed and breakfast from £150 per night to a luxury lodge from £500 per night. We don’t recommend staying in hostels. We can ensure that you will always have your own private bathroom.

Does each person/couple have their own room?

We can select accommodation that has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to suit your group of friends.


Do we need a car?

To make the most out of your holiday, we recommend a self-drive holiday in New Zealand. You have complete freedom to travel wherever you want and discover hidden gems, far away from mass-tourism. It allows you to stay in small-scale accommodation and meet the locals. Wanting a break from driving? We can organise domestic flights or scenic train journeys for parts of your trip.

Do we need a 4WD?

To travel to 99% of our accommodation in New Zealand, you won’t need a 4WD. But there are plenty of roads within national parks that can be only visited with a 4WD. If you enjoy driving across dirt roads, then a 4WD could be a good option for you.

Is it safe to drive in New Zealand?

Yes, New Zealand roads are simply beautiful and easy to drive. There isn’t a lot of traffic so you can enjoy a relaxed pace, have time to soak up the spectacular scenery and stop by the river for a picnic lunch.

How much time will we be spending in the car?

The driving distance between each accommodation is generally 2 to 4 hours and you will generally stay at each place for 2 to 4 nights. This enables you to completely enjoy the best of New Zealand while travelling at a relaxed pace. There are too many amazing things to see and you don’t want to be stuck in a car for hours and hours.

Do you recommend travelling together in one or two cars?

We normally recommend a large SUV for groups of four. However, if two couples are travelling together, you might want to have two small SUVs. This can be for the whole time or for sections of your journey. Sharing one car is cheaper but having two cars provides more flexibility.

Can we all drive?

Yes, in our standard rate, two drivers per car are included. Extra drivers can be arranged when collecting the car, at an extra cost.

Travel at a relaxed pace and find the hidden gems of the West Coast Route
Travel at a relaxed pace and find the hidden gems of the West Coast Route
© TravelEssence
Accommodation steps away from the beach | New Zealand holiday
Stay in unique accommodation steps away from the beach


What is the flight time to New Zealand?

The average flight time to New Zealand is between 25 and 30 hours including a short stopover but this depends on the airline.

What flight schedule do you recommend?

This depends on you. We can make it as fast as possible with a short connection in Asia or add a couple of days' stopover in a metropole like Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai. We can select the best flight times for you with only one stop on your way to New Zealand.

Which airline should I choose?

Generally, we choose to travel with Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air New Zealand. However, we have contracts with all the major airline companies. We will ensure you fly with a suitable airline to enhance your journey.

Can I book my own flights?

Yes, you can. We also can arrange a New Zealand holiday without flights.

Which stopover destination do you recommend?

Our two favourite and most popular stopover destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore. This is because of the convenient location of both cities. You’re already half-way to your destination and both cities offer plenty of opportunities for exploring, sightseeing, shopping and relaxing. If you have more time, you can consider stopping over in Bali, the Cook Islands or Fiji. Each a tropical haven with friendly locals, exotic cuisine and stunning beaches.

Can I book flight tickets without a return date?

As a tour operator, it’s only possible to book return flights on fixed dates. If you want to book an open date return flight, we recommend to book it directly with your preferred airline. Please note: You will not be able to enter New Zealand on a one-way ticket on a tourist visa.

Can we sit together on the plane?

Yes, we can reserve your seats next to each other well in advance. We recommend booking early for the best options.

How can we minimise the impact of jet lag?

We will select the best suitable flight schedule. During your stopover, we will organise a hotel stay or a day room at the airport, so you can shower, rest and relax. We will ensure that you arrive relaxed in New Zealand. This will all help you get used to the time difference.

Treat yourself and fly to New Zealand in First Class
Treat yourself and fly to New Zealand in First Class
Enjoy a relaxing poolside stopover in Fiji
Enjoy a relaxing poolside stopover in Fiji


What types of activities do you recommend?

It very much depends on your interests and fitness level. From authentic cultural experiences, wildlife encounters, meetings with the locals, kayaking, wine tours, cycling and sailing trips, sightseeing flights and more. Our focus is on nature conservation and small-scale locally owned companies. We can also arrange private tours if you wish. Check here for more suggestions.

Health & safety

Do you provide assistance in case of an emergency?

Yes, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call in case of an emergency. Our local hosts are also there to assist you if you need. We work directly with all of our hosts in New Zealand, so if anything were to happen, we can act fast if necessary.

Is it safe to travel in New Zealand?

Yes, overall it’s a safe destination to visit. New Zealand has a low crime rate and generally, New Zealanders live a safe lifestyle. And Kiwis are renowned for being friendly. Of course, we still recommend using your common sense as you would if you were at home.


Is it possible to add a Pacific destination to my trip?

Yes, we recommend Fiji and the Cook Islands as a tropical ending of your journey Down Under. The best time to visit these beautiful and remote islands in the South Pacific is between April to October.

What kind of wildlife can we expect in New Zealand?

New Zealand is well known for its native birds including the iconic Kiwi, Kea and Albatross. You can also have close encounters with marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

A man in a kayak in the fords with towering cliffs
Kayak the mystical waters of Doubtful Sound
Spot seals and other unique wildlife
Spot seals and other unique wildlife

Travel Time

How much time do we need?

You need at least three weeks in New Zealand to make your journey worthwhile. Travelling for 5 to 6 weeks allows you to see both islands. If you have less time, you can choose one island or see a few regions of both islands.

What travel pace do you recommend?

We recommend a relaxed travel pace, instead of rushing past all the highlights and returning home exhausted. Spend 2-4 nights at each location and discover each place through the eyes of the locals.

Do you recommend travelling to New Zealand during the winter (July - August)?

Yes! Winter in New Zealand is beautiful. It is less crowded and the snow-capped mountains are stunning. Go skiing in the South Island and in the North Island, you might even find yourself walking outside in a t-shirt. We can help you select regions and activities that are best suited to the wintertime.

What is it like travelling during the Christmas period?

Christmas time is New Zealand's peak season, Kiwis are enjoying their 6-week summer school holidays during this time. You can expect it to be more crowded and expensive than in other months. It’s strongly recommended to book 9-12 months in advance if you would like to travel during this period.


Should I pre-book or travel on the go?

If you book your holiday in advance, we can organise the best route, accommodations and activities for the best price. We will do all the work for you to create your dream holiday. If you travel on the go, you will stay at the last choice/leftover accommodations and often there is no availability.

You may also not be able to join an activity because it is full. Booking last-minute domestic flights are also generally more expensive than pre-booked flights. If you want to make the most out of your holiday, please contact us.

How long in advance do I need to book?

We work with small-scale accommodation and activity suppliers, therefore, they are generally fully booked very quickly. We recommend booking your journey to New Zealand 9 to 12 months in advance. Of course, we can organise a trip 3 months before departure but the options might be limited and ticket prices may be higher than expected.

Why should we book with TravelEssence?

Every holiday we create is personalised to individual wants and interests. Providing small-scale, hand-selected accommodation and personal activities, all tailored into wonderful and perfectly organised journeys. We are New Zealanders, or have lived and worked there and have plenty of experience travelling New Zealand with our own children. Our local knowledge makes the difference.

Do you have presentations especially for friends?

Yes, please take a look at our destination day page here.

Our travel advisor Michiel sharing his local knowledge
Our travel advisor Michiel sharing his local knowledge
Conquer the Fox Glacier all year round
Conquer the Fox Glacier all year round


How is the WIFI and internet in New Zealand?

Please be aware that some remote accommodations, Downunder have limited WiFi access or none at all. In some places, you may also need to pay for WiFi and internet access. This, of course, varies from accommodation to accommodation.

Do you offer group tours?

We specialize in personalised journeys. We don’t offer group holiday packages, however, we can include day trips or multi-day activities with small groups within your itinerary.


How much does a holiday to New Zealand cost?

This depends on your choice of level of comfort, flights and time of travel. Please take a look at some of our suggested journeys to get an idea of the possibilities.

Make friends with the wildlife in New Zealand

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